Copyrights Law and IP Protection in Pakistan- Josh and Mak International

Josh and Mak International, being a full-service law firm, can offer a range of legal services to individuals and companies in Pakistan and abroad in the realm of copyrights and related intellectual property matters. Here are some of the legal services they can provide in the realm of Copyrights Protection in Pakistan:

  1. Copyright Registration and Protection: The firm can assist individuals and companies in registering their creative works, such as literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works, with the Copyright Office in Pakistan. They can ensure that the registration process is carried out efficiently and that the copyright is adequately protected.
  2. Infringement Proceedings: Josh and Mak International can represent clients in copyright infringement cases, both as plaintiffs and defendants. They can initiate legal action against infringers, seeking appropriate remedies, including damages, injunctions, and recovery of attorney’s fees. Similarly, they can defend clients who are accused of copyright infringement.
  3. Copyright Licensing and Assignment: The firm can assist copyright owners in drafting and negotiating licensing and assignment agreements. These agreements allow copyright holders to grant permission to others to use their works while retaining ownership or transferring their rights, respectively.
  4. Moral Rights Protection: Josh and Mak International can advise artists and creators on how to protect their moral rights, such as the right to claim authorship and prevent distortion or mutilation of their works.
  5. International Copyright Protection: For clients with creative works distributed internationally, the firm can provide guidance on protecting their copyrights in foreign countries, utilizing international conventions and treaties.
  6. Copyright Due Diligence: For businesses acquiring or investing in copyrighted works, the firm can conduct due diligence to ensure that the copyrights are validly owned and properly protected.
  7. Copyright Compliance and Enforcement: The firm can assist businesses in ensuring compliance with copyright laws and help develop internal policies to prevent infringement. They can also enforce copyrights on behalf of businesses against those who use their works without authorization.
  8. Copyright Licensing Disputes: In cases of disputes arising from licensing agreements, Josh and Mak International can represent clients in negotiations and legal proceedings to resolve the conflicts.
  9. Copyright Advisory Services: The firm can provide guidance and advice on complex copyright issues, such as fair use, public domain, and digital rights management.
  10. Customs Recordation and Enforcement: For clients dealing with copyright infringement in imports or exports, the firm can assist in recordation of copyrights with customs authorities and take appropriate enforcement actions.

In addition to copyright-related services, Josh and Mak International can offer a broad range of legal services in other practice areas, including corporate and commercial law, intellectual property, dispute resolution, contract drafting and negotiation, and more. Their expertise and experience enable them to cater to the legal needs of individuals and businesses both in Pakistan and abroad.

Copyright Laws in Pakistan: Protecting Intellectual Property in a Piracy-Prone Landscape


Copyright protection is crucial for safeguarding the intellectual property of creators and fostering creativity and innovation in any country. In Pakistan, the evolution of copyright laws has seen multiple iterations, with the Copyright Act of 1914 serving as the initial foundation. Over the years, the legislation has been refined to accommodate modern challenges and provide more robust protection to creators. However, despite these efforts, piracy remains a significant issue in the country. This blog post, presented by Josh and Mak International, explores the historical development of copyright laws in Pakistan, the concept of copyright protection, the absence of mandatory registration, and the challenges of piracy in the digital age.

Historical Development:

The inception of copyright laws in Pakistan can be traced back to the Copyright Act of 1914, which was heavily influenced by the U.K. Copyright Act of 1911. Subsequently, the Copyright Ordinance of 1962 replaced the 1914 Act. This change aimed to expand the scope of protection and enhance the enforcement of copyright in the country. Further amendments were introduced through the Copyright (Amendment) Act of 1992, reinforcing copyright protection for new creative works and tightening measures against infringement.

Copyright Protection and Registration:

Unlike some jurisdictions, registering a creative work with the Registrar of Copyrights is not a mandatory requirement in Pakistan. The Copyright Ordinance establishes that the copyright is automatically granted to the original creator as soon as the work is created and recorded in a tangible form. This provision ensures that creators enjoy copyright protection without undergoing a cumbersome registration process. A significant legal precedent was set by the court in the case of Messers Ferozesons Pvt. Ltd. v. Dr. Col. Retd. K.U. Kureshi and others, confirming that failure to register copyright does not invalidate or impair copyright protection.

However, voluntary registration can be beneficial, as it provides prima facie evidence of authorship and the existence of copyright, which can be crucial in resolving any disputes.

