Thursday, August 11, 2011

Copyright: For Authors

4 August 2011

The Living Letter by Alvin Buenaventura of FILCOLS
Translated from Filipino by Beverly W. Siy

Writers and creators are also called authors. Authors of poetry, short story, novel, scientific article, sermon, news article, song, musical composition and many more have rights over their creations. The same goes with architect, painter, visual artist, computer programmer, film maker and other kinds of authors of scientific, literary and artistic production.

The protection that is being given by the law and government to these authors is called Copyright. It’s a bundle of rights given to the authors as long as they are alive plus another fifty years starting from the first day of their death. They are all protected: the creations and the authors.

Copyright is made up of moral and material rights.

Moral rights are the rights of an author to be recognized as the creator of a work. His/her name must be in the byline. The author has the right to allow or not to allow any changes in his/her original work.

Material rights are the rights of an author to earn or receive royalty from his/her creation.

What is an example of economic rights of an author? How can they earn more from their creations?

The first one is the reproduction right or the right of an author to allow the publisher or anyone to make copies of his/her creation.

For example, you wrote the love story of your father-in-law and turned it into a romance novel. The novel must be permanent or fixed in one place, either in your computer or in paper. This will be a big help in the process of publishing the ultimate romance novel of all time (according to your father-in-law, okay?).

Naturally, your first customer will be your father-in-law because he would want to give away copies of the novel to his friends who play poker all day. From this day forward, you will start earning as a novelist because you will receive royalty worth 10-15% of the net price of each novel sold (or bought by the most eager customer in the world.)

You will earn much much more as a novelist if your work will be chosen for dramatization like a stage play or a telenobela and many more. You will earn again if the work will be chosen for translation in Korean or Japanese language. You must be paid (yes, again) if your work is translated into another language.

In the movie industry, the producer, the director and many more earn or receive payment when their movie is shown in the cinema. They earn or receive another payment if copies of the movie is rented out in authorized rental shops. Even if the movie is not shown in the malls anymore, the producer, the director and the likes should still be earning because there is more than one copy of the movie. The more number of copies of the movie, the more chances of earning (for the copyright owners).

In the visual arts, the artist earns or receives payment if a patron buys his/her artwork. He/she can still earn if his/her work was chosen to be displayed in museums or exhibition halls or a printed copy of the work was included in publications.

In the music industry, musicians and singers earn from the sales of their CDs or from every download (of the patron in the internet). They also earn or receive payment if their works are played in a concert or other commercial establishments like restaurants.

So if you want to earn big time, you don’t stop with your father-in-law’s love story. You must continue. For the sake of art. Compose a song about him. You will never know but the song may top the billboard charts someday. Make a marble sculpture with his face as the subject. You will never know but his marble face might just get featured in the Louvre Museum of Paris.

Not bad, huh?

Authors, publishers or heirs of copyright owners are invited to join FILCOLS. We will help you protect your copyright over your works. To join, one only needs to have published works, or one must be the heirs of an author or has the right to manage the rights of an author. Membership is free. If you have queries, email us at

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