Can you Protect your Copyright Material in Palestine?

  • 06/12/2021

Copyright (the right to copy), Authors’ Rights (droit d’auteur) or literary rights are a set of rights granted to authors and owners of copyrights that have developed across Europe and the world in the 16th century with the advent of printing machines.
Copyrights entitles authors and owners of such rights to benefit and control their protected material by, inter alia, preventing others from unlawfully copying and exploiting such material.

Does such protection exist in Palestine?

Contrary to widespread belief, copyright protection does indeed exist in Palestine. The Copyright Act 1911 (also known as the Imperial Copyright Act 1911) was imposed during the British Mandate in Palestine and has since been the legislative regime governing copyright in Palestine. Alongside the Bern Convention and the Arab League’s Copyright Treaty, a comprehensive copyright regime exists in Palestine that is capable of recognizing, enforcing and protecting copyright material.

Although an old piece of legislation, the Copyright Act 1911 is a law that can best be described as “way too early for its time”. Not only was the law non-exhaustive in its application, the wording of the Copyright Act 1911 is flexible enough to allow the law to adapt to our ever-changing economy and environment. It is for this exact reason that many other countries that enforced the Copyright Act 1911 (e.g. commonwealth countries and former colonies) only amended or replaced the Copyright Act 1911 in the last 10 years or so.

The Copyright Act 1911 defines "copyright" as “the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever.. [and] shall include the sole right [to]..”. The use of flexible terms such as “the work” or “in any material form” allows judges, lawyers and copyright owners to interpret the Act in a more flexible manner. For example, even though software was not invented during the time the Act was enacted, the wording of the Act is flexible enough to allow its incorporation. Indeed, use of terms such as “shall include” stresses that the types of works protected and listed in the Act are not exhaustive; rather, works are protected regardless of what medium (i.e. any material form) they are produced, or reproduced on.

At Hussam Attereh Group for Legal Services (“HAG”), we frequently advise and act on behalf of clients on various copyright-related matters. Noting the different regime applied in Palestine than its neighboring Arab countries (i.e. where Palestine applies the Anglo-American regime, Arab countries apply the French regime), HAG’s copyright experts are frequently kept up-to-date with the evolution of universal copyright law and the technological changes and hence the challenges that arise for copyright owners and authors.

If you are a copyright owner/author that wishes to enforce or protect their copyright material in Palestine, you can contact our Intellectual Property Team at HAG who is able to discuss your options in more detail.