Copyright Protects Expression, Not Ideas:

It is essential to understand that copyright does not protect ideas themselves; instead, it safeguards the expression of those ideas. This distinction was emphasized in the case of Independent Media v. Ali Saleem and Anr., where the court clarified that copyright protection extends to the specific form of expression, such as literary, artistic, musical, or cinematic works, but not to the ideas behind them.

Challenges of Piracy and Enforcement:

Despite robust legal provisions for copyright protection and enforcement, piracy remains rampant in Pakistan. Industries such as movies, music, and software suffer significant financial losses annually due to piracy. The emergence of internet piracy, enabled by modern technologies, has further exacerbated the problem.

Market Entry Planning:

Foreign companies looking to enter the Pakistani market must be aware of the risks associated with piracy. To reduce these risks, it is essential to develop a comprehensive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) strategy. Key steps in this strategy include:

  • Engaging an IPR Expert: Seeking the guidance of an expert well-versed in Pakistan’s copyright laws is essential. An IPR expert can help ensure that the strategy aligns with the local legal framework and offers the best protection for the company’s intellectual property.
  • Agreements and Non-Disclosure: Before sharing any copyrighted work with third parties, it is crucial to have relevant agreements in place. These should include Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and other contracts that define the relationship between the parties and the rights and obligations associated with the work. Clauses that address copyright ownership, licensing, duration, territorial extent, and royalty payments should be included to avoid ambiguity.
  • Protecting Copyright and Confidentiality: The agreements should be drafted with special attention to safeguarding copyright and ensuring confidentiality. Termination clauses should also be carefully outlined to protect the interests of both parties.

The development of copyright laws in Pakistan has come a long way, with the Copyright Ordinance of 1962 and subsequent amendments aiming to provide adequate protection to creators. However, the challenge of piracy remains a significant concern. Foreign companies seeking to enter the Pakistani market must carefully strategize and take necessary precautions to protect their intellectual property rights. With proper planning and legal expertise, companies can navigate the copyright landscape in Pakistan and safeguard their creative works from piracy and unauthorized use.

Enforcing Copyright in Pakistan: Protecting Your Intellectual Property

As a copyright owner in Pakistan, it is crucial to take proactive steps to enforce your rights and protect your intellectual property from infringement. In the event of any unauthorized use or infringement of your copyrighted work, there are several measures you can take to safeguard your exclusive proprietary rights. This blog post, brought to you by Josh and Mak International, outlines the actions you can take to enforce copyright and the exclusive rights granted to copyright owners in Pakistan.

Enforcement Measures:

  • Cease and Desist Notice: If you discover that someone is using your copyrighted work without permission, sending a cease and desist notice can be an effective initial step. This notice formally demands the infringing party to stop the unauthorized use immediately. In many cases, the threat of legal action in the notice can prompt the infringer to comply and avoid further complications.
  • Legal Action: If the infringing party disregards the cease and desist notice or continues the unauthorized use, initiating legal action becomes necessary. You may file a lawsuit against the infringer in the appropriate court. Legal action can result in injunctions to stop the infringement and, in some cases, compensation for damages suffered due to the infringement.
  • Cautionary Notices: To establish your exclusive proprietary rights to the copyrighted work, consider publishing cautionary notices claiming copyright ownership. These notices serve as a warning to others that the work is protected by copyright, and any unauthorized use may result in legal consequences. Displaying cautionary notices can act as a deterrent against potential infringers.

Validity of Copyright Assignment:

It is important to note that under Pakistani law, an assignment of copyright is only valid if it is done through a written agreement. In the case of Shakeel Adilzadah v. Pakistan Television Corporation Ltd. and others, the court emphasized that copyrights can be assigned only through a written agreement. A mere circumstance where an author is engaged by a publisher to create a work for remuneration does not automatically transfer the copyright to the publisher. Therefore, it is essential to formalize copyright assignments in writing to ensure their validity.

Works Protected under Pakistan Copyright Law:

The Copyright Ordinance in Pakistan grants protection to various types of original works, including but not limited to:

  • Original literary works
  • Original dramatic works
  • Original musical works
  • Original artistic works
  • Cinematographic films
  • Records (as defined in the Copyright Ordinance)

Exclusive Rights of Copyright Owners in Pakistan:

Copyright owners in Pakistan have exclusive rights to their works. These rights encompass various actions, including but not limited to:

  • Reproducing the work in any material form
  • Issuing copies of the work to the public (excluding copies already in circulation)
  • Performing the work in public
  • Communicating the work to the public
  • Making cinematographic films based on the work
  • Making sound recordings of the work
  • Making translations or adaptations of the work
  • Offering the work for sale or rental

Enforcing copyright protection in Pakistan requires prompt and decisive action in the face of infringement. Utilizing cease and desist notices, initiating legal proceedings when necessary, and displaying cautionary notices can help protect your intellectual property. Additionally, always ensure that any copyright assignments are properly formalized in written agreements to uphold their validity. Understanding the exclusive rights granted to copyright owners under Pakistani law is essential for safeguarding the value and integrity of your creative works.

