Copyright and related rights are regulated by the Law on Copyright and Related Rights (1996). Although this law generally provides copyright protection according to international standards, additional amendments are required to harmonise articles in line with the directives of the European Union.
In the period of transition, especially prior to 1996, violations of copyright were widespread such as the unauthorised copying of literary works, multiplication and distribution of videotapes, musical and film CDs and computer software. Since the establishment of many private broadcasting companies and cable operators, the unauthorised broadcasting and re-broadcasting of audio-visual works is ever more present.
The Ministry of Culture has several inspectors to investigate copyright violations as part of their official responsibility and upon request from rights-holders. Collecting bodies, competent courts, customs bodies and other government agencies are all involved in the direct implementation of the law and the protection of copyright.
In 2003, the Ministry of Culture undertook a huge “operation” to publicly destroy over 39 000 illegal videotapes, CDs and computer software. It did strengthen the public interest and awareness of the problems of copyright and reduced the amount of piracy to a certain degree.
Author’s rights remain in force 70 years after his / her death. Audio-visual rights also remain in force 70 years after the legal publishing of a work. In the case of multiple authors, property rights remain in force until the death of the last living author.
Moral rights are applied. While there has not been any specific debate about moral rights, there has been constant public debate (initiated by authors and the media) on the protection of authors’ rights in popular and classical music.
A new Law on Copyright and Related Rights was adopted and came into force at the end of 2010. It strengthened copyright protection so that most violations were subject to Criminal Law. A Coordinative body had been established and is responsible for field actions.
The Law on Copyright and Related Rights was constantly mentioned in the past few years during public debates over the controversial government project “Skopje 2014”, when several modern buildings from the 1960s and 1970s were set to be re-designed in a pseudo-baroque manner. But there was no reaction from the Ministry of Culture.
Another burning issue in 2014 was the activation of the performers’ and the phonogram producers’ right to remuneration from the single equitable remuneration for public use of phonograms with performances published for commercial purposes. The 2013 amendments to the Law on Copyright and Related Rights require broadcasting organisations to have an electronic system for control and evidence of broadcasted musical works. The Association of Broadcasters strongly opposed this measure, claiming that they work on popularisation of Macedonian music.
However, the issue of copyrights provisions is almost completely marginalized in the past several years.