What is copyright ?

Copyright is one of the intellectual property rights – it is a right that is given to the creator of an original creative work and allows him or her to be the only one who can make use of the work or permit the use of the work by another individual or entity.

The objective of copyright law is to encourage creativity and allow artists to reap the maximum economic benefit as well as other benefits from their creative work, with the knowledge that they are entitled to legal protection under the law if their creative work is infringed.

Unlike patents, trademarks and designs, in Israel copyright is not registerable.

For a creative work to be protected by law, it must meet the following conditions:

(1) the creative work must be original. The work should be created by the artist (not copied) and it should possess a certain degree of creativity.

(2) the creative work must be one of the following:
  • literary
  • artistic
  • dramatic
  • musical
(3) the work must be documented by hand, computer file, a sound recording or by any other tangible and clear means.


What copyright does not cover?

Copyright protects the form of expression of the specific idea and not the idea itself. Thus, under Section 5 of the Law of 2007, copyright protection does not cover any idea, process and method of execution, a mathematical concept, fact or datum, or news of the day, but only the way they are expressed.


What special rights does an owner of a copyrighted work have?

Copyright law defines the exclusive rights of a copyright owner in accordance with the type of creative work, as follows:
  • Copying
  • Advertising
  • Public performance
  • Broadcast
  • Making available to the public
  • Producing a derivative creative work
  • Renting

What is the period of copyright of a creative work?

Copyright is granted for the life of the author and for a further period of 70 years after his or her death.  Thereafter, the work becomes public domain.  For a sound recording, copyright is granted for a period of fifty years from its creation.

It is important to note that despite copyright, it is possible in certain circumstances to make use of a creative work by a person to whom the creative work does not belong.  Under the law there are explicit classifications of permitted uses, such as for research, review, journalistic reporting and so on.


Foreign creative works – are they copyrighted in Israel?

Israel is party to the Berne Convention (an international treaty that protects copyright) and is therefore obliged to grant artists from other countries that are party to the Convention the same protection granted to an Israeli artist under Israeli copyright law. Creative works by Israeli artists are also protected in member countries of the Convention.


What is moral right?

The law states that besides copyright, an author of an artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical work, except a computer program, also has a moral right.  Moral right is an individual right that is not economically beneficial to the author of the work and is not transferable.

The moral right of the author of a creative work is comprised of what is known as the "parental right," which is the right to get "credit" for the work and the right to prevent making abusive use of the work through distortion or any other alteration that would damage the dignity or reputation of the author.

Moral right is valid 70 years from the death of the author, and it will protect the author even if he/she no longer has copyright in the work or has transferred the copyright in the work to another.


What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement takes place when a person or entity not authorized by the copyright owner makes use of the creative work and performs one or more of the actions legally granted only to the owner of the work.

Copyright infringement is a civil wrong and in some cases even a criminal offense. A plaintiff in a copyright infringement case can demand two types of compensation – the first for infringement of copyright and the second for damages resulting from the infringement.  The plaintiff is entitled to an injunction to prevent further infringement and to compensation for damages, including compensation without proof of damages in the amount of up to NIS 100,000.  The court will consider, among others, the extent of the infringement, the duration of the infringement, the severity of the infringement, the damage caused to the author of the creative work, the profit made by the infringer, the infringer’s method of operation, and will determine the amount of compensation accordingly.
Dr. Sharona Lahav - Patent Attorney    
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