The Estonian Copyright Act entered into force in December 1992. Section 12 of the Act provides a substantial list of moral rights that authors enjoy. The Estonian copyright-system is based on the European approach – author’s rights / droit d’auteur.
In 1999, anti-piracy measures were added to the Copyright Act, Administrative Code, Criminal Code, Consumer Protection Act and Customs Amendment Act.
The Copyright and Related Rights Amendment Act was adopted by the Parliament in December, 1999, and entered into force from 2000. The main objectives of these legal amendments were:
- to harmonise the copyright-related legislation in Estonia with a number of international legal acts, including the relevant EU directives;
- to fill in some essential gaps in the existing legislation; and
- to specify and amend the Act with regard to certain issues relevant for practical activities in the copyright field.
Piracy issues were further addressed by a new Copyright Amendment Act adopted in September 2000 and by the Copyright Act, Commercial Lease Act and Consumer Protection Act Amendment Act from May 2001. The latest amendment to the Copyright Act from 2013 specifies the right of a musical performer to receive royalties from the publisher of a phonogram during a period of 50 years from the first-time publication of a performance.
The Act on Prevention of Importation and Exportation of Goods Infringing Intellectual Property Rights which provides for measures to be applied on the Estonian border entered into force on 1 September 2001.
The Rome Convention and the Geneva Convention were signed by Estonia in 2000. The WIPO agreements were acceded to in 2003.
There are certain other legal reforms which effect copyright and related rights:
- introduction of Article 14 of the Penal Code on offences against intellectual property passed in 2001; and
- a new Law of Obligations Act was introduced in 2001; the law includes regulations on certain aspects of contracts relevant to authors.
Since 1995, a blank tape levy system has been in effect in Estonia. It was updated in 2002. Levies are set by the Ministry of Culture by December 1, each year, after negotiations with organisations representing authors, producers, and importers of recording devices and equipment. Payment is to be collected by the Estonian Authors’ Association, an organisation representing authors and authorised to do so by a resolution of the Minister of Culture. The organisation is obligated to distribute the collected levies to beneficiaries (authors, performers and producers of phonograms) according to a scheme approved by the Ministry of Culture. The scheme is set by March 31, each year. According to the government resolution it is possible (in case beneficiaries agree) to redistribute some of the collected levies for the development of the fields of music, video- and audio-culture, radio and television, and also for educational or scientific purposes etc. However, the amount thus redistributed is not allowed to exceed 10% of the total of collected levies under the private copying regime. At present, the Estonian Authors’ Association has shown interest towards increased control over photocopy machines.
Section 13 of the Copyright Act states that remuneration is to be paid to authors to compensation them for the lending of their works from public libraries. The payment procedure makes the payments directly dependent on the number of times a book, musical recording, etc. has been borrowed from a public library. The payment is not made automatically, but follows an application by the author or his / her representative.