How can I protect my literary or musical productions from plagiarism?

Art, science, letters and music are part of the life of many Colombians who dedicate themselves professionally to it and make a living from it, many times without having a major record label or publishing house that supports them. Unfortunately, many people do not know anything about their rights, so sometimes they lose the right to their works because of plagiarism. Today at López & James we inform all those emerging artists and authors about how they can protect their works on their own.

First, in order to contextualize, we must talk about what Copyright is. Within Intellectual Property, which is a more general category, which we will talk about on another occasion, is Copyright, which protects the ability to use and distribute a work to a person or group that considers itself the author of the same. According to article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to the protection of his moral and material rights corresponding to them by reason of the scientific, literary or artistic productions of which they are the author.

It is pertinent to clarify that this right not only protects musical or literary works, but also protects other means of artistic expression such as: choreographies, cinematographic works, illustrations, drawings, plans, paintings, plastic works, sculptures, among others, and more recently, software, a vital part of our society today.
Copyright protection only covers the expression of a content in one of the formats I mentioned a moment ago, but not the ideas. A very important aspect to take into account is that in order to claim copyrights, no formal registration is required, other than Patents or Trademarks, these rights are born with the creation of the work, regardless of its form of expression, support or media. This is the basic principle; however, governments have the power to create their own mechanisms to control these rights, something notorious for the Colombian case, which is why we bring this article.

In order to expand the concept, it is important to clarify which are the moral and material rights held by the author of a work. The owner of copyright over a work may reproduce it through copies in the systems that allow it, for example, a song in a cell phone. He may also prepare derivative works based on the work, for example, a spin-off of a movie or a second part of a book. Most importantly, of course, you may distribute copies of the work to the public by selling or otherwise transferring ownership, such as renting, leasing or lending such copies.

Now, to defend these rights in a case of plagiarism, in Colombia you must have proof that it is indeed your own creation, to achieve this goal you must register the work before the National Directorate of Copyright or -DNDA-, which is the entity authorized to protect your rights, although it sounds complicated or you may think it is expensive, this procedure is simple and can be done online at no cost.

Each type of work will have its own unique conditions for registration, but in the case of a song, for example, it is important to have the musical piece in score, and if this is not possible, a phonographic record of the same, that is, a recording in any format that can be reproduced, as well as the lyrics must also be attached to the application in cases where it has them. In the case of books, it will be sufficient to attach the manuscript.

Once the work has been registered and in the event of plagiarism, the creator of the work may denounce any plagiarism before the Public Prosecutor´s Office, under the protection of articles 270 and 271 of the Criminal Code, additionally and through a lawyer, he may assert the economic damages that such plagiarism may have caused him, since the initial complaint will only have repercussions of a punitive nature and not of a pecuniary nature.

At López & James we are willing to collaborate not only in this area, since we also have professionals specialized in the area of Intellectual Property, which refers to Trademarks and Patents and which is a parallel area to Copyright. Likewise, our team of legal, tax, administrative and accounting consultants is ready to offer you advice on all these issues through its virtual channels, at any time through the e-mail or by calling our landline in Bogotá (+601) 7498261.
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About the author:
Carlos Méndez is a lawyer, he is part of the team of Gestiones Empresariales López & James in Bogotá since 2018 and has experience in the areas of Civil, Commercial and Labor Law, as well as in commercial conflicts of International Law.
Languages: Spanish, English and Japanese.
Bogotá D.C. February 9, 2022.