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Copyrights in Mauritius

Copyright law in Mauritius is governed under the Copyright Act, 2014. The management of copyright related matters is overseen by the Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA), which is to be administered by a Board set up in accordance with the Copyright Act. Some important information are as under:

Website: http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org

Copyright Office Address: 3rd Floor NPF Building, Douglas Sholte Street, Beau Bassin, Mauritius

Email id: moac@govmu.org

International Treaties / Agreement compliant

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
  • Universal Copyright Convention (Geneva)
  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

As per the Copyright Act, 2014, a copyright is defined as a work in which economic and moral rights sustain. Protection is granted for works born out of original expressions of one’s creative ability, irrespective of its mode or form of expression.

Copyright subsists in the expression of mainly three types of works, namely artistic, literary and scientific. An original expression which is derived out of any one of the abovementioned works, will also been subject to copyright protection.

The following categories are acceptable for copyright filing in Mauritius:

  • Artistic work
  • Literary work
  • Scientific work

The artistic, literary and scientific works can be further categorised to include the following:

  • Book, pamphlet or other writing; ­
  • Illustration, a map, plan or sketch;
  • Lecture, sermon or any other address of a similar nature;
  • Dramatic or dramatic-musical work;
  • Musical work;
  • Choreographic work or pantomime;
  • Audio-visual work;
  • Sound recording;
  • Work of fine art (drawing or painting) or architecture or sculpture, engraving or lithography or applied art;
  • Photographic work;
  • Computer programme

The Copyright Act, 2014 also provides protection to derivative works, which are separately categorises into the following[1]:

  • Translation
  • Adaptation
  • Arrangement
  • Other alteration of a pre-existing artistic, literary or scientific work

However, protection accorded to such works will always be subject to the protection granted to the pre-existing works or traditional cultural expressions subsisting in such works.

The Copyright Act, 2014 of Mauritius does not afford any protection to the following categories of works[2]:

  • Any idea, procedure, system, method of operation, concept, principle, discovery or mere data;
  • Official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, including their official translation;
  • News or miscellaneous facts regarding press information;
  • Political speeches and speeches delivered in the course of legal proceedings;
  • Judgments delivered by Courts or Tribunals

Filing Procedure

Usually, a copyright subsists in a work as and when it is created. However, in Mauritius, it is advisable to have the copyrighted work registered in order to serve as a proof of ownership[3]. The scope of copyright protection as per Section 40 extends for the following works wherein:

  • Author is a citizen or resident of Mauritius. 
  • Work first published in Mauritius, or in another country and published within 30 days in Mauritius
  • For audio-visual works, producer is a resident or has business headquarters in Mauritius
  • Works of architecture or other artistic works created or incorporated in another structure in Mauritius
  • Work created in a signatory country by virtue of international convention or agreement

Copyright Owner Of Work Mauritius

As per the Copyright Act, copyright ownership or ownership of economic rights in a work may vest with the following[4]:

  • Author being the natural person who created the work; or
  • Natural person or entity, other than the author; or
  • Natural person or entity, by way of transfer of ownership

As per Section 9, the original ownership of economic rights vests with the author/creator of a work, except in the following circumstances, where the person(s) will be considered as the owner of the work[5]:

ParticularOwner
  In respect of a work of joint authorship   (Where the work of joint authorship consists of parts, each capable of functioning separately and capable of being identified with its respective author)Co-authors   (Author of each part)
  In the course of employment by a natural person or legalThe Employer (Unless a contract to the contrary)
  In respect of an audio-visual work or phonogramThe Producer (Unless a contract to the contrary)
Anonymous work or pseudonymous work, unless the author reveals his identityThe Publisher
In respect of an audio-visual work or phonogram of co-authorship, wherein pre-existing works of an author is included or adaptedSuch author of that pre-existing work
Commissioned WorkThe Person commissioning the work

Section 15 of the Copyright Act, 2014 enumerates the specific duration of protection for the economic and moral subsisting in different categories of work. The below table helps us to understand the duration of protection for these works:

S. No.DETAILSDURATION OF PROTECTION
01.Artistic, literary or scientific workLifetime of author + 70 years after the death
02.Work of joint authorshipLifetime of last surviving author + 70 years after the death
03.Audio-visual work or phonogram70 years from the date of creation or publication of work, whichever is latest
04.Anonymous and Pseudonymous work70 years from the date of creation or publication of work, whichever is latest   (If any of the author(s) is known during the period of protection, the term will extend to the lifetime of known author(s) + 50 years after the death of last known author)
05.Work of applied art25 years from the date of creation of work

Exclusive Rights and Special Rights

Every author or owner of a copyrighted work has certain statutory rights which enables them to commercialise their work, either whole or part of the work in exchange of fair remuneration. These rights are termed as economic or exclusive rights. As per Section 6 of the Copyright Act enables every author or owner with the following economic rights:

  • Right to Reproduce
  • Right to Translate
  • Right to make any adaptation of the work, including cinematograph adaptation
  • Right to distribute the work in public
  • Right to Rent
  • Right to Public Performance
  • Right to Broadcast
  • Right to other forms of communication to public

There are certain rights which are exclusive to an author of the copyrighted work. These rights protect the integrity of the work and subsist with an author throughout his life, and after his death with the legal heirs. These rights are termed as moral or special rights and cannot be assigned by an author. As per Section 7 moral rights include the following rights:

  • Right to claim authorship
  • Right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work, or any other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation.

Related Rights

As per the Copyright Act, 2014, the rights accorded to performers, producers of phonograms and a broadcasting organisation are termed as Related Rights[6].

Performers can claim copyright protection for their performances in the following scenarios[7]:

  • The performance was in Mauritius; or
  • The performance was incorporated in a phonogram which falls under the purview of the Act; or
  • The performance is fixed in a phonogram and broadcasted and such a broadcast is falls under the purview of the Act

Producers of a phonogram on the other hand can claim copyright protection only if the phonogram has been:

  • Produced in Mauritius; or
  • First fixed in Mauritius; or
  • First published in Mauritius

Broadcasting organisations can also claim copyright protection for their broadcasts if:

  • The broadcasting organisation or its headquarters are situated in Mauritius; or
  • Transmitters from which such broadcasts are received, are situated in Mauritius

Part III of the Copyright Act provides the provision for voluntary assignment or licensing of the economic rights. An assignment of an economic right or license to perform an act may be either by the author or the owner of such rights. An assignment/license may in respect of economic rights subsisting in an existing copyrighted work or in future works.

As per Sections 12 to 14, such rights may be assignable or licensed, either in whole or in part, exclusively or non-exclusively. The deed must be in writing, duly signed and shall clearly stipulate the rights so assigned. In the absence of mention of the duration of the assignment/license, it shall be valid for a term of 10 years and may be subject to revocation due to non-use. If there is no mention of any country wherein the assignment or license may have an effect, in such a case the territorial limits of Mauritius are implied.

Scenarios wherein economic rights are not transferred by way of an assignment or license[8]:

  1. When any economic right has not be explicitly mentioned in the assignment or licensing agreement
  2. Where ownership of only a copy of the copyrighted work has been assigned to another
  3. Where the author alienates the original or copy of the copyrighted work, unless an agreement to the contrary exists

A recent development by the Ministry of Arts and Culture of Mauritius which aims to compile the date about all copyrighted owners, including assignees and licensees with respect to copyrighted works of sound recording and audio-visual is in the pipeline. It will serve as an informative platform for the general public and help in the better enforcement of such economic rights. Owners/assignees/licensees can register themselves by filing up the Registration Form as provided here. The application must be assisted with documentary evidence showcasing the ownership of such work.

Infringement

An encroachment upon the rights of a copyright owner is deemed as an infringement. The Copyright Act, 2014 provides protection to both economic and moral rights subsisting in a copyrighted work such as a counterfeit copy being utilised for commercial purposes without the author’s permission.

