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21st Century Copyright Law 101: How to Protect Works under Copyright Law?


Thanks to the booming internet era and the rapid development of digital technology, literary and artistic works are known worldwide. At the same time, creative works increase in terms of quantity and quality, raising concerns about copyright protection worldwide. While applicable copyright laws are strictly governed by national legislation and international treaties, many questions still arise about protecting the works, especially on digital platforms. Therefore, the 21st Century Copyright Law 101 series aims to summarise some of the introductory provisions of international copyright law and then analyse specific aspects of protecting works under copyright law, thus trying to answer about copyright protection in both traditional and digital markets.

This series is divided into the following chapters:

  1. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: What is Copyright Law?

  2. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: Works are Protected under Copyright Law

  3. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: Copyright and AI-Generated Artwork

  4. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: How to Protect Works under Copyright Law?

  5. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: Copyright Infringement in Cyberspace

  6. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: Compensation for Damage Caused by Copyright Infringement

  7. 21st Century Copyright Law 101: Responsibilities of Online-sharing Platform Operators in Copyright Protection

Today, the artworks show high spiritual and material value, many questions are raised about how to protect these creations. Meanwhile, globalisation and the explosion of the internet lead to artworks that are vulnerable to piracy and without border control. Although each country has its own copyright laws, the protection of artworks has many similarities worldwide. In this article, copyright registration, Technological Protection Measures (TPMs), and the copyright symbol are measures put in place to protect works by copyright law and in practice. Additionally, authors are entitled to remedies for copyright infringement in the event disputes do arise.

Register for Copyright Protection

Copyright starts when a work is created or expressed in a material form regardless of content, published or unpublished. Typically, neither registration nor any other publishing work is required as a prerequisite for copyright protection (Article 6, Intellectual Property Law of Vietnam). The Berne Convention and the German Copyright Act do not expressly state that there is no need to register for copyright protection as Vietnamese law does. However, it is implied within these two legal documents that a work is protected as long as it meets the requirements for the type of work specified in Article 2 of the Berne Convention and Article 2 of the German Copyright Act and must be created by humans. Moreover, registering for a copyright can bring many benefits. Copyright registration provides the author with legal proof of the creation and ownership of the work. In the event of a copyright dispute, the person who does not have a copyright registration must prove the creation of the work.

Figure 1. Copyright certificate issued by Vietnamese Copyright Office (Law for Life, n.d.).

In Vietnam, copyright registration is done at the Copyright Office or branches in cities such as Ho Chi Minh or Da Nang. A dossier of requests for copyright registration may be submitted in person or by post, including a copyright registration application according to the form provided in Circular No. 08/2016/QD-BVHTT dated July 2, 2016, of the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information, two copies of the registered work, documents proving the right to file a protection application. After that, the copyright protection certificate will be issued within 15 days of the dossier being duly submitted (National Public Service Portal, Vietnam).


Figure 2. Illustration Image, Credit from Panda Security (2015).

TPMs are one of the effective methods for copyright protection on online sharing platforms. This measure is “a means of controlling access to and use of digital content by technological means, i.e. through hardware or software or a combination of both” (EIFL, p.8). This measure is also provided for in the WIPO Copyright Treaty, whereby Member States must provide legal protection against fraud or against technological measures used by fraudsters to limit fraud copyright infringement (Article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996). Accordingly, the Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (The Information Society Directive) also states the regulation about the protection of technological measures and rights-management information:

3. For the purposes of this Directive, the expression "technological measures" means any technology, device or component that, in the normal course of its operation, is designed to prevent or restrict acts, in respect of works or other subject-matter, which are not authorised by the rightholder of any copyright or any right related to copyright as provided for by law or the sui generis right provided for in Chapter III of Directive 96/9/EC. Technological measures shall be deemed "effective" where the use of a protected work or other subject-matter is controlled by the rightholders through application of an access control or protection process, such as encryption, scrambling or other transformation of the work or other subject-matter or a copy control mechanism, which achieves the protection objective. (Article 6(3), the Information Society Directive).

Hence, the technological measures can be any technology, device or component. In practice, TPMs are usually split into two categories: controlling access to the works and controlling the use of the works (de Werra, J, 2001, p.4). The author can use technological measures to control access to movies, videos, books, or works with high-value content via online-sharing platforms or television. The World Cup stream broadcasting rights are an excellent example in this case. To prevent illegal sharing and piracy of these football matches from illegal access to satellite broadcasts or online sharing platforms, TPMs are used to their full extent. For cable TV services, the access control is realised through a black box, which decrypts the encrypted signal received over the cable network (de Werra, J, 2001, p.5). About preventing the use of work on the digital market, this measure has an anti-copy purpose. This measure is generally taken to protect musical or artistic works from unauthorised copying or use. Music-sharing platforms such as Spotify and YouTube allow users to listen to or watch works without paying royalties. However, users are restricted from downloading or sharing them through other platforms. More specifically, users on these platforms can only share links containing work content provided by Spotify or Youtube but cannot share the work itself.

Figure 3. Jane. Illustration image for Copyright Claims on YouTube (2022).

