• What are copyrights?
    The national government has specially enacted legislation to protect the rights and interests of creators of works in literature, science, the arts, and other academic area. The rights afforded by such legislation are called "copyrights." Copyrights come into existence as soon as a work is completed, with no special procedures or registration required. Copyrights encompass two different kinds of rights: moral rights and economic rights. Moral rights serve to protect the reputation and prestige of the authors and the moral interests of their works. Therefore, these may not be assigned or inherited. Economic rights mainly serve to give property rights to the creators, so that they can enjoy real economic benefits from their work.
  • What kinds of works are protected by copyright?
    The term "works" in the Copyright Act includes works in literature, science, the arts, and other intellectual realms. It includes oral and literary works (such as poems, verses, prose, fictions, plays or scenarios, and lectures), musical works (such as scores and lyrics), dramatic and choreographic works (such as pantomimes, musicals, dances), artistic works (such as paintings, comic strips (cartoons), sculptures, craftworks), photographic works (such as photographs and slides), pictorial and graphic works (such as maps, charts, scientific or engineering design drawings), audiovisual works (such as motion pictures, videocassettes, videodisks), sound recordings, architectural works (such as architectural design drawings, architectural models, buildings or constructions), computer programs, and performances. Copyright protects only the expression of a work, not the ideas, processes, operational methods, or concepts behind a work.
  • What distinguishes copyrights from trademark rights and patent rights?

    The Copyright Act protects "works," meaning creations in literature, science, the arts, or other intellectual realms. The protection afforded by the duly obtained copyrights extends only to the expression of a work. It does not extend to the ideas, concepts, or principles expressed by the work. The Patent Act, on the other hand, protects inventions and creations, and give the patent right holders exclusive right to use them during a certain period prescribed by law. No other person may "practice the patent" (i.e. use the patented invention) without permission from the patent owner. The Trademark Act, meanwhile, protects trademark rights. A trademark may be any word, device, symbol, color, sound, three-dimensional shape, or combination thereof that is used to identify one's goods or services. Applications may be filed under the Trademark Act to register a trademark and obtain protection for the right to use it exclusively.

    Copyrights, trademark rights, and patent rights are obtained in different ways. Copyright holders automatically enjoy protection from the time a work is finished. To obtain rights of exclusive use of a trademark or patent, however, it is necessary to apply and successfully undergo an examination and registration process. The periods of protection also differ. The term of copyright protection is, in principle, the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years and is not extendable. The term of exclusive trademark protection is 10 years, but may be extended an unlimited number of times, each time for a period of 10 years. The term of patent protection is 20 years for invention patents, and in the case of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals one extension of 2 to 5 years may be granted. Utility model patents and deign patents are protected for 10 years and 12 years, respectively, and neither may be extended.

  • When does copyright protection begin?

    Article 10 of the Copyright Act provides, "The author (creator) of a work shall enjoy copyright upon completion of the work; provided, where this Act provides otherwise, such provisions shall govern." That is to say, a creator enjoys copyrights as soon as he or she has completed a work. Registration is not required.

    Copyrights are private rights. Copyright owners, like owners of other private rights in general, bear the burden of proof of the existence of their rights. Therefore, copyright owners should preserve and keep materials from the creative process or release of a work or other materials relating to their rights to a work, to serve as evidence of their rights. That way, if a dispute ever arises over the private rights, a court of law can use such evidence submitted by the rights owner as a basis to uphold the rights.

  • Must copyrights be registered to receive protection?
    R.O.C. follows the principle of copyright protection upon creation. A creator enjoys copyrights as soon as a work is completed. Copyright registration is not a prerequisite for obtaining copyright. In other words, no formal application is necessary to obtain copyright. In fact, the copyright registration system was abolished in a Copyright Act amendment promulgated on January 21, 1998, and the government agency in charge of copyright matters has ceased accepting copyright registrations since January 23, 1998.
  • Are copyrights of R.O.C. citizens protected in other countries?
    Taiwan became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1, 2002. Under the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), member countries are obligated to protect works of the nationals of other members. Therefore, works of R.O.C. citizens are entitled to protection in all other WTO member countries. However, for countries that are not WTO member, it depends on whether that country and R.O.C. have an arrangement for reciprocal copyright protection. If so, the works of R.O.C. nationals enjoy protection.
  • Can I use copyright to protect my concepts?
    Under the R.O.C. Copyright Act, copyrights obtained in accordance with the Act protect only the expression of the copyrighted work. The protection does not extend to the work's underlying ideas, procedures, production processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries.
  • Do product instruction manuals enjoy copyright protection even if they only contain operating proced..
    Copyrightable "works" includes works in literature, science, the arts, and other academic area. Oral and literary works include poems, verses, prose, fictions, plays or scenarios, academic theses, lectures, and other oral and literary works. Product instruction manuals-even those that merely contain operating procedures and specification descriptions-fall in the category of literary works entitled to protection as long as they have some modicum of creativity. However, if they do not contain any modicum of creativity, then they are not copyrightable works, and are not entitled to copyright protection.
  • Must works be released or distributed to enjoy copyright protection?
    R.O.C. Copyright Act adopts the principle of copyright protection upon creation. A creator enjoys copyright as soon as a work is completed. Release or distribution of a work is not a prerequisite for obtaining copyrights. Copyright protection may be enjoyed even for works that have not been released or distributed.
  • What is the term of copyright protection?
    Copyrights are divided into moral rights and economic rights. Protection of moral rights is perpetual. Economic rights are for the lifetime of the creator and for 50 years after his or her death. However, economic rights in pseudonymous or anonymous works, works authored by a juristic person (e.g. a company or foundation), photographic and audiovisual works, sound recordings, and performances are for 50 years from the time of public release.