Copyright Act, 1987

Copyright may be defined as the exclusive right given by law to the creator or the recipient of that right to control the reproduction or the various forms of uses of the work over a certain period of time. To protect the copyright, the government legislated the Copyright Act in 1969. In 1987, this 1969 act was repealed and replaced by the Copyright Act 1987 (Act 332). In 1990, this act was amended as the Copyright Act 1989 (Amendment 1990).

Matters included under the Copyright Act

Literary Work

  1. Refers to novels, short stories, books, pamphlets, manuscripts, poetical works and other forms of writing;
  2. Plays, dramas, stage directions, stage scenarios, film scenarios, broadcasting scripts, choreographic works and pantomimes;
  3. Treatises (books which examine a particular subject in detail), histories, biographies, essays and articles;
  4. Encyclopaedias, dictionaries and other works of reference;
  5. Letters, reports and memoranda;
  6. Lectures, speeches, sermons and other works of the same nature;
  7. Tables or compilations which are expressed in words, figures or symbols, and whether or not in a visible form; and
  8. Computer programs or compilations of computer programs.

Artistic Work

Materials included under artistic work are:

  1. Paintings, drawings, etchings (method of printmaking using metal sheet as cap, plate), lithographs, woodcuts, engravings and prints and any three-dimensional work thereof;
  2. Maps, plans, charts, diagrams, illustrations, sketches and three-dimensional works related to geography, topography, architecture or science;
  3. Works of sculpture;
  4. Works of architecture in the form of buildings or models for buildings;
  5. Photographs not contained in a film; and
  6. Works of artistic craftsmanship including pictorial woven tissues, tapestry and articles of handicraft and industrial art.

Musical Work

Refers to any musical work, and includes works composed for musical accompaniment.


Copyright for films refers to any fixation (recording or rendering) of a sequence of visual images on material of any description, whether translucent or not.

Sound recording

Any fixation of a sequence of sounds capable of being perceived aurally or of being reproduced by any means, but does not include a sound-track associated with a film.


The transmitting, for reception by the general public, by wireless or wire, of sounds or images or both.

Published Edition of Literary, Artistic or Musical Works

Government Work

Every work published under the direction or control of the government.

Works of Government Organisations and International Bodies

Works made by or under the direction or control of government organisations or international bodies as the minister may prescribe.

Copyright for works mentioned above shall be given after they are created irrespective of their quality and the purpose for which they are created.

  1. Effort has been made to make the work original in character.
  2. The work has been made in the form of writings, records or other material.
  3. The creator is a Malaysian citizen, the work was made in Malaysia and its first publication was in Malaysia. Also, if the publication was first published elsewhere, but published in Malaysia within 30 days of such publication elsewhere.
  4. However, the work shall not be given copyright protection if the work is immoral, illegal, damaging to the image, incites, is in conflict with religion or public policy or confusing to the public. Nevertheless, copyright protection is given to original works. Works published thereafter shall be considered original works.These refer to works in the forms of:
    • Translations;
    • Adaptations;
    • Arrangements or other transformations; and
    • Collections of works, by reason of the selection and arrangement of their contents, constitute intellectual creations.

Acts of Copyright Violation

A person is deemed to have committed an act which violates the Copyright Act if he:

        a. Literary Works, Artistic Works, Sound Recordings, Published Editions, Government Works, Works of Government Organisations and International Bodies.

    • Reproduces the work in any form, whether in its original or published form without the written consent or licence of the copyright owner.
    • Imports any article or work into Malaysia for the purpose of making profit. This is made for the purpose of either selling or renting or distributing copies

       b. Artistic Works

Similar to literary works with the exception of any art shows in public.

       c. Broadcasts

Records, reproduces and rebroadcasts the whole or substantial part without written consent or licence, and showing and displaying to the public in a place where an admission fee is charged for the whole or substantial part of a television broadcast either in its original form or in any other form.

Rights of Copyright Owners

  1. Creators have exclusive powers over their creations from any form of reproduction, performance to the public, broadcast, communication by cable and distribution to the public, either in their original form or in any other form.
  2. Copyright may be transferable as movable property, by assignment, testamentary disposition or by operation of law.
  3. Copyright is effective during the life of the creator and fifty years after his/her death. If the creation had not been published before his/her death, the copyright shall subsist until fifty years from the beginning of the year the work is first published.
  4. For an artistic work, film, musical recording, broadcast, published edition, government work and work of government organisations and international bodies, the copyright shall subsist until fifty years from the beginning of the year the work is first published.


A.M. Hamdan Adnan. (1992, Ogos). Hak cipta dari perspektif kepenggunaan. Working paper from Seminar on Copyright, Media and Culture.

          Shah Alam: ITM.

Hamedi Mohd. Adnan. (2001). Asas dalam penerbitan. Kuala Lumpur: Pearson Education Malaysia.

Mazita Mohamed, Marina Hashim, & Ahmad Shamsul Abd. Aziz. (2003). Karya terjemahan: Perlindungan hak cipta di bawah Akta Hak Cipta

          1987 tanpa penterjemahan. Jurnal Penterjemah.