Article by Dr. Sylvain Massaad
In the first part of this article, we discussed copyright in the Arab world as well as the types of rights and works protected by most copyright laws in the same countries. In this part, we will discuss copyright laws from an economic perspective, examine industries that contribute to the copyright business in these countries and trade losses the Arab states suffer due to high piracy levels, as well as review the legal tools that protect copyright.
According to the WIPO, copyright-based industries are those engaged in the process of production and commercialization of copyrighted works and other related subject matters. In the Arab states, these industries can be classified into four main categories:
- The Core Copyright Industries are industries which are wholly engaged in the creation, production and manufacturing, performance, broadcast, communication and exhibition or distribution and sales of works and other protected subject matters. The main groups included in this type of category are press and literature, motion picture industry, musical productions (including theatrical and operas), radio and television, software and databases, visual graphic arts and photography and advertising services.
- The Interdependent Copyright Industries are industries engaged in the production, manufacture and sale of equipment whose main function is to facilitate the creation, production or use of works and other protected subject matters. The main products included in this category are TV sets, radios, VCRs, CD players, DVD players and electronic game equipment among others like computer equipment, musical instruments, photographic and cinematographic instruments, photocopiers, blank recording material and paper.
- The Partial Copyright Industries are industries in which a portion of the activities is related to works and other protected subject matters and may involve creation, production and manufacturing, performance, broadcast, communication and exhibition or distribution and sales. The main products and group of industries involved in this category are clothing, textiles and footwear, jewelry, coins and other crafts, furniture, household goods, wall coverings and carpets, toys and games, architecture, engineering and interior design.
- The Non-Dedicated Support Industries are industries in which a portion of the activities is related to facilitating broadcast, communication, distribution or sales of works and other protected subject matter, and whose activities have not been included in the core copyright industries. The main businesses involved in this category are general wholesale and retailing, general transportation and telephony and Internet.
Piracy levels and resulting trade losses are an alarming issue in the Arab states. Most of these countries witness a very high level of piracy in various fields of copyright. The music industry in Egypt, for example, suffers from a 75% piracy level (2007), causing a US $15 million loss per year. The total losses resulting from this piracy to the core copyright industries in KSA were no less than US $145 million in 2007. The piracy level is stated to be 60% for software industries in Jordan. As for Lebanon, trade losses are thought to be around US $27 million per year.
The business software industry in Kuwait reports a 62% piracy level, causing US $37 million of trade losses (2008). This level is in harmony with the region's piracy rate (around 60%, and stable since 2006), except for Yemen, whose level is 89%. This high level of piracy for the Middle East costs the business software industry US $2.5 million per year (compared to US $14 million per year in the Asia-Pacific region for the same piracy level).
The growth of piracy levels in the Middle East is faster than the growth of piracy levels worldwide. In the last six years, while the level grew from 56 to 60% in our region, the worldwide tendency only grew from 36 to 38%. It is also worth noting that in some regions, such as the European Union, the level of piracy decreased from 37 to 35%, while the trade losses are constantly growing in all regions of the world.
Protection of copyright (and related rights) in the Arab world can be structured into three levels: legal protection, enforcement actions and technical protection. In this article, we will only discuss the international aspect of the legal protection.
Legal protection is provided mainly by international treaties, which are mandatory to the countries that are members to these treaties. These countries usually amend their local laws in order to integrate international obligations in the copyright field. The major international instrument in this regard is the Bern convention, to which most of the Arab countries have adhered (183 countries in 2009). The aforesaid convention provides the basic elements of protection to the copyrights holders, establishes formality-free protection and defines the protected works and the owners' rights, as well as the limitations and the duration of the protection. More recently, the accession to the WTO requires adherence to the TRIPS agreement, which deals with the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. WIPO also adopted, at a Diplomatic Conference held from December 2-20, 1996, two new treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).
Text edited by Ms. Dalal Jebril.
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