What are related rights?

Related rights are rights that in certain respects resemble copyright. The purpose of related rights is to protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities, who contribute to making works available to the public. One obvious example is the singer or musician, who performs a composer’s work in public.

In other words, it refers to those rights of those people or organizations that add substantial creative, technical or organisational skill to the process of bringing a work to the public.

Related rights are not copyright, but they are closely associated with it. They are derived from a work protected by copyright. Thus, the two are always, in some way, related. They offer the same kind of exclusivity as copyright, but they don’t cover the actual works. They cover things that involve a work, in the general sense of bringing it to the public. Let’s use the example of a copyright-protected song, and take it through the various stages.

Assuming that we have an original song, it is, of course, protected for the composer and the lyric writer as original copyright holders. They, in due course, will offer it to a singer who performs it and he or she will also need a form of protection. If it is to be recorded, or if the singer hopes to have it broadcast, those acts involve engaging another company, which will also want to be protected before it enters into an agreement. The first of these related rights then are the rights of those who perform the works, namely the performers, singers, actors, dancers, musicians and so on.

Related rights are rights that in certain respects resemble copyright. The purpose of related rights is to protect the legal interests of certain persons and legal entities, who contribute to making works available to the public. One obvious example is the singer or musician, who performs a composer’s work in public.

In other words, it refers to those rights of those people or organisations that add substantial creative, technical or organisational skill to the process of bringing a work to the public.

Then, there is a second group: the phonogram producers, or, more accurately, producers of sound recordings. Theirs is a more commercial kind of protection as the making of a quality sound recording has more to do with the protection of an investment than with the artistic concerns, involved in the making, writing or performance of a song. Nevertheless, even here, in the whole process of selecting the instrumental backing, repertoires, arranging the music and so on, there are some creative elements as well as the more obvious and important economic elements. We should bear in mind that these producers are among the most immediate victims of piracy, as they don”t get the money that is diverted to the pirate producers. However, their financial loss is passed down the line to the performers and authors. This is why producers of sound recordings have also been granted specific rights.

The third group, receiving protection for their related rights, are broadcasters. Their rights derive from their creative input, namely the making of broadcasts, not from the content of the broadcast, but from the act of broadcasting it. The very fact that they have the ability to emit the signals constituting the broadcast gives them protection rights of a sort in those signals.

As mentioned earlier, related rights are not the same as copyright, but they are closely associated with it; “they are derived from a work protected by copyright”.However, sometimes, related rights are associated with works that are not protected by copyright, e.g. works that are in the public domain. Let us consider, for example, a Tabla concert by a Maestro. It may have been performed in a concert hall or it may have been recorded on a CD. If the Maestro is no more, all of his works would still be in the public domain and thus do not enjoy copyright protection. Hence, anyone is free to play a particular composition or record one of his concerts, without having to obtain an authorisation.

However, in the same example, the performers of the Orchestra, as well as the producer of the CD, containing a recording of the concert, would enjoy related rights, with regard to their performance in the concert and its recording. Therefore, in the example under consideration, no one would be entitled to record a live performance of such concert without the consent of the performers. Moreover, no one is entitled to make copies of a sound recording containing the rendition of such Tabla concert, without the consent of the sound recording producer.

It is interesting to note also that sound recording producers may enjoy protection even if what has been recorded is not in itself a work. A sound recording may contain natural sounds, such as bird songs, ocean waves, etc. These sounds are not works. Nevertheless, the sound recording company that has arranged for the production of the CD, containing these sounds, would be protected against any act of piracy involving such recording.

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