Copyright law grants authors, composers, computer programmers, website designers and other creators legal protection for their literary, artistic, dramatic and other types of creations, which are usually referred to as “works.” Copyright law protects a wide variety of original works, such as books, magazines, newspapers, music, paintings, photographs, sculptures, architecture, films, computer programs, video games and original databases The protection regime for intellectual and artistic works bearing the characteristic of their author as well as neighbouring rights related to such works is set and stipulated under the Law No. 5846 on Intellectual and Artistic Works (the Copyright Act). The protection provided by the Copyright Act covers moral and financial rights of authors, creators of works, performers as well as phonogram producers and broadcasting organisations. The act also regulates exploitation of such rights, enforcement procedures and judicial remedies and sanctions in the case of any infringement. In addition, there are also a number of provisions related to copyright matters in certain special laws, such as the Act on the Collection of Reproduced Literary and Artistic Works, the Act on Establishment and Broadcasts of Radio and Television Enterprises, as well as the Press Act and the Municipal Law. Furthermore, certain provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code regarding unfair competition also grant protection of IP rights in certain aspects, but to a limited extent.
Regulation No. 26,171 of 17 May 2006 in Turkey, regarding the recording and registration of intellectual and artistic works subject to copyright protection, provides a system for registration of all kinds of artistic work, which is administered by the ministry and the General Directorate of Copyright and Cinematography in Ankara. The registration of these rights would enable the recordal of the license to use and assign the work subject to copyright protection before the Ministry. The recording or registration of copyright based on declarations does not have a constitutive effect for the establishment of copyright in Turkey; it only serves as evidence of the existence of the copyright. It is therefore further mentioned in article 13 that: ‘The ministry shall not carry any responsibility for such recording or registrations.’ Authors may apply to record and register all their works subject to copyright protection protected within the scope of the law in Turkey. By doing so, registration of copyright will evidence their authorship and will enable the follow-up of any authorizations they may have given in respect of the use of the economic rights of the works subject to copyright protection. On the other hand, according to Law No. 5,224 on the Support of Cinema Films through Evaluation and Classification in Turkey, cinema works subject to copyright protection which are produced within Turkey or subject to importation have to be evaluated and classified by the Council of Evaluation and Classification within the Ministry. They are recorded and registered and granted a certificate of operation prior to their wholesale, distribution and display to the public.
In the field of copyright law, the author’s rights are subject to certain limitations due to public order, public interest and private interest. Furthermore, there are limitations due to certain authorities granted to the government. When considering the provisions of the Copyright Law with regard to the limitations of an author’s rights over his or her work in general, it can be concluded that such limitations are conditional to the work being used without pursuing direct or indirect profit and with the sole objective of serving public security, general interests and private interests as envisaged in the law so that news and information are communicated freely; training, education, scientific and cultural activities are supported; and personal needs are satisfied, within reasonable standards that are in proportion with the said objectives and without prejudicing the legitimate interests of the author. The said conditions also form the standards to be used in determining the fairness of a particular use forming a limitation to the author’s rights. The exercise of IP rights is subject to statutory time limitations. Turkish IP laws stipulate different protection periods for each type of IP rights. Any copyright defined in the Copyright Act expires 70 years after the death of the author. The copyright protection starts from the death of the author even if such work becomes public after his or her death. However, protection for legal entities as right holders begins from the publication of the work. The protection of trademarks is valid for 10 years from the date of application for the registration and the registration can be renewed every 10 years (article 40, the Trademark Act). The financial rights in connection with the works defined in the Copyright Act can be freely transferred upon a written contract; provided that the work subject to such transfer exists on the transfer date and all transferring rights are separately defined in the contract. However, the moral rights belong exclusively to the copyright holder and they are not transferable and alienable. The copyright holder can grant exclusive or non-exclusive licences. The work subject to such licensing must exist on the date of the licence contract and all rights subject to licensing must be separately defined therein. In the case of licensing, the prohibition rights of the copyright holder are restricted in accordance with the terms of licence contract.
As for the copyright regime, although certain tasks regarding the law’s implementation are conferred upon the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, these tasks are not related to ensuring the acquisition and disposal of any right in relation to intellectual and artistic works, but rather, are intended for the protection, supervision, encouragement and coordination of the relevant works. Article 13 of the Copyright Law and the related provisions of Regulation No. 26171 of May 2006 on the Recording and Registration of Intellectual and Artistic Works stipulate mandatory recording and registration for cinematographic and musical works as well as computer games, and arbitrary recording and registration for other groups of works with the General Directorate of Copyrights, a special unit of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This is for the purpose of preventing violation of moral, economic and related rights, facilitating proof of rightholdership and tracking the authority to exercise economic rights. According to article 81 of the Copyright Law, ‘banderols’ that are compulsorily affixed to reproduced copies of cinematographic and musical works, computer games and non-periodicals, and that are arbitrarily affixed to other groups of works, are printed and distributed by the ministry. Article 44 of the Copyright Law also confers to the ministry the task of certification of places where the materials serving fixation and reproduction of intellectual and artistic works are manufactured, recorded, reproduced and sold, or otherwise distributed and supplied to the public. Article 7 of the Law on the Evaluation, Classification and Support of Cinema Films tasks the ministry with the evaluation and classification of movies produced within Turkey or imported from overseas. According to Regulation No. 27751, issued in November 2010, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism also manages an intellectual property database in order to ensure easy tracking and proper protection of intellectual property rights.
As per the Copyright Act, three types of legal proceedings are available for enforcing IP rights: • prevention of infringement; • revocation of infringement; and • claim for damages. Right holders can also initiate preliminary proceedings before or during main proceedings and obtain a preliminary injunction within two or three days. In addition, upon the complaint of right holder whose right has been infringed, the infringer may be sentenced to imprisonment or judicial fine as per articles 71 and 72 of the Copyright Act. In Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, civil courts for intellectual and industrial rights and criminal courts for intellectual and industrial rights are competent to hear such cases. In other cities local commercial courts have jurisdiction over such cases.
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