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Copyright law of Malaysia

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The basic law of copyright in Malaysia is under the Copyright Act 1987 which came into force on 1 December 1987. The law has undergone various significant updates since then, with amendments to the Act taking effect in 1990, 1999, 2000 and 2003.[1]


The history of copyright in Malaysia traces back to the enactment of the Copyright Act 1987, which established the fundamental framework for copyright protection in the country. This legislation, which came into force on 1 December 1987, marked a significant milestone in shaping the legal landscape for intellectual property rights in Malaysia.

Prior to the Copyright Act 1987, Malaysia inherited its copyright laws from its colonial past when it was under British rule. The British Copyright Act of 1911 was the primary legislation governing copyright in Malaysia until the country gained independence in 1957. Subsequently, the Copyright Ordinance 1958 was enacted to provide copyright protection within the newly formed nation.

Recognizing the need to update and modernize the copyright laws to meet the challenges of the evolving digital age, Malaysia introduced the Copyright Act 1987. This comprehensive legislation aimed to strengthen copyright protection, provide clarity on rights and obligations, and align the country's copyright laws with international standards and treaties.

Since its inception, the Copyright Act 1987 has undergone several significant updates to adapt to the changing landscape of intellectual property rights and technological advancements. These updates were made to address emerging issues, address gaps in the law, and comply with international obligations.

In 1990, amendments were made to the Copyright Act, incorporating provisions to enhance the protection of performers' rights and neighboring rights. These amendments recognized the rights of performers, such as actors, musicians, and dancers, and expanded the scope of protection for their creative contributions.

Another notable update occurred in 1999 when the Copyright Act was amended to incorporate provisions related to the protection of computer programs and databases. This amendment aimed to address the growing importance of software and digital databases in various industries and strengthen their legal protection.

In the year 2000, further amendments were made to the Copyright Act, introducing provisions to safeguard the rights of copyright owners in the digital environment. These amendments took into account the emergence of the internet, digital technologies, and online platforms, providing mechanisms to combat copyright infringement in the digital realm.

In 2003, additional amendments were introduced to the Copyright Act to enhance enforcement measures and strengthen the penalties for copyright infringement. These changes aimed to deter piracy and provide a more effective legal framework for protecting the rights of copyright owners.

The Copyright Act of 1987, with subsequent amendments, remains the primary legislation governing copyright in Malaysia. It provides a legal framework that balances the interests of creators, copyright owners, and users, fostering creativity, innovation, and the dissemination of knowledge and culture in the country. Over the years, Malaysia has continued to engage in international discussions and collaborations to harmonize its copyright laws with global standards and promote effective enforcement of copyright protection.


  1. ^ "Copyright Law in Malaysia: Does the Balance Hold?" by Khaw Lake Tee in Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law 2004 (2).

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