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Copyright Registration Procedure in Pakistan: Protecting Your Creative Works

While copyright registration is not mandatory in Pakistan, obtaining a certificate of registration can serve as valuable evidence in a court of law, confirming the existence of copyright and the ownership of such copyright. This blog post by Josh and Mak International outlines the copyright registration procedure in Pakistan for both published and unpublished works.

Registration Procedure:

Any person who owns the copyright to a work can apply for registration with the Registrar of Copyrights in Pakistan. The application can be filed by the copyright owner directly or by an attorney representing the copyright owner. It is essential to file a separate application for each individual work seeking copyright protection. The registration process is divided into four parts, depending on the type of work:

  • Part I – Literary, Dramatic & Musical Works
  • Part II – Artistic Works
  • Part III – Cinematographic Works
  • Part IV – Record Works

Documents and Application Filing:

To initiate the copyright registration process, the applicant must file the application in the prescribed format at either the office of the Copyright Registrar in Karachi or the Intellectual Property Office in Lahore. The application should be accompanied by a “Statement of Particulars” and a “Statement of Further Particulars.”

The required forms and general information for copyright registration can be found at the following link: Copyright Forms.

Artistic Works Advertisement:

For artistic works seeking copyright protection, an additional step is required. The rights holder must publish an advertisement of the said artistic work in a national Urdu or English language daily newspaper where the rights holder resides or conducts business activities.

Benefits of Copyright Registration:

Though copyright vests from the moment the work is created and recorded in a tangible form, registering copyright has its advantages:

  • Legal Evidence: A certificate of registration serves as valuable legal evidence in case of any copyright dispute. It confirms the existence of copyright in the work and the ownership by the individual or entity named in the certificate.
  • Deterrent Effect: Copyright registration and the inclusion of the copyright symbol (©) on the work can deter potential infringers from unauthorized use. It sends a clear message that the work is protected by copyright.
  • Potential Remedies: In case of copyright infringement, having a registered copyright allows the copyright owner to seek legal remedies more easily and may lead to higher damages in certain cases.

While copyright registration is not obligatory in Pakistan, obtaining a certificate of registration can be beneficial for copyright owners. It provides legal evidence of copyright ownership, acts as a deterrent against infringement, and enables more straightforward legal recourse in case of any disputes. By following the prescribed registration procedure, copyright owners can strengthen their rights and protect their creative works in Pakistan’s intellectual property landscape.

Copyright Registration and Rights of Performers and Producers in Pakistan

Registering copyright in Pakistan involves certain procedural requirements and timelines. Additionally, performers and producers of phonograms are granted specific rights under copyright law. In this blog post, Josh and Mak International explores the copyright registration process and delves into the rights of performers and producers of phonograms in Pakistan.

Copyright Registration Process:

Upon filing the copyright application with the Registrar of Copyrights, the rights holder must simultaneously send a copy of the application to any person who claims an interest in the subject matter of the copyright or disputes the rights of the applicant. The Registrar examines the application and may seek clarification from the applicant if needed.

If no third-party objections are received within thirty days of receipt, the Registrar enters the copyright information into the Register of Copyrights. However, in case of any disputes, the Registrar holds an inquiry and, upon satisfaction, enters the relevant details in the Register of Copyrights. The entire registration process typically takes between six to eight months.

Once the copyright information has been entered into the Register of Copyrights, the Registrar publishes it in the Official Gazette.

Rights of Performers and Producers of Phonograms:

Performers, such as actors, singers, musicians, dancers, and more, have specific rights under copyright law, known as Performer’s Rights. These exclusive rights include:

  • Fixation or Prevention of Fixation: Performers have the right to authorize or prevent the recording of their live performances.
  • Reproduction of Fixation: Performers have the right to reproduce the fixation of their performances.
  • Broadcast: Performers can authorize the broadcast of their performances through wireless means.
  • Communication to the Public: Performers have the right to communicate their live performances to the public.

Producers of phonograms, those who record sounds of performances or other sounds, also enjoy specific rights. These rights include:

  • Reproduction of Fixation: Producers have the exclusive right to reproduce their phonogram fixations.
  • Rental of Fixation: Producers can rent their phonogram fixations.

