aftown limited, a company located in Accra, Ghana is bound by the copyright laws of the republic of Ghana.

Ghana’s current copyright law is act no. 690 issued by the parliament of the republic of Ghana. it was enacted on may 17, 2005, and replaced parliament’s act no. 110, the country’s previous copyright law from 1985. the copyright law affords protection to a variety of works, grants copyright holders rights to their work and defines the duration of that copyright protection.

what is copyright

copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of artistic authorship. the purpose of copyright is to allow creators to gain economic rewards for their efforts and so encourage future creativity and the development of new material which benefits us all. copyright material is usually the result of creative skill and/or significant labour and/or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.

most uses of copyright material therefore require permission from the copyright owner. however, there are exceptions to copyright, so that some minor uses may not infringe copyright.

copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be.

a trademark protects designs identifying the source of the goods or crafts of one party and distinguishing them from those of others. ghana’s copyright law grants several moral rights to a copyright holder. the highlights of these moral rights are;

the author must be credited whenever his work is referenced. if the author’s works is misused in any way that might prejudice the author’s reputation, he has the right to request that a court prevent any further misuse and award any damages the author suffered.

the copyright holder also has several exclusive economic rights, allowing him to control how his work is used in the commercial market. for example, no one is permitted to reproduce the work in any form without the author’s permission. in addition, the copies cannot be rented, sold or otherwise distributed without authorization from the copyright holder.

a copyrighted work cannot be arranged, translated, adapted or otherwise altered without the copyright holder’s permission. the author also has exclusive broadcast and performance rights.

the copyright law

- for musicians

the copyright law act no. 609 protects you, as the creator of a work of music, from “intentional distortion, mutilation or other modification of that work which would be prejudicial to your honour or reputation.” this is the most powerful right granted under the copyright provisions.

length and transferability of copyright law act protection

full copyright protection normally lasts for the entire lifetime of the artist, 70 years after publication and/or 70 years after the death of the artist. once the artist dies without transferring his rights, the copyright law act protection can only pass on the moral rights his successors, and the rights continue to pass to the next successors as time passes. his or her economic rights cease to exist, and the work can be distributed in public or changes can be made to the original work and sold without seeking consent.

only the copyright holder is permitted to transfer rights. the copyright holder can transfer all or only some of his rights. however, that transfer is limited only to economic rights. even when the copyright holder transfers all of his economic rights, he retains control of that of his moral rights until death. the copyright holder can also issue a license to use his work. this means that the copyright holder retains control of his rights, but permits the licensee to temporarily share at least one of those rights.

- for non-musicians

how much of someone else's work can i use without getting permission?

under the current copyright law act no. 690, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. there are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.

how much do i have to change in order to claim copyright in someone else's work?

only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent.

could i be sued for using somebody else's work?

if you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you. there are circumstances under the copyright law act, where a quote or a sample may be used without permission.