Legal Remedy In Bangladesh



Copyright[1] is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings etc. In fact, it is a bundle of rights including, inter alia, rights of reproduction, communication to the public, adaptation and translation of the work. However, there could be slight variations in the composition of the rights depending on the work. In Bangladesh we have our Copyright law 2000[2]. The startling part is we don’t have a very good execution of our legal system of copyright law. That is why the actual authors are not getting their benefit of creation.

Copyright & Copyright Law

Copyright protects the physical expression of ideas. It is a type of property that is founded on a person’s creative skill and labor. Copyright is designed to prevent the unauthorized use by others of a work, that is, the original form in which an idea or information has been expressed by the creator. As soon as an idea is given in physical form, e.g. a piece of writing, a photograph, music, a film, a web page, it is protected by copyright. It is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Copyright theory says that it is the balance between the exclusive rights and the limitations and exceptions that engenders creativity. Copyright does not protect ideas, only their expression or fixation. There is no need for registration[3] or to claim copyright in some way, protection is automatic at the point of creation. Both published and unpublished works are protected by copyright.

In most jurisdictions copyright arises upon fixation and does not need to be registered. Copyright owners have the exclusive statutory right to exercise control over copying and other exploitation of the works for a specific period of time, after which the work is said to enter the public domain. Uses which are covered under limitations and exceptions to copyright, such as fair use, do not require permission from the copyright owner. All other uses require permission and copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others.

The Copyright law provides certain ways in which copyright works may be used without the need to first obtain permission from the copyright holder(s) – these include, fair dealing, library privilege, copying for examinations and copying for instruction. The University also holds a number of licenses, which permit copyright works to be copied and used in various ways. Otherwise, written permission must first be obtained from a copyright holder before their work is used or copied. Infringing the rights of copyright holders may be a criminal offence and/or cause them to sue for damages.

Copyright Protects original works of authorship

Initially copyright law only applied to the copying of books. Today copyright laws have been standardized to some extent through international and regional agreements such as the Berne Convention and the European copyright directives. Although there are consistencies among nations’ copyright laws, each jurisdiction has separate and distinct laws and regulations about copyright. National copyright laws on licensing, transfer and assignment of copyright still vary greatly between countries and copyrighted works are licensed on territorial basis. Copyright protects “original works of authorship[4]” that are “fixed in any tangible means of expression.” Many kinds of works are eligible for copyright protection, including:

§         Literary works

§         Musical works, including any accompanying words

§         Dramatic works, including any accompanying music

§         Pantomimes and choreographic works

§         Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

§         Motion pictures and other audiovisual works

§         Sound recordings

§         Architectural works

Originality is the first requirement for copyright protection. Clearly, new writings, new photographs or paintings, new computer programs are eligible for copyright. But copyright protection can also extend to works that aren’t so clearly “new.” Translations of literary works are copyrightable as works in their own right.

Copyright Law in Bangladesh

Copyright law in Bangladesh provides a number of provisions for uses of protected works without seeking permission from authors for the purpose of fair dealings, such as private study, private use, research, criticisms, review, reporting current events in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical, in cinematograph[5] films by broadcast or by photograph,

The law also provides some other provisions to use a protected work without authorization from an author in cases of official gazettes[6], reports of various commissions, committees’ boards or councils appointed by government or other similar bodies, if it is not expressly prohibited to publish. Similarly, a number of some other provisions also exist in law under which users are given powers to use freely of the protected works in cases of sound recordings, cinematographic film, computer programmes under certain exceptional cases.

Copyright law provides a number of provisions for limitations. Limitation refers to terms of copyright. Copyright is not a perpetual property unlike other movable or immovable properties. The ownership of copyright is limited to a fixed period of time, after expiry of which copyright does not subsist and it become a public domain work and then any person or individual can use it without observing any legal obligations. The term may differ from country to country. It may be 70 or 60 or 50 years but it should be minimum 50 years in major work, in accordance with international copyright law i.e. the Berne Convention of WIPO for the protection of literary and artistic works of which Bangladesh is a member country.

