Copyright is meant to prevent unauthorised copying of creative works. It applies to written, artistic and musical works - including computer software. The aim is to ensure that the creators of these works, or those who own the rights to them, receive a fair reward.
Historically, Arab countries have taken a relaxed view of copyright. In many places intellectual property laws are non-existent or are not enforced. There is evidence that this attitude - and particularly software piracy which is rampant throughout the Middle East - has hampered development in the field of technology. Attitudes are beginning to change, however.
World Intellectual Property Organisation Treaty
World Intellectual Property Organisation
Bureau for Arab countries
Arab Society for Intellectual Property
An organisation which aims to develop and promote intellectual property protection in the Arab world. It says: "The objective of Intellectual Property discipline, is the promotion of economic, social and cultural progress of society, through the development and monitoring of global rules and treaties of intellectual property rights which motivate innovation and knowledge creation." Website includes sections on intellectual property laws in Arab countries and details of intellectual property treaties and conventions
International Intellectual Property Alliance
See individual country reports
A summary of copyright laws in the following countries:
Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
Worldwide, more than 38% of all software in use is illegally copied.
Articles on copyright
Call for copyright protection
The Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Moussa, urged Arab countries to pay more attention to protecting intellectual property rights. ArabicNews, 19 April, 2000
Lebanon's first conference on intellectual property and authors' rights. ArabicNews, 10 March, 2000
Jordan emphasizes the importance of investment in software
ArabicNews, 1 March, 2000
Cairo witnesses the first meeting of the international Interpol on product forgery
ArabicNews, 18 February, 2000
Microsoft opens office in Lebanon after intellectual property protection
ArabicNews, 19 June, 1999