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 However, it got repealed by the comprehensive intellectual property law No 82 of 2002 which covered numerous topics of intellectual property including copyright.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.


Copyright History in Lebanon

Not too long after the enactment of the Ottoman Copyright Law, Lebanon was made a French protectorate. While being under the French mandate, High Commissioner General Weygand issued Resolution No 2385 on January 17, 1924 to protect a various forms of intellectual property including literary and artistic property. This was the first formal form of copyright legislation passed specifically for Lebanon, and even though the current Lebanese copyright law repealed the copyright chapter of the 1924 resolution, the majority of the industrial property sections of this 1924 legislation are still enforce to this day.

Copyright protection under the 1924 resolution had a wide scope and covered all forms of intellectual creations whether written, graphic, sculptured, or orally delivered. It also protected derivative and translated works as well as collections of works. The exclusive rights covered included copying, publishing, performing and communicating to the public. The protection under this resolution lasted for the life of the author plus 50 years after his death.

The resolution was amended a number of times in light of Lebanon’s membership to international intellectual property treaties. In 1943, the Lebanese Criminal Law was enacted and it included criminal offenses against infringing copyright. The copyright section of the 1924 resolution was later completely repealed along with the copyright provisions of the Criminal Law by a comprehensive copyright law enacted in 1999. The 1999 law was passed in connection with Lebanon’s plans to join the World Trade Organization.

The Law of 1999 is the current copyright law of Lebanon and is a modern copyright legislation that covers all forms of written, pictorial, sculptural, manuscript and oral works including computer programs. The law also covers the rights of performers, producers of phonograms, television ,and radio broadcasting. The term of protection under this law remained the same as the previous one which grants the author protection for his life plus 50 years after his death. It is worth noting that even though the law was enacted in 1999, it still does not include provisions against the circumvention of technological protection measures.


The First Copyright Law in the Arab World

The first copyright law to exist in Arab countries came at the time when the Ottoman Empire was in control of major parts of what makes up the Arab world including Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and Saudi.

The first official Ottoman copyright law was passed in the form a regulation in 1850 called “Encumen-I Danis Nizamnamesi” (More info on this masters thesis). This regulation was later followed by a proper copyright act in 1910 which remained in force until 1951. Even though this was a modern and sophisticated law for its time, there is no evidence that this law was ever enforced in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, let alone any of the remote territories of the Empire (This ebook on Turkish  IP law talks more about this). However, a lot of literature still acknowledges its application, at least theoretically, to former territories within the Ottoman Empire such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine.

The Ottoman Copyright Law of 1910 was passed after the creation of the Berne Convention and its Berlin revision, but it was not compatible with its provisions, naturally because the Ottoman Empire was not a member of the convention. Nonetheless, the Ottoman Copyright Law of 1910 was still a modern copyright for its time as it was modeled after the German Copyright Law of 1901. The Ottoman Copyright Law granted protection for literary and pictorial works, engravings, sculptures, maps, musical works and notes, as well as lectures. The law covered the rights for copying and performing and allowed exceptions such as those for political speeches, judicial proceedings, and criticism. The law required formalities, registration, and deposit. The protection was generally for the life of the author plus 30 years after his death with the exception of charts and maps which lasted for 18 years after the death of the author and translations which lasted for 15 years after the death of the translator. In addition to the provisions of the Copyright Law itself, the Ottoman Criminal Act also created specific offenses against copyright infringement.

The following papers provide additional info on this largely forgotten law:

  • Birnhack M. “Hebrew Authors and English Copyright Law in Mandate Palestine” (February 11, 2010). Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2011. Available at SSRN:
  • Zemer L., ‘Copyright Departures: The Fall of the Last Imperial Copyright Dominion and the Case of Fair Use’ , 60 DePaul L. Rev. 1051 (2011) Available at:
  • Surmeli, Gungor (2011), ‘The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in Turkey in the EU Accession Process: A Perceptoin Analysis of the Police Officers Dealingw ith IPR Crimes”, Durham theses, Durham University. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: .

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.


Sudan: Copyright Country Profile

Current Copyright Law

  • The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Act 2013 [قانون حمایة حق المؤلف والحقوق المجاورة والمصنفات الأدبیة والفنیة لسنة ٢٠١٣]: Arabic Text | English Text.

Previous Copyright Laws

  • The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Act 1996 [قانون حماية حق المؤلف والحقوق المجاورة لسنة ١٩٩٦]: Arabic Text.
  • The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Act 1974 [قانون حماية حق المؤلف لسنة ١٩٧٤]: Arabic Text.

Photo credits: “Tomb Pyramids” by by David Stanley – CC BY 2.0