Frequently Asked Questions

(a) Copyright is the exclusive right granted by law to creators of original (published and unpublished) literary, musical, audio-visual, artistic works and computer software etc. in respect of the use, reproduction and exploitation of the works for economic purposes.

(b) Copyright does not protect ideas; it only protects the specific and tangible expression of the ideas.

(c) Copyright begins at the moment the work is created and fixed in a definite medium of expression.

(d) In Ghana, the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 690) grants the creator of the work exclusive rights during his/her life time and seventy years after his/her death.

(e) The Copyright Law grants to the creator of the work both economic and moral rights.

i. The creator of a copyright work has the exclusive economic right to:

• reproduce the work in any form, manner an quantity,

• authorize its public performance,

• control the distribution and sale of the work,

• authorize exploitation of the work.

ii. Under moral rights, the author has the right to claim ownership of the work and object to any distortion, mutilation or modification of the work without his/her authorization.

(f) Legislation governing Copyright in Ghana are:

— The Copyright Act, 2005 (Act 690)
— Copyright Regulations 2010 (L.I. 1962)

By copying, it is meant the reproduction of hard copy and electronic literary/printed works by photocopying, scanning and reuse of content from magazines, books, journals, electronic and online publications, as well as press cuttings.

These include Books, Magazines, Journals, Electronic and online publications, press cuttings (newspaper cuttings), photographs, artistic works, sheet music, and course packs.

The creators include authors, publishers, composers, visual artists, photographers and journalists (generally called authors and publishers) who are the copyright owners.

(a) The right way of acquiring a literary work is by purchasing or borrowing from a friend or the library.

(b) The user is to read, make notes and return it. Do not reproduce it because the reproduction of the work is an exclusive right granted by law to the author and publisher.

(c) The scarcity of the literary work, inability to purchase or the need for only a small portion of the work are not rights under the law for users to engage in mass photocopying and digital copying.

(d) The massive photocopying and digital copying that take place in educational institutions violate the copyright and for that matter the economic rights of creators of literary/printed works.

(a) All the countries that manage photocopying and digital copying rights have provisions on permitted use in their copyright laws. This is termed copying for personal use for the purpose of teaching, learning research etc.

(b) Permitted copying is, however, an action that takes place occasionally and not frequently. It is done by a few users and many works are not involved.

(c) The type of photocopying and some digital copying that take place on the campuses of educational institutions go beyond the scope of permitted copying. It is a regular and frequent activity. It is carried out from the beginning to the end of the academic year. It involves a large number of users and volumes of works are copied.

(d) Permitted copying has now resulted in mass photocopying which affects the economic rights of the creators of the works.

(e) Photocopying and digital copying of copyright protected works especially in educational institutions is a global phenomenon which deprives authors and publishers of their legitimate income. As a response to the massive photocopying and digital copying, the rightsholders in more than 80 countries so far, all over the world including Ghana have set up Reprographic Rights Organizations (RROs) to manage reprographic rights.

CopyGhana grants a blanket licence for a moderate annual fee which requires the licence holder institutions to comply with the provisions in the Copyright Legislation of Ghana (Act 690 & L.I. 1962).

CopyGhana licence is needed by any organization (educational institutions, public/private libraries, banks, companies, churches, government agencies and charitable organizations) that engage in photocopying, scanning or digital reproduction of material from copyrighted publications. The licence is needed to ensure legal compliance. It is a requirement to avoid the risk and
potential cost of copyright infringement.

Regulation 18 of L.I. 1962 states:

(a) A reprographic rights collecting society shall determine a fee in respect of photocopying of works protected by copyright and related rights by educational institutions and any other outlets where reprography is carried out commercially.

(b) In view of the above, CopyGhana conducted a statistical survey to determine the copying habits of students and teaching staff. The survey established the average number of copyright protected pages each student and teaching staff copies annually.

(c) Providing for permitted use, ten percent (10%) is deducted from the annual average number of protected pages each student and teaching staff copies.

(d) The difference from “C” is charged on the principle of “price per copy page”.

(e) In effect, the formula for the determination of the fee is as follows:

Annual Average Number of Protected Pages minus 10% Permitted use; the result multiplied by Price Per Copy Page.

(a) The user institution will be granted a blanket licence which permits students, teaching staff and administrative staff to photocopy or digitally copy copyright protected material and pay the blanket reprographic fees. The institution then collects the fees and pays in bulk to CopyGhana once a year.

(b) Beneficiaries of the collected fees are the creators of published literary work e.g. writers, publishers, photographers, journalists and visual artists.

(c) There is an internationally accepted method for the distribution of the collected fees to beneficiaries. This method is based on one of the following two models:

Title specific and Non-title specific.

Title specific distribution which aims at individual and specific authors and publishers requires users to furnish the RRO with returns on the usage of the works.

Nontitle specific distribution which is more practicable is done in the absence of accurate reports from users. Under this distribution method, the money is made available to the individual rightsholders or channeled to them through the rightsholders’ associations e.g.

  • Ghana Association of Writers,
  • Ghana Book Publishers Association,
  • Ghana Association of Visual Artists,
  • Ghana Journalists Association,
  • Ghana Union of Professional Photographers
  • and others that are yet to come on board.

(a) All over the world copyright protection for all forms of intellectual property goes beyond the borders of every country.

(b) Ghana is a signatory to the following International Treaties and Conventions (among others) which enjoin the country to protect works of foreigners as it protects the works of its citizens:

  • the Berne Convention,
  • Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement
  • and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty.

CopyGhana is a member of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) and therefore, represents the interest of both local and foreign rightsholders in
the literary industry.

(c) Bilateral Agreements also exist among RROs including CopyGhana which allow royalties to be collected on works of foreign origin. There are two (2) main types of agreements, these are;

i. Bilateral Agreement type 1, under which royalties collected in Ghana on foreign works will be maintained by CopyGhana whilst royalties collected on Ghanaian works outside
Ghana will be maintained by the foreign RROs.

ii. Bilateral Agreement type 2 involves exchange of royalties i.e. fees collected on foreign works in Ghana will be remitted to the foreign countries whilst fees collected on Ghanaian works outside are also remitted to Ghana.

(a) CopyGhana grants, to the educational institution, a licence which requires users to pay a token fee (blanket reprographic fee) per user per academic year.

(b) This licence legally permits the users in the educational institution to photocopy or digitally copy a limited number of pages or a portion of a publication other than their own for use in the institution.

(c) The licence indemnifies students, teaching staff and administrative staff from any legal action by a local or foreign rights owner.

(d) The absence of this licence, however, makes photocopying and digital copying of copyright protected works illegal in the institutions.

(e) Copying in the educational sector (under licence) is defined as a supplement to the normal supply of educational material and not as replacement or substitute for acquisition of textbooks and other teaching/reading materials.

CopyGhana over the years has engaged in sensitization exercises to create awareness for users of literary works on the negative effects of photocopying and digital copying on the economic rights of authors and publishers.

Since ignorance of the law is no excuse, potential users are advised and encouraged to seek more information on copyright issues in general and also specifically on licensing processes in photocopying and digital copying. This will help them to meet their obligations under the law.

Failure to take a licence from CopyGhana amounts to infringement of copyright. Under the Copyright Act 2005, Act 690, Section 43 states: A person who infringes a right protected under this Act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than one thousand penalty units and not less than five hundred penalty units; or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three years or to both; and in the case of a continuing offence to a further fine of not less than twentyfive penalty units and not more than one hundred penalty units for each day during which the offence continues.

Understanding Copyright