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.


Artistic reproductions of a sculpture or installation, recording a dance choreography or a DVD reproduction of a recording, even without distribution.

  • distribution, i.e. making the work available in a tangible form by sale or other transfer of property right to the original or to the copies of the work, including their offer for such purpose. In order to prevent disproportionate violation of the free movement of goods, further distribution by the first lawful owner of the original or its reproduction is permissible (without a license) on condition that the original copy or the reproduction has been sold to the first owner in the European Union or the European Economic Area. („The first sale or other transfer of ownership to the original or a copy of the work, by which the work is distributed lawfully on the territory of an EU member state or other party to EEA Treaty, will exhaust the author’s right to distribute such original or a copy of the work on the territory of such countries.“). This is without prejudice to the right to rental and lending.


A Czech artist has sold a painting to a gallery in Luxembourg. As the sale took place within the EU, the gallery may resell the painting to any third person even without the consent of the Czech artist. If the Czech artist sells the painting to Canada, the Canadian gallery will need to obtain consent from the Czech artist to resell the painting to a third party in the European Union or EEA (with respect to other countries, it would be relevant if the respective countries applied a national or international principle of exhaustion of rights).

  • rental, i.e. making the work available for the purpose of direct or indirect economic or commercial benefit by providing the original or a copy of the work for a limited period of time for personal use.


Rental of sheet music for opera or other performance; or CD and DVD rental shops, which do not exist any longer.

  • lending, i.e. making the work available through an establishment which is accessible to the public not for the purpose of direct or indirect economic or commercial benefit by providing the original or a copy of the work for a limited period of time for personal use.


Book loans in libraries.

  • exhibition, i.e. making the work available in a tangible form by the facilitation of the possibility to view or perceive in any other manner the original or reproduction of, especially, a work of fine arts, a photographic work, an architectonic work including a town-planning work, a work of applied art, or a cartographic work.


Essentially all classical arts (paintings, sculptures or photographs displayed on premises accessible to the public), theatre stage design during a theatre performance etc.

  • live performing, i.e. making available the work performed live by a performer, especially of live recited literary work, live performed musical work with or without lyrics, or a dramatic or dramatic-musical, choreographic or pantomimic work performed live on stage.


Live performance of an actor, singer or a dancer in a theatre, poetry reader in a poetry reading contest, singer or musician at a concert who performers copyrighted works live in a music club including both music works (songs played) and verbal works (the lyrics). This requires a consent from all authors of songs and lyrics that are played and sung. The easiest way to obtain such a consent is to enter into a license agreement with a copyright collective society: OSA in the Czech Republic, SOZA in Slovakia and GEMA in Germany. Please note that not only does the musician perform the works of composers and lyric writers, but also created his or her music performance as a related right. If the music club owner wishes to record such a performance to be able to show it later, he or she needs a consent not only from the author of the music and lyrics, but also from the performer.

  • live broadcast, i.e. making the work or performance available outside the place where the live performance takes place.


Live broadcast of an opera in the National Theatre on a big screen in the piazetta of the National Theatre, which is not a TV or radio broadcast. Some cinemas offer live broadcast from the New York Metropolitan Opera. In New York, the opera is performed live as there are viewers in the auditorium. If the opera is broadcast live to another place, such as a cinema in Prague, it is a case of live broadcast.

  • performance of a work from a recording, i.e. making the work available from an audio or audiovisual recording by means of a technical device, excluding TV and radio.


Any video screening from a recording or any musical screening from a CD/DVD/PC, e.g. cinemas or discos. The cinema must obtain a recording with the film, i.e. an audiovisual work, and a license to show the work publicly from a recording. Only then may the film be screened in the cinema.

  • transmission of a performance of the work, i.e. making the work available simultaneously by means of a loudspeaker, screen or similar device located outside the area of the live performance.


Some film producers sometimes hold, together with film distributors, film premieres or documentaries simultaneously in many cinemas at the same time. If the film is screened from a recording in one cinema and transmitted to other cinemas, where it is also screened, the recording is transmitted live, and thus constitutes transmission from a recording.

  • communicating the work to the public by computer or other network, i.e. a right to make the work available to the public at a place or time chosen by the user (viewer or listener). In practice, this category includes all typical internet uses (streaming or downloading, but not simulcasting or webcasting, which fall under broadcasting) and uses through a mobile phone.


A theatre has recorded a musical performance which has been uploaded to YouTube and is available to any member of the public at a time and place they choose.

  • broadcasting, i.e. making the work available by means of radio or television, be it by wire or wireless means including communication by cable, or broadcasting by satellite, by the original broadcaster.


Broadcasting of a film, concert, theatre or ballet performance or a visit to a gallery on TV, or broadcasting of a play on the radio.

  • performing the broadcast, i.e. making such broadcast work available by means of a device technically capable of receiving the broadcasting.


TV stations and radios located in public areas to broadcast for the public, i.e. restaurants, bars, hotels etc.

In addition to the list of the economic rights consisting of different uses of the work which may be licensed to a third party, there are also other economic rights which cannot be licensed to a third party and which may be exercised through collective management. Besides fair compensation collected by copyright collective societies, such other economic rights include:

  • right to compensation for a re-sale of an artistic work, which is prominent in visual arts. This right entitles artists to a percentage of the purchase price for a work for each re-sale if the work is sold through an auction, gallery or by a professional arts trader and on condition that the purchase price of the work of arts at such a sale exceeds or equals EUR 1500. There are exceptions to this rule.