New law prohibits copying foreign creative work


The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) presented four international documents to the Council of Ministers to protect foreign work from being translated, adapted or arranged without permission. If the documents are approved by the government foreign work will not be allowed to be used for free unless the author or creator agrees.

The Berne Convention, The Marrakesh Treaty, The Madrid System, for the International Registration of Marks and the Paris Convention are the documents presented to the  council.

The documents will be brought for approval in the next Ethiopian year.

But law experts fear that the adoption will increase the price of foreign work and they will become unaffordable for mass society.

Currently software developers, cinema, movie CD and book  distributors are selling  products without any permission from the owner of the original work. When this law goes into effect they will no longer be permitted to do so.  The Berne Convention deals with the protection of work and the rights of their authors and contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted, as well as special provisions available to developing countries that want to make use of them

The Paris Convention, adopted in 1883, applies to industrial property in the widest sense, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs utility models, service marks, trade names, geographic indications and the repression of unfair competition. This international agreement was the first major step taken to help creators ensure that their intellectual works were protected in other countries.

The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh and it forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It has a clear humanitarian and social development dimension and its main goal is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled (VIPs).

The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks is governed by the Madrid Agreement, concluded in 1891, and the Protocol relating to that Agreement, concluded in 1989. The system makes it possible to protect a mark in a large number of countries by obtaining an international registration that has effect in each of the designated Contracting Parties.

Emeshaw Bekle, EIPO Director Advisor told Capital that the work of Ethiopians   will also be protected in the countries that signed to treaties and conventions.

‘’Not adopting the convention allows our local movies, books and intellectual properties be used in other countries but this will protect our creative work in other countries and it will help the blind by letting them to have published documents which is compatible to them.’’ he said

He added that the documents will also reduce the theft of   counterfeiters

“Today industries who are direct competitors with counterfeiters suffer a direct loss in sales. There are also places in the country which are more dominated by counterfeiter’s mafia, creating barriers of entry for the producers of the genuine product. Many counterfeit products today are of higher quality and compete directly with the genuine items for example, DVD’s, Software, mobile accessories. In addition, consumers who are believed that they bought a genuine article when it was in fact a fake, finally blame the manufacturer of the genuine product when it fails, creating a loss of brand name and good will of that company’’. He added

Currently EIPO prohibits any copying and distributing of local works across the country though many infringements have been carried out due to low awareness and selfishnes.