Copyright Laws in Malaysia

4 min read|Last Updated: February 7, 2024|

After incorporating up your company, it is good to take note of what you are able to copyright as your own to prevent as misuse of these assets or materials that could affect your business. The copyright laws are implemented to ensure exclusive rights are limited to its owner, and usually for a limited period of time.

All company types, such as private limited companies (Sdn. Bhd.) and partnerships, can apply for copyright of assets.

Copyright laws protect the creative works created by any photographer, author, producer, musician, artist, sculptor, or any other person. It is awarded to an artist who can provide sufficient evidence that confirms that such works are original pieces.

This law ensures that a copyright is given to a person as soon the person creates the original piece of work. In Malaysia, the primary copyright law is the Copyright Act 1987.

Other laws created to protect copyrights in Malaysia include the Industrial Designs Act 1996 which protects industrial designs as well as the Industrial Designs Regulations 1999.

Malaysia Corporate Secretary Ramu

Application of copyright is usually done by the company through an IP agency and may be assisted by the company secretary.

Protection of Copyrights in Malaysia

Copyrights provide the creator of literary, musical, or artistic work with the exclusive rights to such a work. The laws surrounding such works help in protecting the owner from unauthorised adaptations or reproduction of the works involved.

Copyright laws also protect any related organisation by safeguarding its revenue-earning assets which are derived from any work which could be copyrighted.

To establish ownership of any copyrightable work in Malaysia, the creator of the work should prepare the appropriate documentation to prove ownership.

Copyright holders may either claim their ownership through a statutory declaration or by filing a voluntary notification with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO). This process allows anyone to protect unauthorised use of their content on any platform.

What items can be copyrighted in Malaysia?

Copyright laws in Malaysia specify the creative items which may be protected through a copyright issued in the country.

Among the items which may be copyrighted in Malaysia are:

  • Musical works
  • Literary works
  • Films
  • Sound recordings
  • Artistic works
  • Derivative works
  • Broadcasts

Before any of these creative works may be copyrighted, sufficient evidence must be provided which confirms that such works are original pieces.

The government of Malaysia has provided certain rights to copyright owners. Copyright owners can be in a form of an individual or any types of company. These rights include legal, moral, and economic rights.

1. Legal rights

This allows the owner, author, creator, or designers of any copyrighted work in Malaysia to protect their work according to the copyright laws of Malaysia. If there is any copyright infringement, the creator or author is allowed to take action against those at fault.

2. Moral rights

Moral rights allow the author to claim the rights to originality of the creation. These rights also involve the right to prevent any user from mutilating, distorting, or modifying the author’s work in an unauthorized manner.

3. Economic rights

These rights are granted to the owner of the work so that the owner will receive the right of communication to the public, right of reproduction, right to perform, right to distribution, and right of commercial rental. These rights may be exercised according to the Copyright Act 1987. Economic rights also allow creators to receive financial benefits through the use of their works for commercial purposes.

The duration of the period for which a copyright is valid differs depending on the laws of the country in which the copyright is granted.

For Malaysia, the duration of copyright protection is as follows:

Copyright Work Duration
Literature, music, or any other form of artwork 50 years following the death of the creator(s) of the copyrighted work.

Should any work which is copyrighted in Malaysia be designed, curated, or written jointly, the copyright will be in effect until the death of all authors or creators. The artwork will be protected until 50 years after the death of all authors or creators.


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What happens after the period stated in the copyright ends?2021-09-24T12:25:33+08:00

Copyright terms depend on the country in question, for Malaysia specifically, 50 years after the death of the owner/artist, which is the duration copyrights expires, the works will be released into the public domain.

Can anyone receive copyright protection in Malaysia?2021-09-24T12:23:54+08:00

Any person who is the original creator of any artwork, literary work, film, or any other copyrightable work is legally permitted to receive copyright protection in Malaysia. So long as the work meets the required criteria:

  • The work has not been copied from any other present source or any previously existing work
  • Works include literature, film, photographs, and sculptures among others
  • The work must also be able to be verified as genuine before it may receive copyright protection
  • Works created by an architect or engineer will only receive copyright protection if the work is completely designed, built, and located in Malaysia
  • In the case of broadcasts, only broadcasts which have solely been transmitted through Malaysia are protected by the country’s copyright laws.

Any person’s work which has fulfilled all the requirements which have been stated will automatically receive protection according to the copyright laws of Malaysia.

Can Copyright protection be transferred or revoked?2021-09-24T12:24:23+08:00

In Malaysia, such a move is certainly possible as long as the details of this transfer are registered with the copyright office in Malaysia. The certified copy which confirms the transfer as well as the signatures of all people involved must also be supplied.

Can anything which originates from abroad be Copyrighted in Malaysia?2021-09-24T12:24:52+08:00

Anything that originates from a creator from another country is permitted to be copyrighted in Malaysia. This is the case due to the details stated in the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention is an agreement which has been signed by the vast majority of countries in the world today. It serves the purpose of providing protection for the works of the authors, musicians, sculptors, photographers, and others in similar lines of work.

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