Oman: Copyright Law in Oman

Last Updated: 14 January 1998
Royal Decree No. 47/96 Promulgating the Copyright Law

We Qabous Ben Saeed the Sultan of Oman,

Having perused the Royal Decree No. 26/75 issuing the Law regulating the administrative staff at the State and all amendments thereof; and,

Pursuant to the requirements of the public interest,

We hereby decree the following:

Article No. 1: The provisions of the attached law shall be implemented for the protection of copyrights.

Article No. 2: The Minister of Commerce and Industry shall issue the resolutions necessary for the implementation of the provisions of the said Law.

Article No. 3: This decree shall be published in the Official Gazette and shall be effective as from the publication date thereof.

Qabous Ben Saeed
Sultan of Oman

Issued on 21st, Moharram, 1417 A. H.
Corresponding to June 8, 1996 A. D

Copyright Law

Article 1: Upon implementation of this Law, the following words and terms shall have the meanings assigned to them herein unless the context otherwise requires:

1. The Author: Any individual who prepares or creates any work of art in the field of Literature, Science or Arts or any written or innovative work of art that is relevant to any of the knowledge domains, to whom such work is attributed by means of stating his name explicitly or implicitly or by any other means, unless evidence proves the contrary.

2. Works of Art: All original intellectual innovations expressed in any reproducible manner.

3. Audio-visual work of art: Any audio-visual work of art that comprises a set of interrelated photographs which are accompanied by sounds, recorded on suitable material and displayed by suitable sets.

4. Collective work of art: It shall be the work of art which a group of individuals take part in compiling under the directives of a natural person or a body corporate where it is impossible to separate and distinguish the work of each of the participants. The natural person or the body corporate which directed and organized the creation of the work of art shall have the exclusive right to exercise and exploit the author's rights.

5. Joint work of art: It is the work of art composed by more than one person in such a manner that it would be impossible to separate and distinguish the work of each of the participants apart from those of others, where all of the participants shall be considered as equal partners in the ownership of the work of art unless otherwise agreed by the participants. If it is possible to separate the share of each of the participants, then each of them shall have the right to exploit the part belonging to him separately, provided that this will not be detrimental to the exploitation of the work of art unless it is agreed to the contrary.

6. Translation: Expressing a work of art in a language other than the language of the original text.

7. Publication: Transmission of the work of art to the public in any manner, means or form.

8. Reproduction: Producing a duplicate or more of the work of art in any manner, means or form.

9. Quotation: Denotes including paragraphs from one work of art into another in the explanatory or declaratory notes or criticism, which shall be within the limits of the prevailing and applicable customs and within the limits that highlight such an objective provided that the source and the author's name are stated. The same is applicable to the paragraphs quoted from press articles and periodicals in the form of summaries or in the specialized periodicals.

10. Computer programs including date bases: Denote all terms and directives expressed by any language, symbol or indication which are prepared to be used directly or indirectly in computers in order to reach definite outcomes.

11. Folklore: Denotes all literary, artistic or scientific works of art created by the people in the Sultanate of Oman to express their cultural identity which have been passed from one generation to another and constitute an essential element in the national traditional cultural heritage where the competent authority shall exercise the author's powers as regards the folklore works of art in order to counter deformation, alteration or commercial exploitation.

Scope of Protection

Article 2: The authors of original works of art in literature, science, arts, and culture in general shall enjoy the protection of this law irrespective of the value of those works of art, type thereof, the manner of expression or the purpose for which they were created. The said protection shall comprise in particular, the authors of the following works of art:

a) Books, computer programs and other writings.
b) Works of art delivered orally such as lectures, addresses and sermons.
c. Dramatic works of art and musical plays.
d) Musical works of art whether numbered or not and whether accompanied with words or not.
e) Works of art relating to dance designing and pantomime.
f) Cinematographic, television, radio, audio and audio visual works of art.
g) Works of art of drawings, painting, architecture, sculpture, ornamentation and engraving.
h) The applied works of art whether handicraft or industrial.
i) Illustrations, geographical maps, plans and sketches and formative works of art relating to geography, topography, architecture and science.
j) Folklore.
k) The title of the work if it is distinctive and innovative and is not a current term used to denote the topic of the work of art.

