Computer Software

– The Thai Copyright Act B.E. 2537 (A.D. 1994), repealed and replaced the Copyright Act B.E. 2521 (A.D. 1978). It became effective on March 21, 1995, bringing Thailand in line with the TRIPS Agreement. It has since been amended by Copyright Bill Nos. 2, 3 and 4 (Copyright Bill No. 2 became effective on August 4, 2016, Copyright Bill No. 3 became effective on April 6, 2015 and Copyright Bill No. 4 became effective on March 11, 2019).

Membership in International Conventions

– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
– WTO’s TRIPS Agreement, since January 1, 1995.

In most instances, copyright protection is extended to works originating or first published in all countries which are signatories to the Berne Convention or TRIPS Agreement.

Conditions of Software Protection

Filing: under the Copyright Act, copyright protection is recognized without any formal copyright registration as protection arises once the work has been created or first published. However, Thailand has a system of recordation regarding copyright work and information.

Recordation of the copyright work can be made at the Department of Intellectual Property in Bangkok. Such filing of the copyright work may not be conclusive evidence as to the owner of the work, however, it is considered as supporting evidence, should a dispute over the copyright work occur. The Department of Intellectual Property will give the application a number for the application of the copyright recordation to the applicant upon recording the copyright work. A certificate of Copyright Recordation is issued to the copyright owner/representative within one to two months.

Works covered: literary, dramatic, artistic, musical, audio-visual and cinematographic works, performers’ rights, sound recordings, and sound and video broadcasting works. Each of these fields contains further definitions of the various types of works which fall under each category. Under the present Act, the definition of literary works expressly includes computer programs which are defined as a command, sets of commands, or other things to be used with a computer to make the computer operate or bring about a certain result in whatever computer program language.

Filing requirements for copyright recordation (to be sent to resident agent):
1. Power of attorney, notarized by a Notary Public;
2. An application form which requires the following information: type of work, title of work, name of creator/author and co-creator/author if any, in which capacity the applicant owns the copyright (for example as assignee by means of assignment), nature of work to be protected and work for which copyright is sought, brief details or description of work (in case of computer program – a copy of the first and last ten pages of its Source Code), nature of creation (whole self-creation, joint creation, partial creation), mode of creation, place of creation, completion date of creation, publication of work, recordation or registration of foreign copyright and licensing or sale of copyright;
3. A proof of copyright ownership.

Effects of Protection

Rights of the copyright owner: (a) reproduction, which is defined as the copying or duplication of a substantial portion of a computer program, whether in part or in its entirety, from any media, by any method, without creating an essentially new work; (b) adaptation, which includes reproducing by conversion, altering, or expanding upon an essential part of a program without creating an essentially new work; (c) dissemination to the public; (d) renting the original or a copy of a computer program, audio-visual work, cinematographic work and sound recording; (e) granting benefits accruing from the copyright to other persons; (f) granting licenses to other persons to use the rights with or without imposing any conditions; (g) assignment of the work. Note: the amendments of the Copyright Act which should be noted are that liability (with exceptions) is provided for a person who deletes or modifies Rights Management Information (RMI) of a copyrighted work with the knowledge that such deletion or modification would induce, cause, facilitate, or conceal copyright, as well as a person who communicates to the public or imports into Thailand for distribution any copyrighted work with the knowledge that the RMI of such work has been deleted or modified. Moreover, a person who circumvents the Technological Prevention Measures (TPM) of software or provides the service of circumvention can be held liable for infringement (with exceptions) if the circumvention was performed with the knowledge that such circumvention would induce or cause infringement on a copyrighted work. In addition, it is an exception to infringement for any duplication of a copyrighted work that is required to be made in order to allow a computer system to function normally. 

Duration: the basic period of protection of a copyright is for the whole life of the creator and continues to exist for an additional fifty years after his/her death.

Exceptions: (a) legal entity or work under pseudonym or anonymous or work under employment of ministries or state agencies: fifty years from the date of its creation or date of its first publication; (b) photographic, audio-visual, cinematographic, sound recording or sound and video broadcasting: fifty years from the date of its creation or its first publication; (c) applied arts: twenty-five years from the date of its creation or its first publication.

Penalties for infringement: (a) general infringement: fine of Baht 20,000 to 200,000; (b) if infringement is committed for commercial purposes: imprisonment of six months to four years or a fine of Baht 100,000 to 800,000, or both; (c) if a person was aware or should have been aware that a particular work was an infringement, and he engages in certain actions with respect to that work for the purpose of seeking profit, that person shall be fined Baht 10,000 to 100,000, and if the violation was committed for commercial purposes, the offender shall be liable to imprisonment of three months to two years or a fine of Baht 50,000 to 400,000, or both. One-half of the fine shall be payable to the owner of the copyright. An offense under this Act is compoundable. As punitive damages, a competent court may double the relevant fines in the event that there is clear evidence that the copyright was infringed on with the intention to allow the work to be widely accessible by the public. Infringing articles may be confiscated or destroyed, with the infringer bearing the cost of the destruction.