What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection given to works of creative expression. The owner of the copyright in a work is given certain exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce the work and to sell it.

What works can qualify for copyright?

The following works can attract copyright:

  • Literary works: covers items in writing such as books, letters, brochures, catalogues, etc. Computer software also falls in this category.
  • Musical works: covers musical notes.
  • Artistic works: covers works of art, such as paintings, photographs, sculpture, drawings, etc.
  • Films
  • Sound recordings: covers recorded media, such as cassettes, compact discs, etc.
  • Broadcasts: covers radio and television transmissions

In order for copyright to attach, the work must be in material form and must be original in nature.

How do I register copyright?

Copyright exists automatically upon creation of the work. There is no need to register your copyright and in fact there is actually no mechanism to register copyright in Malaysia. Since there is no registration procedure, there is no certificate which can be granted in respect of copyright. The recommended way to assert ownership of copyright is to execute a Statutory Declaration.

How long does copyright last?

For literary, musical and artistic works, copyright will last for the life of the author and 50 years after his death.

For films, sound recordings and broadcasts, copyright will last for 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year when it was published.

Is Malaysia a member of the Berne Convention?


If you would like a more comprehensive fact sheet which lists down the requirements for preparing a Statutory Declaration as well as the costs, click here.