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Cambodia’s copyright regime to update since ratification of the Berne Convention


On 27 June 2020, Cambodia officially ratified the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (The Berne Convention dated 9 September 1886 and its amendment in 1979 - collectively the “Convention”) following a law that passed the Convention, Royal Decree No. NS/RKM/0620/022.  This ratification is prompted with the looming TRIPS deadline, in which Cambodia was granted limited exemption from compliance with TRIPs obligations until 1 July 2021 due to its status as a least-developed country.


The Berne Convention is one of the oldest international copyright treaties that provides a high level of protection and gives authors a comprehensive set of rights. It provides creators such as authors, musicians, poets and painters with the means to control how their works are used, by whom and on what terms. The Convention is open to all parties, and currently there are a total of 179 contracting parties.


The ratification will not only bring IP protection in Cambodia in line with international standards but will also lead to prominent reforms on its copyright protection regime, which is currently governed solely by the Law on Copyright and Related Rights enacted in 2003. One of the major changes would be the shift from the exclusive automatic protection of ‘national works’ to including the automatic protection of ‘foreign works’ due to the principle of ‘national treatment’ in the Convention.


The Berne Convention established three fundamental principles: (i) national treatment, (ii) independence of protection, and (ii) automatic protection. It also contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted and special provisions available to developing countries, such as the implementation of non-voluntary license for translation and reproduction of works in certain cases, in connection with educational activities.  


Following the ratification, implementation in light of the Convention would soon take shape within Cambodian copyright legislation. Therefore, regulations, official guidelines and details on which provisions Cambodia may adopt is anticipated to follow in the near future.


Written by: Sreymom Mao and Monyrak Phang

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