Author's economic rights held exclusively by the author or his or her heirs serve to protect the economic interests of the author. If more persons create the work jointly, the rights may only be exercised jointly.
In EU member states, the USA as well as in some other countries, the economic rights exist during the author’s lifetime and seventy years after the author’s death. The Berne Convention requires that the protection lasts for a minimum of fifty years after the author’s death. In cases of joint authorship, the length of protection is related to the death of the last surviving author. In cases of anonymous works and works created under a pseudonym where the author is not generally known, the time starts to run from the moment the work is made lawfully public for the first time. Work where the economic rights have expired are referred to as works in the public domain; such works can be used by anyone (as mentioned above, the author must be indicated and the use must not depreciate its value).
The economic rights of performers (actors, dancers, singers etc.) last for 50 years after the performance has been created. If an audio recording of the performance has been published during this period, the economic rights of performers last for 70 years after the recording has been published or made available to the public (the seventy-year time limit does not apply to audiovisual recordings of the performance).
The existing Copyright Act does not make it possible to assign the economic rights (they are, however, part of the decedent’s estate). Neither is it possible to assign the exercise of such rights under a contract to a third party. In some cases, the economic rights may be exercised by a person other than the author; such cases include heirs by virtue of their inheritance or employers exercising the right to employee’s works). A contract may only create a right to use the work by another person, i.e. right to use the author’s work which is derived from the copyright. A license agreement is used to create such rights.
As was the case with the moral rights, the economic rights include some components that play a different role and have different importance and practical use in various artistic fields (art, theatre, audiovisual arts).
The list of such aspects and entitlements constituting the totality of economic rights represents the material and economic dimension of the manners and types of use to show the work to the public, make it accessible to the public or communicate it to the public. Such entitlements are also referred to as uses of the work:
- reproduction; i.e. making of permanent or temporary, direct or indirect reproductions of the work, by any means and in any form, for the purpose of making the work available by means of such reproductions. Reproductions of a work include, without limitation, printed, photographic, audio, visual or audiovisual reproductions, an erection of an architectonic work, or other form of three-dimensional reproduction, or an electronic form including its analogue and digital representation.