Copyright History in Egypt

The origin of copyright law in Egypt is not tied to a privilege system or any pressures from the authors or industry, but instead copyright law was enacted in Egypt as a response to pressures by the international community. In 1925, as a result of its invitation to a Berne Convention revision meeting, the Egyptian government established a committee that concluded that Egypt needed a copyright law for international reasons. The first Egyptian Copyright Law was finally enacted through Law No. 354 of 1954. The legal system of Egypt is generally influenced by the French legal system, so it naturally the Egyptian law adopted the “authors’ right” approach of the French copyright law as opposed to the utilitarian approach of the English copyright law. This approach consequently trickled down through the Egyptian law to the majority of other Arab states.

The Copyright Law of Egypt of 1954 covered all original works in literature, arts, and science regardless of the way it is expressed and included written works, drawings, oral works, plays, musical works, maps, photographic and cinematic works. The law provided authors with a number of rights including the right to directly or indirectly communicate the work to the public. It also included a number of exceptions such as using the work in the family sphere, private usage, and criticism and review. The protection under this law lasted for the life the author plus 50 years after his death.

This law remained in force for about half a century with a number of amendments to accommodate for technological developments. However, it got repealed by the comprehensive intellectual property law No 82 of 2002 which covered numerous topics of intellectual property including copyright. This was was issued in order for Egypt to comply with a number of its international obligations including those relating to its membership to the WTO.

The copyright section of the Egyptian Law No 82 of 2002 included specific provisions relating to computer software, performers, producers of sound recordings, and broadcasting agencies. The protection for general works of authorship remained the same, i.e. the life of the author plus 50 years after his death.

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