Does Turkish legislation provide protection for television
In today's world, television and television programs are an
everyday part of life. As the television and media industry has
grown and become global, the protection and ownership of television
program "formats," i.e., the concepts for television
programs, have become a more significant issue. The law, however,
has not always kept up with changing developments and practices in
media. The creators of television program formats in Turkey face
the issue of protecting their work due to a gap in Turkish
intellectual property law. Conflicting decisions of the Turkish
Intellectual Property Courts highlight this problem.
Do television program formats enjoy copyright protection in
Under Law No. 5846, On Intellectual and Artistic Works
("Intellectual Property Law"), works of
science, literature, music, fine arts and cinema, as well as
compilations, are subject to copyright protection. For an
intellectual or artistic work to enjoy copyright protection, it
must have a definite form, reflect the author's creativity, and
fall within one or more of the categories of artistic works listed
in the Intellectual Property Law. A television program format which
has not advanced past the "idea stage" to the
"format stage" has no legal protection under the
Intellectual Property Law.
Unfortunately, in Turkey there is no established legal
definition of a television program format. Nevertheless, television
program formats do have certain characteristics which should be
protectable. A television program format is not a program itself,
but an instruction manual setting out how a program should be
conducted.1 It should cover all the primary and
distinctive elements of the television program.2 To
protect this type of creative work, format creators generally
specify all details, such as the role of the host and main
characters, the studio setting, theme music, and phases and
structure of the television program.
The question remains, however, under which category of artistic
work should television program formats be classified? A commercial
court in Izmir classified a written television program format as a
"pre-scenario" protected under the Intellectual Property
Law.3 An intellectual property court in Istanbul,
however, reached the opposite conclusion, finding that a television
program format is not an artistic work under the Intellectual
Property Law.4 In the absence of settled court practice,
a television program format with greater detail and specificity
makes it more likely that it would be characterized as a
pre-scenario entitled to protection under the Intellectual Property
What are other possible grounds for protection?
Although television program formats do not enjoy copyright
protection, the components of a television program format might be
entitled to other legal protections. For instance, unfair
competition rules could serve as a basis if the infringing acts
resulted in unfair competition under the Turkish Commercial Code.
Additionally, television program format creators might be able to
use a non-disclosure agreement with the television broadcasters
utilizing the format. The name of the television program format may
also be protected by trademark law if it is registered as a
trademark. The decoration and appearance of the studio or setting
may also enjoy industrial design protection through industrial
design registration in Turkey.
As copyright protection does not extend to methods and
procedures, general or imprecise television program formats are
generally not subject to copyright protection. However, there are
tools available in Turkey to protect television program formats,
producers and broadcasters. To avoid disputes arising out of a
television program format, non-disclosure agreements and general
contractual terms, as well as unfair competition and
trademark and design laws should be considered to provide maximum
1 Uğur Çolak, The Protection of Television
Formats, Ankara Bar Association, Intellectual Property and
Competition Law Review, No. 2004/3, Year 4, Volume 4, p.
2 Çolak, p. 24.
3 Izmir 3rd Commercial Court of First Instance, File No.
4 Istanbul 2nd Intellectual Property Court, File No.
2003/53, Decision No. 2003/33, March 31, 2004.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
On 8 September 2016 (C-160/15), the CJEU ruled that the posting of a hyperlink to copyright-protected works located on another website does not constitute copyright infringement when the link poster does not seek financial gain.
The chapter on the UK summarises the IP court and litigation system in the UK, recent developments in relation to IP law and practice, the forms and availability of IP protection and trends and outlook in the IP sphere.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).