Copyright piracy in the form of duplication, piracy, and plagiarism have risen dramatically around the world in recent years. The rapid proliferation of various techniques and devices have made copying work effortless. This results in unauthorised transfer and use of protected works depriving legitimate remuneration to authors.
In Bangladesh, issues of copyright piracy have become rampant. Bangladesh has a copyright law enacted in 2000. Under this law, a foreign author's work may be protected as unpublished work regardless of nationality or domicile of the author.
Protection of a foreign author's work in Bangladesh depends on the copyright relationship between Bangladesh and the foreign author's country. Section 69 of the Copyright Act 2000 discussed extending copyright to foreign works.
Bangladesh signed the Berne Convention 1886 which established copyright protection among its member nations. Member countries of the Berne Convention treat foreign authors equivalently to domestic authors.
However, due to a dearth in the implementation and execution of the legal proceedings under the copyright law, foreign authors are being deprived of the benefits of their intellectual work.
The Copyright Act 2000, the (Amendment) Act, 2005, and the Rules 2006 ensure standard protections to the creators of copyrights in compliance with international standards. Before these laws, there was no copyright protection for computer software which meant instances of copyright infringement would largely go unchecked.
The present laws ensure the protection of the computer program or software, bringing academic research under its purview. But when it comes to the protection of foreign authors, our law plays a silent role, which does not impede the author's rights. However, if our laws played a stricter role, this might have a detrimental effect on the right to education and academic research.
The right to education has not been enrolled as a fundamental right in the constitution of Bangladesh. In Part II of the Constitution, it occurs as a Fundamental Principle of State Policy which means that the state will formulate its laws and policies based on these principles. Considering a Fundamental Principle of State Policy, the Right to Education is not a defendable right under the constitutional rule of Bangladesh.
Therefore, giving the right to education is also challenging in the context of our country. Plus, in a third-world country, the authorities are not in a position to provide complete protection of foreign authors' rights. This also limits people's access to resources on these authors.
The developing and developed countries have different points of view on protecting copyrights. Infringements of copyright law, along with plagiarism in study works in higher education have thoroughly impacted the education rate in Bangladesh, putting the country's universities at a disadvantage in global rankings.
To protect the rights and benefits of both national and foreign authors, government measures need to be increased. Piracy can be stopped by establishing a solid enforcement agency.
The copyright act was passed to offer legal protection to the authors and creators of copyrighted work in keeping with international factors like WIPO, TRIPS, and the Berne Convention. Bangladesh has been observing the results of India and China, which are the highest-ranking countries in the world in cases of software piracy.
To ensure the copyright of foreign authors' work and to lessen the import of pirated work, it would help if each resident cultivated awareness and a fundamental comprehension of copyright laws.
Proper execution of copyright laws, implementing of digital copyright laws and expanding understanding of copyright carry implications of social and economic improvement for our country.
The writer is a recipient of the prestigious DLA Piper Scholarship and serves as the General Secretary of North South University Law & Mooting Society (NSULMS).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.