In Bangladesh, copyright terms are as follows: (a) in cases of literary, artistic, musical, dramatic works, the terms is 60 years from the beginning of the calendar years next following the year in which the author dies (Life + 60 years); (b) in cases of photograph, the term is 60 years from the beginning of calendar year next following the year in which the photograph is published (60 years from publication), (c) in case of cinematographic film, the term is 60 years following the year in which the film is published (60 years from publication), (d) In cases of Govt. works, it is 60 years from publication (60 years from publication,), (e) In cases of local authority, the term is 60 years from first publication (60 years from first publication); (f) in case of sound recordings, it is 60 years from publication (60 years from publications) (g) in case of works of international organizations, the term is 60 years from 1st publication (60 years from first publication) (h) in case of broadcasting, the term is 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the broadcasting is made (25 years from broadcasting); (i) in case of performance, it is 50 years from the beginning of the year next following the year in which the performance is made (50 years from the first performance is made); j) in case of published edition (typographical arrangement), the term is 25 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the edition is first published (25 years from the first publication); (k) in case of joint authorship of a work, the term will be 60 years from the death of last surviving author ( 60 years from death of the last surviving author)

Lack of Consciousness and execution of the legal system of Copyright law

With regards to infringements/piracy of copyrights it is now becoming a great problem all over the world. In recent years, copyright piracy in the form of counterfeiting, bootlegging and plagiarism have increased manifold in many countries, due to advent of various techniques or devices for easy reproduction and communications of works resulting in unauthorized transfer and use of protected works and also in depriving legitimate remunerations to authors.

In Bangladesh such problems are also now becoming serious. Currently, Bangladesh has a good copyright law, enacted in 2000. The most concerning part is the lack of consciousness and execution of the legal system of Copyright law. That is why the actual authors are not getting any benefits of their works. Several books are now can be copied in the printing press without taking any permission from the actual author. However, the prime objective of copyright law is to encourage authors, composers, artists and designers to create original works by rewarding them with the exclusive right for a limited period to exploit the work for monetary gain. But the prime objective is not achieving because of the lacking in the consciousness and execution of the legal system of Copyright law to protect the writer or creator of the original work from the unauthorized reproduction or exploitation of his materials.

Copyright ensures certain minimum safeguards of the rights of authors over their creations, thereby protecting and rewarding creativity. Creativity being the keystone of progress, no civilized society can afford to ignore the basic requirement of encouraging the same. Economic and social development of a society is dependent on creativity. The protection provided by copyright to the efforts of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer software, creates an atmosphere conducive to creativity, which induces them to create more and motivates others to create. Therefore piracy, the minimum execution of copyright law can obstruct the social and economic development in broad manner. The photocopy books in Nilkhet and other places are actually a true example of piracy in our country. That is why the actual authors are not getting any benefit from their creation. Bangladesh has standardized its copyright law. Now the proper execution is needed to ensure the legal rights of the creator. Without the execution of the copyright law, Bangladesh cannot move forward very far. Although the legislation is being heralded as a positive step forward, computer programmers and software developers in the country believe that the law does not go far enough. According to them, the law does not prohibit songs, writing or computer programs from being reproduced without permission for non-commercial[7] purposes. The Bangladesh government, however, sees this law as being in line with the conventions of the World Trade Organization.


There is an acute lack of awareness on various issues relating to copyright and related rights amongst stakeholders, enforcement agencies, professional users like the scientific and academic communities and members of the public. In this article, an attempt has been made to provide a basic idea and clarifications on most of the issues relating to copyright law and its enforcement.


1.       Van Horn Melton,  The rise of the public in Enlightenment Europe,  Cambridge University Press, 4TH edn, 2000

2.       E. Lawson, and ML Bertucci, Encyclopedia of human rights, 2nd edn, 1996

3.       M. N. Shaw, International Law, Cambridge University Press, 5th edn, 2003

4.       Nimmer, David, Copyright: Sacred Text, 2nd end, 2003

5.       Lindsey, Marc: Copyright Law on Campus, Washington State University Press, 1st edn, 2003





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[1] Ronan, Deazley (2006). Rethinking copyright: history, theory, language. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 13–14.

[2] – Bangladesh Copyright law 2000

[3] WIPO Guide on the Licensing of Copyright and Related Rights. World Intellectual Property Organization. 2004. pp. 15.

[4] anders, Karen (2003). Ethics & Journalism. Sage. pp. 66.

[5] Ronan, Deazley (2006). Rethinking copyright: history, theory, language. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 13–14.

[6] Marshall, Lee (2006). Bootlegging: romanticism and copyright in the music industry. Sage. pp. 15.

[7] The way ahead – A Strategy for Copyright in the Digital Age. Intellectual Property Office and Department for Business Innovation & Skills. October 2009. pp. 10.


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