The Intellectual Property Office issued the Email-1050822 Circular of September 6, 2016 (hereinafter, the “Circular”) to communicate that in case of any dispute over copyright ownership, application may be filed with the Copyright Mediation and Consultation Committee of the Intellectual Property Office for mediation.
When an image provided by a cooperating vendor is used in a company’s website, if the company receives a letter from an image company to communicate that it is the copyright holder of the image company and to request that the licensing issue be addressed, this Circular provides a response as to the copyright ownership of the image and infringement issues.
This Circular first points out that the creation doctrine is adopted for copyright where a work enjoys copyrights upon creation without registration. It is also proposed to ask the image company to provide a copyright statement for the image to prove the copyright ownership of the image.
The Circular further points out that if works of another person are incorporated into any webpage of a company, the copyright holder’s license or consent should be obtained except for circumstances of fair use. Otherwise, relevant civil and criminal liabilities will arise and will not be released by removing the image from the website. It should still be noted, however, that the Copyright Law does not have criminal penalty provisions that specifically penalize negligent offenses. Therefore, the criminal punishment under the Copyright Law is limited to willful offenses and does not cover negligent offenses.
Disputes such as copyright ownership and the determination of willful infringement can be determined by judicial agencies after factual investigation of individual cases. It is also possible to apply to the Copyright Mediation and Consultation Committee of the Intellectual Property Office for mediation in accordance with Article 82-2 of the Copyright Law (with the payment of a statutory fee of NT$4,000). After the mediation is approved by the court, the parties are not allowed to file any further complaint, litigation or private prosecution over such matter. In addition, a civil mediation approved by the court has the same effect as a final civil decision.