Any unauthorized reproduction or rental of the phonogram fixation during the duration of the performer’s rights constitutes an infringement of the performer’s rights.

Duration of Rights:

The rights of performers and producers of phonograms are protected for fifty years from the year in which the fixation was made or the performance took place.

Copyright registration in Pakistan involves adhering to specific procedures, including notifying interested parties and publishing the copyright information. Performers and producers enjoy exclusive rights to their performances and phonogram fixations, ensuring that their creative works are protected for a considerable period. Understanding these rights is essential for creators and rights holders to enforce their copyright and protect their intellectual property in Pakistan.

Fixation, Broadcaster’s Rights, and Term of Copyright in Pakistan

Understanding the definitions and rights related to fixation, broadcaster’s rights, and the term of copyright is crucial for creators, broadcasting organizations, and copyright holders in Pakistan. In this blog post, Josh and Mak International elaborates on these aspects of copyright law to provide clarity on intellectual property protection.


The Copyright Ordinance in Pakistan defines fixation as the process of incorporating sounds or images, or both, in a device that allows them to be later perceived audibly or visually. Fixation is essential in copyright law as it transforms the intangible creative work into a tangible form, ensuring that it can be preserved and accessed later.

Broadcaster’s Rights:

The Copyright Ordinance further defines “broadcasting” as the communication to the public of sounds or images, or both, through radio-diffusion, which includes communication through telecast, wire, or both. Broadcasting organizations are granted special rights known as broadcast reproduction rights. These exclusive rights include:

  • Re-broadcast: Broadcasting organizations have the exclusive right to re-broadcast their original broadcasts.
  • Fixing Broadcasts: Broadcasting organizations can fix their broadcasts in a tangible form for preservation or future use.
  • Copying Fixations of Broadcasts: Broadcasting organizations have the exclusive right to copy fixations made of their broadcasts.

Any unauthorized act that involves re-broadcasting, fixing broadcasts, or copying fixations without a license from the broadcasting organization while their rights are in effect constitutes an infringement of the broadcaster’s rights. The broadcast reproduction right is valid for twenty-five years.

Term of Copyright:

The term of copyright protection in Pakistan is not perpetual and varies depending on the type of work. For original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (excluding photographs), the term of copyright protection is the life of the author plus fifty years. The fifty-year period begins from the year following the death of the author.

For films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of the government, and works of international organizations, the term of copyright is fifty years. The fifty-year period starts from the calendar year following the year in which the work is first published.


Fixation is the crucial step in copyright protection that converts creative works into tangible forms. Broadcasting organizations enjoy exclusive rights related to their broadcasts, including re-broadcasting, fixing broadcasts, and copying fixations. Copyright protection in Pakistan has specific time limits, with the term lasting for the life of the author plus fifty years for most original works. For other types of works, the term is fifty years from the year of first publication. By understanding these aspects of copyright law, creators and broadcasting organizations can effectively protect their intellectual property in Pakistan.

Exemptions from Copyright Infringement in Pakistan

Copyright law in Pakistan provides certain exemptions where certain acts do not constitute copyright infringement. These exemptions allow for fair use and specific instances where the use of copyrighted material is considered acceptable without seeking prior permission from the copyright owner. This blog post by Josh and Mak International explains the exemptions from copyright infringement under the Copyright Ordinance in Pakistan.

Acts Not Constituting Copyright Infringement:

  • Fair Dealing: Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work is allowed for specific purposes, including:
    • Private study or research.
    • Criticism or review, whether of the work in question or of any other work.
  • Reporting Current Events: A fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work is permitted for reporting current events in newspapers, magazines, similar periodicals, or through broadcasts, cinematograph films, or photographs.
  • Judicial Proceedings: Reproduction of a literary, dramatic, or musical work for the purpose of a judicial proceeding or reporting a judicial proceeding is not copyright infringement.
  • Political Speech Reports: The publication in a newspaper of a report of a public political speech is exempted, unless the report is prohibited by a conspicuous written notice.
  • Educational Use: Specific educational uses that do not prejudicially affect the owner of the copyright are exempted, including:
    • Reproduction or adaptation by teachers or pupils for instructional purposes in examinations.
    • Performance of works by staff and students of educational institutions for limited audiences connected to the institution.
    • Reproduction of short passages in educational collections.
  • Records for Educational Use: Making records of literary, dramatic, or musical works for educational purposes, with proper notice and payment of royalties, is exempted. Necessary alterations or omissions may be made, provided they are reasonably necessary for adaptation.
  • Limited Audience Performance: Using recordings in public at places of residence or non-profit clubs, societies, or organizations is exempted.
  • Amateur Performances: Amateur club or society performances for non-paying audiences or for religious, charitable, or educational institutions are exempted.
  • Reports of Lectures: The publication of reports of public lectures in newspapers or periodicals is allowed.
  • Libraries and Research: Certain uses for research, private study, publication, or reproduction of unpublished works kept in institutions accessible to the public are exempted.
  • Government Publications: Reproducing official government publications or court judgments and orders, where not prohibited, is exempted.
  • Artistic Works in Public Places: Making paintings, drawings, engravings, or photographs of artistic works permanently situated in public places is exempted.
  • Cinematograph Film Inclusion: Inclusion of artistic works permanently situated in public places or used as background or incidental elements in cinematograph films is exempted.
  • Architectural Works: Certain uses of architectural works, including reconstruction and three-dimensional representations, are exempted.
  • Exhibition of Expired Copyright Films: Exhibiting cinematograph films after the expiration of copyright is allowed.
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The Copyright Ordinance in Pakistan provides various exemptions from copyright infringement for specific purposes, promoting fair use and allowing limited use of copyrighted works for educational, research, reporting, and other important purposes. Creators, educators, researchers, and the public can benefit from these exemptions while ensuring that the rights of copyright owners are respected. Understanding these exemptions is essential for navigating copyright laws and promoting the balance between the rights of copyright owners and the public interest.

Enforcing Copyright in Pakistan: Civil and Criminal Remedies

Copyright owners in Pakistan enjoy exclusive proprietary rights over their creative works, and the copyright law provides both civil and criminal remedies to enforce these rights. In this blog post, Josh and Mak International explores the avenues available for copyright holders to protect their intellectual property in Pakistan.

Civil Litigation:

If a copyright owner believes their rights have been infringed or their work is being passed off by others, they can initiate a civil suit for copyright infringement in Pakistan. In such a suit, the rights holder can seek various remedies, including:

  • Injunction: The court can issue an injunction to restrain further infringement of the copyright.
  • Damages and Accounting: The rights holder may claim damages suffered due to the infringement and seek an accounting of profits made by the infringer.
  • Seizure of Infringing Copies: All infringing copies of the work, as well as plates used or intended to be used for reproducing the copyrighted work, are considered the property of the rights holder, subject to certain conditions specified in article 57(x) of the Copyright Ordinance.
  • Provisional Orders: In cases where immediate regular legal proceedings are not feasible due to sufficient cause, the rights holder or any third party with an interest in the copyright may apply to the court for immediate provisional orders to prevent infringement and preserve evidence. This interim order will remain effective for a maximum period of thirty days unless regular proceedings are initiated within that time frame. If regular proceedings are initiated, the provisional proceedings will merge with them.

The Copyright Ordinance mandates that the decision in a copyright infringement suit be rendered within twelve months.

Criminal Litigation:

In addition to civil remedies, the Copyright Ordinance also provides for criminal remedies for copyright infringement. If someone infringes the rights of a copyright holder, they may face criminal charges, which could result in:

  • Imprisonment: The infringer may be sentenced to up to three years of imprisonment.
  • Fine: The court may impose a fine of up to one hundred thousand rupees (approximately $1,268 USD) on the infringer.

The police also have the authority to take action against copyright infringement and seize copies of the infringing work, plates, and recording equipment without a warrant, provided they have reason to believe that infringement has occurred or is likely to take place. All seized items must be promptly presented before a Magistrate.

Copyright owners in Pakistan have robust legal recourse to protect their intellectual property rights. Through civil litigation, they can seek injunctions, damages, and accounting for infringement. In addition, criminal remedies allow for imprisonment and fines for copyright violators. The availability of these remedies serves as a strong deterrent against copyright infringement and helps safeguard the creative works of copyright owners in Pakistan.

Administrative Provisions, Expected Developments, and Copyright Legislation in Pakistan

In addition to civil and criminal remedies, copyright law in Pakistan provides certain administrative provisions to protect the rights of copyright holders. There are also expected developments in copyright legislation, and Pakistan is a signatory to international copyright treaties. This blog post by Josh and Mak International highlights these important aspects of copyright protection in Pakistan.

Administrative Provisions:

Under the copyright law and customs law in Pakistan, copyright holders have the option to file an application with a Customs officer to detain any consignment containing infringing copies imported into or exported out of Pakistan. The Customs officer will then examine the consignment in the presence of the parties involved. If it is determined that the consignment contains infringing copies, it will be ordered to be confiscated, and the importer or exporter will be liable for penalties as described under the Customs Act, 1969. This provision helps in curbing the import and export of pirated or infringing copies, further strengthening copyright protection.

