Copyright History in Oman

Unlike many other countries in the Arab world, Oman was never colonized by neither of England or France and did not inherent copyright law from a colonizing regime. There is no record of any movement by the authors or the creative industries in Oman calling for a the establishment of a copyright law. Therefore copyright law is relatively a recent legal development in Oman that took place as a result of pressure from the international community.

The first intellectual property legislation in Oman was issued in 1987 and covered only trademarks, agencies, and trade secrets. This legislation came as part of the natural progress of the legal commercial infrastructure and was required for the smooth operation of the everyday business in the country. Copyright law (Royal Decree No 47/1996) on the other hand became a recognized form of intellectual property almost 10 years after the the first intellectual property law in Oman in 1996 making Oman was one of the last countries in the Gulf to enact copyright legislation. This legislation came as part of Oman’s efforts towards its integration in the international community as it passed the first copyright law in July, then joined WIPO a couple of months later in September of the same year and ratified the Berne Convention in 1998.

The 1996 Omani copyright law granted automatic protection to all forms of literary, scientific, artistic, and cultural works including computer programs for a general period of the lifetime of the author plus 50 years after his death. The law also included criminal offenses such the payment of fines and imprisonment for copyright infringement in certain circumstances.

In preparation for its membership to the WTO in the year 2000, Oman decided to revise all of its intellectual property laws including copyright. This led to the enactment of the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law of 2000 (Royal Decree No 37/2000) which added protection for performers, broadcasters, and producers of sound recordings among other things.

In 2006, Oman became the fourth Arab country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States and this required it to revise its intellectual property rights again. This led to the enactment of the third and current copyright law in 2008 (Royal Decree No 65/2008). This law remains as one of the latest Arabic copyright legislations and illustrates a very protective copyright model that grants protection for technological protection measures and digital rights managements and provides sophisticated mechanisms for combating border control piracy, court interim measures, and criminal sanctions against copyright infringement.

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