Copyright is a form of legal protection that grants exclusive rights to creators of original works of authorship. The aim of copyright law is to provide an incentive for creators to produce new works by granting them economic, as well as providing certain moral rights. In Cambodia, copyright law is governed by the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, which protects a wide range of works.
A work is defined as “a product in which throughs or sentiments are expressed in a creative way”, of which there are four broad categories:
Literary works are original works of authorship that are expressed in writing. This includes books, articles, essays, and other written works. In Cambodia, copyright protection extends to literary works regardless of the language in which they are written.
Musical works are original compositions that are expressed in musical notation or in some other form of musical notation. This includes songs, melodies, and other musical compositions. In Cambodia, copyright protection extends to musical works, whether they are recorded or performed live.
Scientific works are defined as original works of authorship that express scientific ideas or discoveries in a tangible form, such as a written paper or article. This can include research papers, scientific articles, theses, dissertations, and other scholarly works.
Artistic works are original works of visual art, including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and other visual works. In Cambodia, copyright protection extends to artistic works, regardless of the medium used to create them.
The law goes on to specify a dozen subject matters that are protected:
All kinds of reading books or other literary, artistic, scientific, and educational documents,
Lectures, speeches, sermons, oral or written pleadings and other works of the same characteristics.
Dramatic works or musical dramas.
Choreographic works, either modern or adapted from traditional works or folklore.
Circus performances and pantomimes.
Musical compositions, with or without words.
Works of painting, engraving, sculpture or other works of collages, or applied arts.
Photographic works, or those realized with the aid of techniques similar to photography
Maps plans, sketches or works pertaining to geography, topography, or other sciences.
Computer program and the design encyclopedia documentation relevant to those programs.
Products of collage work in handicraft, hand-made textile products or other clothing fashions.
Criteria for Protection
In order to be protected by copyright law in Cambodia, a work must meet certain criteria. First, it must be original, meaning that it is the result of the creator's own intellectual effort and not a copy of another work. Second, it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression, meaning that it must be recorded in a physical or digital format, such as a book, a painting, a recording, or a computer file.
Copyright protection in Cambodia is automatic and does not require registration or any other formalities. However, creators and owners of copyrighted works may choose to register their works with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in order to establish evidence of ownership and to facilitate enforcement of their rights.
In addition to the above categories, Cambodia's copyright law also provides for related rights, which are similar to copyright but apply to different types of works.
Performers have the exclusive right to authorize the fixation and reproduction of their performances, as well as the right to prevent unauthorized broadcasting or communication of their performances to the public. This includes musicians, actors, dancers, singers and other performers.
Producers of phonograms have the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute their phonograms, as well as the right to authorize their rental or public performance. This includes producers of music recordings, spoken-word recordings, and other sound recordings.
Broadcasters have the exclusive right to undertake or authorize the fixation of its broadcast, communication to the public, re-broadcasting, reproduction, distribution and first lease of the copy of its broadcast. This includes radio and television stations, cable networks, and other broadcasters.
In Cambodia, copyright protection lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years, in most cases. This means that after this period, the work becomes part of the public domain, and anyone may use it without the need for permission
For more information on copyright law in Cambodia, please refer to our Guide to Copyright Law in Cambodia.