Expected Developments:

A bill to implement an optical disc law is pending in Pakistan. It is anticipated that this bill will be passed in the near future, which will aid in combating piracy more effectively. The optical disc law is likely to address issues related to unauthorized reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works on optical discs, such as CDs and DVDs. By introducing this specific legislation, Pakistan aims to enhance copyright protection in the digital age and tackle the challenges posed by digital piracy.

Copyright Legislation in Pakistan:

The primary legislation governing copyright in Pakistan is the Copyright Ordinance, 1962, along with the Copyright Rules, 1967. These legal instruments outline the rights and protections afforded to copyright owners and lay down the procedures for copyright registration, enforcement, and remedies.

International Copyright Treaties:

Pakistan is a signatory to two significant international copyright treaties:

  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works: The Berne Convention is an international treaty that establishes minimum standards of copyright protection among member countries. As a signatory to this treaty, Pakistan is committed to providing copyright protection to works from other member countries on the same basis as its own nationals.
  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS): TRIPS is an agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for various forms of intellectual property rights, including copyright. By being a signatory to TRIPS, Pakistan is obligated to comply with the agreed-upon standards for copyright protection and enforcement.

Administrative provisions, expected developments in copyright legislation, and Pakistan’s participation in international copyright treaties demonstrate the country’s commitment to protecting intellectual property rights. Copyright owners can utilize these legal provisions and treaties to safeguard their creative works and combat copyright infringement in Pakistan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Copyright in Pakistan

  • When can I use the symbol ©?
  • As soon as you have created a work in which copyright subsists, you should use the symbol © along with your name and the year of creation. This applies regardless of whether the copyright has been registered.
  • What is the term of protection of a copyright in Pakistan?
  • The copyright in any literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work (except photographs) is typically protected for the life of the author plus fifty years. The fifty-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author.
  • Can I license/assign my copyright in a work to another person?
  • Yes, you can license or assign your copyright in a work to another person, provided the arrangement has been reduced to writing. No license or assignment is valid unless supported by a written instrument.
  • Is registration mandatory to own a copyright in Pakistan?
  • No, registration of copyright in a work is not mandatory in Pakistan. While registration provides legally sufficient evidence of the existence of copyright and the ownership of such copyright, the protection granted to a registered copyright is no different from that of an unregistered copyright.
  • Who is the first owner of a copyright in a work?
  • Ordinarily, the author is the first owner of the copyright in a work.
  • Who is considered an author?
  • Different works have different authors. In the case of literary or dramatic works, the person who creates the work is the author. For musical compositions, the composer is the author. The producer is considered the author for films and sound recordings, while the photographer is the author of a photograph. In the case of computer-generated works, the person who causes the work to be created is the author.
  • Can a compulsory license be granted to a third party regarding the copyright in a work in Pakistan?
  • Yes, a compulsory license can be granted to a third party regarding the copyright in Pakistani works that have been published or performed in public. An application can be made to the Copyright Board for a compulsory license under specific conditions, such as refusal by the copyright owner to allow republication, public performance, or communication to the public by broadcast, or if the copyright owner is deceased, unknown, or cannot be found, and republication is necessary in the public interest.
  • Are the orders of the Registrar of Copyrights appealable?
  • Yes, any final order of the Registrar of Copyrights can be appealed to the Copyright Board.

Understanding the basics of copyright law is essential for creators, copyright owners, and users of copyrighted works in Pakistan. These frequently asked questions provide clarity on copyright protection, licensing, ownership, and registration, empowering individuals to protect their creative works and navigate copyright issues effectively.

Legal Aspects of Protecting Copyrights in the Pakistani Music Industry


Copyright infringement has become a major concern for artists in the Pakistani music industry. Despite the existence of the Copyright Ordinance 1962, plagiarism remains rampant, primarily due to a lack of awareness and implementation of international copyright laws. This article delves into the legal aspects of protecting copyrights in the Pakistani music industry, focusing on the challenges faced by artists and the measures they can take to safeguard their creative works.

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Plagiarism in the Pakistani Music Industry

The music industry in Pakistan has witnessed numerous instances of copyright infringement, leaving artists frustrated and deprived of their creative rights. Recently, renowned Pakistani pop artist Abrarul Haq found himself a victim of copycat “crime” when his famous song ‘Nach Punjaban’ was allegedly copied in an upcoming Bollywood movie, ‘Jugjugg Jeeyo.’ Such occurrences are not new in the Indian film industry, but the involvement of renowned producer Karan Johar in the film added to the controversy.

