Most modern copyright laws provide essentially two sets of author’s rights: moral and economic.

Moral rights are about the relationship between the author and a work. They ensure that the author will be recognised as such in relation to a particular work and that they can protect the integrity of the work as they created it. In most laws, these moral rights are inalienable: the author cannot give them up.

Economic rights are the rights which enable an author to exploit their work in the market. These rights work by ensuring that, as a matter of law, unless the author gives permission, their work cannot be used for certain purposes. The purposes (sometimes referred to as “restricted acts”) are usually enumerated in national copyright laws as follows:

  • Reproduction of a work in various forms, such as printed publications or sound recordings;
  • distribution (including rental) of copies;
  • performance in public;
  • broadcasting or other communication to the public (for example, via the internet or cable television)
  • translation into other languages;
  • adaptation, such as a novel into a screenplay

Which Works are Included?

The kinds of works that must be protected by copyright are described in Article 2.1 of the Berne Convention. This provides: “The expression ‘literary and artistic works’ shall include every production in the literary, scientific and artistic domain, whatever may be the mode or form of its expression”. It then provides an illustrative list of such works.

  • Books, pamphlets and other writings
  • Lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of the same nature
  • Dramatic or dramatico-musical works
  • Choreographic works and entertainment in dumb show;
  • Musical compositions with or without words;
  • Cinematographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to cinematography;
  • Works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography
  • Photographic works to which are assimilated works expressed by a process analogous to photography;
  • Works of applied art; illustrations, maps, plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture or science;
  • translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work, which are to be protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work;
  • collections of literary or artistic works such as encyclopaedias and anthologies which, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations, are to be protected as such, without prejudice to the copyright in each of the works forming part of such collections

This list is not exhaustive. It does not include computer programs for example but these are most certainly protected by both national copyright laws and another international copyright agreement, the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996.

At CISAC, we group our members’ works into five distinct work categories:

  1. Music – Musical compositions and lyrics
  2. Audiovisual – Film, television, etc.
  3. Drama – Plays, choreography, etc.
  4. Literature – Novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspapers, computer programs, databases, etc.
  5. Visual Arts – The so-called “plastic works” such as paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture as well as architecture, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.