Along with the explosion of the digital market, YouTube is currently an online sharing platform for video works with global influence. To protect their work, users or authors can use the copyright management tools provided by Youtube. These tools include "Copyright takedown webform, Copyright Match Tool, Content, Verification Program and Content ID"(YouTube Help). Among them, users often select Content ID to protect their works. Users register a copyright with Youtube when uploading their products to this platform. Accordingly, Youtube stores these works and considers them as copyrighted works of the user. Then, with its automatic scanning tool, Youtube will detect later uploaded works with content that matches one of the published works. Previously registered copyright by the authors will be noticed by Youtube to take appropriate action to protect their copyright (YouTube Help).

Using the symbol

The copyright notice can be the symbol ©, ℗ or the word "copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr." Therein, ℗ is the phonorecord symbol used for publicly distributed copies of sound recordings (Circular 3, Copyright Notice, the US Copyright Office). Besides, the symbol © aims to notice all kinds of works. The copyright sign was stated in the Universal Copyright Convention developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1952. This Convention stated that "...the symbol © accompanied by the name of the copyright proprietor and the year of first publication placed in such manner and location as to give reasonable notice of claim of copyright" (Article III, the Universal Copyright Convention). For example, "© European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and Council of Europe, 2018" is printed for a copyright notice in the Handbook on European data Protection Law. However, the Berne Convention after that no longer mandates using this copyright mark. At the same time, in the US legislation, the Copyright notice is optional for works published on or after March 1, 1989 (Circular 3, Copyright Notice, The US Copyright Office).

Figure 4. The copyright symbol - From Shabda Blog (n.d.).

Although copyright symbols are not mandatory, copyright notices still benefit the copyright owner. First, using the copyright symbol helps notify others that the author is not providing the work for free and marks his work as copyrighted. Second, when a dispute arises over the use of pirated work, the author can prove to the court that the infringer was notified of the copyright and was not innocent of the infringement.

Copyright Protection when Disputes Arise

In Vietnam, when an author discovers that his work has been infringed on copyright, there are many ways to take action to protect copyright. For instance, the author can request the competent authority to handle the violation administratively, initiate a civil lawsuit in court, or request prosecuting a criminal case. Administrative agencies apply administrative remedies in copyright infringement according to Decree No. 131/2013/ND-CP dated November 16, 2013, of the Government of Vietnam on sanctioning administrative violations of copyright and related rights. This Decree states about the acts of administrative violations, sanctioning forms and levels, remedial measures and competence to sanction administrative violations of copyright and related. In addition, according to the Vietnamese Criminal Code, anyone who, without the permission of the copyright or related right holder, intentionally copies or distributes to the public a work, phonogram, or video recording that leads to the infringement of copyrights and related rights being protected in Vietnam, depending on the severity, may be subject to a fine or non-custodial reform up to 3 years (Article 225, the Vietnamese Criminal Code). Furthermore, filing a lawsuit in court is the most common means of asking the infringer to stop the infringement; forcing a public apology, rectification; or compensation for damages and attorney's fees (Article 202, the Intellectual Property Law, Vietnam).

Figure 5. Phillips, G. (2020, May 15)


For copyright protection to be most effective, it is necessary to have the cooperation of both the author and the users. While the author plays a role in active protection, the users bring self-consciousness in copyright protection. In addition, being aware of the importance of copyright, the types of protected works and the terms of copyright protection are also measures to be taken as effective means to protect works under the law.

Bibliographical References

Act on Copyright and Related Rights (Urheberrechtsgesetz – UrhG). (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. (2019). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Circular 3, Copyright Notice. (n.d.). The US Copyright Office. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

de Werra, J. (2001). The Legal System of Technological Protection Measures under the WIPO Treaties, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the European Union Directives and other National Laws (Japan, Australia). In Archive Ouverte UNIGE. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

EIFL Handbook on Copyright and Related Issues for Libraries (English) | EIFL. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Nghị định 131/2013/NĐ-CP xử phạt vi phạm hành chính quyền tác giả quyền liên quan [Decree 131/2013/ND-CP sanctioning administrative violations of copyright and related rights]. (n.d.). Thư Viện Pháp Luật [Library of Law]. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

The European Parliament and the Council. (2001). Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. Retrieved

The US Copyright Office. (2022). Second Request for Reconsideration for Refusal to Register A Recent Entrance to Paradise. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Thông tư 08/2016/TT-BVHTTDL biểu mẫu hoạt động đăng ký quyền tác giả quyền liên quan [Circular 08/2016/TT-BVHTTDL forms of registration of related rights and copyrights]. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from

Thủ tục cấp giấy chứng nhận đăng ký quyền tác giả [Procedures for granting a copyright registration certificate]. (n.d.). Cổng Dịch vụ Công Quốc Gia [National Public Service Portal]. Retrieved November 24, 2022, from

UNESCO. (2021, November 18). The Universal Copyright Convention. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Văn bản hợp nhất 07/VBHN-VPQH 2019 Luật Sở hữu trí tuệ năm 2005. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

WTO | intellectual property (TRIPS) - agreement text - contents. (2019). Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

YouTube Help. (n.d.). Overview of copyright management tools. Retrieved November 25, 2022, from

Visual Sources

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