Legal Action and the Importance of Registration

In response to the alleged copyright infringement, Abrarul Haq threatened legal action against the Indian producers. However, the effectiveness of such legal action is often contingent on whether the artists have registered their works with the Intellectual Property Rights Organization (IPO) in Pakistan.

Despite the provisions under the Copyright Ordinance that consider the creator of a song as its owner, the lack of registration weakens the legal standing of artists. A mere claim of ownership is insufficient to initiate legal proceedings. By registering their works with the IPO, artists obtain a certificate of authenticity, which establishes their ownership of the intellectual property. In case of infringement, this certificate serves as compelling evidence in court.

Challenges and Solutions

The primary challenge lies in the lack of awareness among artists about copyright laws and the prevailing trend of not registering their works. According to Niaz Ali Lashari, Deputy Registrar at the IPO in Karachi, only around 2% of artists register their works, leaving the majority vulnerable to intellectual theft.

Artists should be proactive in understanding copyright laws and the importance of registration. By familiarizing themselves with the process, they can protect their creations and claim rightful ownership in case of infringement.

However, the registration process has been criticized for its lengthiness and complexity, deterring some artists from seeking official protection. To address this, digital distribution services offer a solution where artists can obtain digital fingerprints of their creations. These fingerprints serve as evidence of ownership and enable automatic royalty transfers when the song is used online.

Copyright Adaptation and Sampling

It is essential to distinguish between copyright infringement and legal copyright adaptation. Artists can use portions of existing songs, adapt lyrics, or sample melodies with the permission of the original creators. This process, known as copyright adaptation or sampling, allows for creative expression while respecting the rights of the original work’s owners.


Protecting copyrights in the Pakistani music industry requires a comprehensive understanding of copyright laws and proactive registration with the IPO. Artists must educate themselves about their rights and the legal recourse available to them in cases of copyright infringement. By taking these measures and promoting awareness within the industry, Pakistani artists can safeguard their creative works and foster a culture of respect for intellectual property rights. Only through collective efforts and adherence to copyright laws can artists ensure the protection and recognition they rightfully deserve for their artistic endeavors.

The State of Copyrights Law in Pakistan: Challenges and Progress

In developed countries, copyright protection is considered one of the state’s primary responsibilities to foster creativity and innovation while safeguarding the rights of creators. However, in Pakistan, the prevalence of piracy remains a major challenge, with a large number of people engaging in the illegal consumption of copied movies, pirated software, and photocopied books. This article explores the current state of copyright laws in Pakistan and the efforts made to address copyright infringement in the country.

The Copyright Ordinance 1962

The foundation of copyright protection in Pakistan lies in the Copyright Ordinance of 1962. This ordinance grants a set of exclusive rights to the copyright owner for a limited time, protecting the particular form in which an idea or information is expressed. It covers various creative works such as literary and artistic works, music, films, paintings, sculptures, computer programs, and databases. The Copyright Ordinance recognizes copyright as both a moral and economic right for authors, writers, publishers, performers, and producers.

The Copyright Ordinance of 1962 was modeled after the Copyright Act of 1914, with subsequent significant changes introduced through the Copyright (Amendment) Act 1992 and the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2000. Additionally, Pakistan is a member of the Berne Copyright Union and the Universal Copyright Convention, signifying its commitment to international copyright standards. Works first published in member countries of these conventions receive the same protections in Pakistan as locally-produced works.

Types of Work Protected and Copyright Duration

The Copyright Ordinance extends protection to various categories of works, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, as well as cinematographic works and records. An important amendment in 1992 expanded coverage to include computer programs as literary works.

The duration of copyright protection varies depending on the type of work. For instance, the copyright for a published literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work (excluding photographs) lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years after their death. In the case of cinematographic works, records, and photographs, the copyright remains valid for 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year in which the work was published.

Copyright Assignments and Licenses

The Copyright Ordinance allows copyright owners to assign their rights either wholly or partially, generally or with limitations, and for the entire duration of the copyright or any part thereof. Furthermore, copyright owners can grant licenses to others, either exclusively or non-exclusively, through written agreements. A compulsory license can also be granted by the Copyright Board.

