Cambodia is set to become the latest member of the Berne Convention—the key international treaty governing copyright and related rights—following a law passed on June 27, 2020, ratifying the convention and authorizing the government to take steps to implement it.
Cambodia’s current Law on Copyright and Related Rights does not offer automatic protection to foreign works, so the most anticipated change resulting from this development will be the automatic protection of foreign works—both newly created ones and those still under copyright protection in the country of origin. This will allow foreign copyright owners to protect their rights in Cambodia in a more robust and effective manner, and represent a major step forward in the protection of intellectual assets in the jurisdiction.
The accession is expected to be completed before the September 2020 meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Coordination Committee (an important WIPO policy- and decision-making body in which Cambodia is pursuing membership), and to enter into force three months after the WIPO director-general issues a notification of the deposit of the instrument of accession.
According to an announcement from the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ Department of Copyright and Related Rights, Cambodia will opt out of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under article 33 of the Berne Convention. Cambodia will also avail itself of the special provisions for developing countries provided under articles II and III of the appendix to the convention, which authorize compulsory licenses for translating and reproducing works for non-commercial educational purposes.
Although no official announcements have been made, Cambodia may introduce legislative or regulatory updates to bring the country’s copyright law in line with the Berne Convention in due course.