When to Apply Czech Copyright Law?

Irrespective of the fact where the copyrighted work or performance was created, the Czech Copyright Act protects all nationals of the Czech Republic. Nationals of other EU or EEA member states enjoy the same degree of protection regardless of their actual place of residence or other factors as such persons are deemed equal to Czech nationals.

Nationals of countries other than EU or EEA member states enjoy copyright protection only when their work was published in the Czech Republic for the first time, or when the work was published on the territory of a party to the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) or the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), i.e. essentially on the territory of most countries in the world, or if the authors or performer’s place of residence is in the Czech Republic.

The final extent of protection will be affected by the quality of the respective agreement, if any, as entered into by the author or performer.

The general principle of territoriality applies in copyright, which means that the Czech copyright law will only apply when the work is used or performance takes places in the territory of the Czech Republic.


An Icelandic music composer has been living in Prague and as a freelancer composes incidental music. An independent theatre company is interested in new compositions that they would like to use in their new play. Later on, one of the actors of the theatre company alters the music and uses it in another play staged in Ostrava without the consent of the composer. What will be the composer’s rights?

In line with the principle of territoriality, the Czech Copyright Act will full apply to the Icelandic composer, i.e. his compositions will be protected under Czech copyright law provided that other conditions are complied with (namely the use of the compositions in the Czech Republic and the EEA nationality of the composer).

The theatre in Ostrava, which used the altered compositions of the Icelandic composer, infringed the moral right of the composer to the inviolability of the work (Section 11(3) of the Copyright Act) as well as the economic right to communicate the work to the public (Section 18 of the Copyright Act) by live (theatre) performance (Section 19 of the Copyright Act) or transmission of the work from a recording (Section 20 of the Copyright Act) as part of a theatre play (depending on the use of the music).