Maarja Pild, lawyer, Estonia

We encounter copyright constantly and unavoidably in our everyday lives. Entrepreneurs need to be especially well informed because the lack of attention to copyright matters may cost them dearly later.

1.    Be aware of the existence of copyright

An entrepreneur’s first step in avoiding possible infringements is to be aware that the authors possess proprietary and moral rights granted by the law, including the rights to remuneration, authorship, reproduction and processing. Only a natural person may reproduce a work without its author’s consent and without paying the author’s remuneration, and then only if there are no business intents.

2.    Respect the related rights

As a rule, the copyright legislation prescribes that the performers, producers of phonograms and providers of broadcasting services incur rights related to copyright. For example, if you wish to use a vocal work then it is not enough to obtain the author’s permission to use the musical work – a permission of the singer, i.e. the performer, must also be applied for.

3.    Find out who holds the copyright

Having found a good photograph via Google or a suitable video on Youtube, you first need to find out who its author is and then to obtain his/her permission to use the work in business activities. Several collective management organisations have been established to simplify the process of protecting and finding the authors and performers. For example, the author’s economic rights are represented by the Estonian Author’s Union (EAÜ) in Estonia here, AKKA/LAA in Latvia here and by LATGA-A in Lithuania here. Accordingly, the performers’ economic rights are represented by Estonian Performers’ Union (EEL) in Estonia here, by LaIPA in Latvia here and by AGATA in Lithuania here.

4.    Never presume that no-one will notice

Entrepreneurs are usually not totally in the dark about the existence of copyrights. It is rather that they pay no big attention to infringements and presume that their infringement will go unnoticed. That is something one should not take for granted.

5.    Think about consequences right away

As mentioned above, authors are entitled to remuneration. If the remuneration is left unpaid, the author will have the right to demand, inter alia, a license fee on grounds of legal provisions on unjustified enrichment, and this may be costly for the offender. For example, it may turn out that a photograph found via Google and used in an advertising campaign was made by a famous photographer who charges a high price for the use of his photographs. Then it is often too late for the offender to choose a less expensive photograph or to make a new one.

Intellectual property