The Importance of Voluntary Copyright Registration in Malaysia: A Case Study

shutterstock_176603774In today’s blog post we will be taking a closer look at the Copyright registration in Malaysia. The article demonstrates through case study the importance of voluntary copyright registration in Malaysia 

Copyright in Malaysia

Copyright in Malaysia protects literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works. Copyright also protects sound recordings, published editions, films, broadcasts and performer’s rights. Copyright ownership could be held either by the author, his employer or the person who commissions the work.

It must be noted that an author retains the right to have his name identified as the author of the work based on what is called a moral right. The author also has the moral right against the distortion, mutilation or other modification of his or her work. Ownership of copyright entails an exclusive right to commercially exploit the work. A classic example of commercializing a copyrighted work is the distribution of copies of the work for sale. We can see this in traditional commerce such as books and compact discs. As an intangible property, copyright can also be licensed or assigned to third parties for royalties. When licensing, it is important to determine the extent of copyright use that is permitted.

In Malaysia, copyright exists as soon as the original work is created and belongs to the creator of the work automatically. There is no formal requirement for the work to be registered in order for copyright to be claimed or recognized, however a copyright owner may voluntarily register their copyright in Malaysia. Registration is still advisable for foreign SMEs as the registration can be extremely useful in enforcement proceedings as evidence of your ownership. To claim copyright ownership (i.e. to forewarn infringement), a notice with the symbol © may also be placed in/on the work followed by the name of the owner and the year of first publication.

It is important to note that notification of copyright can only be made by a citizen or a permanent resident of Malaysia, regardless of whether the notification is done by the author/owner or a representative. If the notification is carried out by a representative, an additional Form CR-3 has to be completed and a prescribed fee paid. No additional form and fee is required if notification is by the original author/owner.

Following case study demonstrates that without copyright registration it can be difficult to establish and prove the ownership of copyright.


In a dispute between the authors of artistic works and the publisher, the authors sued the publisher for using their artistic works in a book without permission.  There was no copyright registration in place. So, the publisher, however, countered that the authors had no copyright over their works because anybody could have drawn such drawings or pictures and that these drawings were similar to other drawings anywhere and therefore do not deserve any protection under the Malaysian copyright Act.

Action taken

The court found that, the publisher has scanned the pictures and by their own admission, due to oversight has published those drawings in their book. Therefore, there had been infringements of the authors’ copyright over the artistic works. The copyright owners were awarded additional damages under the copyright act and cost. As the publisher had already removed the works from the book and replaced them with graphic drawings, the court did not make any injunctive order.

Lesson learned

  • The owner of copyright should always have evidence to prove the ownership of its copyright, especially when there is a dispute.
  • As voluntary copyright registration is available in Malaysia, European SMEs should make use of this option, as it can be difficult to prove copyright once the infringement has already happened.
  • Businesses should research carefully and obtain permission from the rights owners to them to avoid infringing any copyrights.

South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk Team


The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk supports small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from European Union (EU) member states to protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to South-East Asian countries, through the provision of free information and services. The Helpdesk provides jargon-free, first-line, confidential advice on intellectual property and related issues, along with training events, materials and online resources. Individual SMEs and SME intermediaries can submit their IPR queries via email ( and gain access to a panel of experts, in order to receive free and confidential first-line advice within 3 working days.

The South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk is co-funded by the European Union.

To learn more about the South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk and any aspect of intellectual property rights in South-East Asia, please visit our online portal at






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