Article 3: The following shall enjoy the protection of this Law:

a) Whoever translated the work of art from one language into another after obtaining the permission of the author, or whoever abridged, amended, modified, explained the work of art or any other way which renders it novel in form.

b) The authors of topics and collections which constitute intellectual innovative works as to selection and arrangement.

The protection specified in the above two paragraphs, shall not violate the protection enjoyed by the author's of the original works of art or their successors.

Article 4: Without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 2 and 3 above, the protection shall not extend to the following works of art:

a) International conventions, judgements, all official documents as well as official translations thereof.
b) News published, broadcasted or conveyed to the public.
c) All works or art whose ownership has devolved to the public domains.

Irrespective of the above, the said works of art shall enjoy protection if they are distinctive due to innovation, arrangement or any other personal effort that deserves protection.

Authors' Rights

Article 5: The copyrights shall be the sole rights of the author unless it is proved to the contrary. Such rights shall include:

a) The right to translate, abridge, explain the work of art or to quote from the same.
b) The right to publish the work of art and to decide the manner of its publication.
c) The right to exploit his work of art financially in any manner he deems fit. No other person shall be entitled to exercise such a right without a written consent of the author or his successors.

Yet referring to the work of art in a radio or television review of the current developments shall not be considered as violating the rights of the author.

d) Reproduction of the work or art in any manner whatsoever.
e) The right to prevent any omission, change, addition or any amendment in his work of art without obtaining a written consent from him or from his successors.

The amendment in the translation of the work of art shall be excluded from the provisions of the previous paragraphs unless if the translator fails to indicate the omissions or changes or if the translation has resulted in damaging the reputation of the author, affected his artistic position or violated the contents of the work of art. In all cases, all amendments made in the translation of the original work of art should be indicated.

The right to use protected works of art

Article 6: The following exploitations of the works of art shall be legally admitted even without obtaining the consent of the author, provided that the source and the author's name are clearly stated.

a) Quoting paragraphs from the work of art to be included in another work of art.
b) Utilizing the work of art for illustration in teaching by way of publications, programs, broadcasts, television programs or movies for educational or professional training purposes and within the limits necessary for achieving such an objective provided that such exploitation is not aimed at gaining financial profits.
c) Public libraries, non-commercial documentation centres, educational institutions and cultural and scientific institutions shall be entitled to reproduce the protected works of art provided that reproduction and the number of copies are limited to the needs of those institutions, serve their objectives and are not detrimental to the financial exploitation of the work of art or to the legal rights of the author.
d) Reproduction or publication of current political, economic or spiritual articles by newspapers or periodicals as well as broadcast works of similar nature.
e) Reproduction of any work of art which could be seen or published through photography, television or other mass media shall be entitled to publishing the speeches, lectures and pleadings upon considering litigations as well as similar works of art which are delivered publicly or addressed to the public. The author shall have the sole right to publish such works of art in one publication or in any other manner whatsoever.
f) The press and other mass media provided that such reproduction is within the limits of the informatory purposes to be achieved
g) Utilizing the work of art for personal use only by way of reproduction, translation, quotation, musical distribution, acting, hearing, watching on television or any other alteration whatsoever.

Article 7: The rights for financial exploitation of the work of art shall lapse fifty calendar years from the death of the author. As regards joint works of art, such a period shall be calculated as from the death of the last of the authors alive.

Article 8: The protection period of the author's rights relating
to the following works of art shall lapse after 25 calendar years as from the date of publication.

a) Movies, applied-arts works and photographs.
b) Works of art published under a pseudonym or without bearing the author's name unless the identity of the author is revealed during such period.
c) Works of art which are published, for the first time, after the death of the author.
d) Works of art belonging to public or private body corporates.

Article 9: In case the work of art comprises several parts which are published separately and at intervals, then each part thereof shall be considered as an independent part as regards computing the protection period.

Article 10: In case the public interest requires the publication or republication of a work of art which was not published by the heirs of the author or his successors after being officially requested to do so, then the Minister of Commerce and Industry may pass a decision after six months from the date of the official request, to publish the work of art and to fairly compensate the author's successors.