Section 56 lays down the following acts to be an infringement without the written authorisation of the author or owner of the copyright:

  • Publication, distribution, sale, reproduction, performance, communication, broadcasting of a work for commercial gain;
  • Import/Offer for sale or hire/ Hires/ Sells by way of trade displays an infringed copy
  • In case of performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations for gain or against remuneration;
  • Manufactures/imports for sale or rental/ provides such services for any device or means which is specifically designed or adapted to prevent/restrict/ impair the quality of any copyrighted work
  • Enables or assists in the reception or distribution of an encrypted program, which is broadcast or otherwise communicated to the public, by a person who is not entitled to receive the program
  • Possession in the course of trade any apparatus, article or thing for making infringing copies of a work
  • Intentionally or recklessly deprives the copyright owner or author of his rights, for gain or against remuneration

However, false accusations of alleged infringement of any copyright or related rights may also attract legal consequences for the claimant. The Copyright Act, 2014 provides a provision against vain and false threats made by a right holder of copyrighted work or by an exclusive licensee. Any such person may move Court for the following remedies[9]:

  • An injunctive action against the continuance of such false threats; and
  • Recovery of damages sustained

Fair Use

Part IV provides the provisions for Fair Dealing which act as a limitation to the economic rights, wherein authorisation of the author or owner is not mandatory before the exploitation of such exclusive rights. Sections 16 to 28 enumerate the following scenarios which are not deemed as infringement as per the Copyright law in Mauritius:

  • Private reproduction for personal purposes
  • Temporary reproduction
  • Quotation
  • Reproduction and other utilisation for teaching and scientific non-commercial purposes
  • Reproduction by libraries and archives
  • Reproduction, broadcasting and other communication to the public for informatory purposes
  • Reproduction, adaptation of computer programmes and de-compilation
  • Visually impaired person
  • Ephemeral recordings
  • Importation for personal purposes
  • Distribution of copies of works
  • Public lending
  • Display of works.

Civil Remedies Available

Owner of the copyright is entitled to following civil remedies:

  • Damages / Compensation
  • Injunction
  • Forfeiture of any infringing copy/apparatus/article
  • Handing over such infringing copy to owner or author

Suit proceeding has to be filed before the Magistrate of the Intermediate Court at the first instance of the offence of infringement.

Offences

Any person who commits the offence of infringement shall attract the following conviction[10]:

OffencePunishment
  First ConvictionFine not exceeding 300,000 rupees + Imprisonment up to 2 years
  Second or subsequent convictionFine not exceeding 500,000 rupees + Imprisonment up to 8 years

Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA)

The Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA) is a statutory body created with the objective of managing the copyright and the related rights of the author or owner or related rights holder. The Society is set up in accordance with the mandate of the Copyright Act, 2014 and shall be headed by a Director or his representative and a division as set up by the Board. The appointment of staff and performance of duties by the Society are governed by such Board[11].

The Society has a list of objects, some of which are as follows[12]:

  • Collectively manage the rights of the author/owner or related rights such as performance rights, broadcasting rights, public communication rights, remuneration rights, distribution rights etc.;
  • Determine the criteria for and the classes of membership of the Society;
  • Represent and defend the interests of the members, whether in Mauritius or abroad;
  • Negotiate the remuneration fees with the user of copyrighted work belonging to a member;
  • Collect fees from users of the copyrighted works belonging to the members and distribute amongst them;
  • Enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign societies for the issue of exclusive authorisation in respect of their members’ works and for the collection and distribution of fees deriving from those works;
  • Assist the members with their copyrights and related rights by imparting information or advise;
  • Foster harmony and understanding amongst the members

Procedure for Membership

With a view to safeguard the economic rights subsisting in a work, any copyright owner or exclusive licensee can apply for membership in the Society by filing an application, alongwith the requisite fees. Upon receiving the same, the Society may require the applicant to furnish further particulars such as a copy of the work in order to grant membership and incompliance may lead to rejection of the application[13].


[1] Section 2 and Section 4 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[2] Section 5 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[3] https://copyrightindex.com/get-copyright-registration-Mauritius/

[4] Section 2 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[5] Sections 9-11 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[6] Section 2 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[7] Section 40

[8] Sections 8 and 12 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[9] Section 55 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[10] Section 56 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[11]Sections 42 – 44 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[12]Section 45 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf; accessed on June 03, 2020

[13] Section 46 of the Copyright Act 2014; http://attorneygeneral.govmu.org/English/LawsofMauritius/Documents/Year%202014/Copyright%20Act%202014.pdf and https://wipolex.wipo.int/en/text/539947; accessed on June 03, 2020

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