Amendments for Performers and Producers

In 2000, Pakistan amended its copyright ordinance to include Article 24-A, which addresses the rights of performers and producers of phonograms (audio recordings). Performers now possess the rights to authorize or prohibit the fixation of their unfixed performances, reproduction of such fixation, broadcasting by wireless means, and communication to the public of their live performances. Similarly, producers of phonograms have the right to authorize or prohibit direct or indirect reproductions of their fixations and any rentals thereof. These rights are protected for a period of 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the fixation was made or the performance took place.

Challenges and Progress

While the Copyright Ordinance of 1962 lays a foundation for copyright protection in Pakistan, significant challenges remain. One of the most pressing issues is the prevalence of piracy, which hinders the growth of creative industries and deprives artists of their rightful economic rewards. A lack of awareness among artists about copyright laws and registration procedures further exacerbates the problem.

Efforts to combat piracy and strengthen copyright protection are ongoing. Artists and creators are encouraged to register their works with the Intellectual Property Rights Organization (IPO) to establish their ownership and protect their intellectual property rights. Amendments to the copyright law, such as those addressing the rights of performers and producers, demonstrate the government’s commitment to aligning copyright regulations with international standards.

In conclusion, while the state of copyright laws in Pakistan faces challenges, there are positive developments and measures being taken to protect the rights of artists, writers, and creators. By increasing awareness, streamlining registration processes, and actively enforcing copyright protections, Pakistan can create an environment that fosters creativity and respects the rights of intellectual property owners.

Understanding Copyright and Related Rights in Pakistan

In Pakistan, copyright protection is governed by the Copyright Ordinance, 1962, and the Copyright Rules, 1967, with subsequent amendments in 2000. Copyright is defined as the exclusive rights granted to authors, composers, computer programmers, website designers, and other creators for their literary, artistic, dramatic, and other creative works. Additionally, copyright law also includes “author’s special rights,” commonly known as moral rights, which protect the honor and reputation of authors. “Related rights” are granted to performers, phonogram producers, and broadcasters.

Relevance of Copyright and Related Rights to Businesses

Copyright and related rights are crucial for businesses that create or utilize creative works. These laws protect the original elements of a product or service, preventing others from using or reproducing those elements without permission. Businesses can take legal action against copyright infringers, seeking monetary relief, destruction of infringing works, and recovery of attorney’s fees. In severe cases, criminal penalties may be imposed on willful copyright violators.

Copyright Protection in Pakistan

In Pakistan, copyright protection is automatic upon creation of a work in any tangible medium. Registration is not mandatory but highly recommended, as it serves as evidence of the work’s creation by the copyright holder. Copyright protects various categories of works, including:

  • Literary Work: Works on humanity, religion, sciences, tables, compilations, and computer programs.
  • Musical Work: Combinations of melody and harmony, whether written or graphically produced.
  • Dramatic Work: Pieces for recitation, choreographic works, or entertainment fixed in writing.
  • Artistic Works: Paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, photographs, and architectural works.
  • Cinematographic Work: Sequences of visual images, including video films.
  • Records: Discs, tapes, wires, perforated rolls, or other devices embodying sounds.

Obtaining Copyright Protection

Copyright protection is granted automatically without any formal procedures, such as registration or payment of fees. However, registration with the Copyright Office is advisable as it provides evidence of a valid claim and strengthens potential legal actions against infringers. To register copyright, an application must be submitted to the Registrar of Copyrights, accompanied by a copy of the work and the prescribed fee. The registration process typically takes 4 to 8 weeks.

Proving Ownership of Copyright

To prove ownership of copyright, registration with the Copyright Office is the most effective option. Prior registration enables a stronger pursuit of legal action for copyright infringement. In case of artistic works, the applicant must advertise the work in a newspaper and send copies to the Registrar. If no objections are received, the particulars of the work are entered into the Register of Copyrights, and a certificate of registration is issued.

In conclusion, copyright and related rights play a vital role in protecting the creative works of authors, artists, and creators in Pakistan. Businesses should be aware of these rights and consider copyright registration to safeguard their intellectual property and enforce their exclusive rights against potential infringers.

By The Josh and Mak Team

Josh and Mak International is a distinguished law firm with a rich legacy that sets us apart in the legal profession. With years of experience and expertise, we have earned a reputation as a trusted and reputable name in the field. Our firm is built on the pillars of professionalism, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to providing excellent legal services. We have a profound understanding of the law and its complexities, enabling us to deliver tailored legal solutions to meet the unique needs of each client. As a virtual law firm, we offer affordable, high-quality legal advice delivered with the same dedication and work ethic as traditional firms. Choose Josh and Mak International as your legal partner and gain an unfair strategic advantage over your competitors.