Protection of Performers‟ Rights under Intellectual Property Law A Way Forward

H. A. M. Harankaha


Today, effectiveness of copyright protection of a work under intellectualproperty law is determined, among other things, by the relationship between creativeauthor of a work and entrepreneur, who has initiated, arranged and organized theparticular work even by way of commissioning and employing creative authors andother artists. While these creative authors‟ rights are protected under copyright law, it isagain questionable how the rights of performers who have not produced a “creative”work, in the eye of law, can be protected. In this scenario, the protection of rights ofperformers including singers is arguable under Sri Lankan law. Even though their rightsare protected, not under copyright law, but under an aspect of copyright law calledneighboring rights, it is again arguable whether the protection given under this sectionof law is adequate.

Basically neighboring right law applies to performers, sound recorders andbroadcasting organizations. In comparison with the rights of sound recorders andbroadcasting organization, performers have very limited scope of protection underneighboring rights concept. In fact, they are entitled only to exclude others fromfixation, reproduction and broadcasting of their “unfixed” or live performance. Thispaper, through a comparative analysis of performer‟s rights of three other majorjurisdictions namely USA, UK and India, finds that rights of performers in Sri Lankashould be broadened and “upgraded” to the status of rights of copyright owner.

This paper further finds several possibilities of protecting rights of performersunder copyright law and defines some concepts recognized by the Intellectual PropertyAct such as joint authorship, moral rights and related rights as broadly as possible.

Key words: copyrights, neighboring rights, performer, singer

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