Understanding Copyright

Copyright is a ‘property right’ which constitutes a form of protection reserved for rightful owners or authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.

Copyright allows an original work to be treated as physically owned property. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Copyright does not need to be registered and is said to subsist from the moment the intellectual work is created. However, it is recommended that you register all your creative content with the Registrar at the IPO Pakistan to fully secure your copyright and related rights!

Copyright is considered an ‘assignable right’ which vests with the original author/creator of any intellectual work. The rightful owner can choose to surrender, assign or license the copyright in its entirety or in sections to third parties in exchange for monetary compensation, usually in the form of royalties.

Music Copyright:

When a musical composition is written, the person who wrote it owns the copyright and therefore has the right to decide how, when and by whom it can be used or utilised. When music is released, individuals may purchase a song for private and personal enjoyment. However, if an individual plays that piece of music to a wider audience, outside the circle of friends and family for example at their business premises during the working week, the act is classed as a public performance. 

If any party wants to make a public performance of any piece of music they must first seek permission from the copyright owner of that song. This permission is usually granted through the issue of a licence. Most licences are limited to specific rights within the bundle of copyright and related rights.

Copyright infringement:

It is considered an infringement of copyright if anyone violates any of the rights enjoyed by the owner(s) of copyright. A rightful copyright owner is in possession of a series of ‘restricted acts’ that only he may authorise or carry out.

These restricted acts include:-

a) copying a work

b) distributing copies of a work

c) performing, showing or playing a work in public

d) communicating a work to the public (by any electronic transmission including broadcast )

e) adapting or translating a work

These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope and copyright law may impose certain limitations on them.

For further information on the limitations on any of these rights, consult the Pakistan Copyright Ordinance, 1962.

Securing Copyright:

Copyright in musical works begins the moment an original piece of music is composed, written or performed. The copyright is said to subsist with the first creator/author of the work. While registration of copyright is not compulsory, distinct advantages are obtained through registration of copyright.

Copyright is secured automatically when a work is first ‘created’, and a work is first created when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. ‘Copies’ are material objects from which a work can be read or perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. ‘Phonorecords’ are material objects embodying fixations such as cassette tapes, CDs, LPs and MP3s.

It is important to be able to prove that you own the copyright of a particular recording. To do this we suggest the following:-

  • Register your works with the IPO Pakistan
  • Post a copy of the recording to yourself by special delivery. Clearly mark the envelope so you know what music it holds, but keep it sealed.


  • Store a copy with a legal representative or bank manager. Remember to keep a receipt but beware that this method is likely to incur substantial costs.