Transfer of the Authors' Rights

Article 11: The author shall have the right to transfer all or part of his rights in the work of art free of charge or for a consideration provided that such an action should be in writing and should expressly detail the particulars of each independent right, the scope and purpose thereof, the duration, place and consideration, if any.

Article 12: After the death of the authors, the individual or joint rights thereof, shall devolve to their legal heirs unless their legacies stipulate to the contrary.

Article 13: The publishers of literary, artistic and scientific works of art which are published in the Sultanate of Oman by means of reproduction, shall file with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at their own expense and prior to distribution thereof, three copies of the work of art and such work of art shall be published in the Official Gazette.

The system regulating filing and required fees thereof shall be passed under a resolution to be issued by the Minister of Commerce and Industry. Without prejudice to the necessity of filing, whoever does not file shall be penalized with a fine not exceeding OR 100.00. The above provisions shall not be applicable to the works of art which are published in the newspapers, periodic magazines unless such works of art are published separately.

Means of Protecting Author's Rights

Article 14: The author's right may not be attached in settlement of a court judgement. However the copies of the published work of art may be attached. Furthermore, the works of art whose authors have died prior to the publication thereof may not be attached unless it is definitely proved that he was willing to publish the same before his death.

Article 15: Commercial Disputes Settlement Authority, upon the request of the author or his successors, may order to take the following procedures with regard to any work of art published or displayed without the written consent of the author or his successors:

a) Stopping the publication, display or manufacturing the work of art.
b) Levying an attachment upon the original work of art, the copies thereof and upon all materials used in this connection.
c) Withholding the revenues yielded from publication or display.
d) Establishing the public performance of a piece of music or acting or delivering a work of art to the public and to prevent continuity of the present display or to ban future one.
e) Appointing a receiver on the work of art subject of the dispute whose duty is to republish, display, manufacture or reproduce copies of the work of art provided that the yielded revenues are deposited with the treasury of the Authority. The receivership shall come to an end upon agreement of the concerned parties or under a decision to be taken by the Authority.
f) Computing the revenues resulting from publication or display shall be under the supervision of an expert who shall be delegated for this purpose if necessary. In all cases, an attachment must be levied on the revenues.

The plaintiff shall refer the dispute to the Authority within the next fifteen days, otherwise, the procedures taken will be ineffected and invalid.

Penalties

Article 16: Each of the following shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding Omani Riyals 2000.00 or by any of the said punishments;

a) The infringer upon the author's rights referred to in Articles 5 and 6 hereof whether by way of illegal copying or quoting or falsification by way of printing and publication for sale and trading purposes.
b) Whoever brings to the country, for sale purposes, an imitated or falsified work of art provided he is well aware of the imitation.
c) Whoever imitates, in Oman, a foreign work of art, sells it, displays it for sale or attends to shipping it abroad provided that he is well aware of the imitation.
d) Whoever discloses or facilitates the disclosures of computer programs prior to publication thereof.

In case the infringer repeats such an act, the punishment shall be doubled and in all cases, the court shall pass an order to confiscate the imitated copies as well as the articles used for the same. Moreover, the court may, upon conviction, pass an order to close the enterprise used by the imitators.

General Conditions

Article 17: The provisions hereof shall be applicable to the works of art of Omani nationals and foreigners, which are published, acted or displayed for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman.

They are also applicable to the works of art of Omani nationals which are published, acted or displayed abroad for the first time.

As regards the works of art of foreigners which are published abroad for the first time, they shall not be protected under this Law unless they are protected abroad. Protection in the Sultanate of Oman shall be on reciprocity bases.

Article 18: The provisions of this Law shall be applicable to the present works of art. The protection period for such works of art shall include the period elapsed from the date of validity period up to the effective date hereof.

The provisions of this Law shall be applicable to all acts and agreements following the effective date hereof even if they are related to works of art which are published or acted prior to such a date. As regards the agreements concluded prior to the effective date hereof, they shall not be subject to the provisions of this Law as they shall be subject to the provisions which were valid and effective on the date on which they were concluded.

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.

Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property Bulletins

For further information you make also like to view the Intellectual Property Bulletins published monthly by The Abu-Ghazaleh Group.

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