Copyright Exceptions in Oman

Official Gazette
The exceptions to copyright vary from one country to another. In Oman, the permitted uses of copyright works are expressed in Chapter 5 of Royal Decree 65/2008.

First of all, unlike the USA, and more like the UK, there is no general exception of fair use in Oman. The list of copyright exceptions is an exhaustive list found in Article 20 of the Decree.

All of the exceptions of copyright in Oman require acknowledging the author and that the use does not impact on the normal use of the works or unreasonably harms the interests of the author.

There are seven exception in Article 20:

  1. Copying segments of a work available to the public for purposes of review, illustration, or criticism.
  2. Using the work in the family domain or for students inside an educational institute for purposes of education. The use must not be directly or indirectly paid-for.
  3. Creating a single copy of the work for archiving purposes by the designated authorities, OR by educational institutes as long as (a) copying is made for a published article or a short work for fulfilling the needs of an individual researcher, OR (b) copying is made for the purpose of protecting the original copy of the work or replacing a defective copy.
  4. Copying or broadcasting segments from articles published in daily newspapers or periodical about current events as long as original publisher has no exclusive right over the time of publishing, and the copying was made by the press.
  5. Copyright program related exceptions: (1) copying for the necessary operation of the program, (2) creating a single backup copy in case the original is damaged or lost, (3) creating a copy for the purposes of porting the program to another system or language as long as the ported copy is used by the owner of the original copy.
  6. The public performance of a dramatic or musical work in religious events or face to face teaching inside educational institutes. (Both cases must no be made for direct or indirect gain).
  7. Creating a temporary copying by broadcasting agencies for use in their programs as long as they have the right to broadcast and as long as the temporary copy is destroyed after a period of 6 months.

The exceptions in Omani law are very badly drafted and are not very clear. The 4th exception on reporting of current events does not make sense because it indicates that you can only copy as long as the person you are copying from has no right to publish. The exception is also only available for ‘the press’, which is not defined, but is very unlikely to extent to bloggers or those who contribute on online discussion boards. The exceptions also do not talk about copying photographs or videos for the purposes of reporting current events and only talks about ‘segments of articles’ – which in Arabic means ‘text’ and does not necessarily include non-textual content.


Copyright Exceptions

Copyright Exceptions
Just the same way the grant of copyright is justified as a form of reward, incentive, and a natural right of those who create original works. The public has the right for a number of different copyright exceptions which allow a person to copy protected works without acquiring the owner of the copyright work without infringing copyright.

The scope and extent of these exceptions vary. Bently and Sherman state that this is a reflection of the variety of purposes which these exceptions serve.

Some exceptions to copyright are meant to promote and encourage the creation of new original works, especially where copying is not identical and is transformative.

Other exceptions are established to solve possible market failures that could arise in situations where the use is too nominal leading the cost of any transaction to establish an agreement between the copyright owner and the person wishing to use the work uneconomical. This can be seen in the exceptions related to subtitling (s74 CDPA) and recording of broadcast by educational institutions (s35 CDPA).

Copyright exceptions are also needed to protect other non-copyright public interests such as privacy (e.g. private study (s29)) and freedom of expression (e.g. criticism and review).

They are also used to prevent monopolies of intellectual works from being abused. (e.g. decompilation of computer programs s50B and retransmission of cable programs s73).

These exceptions are necessary for preserving material of cultural value (e.g. exceptions relating to folksongs s61 and archiving exceptions s75).

Finally, some exceptions encourages collecting licenses. (e.g. compulsory licensing of lending of works s66).


Introduction to Copyright

Copyright(Image credits: PungoM)

Copyright is a right granted by the state for creators of original qualifying works to prevent others from carrying out certain activities in relation to these works. Copyright does not protect the idea behind created works, but the expression of that idea in the work.

In the United Kingdom Copyright is regulated by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In Oman, copyright is regulated by the Copyright Law 65/2008. The UK and Oman are both members of the Berne Convention, which grants requires members to grant copyright protection automatically upon the creation of the work without requiring the author to fulfill any formalities such as registration or deposit. Almost all countries in the world are members of the Berne Convention. Any work created in any of these members or by a national of any of these members will have his work protected in all other member states.

This means that ANY thing you create, like writing a blog post or taking a photograph using your mobile phone is protected by copyright. The period for copyright protection for most works extends for the life of the author plus 70 years after his death.

Copyright is NOT grant the author an absolute monopoly over the use of copyright work. It only regulates a number of activities related to the work, in the UK, these include copying (whether in whole or in substantial amount), issuing copies, performing in public, broadcasting, making adaptations (including translation), and renting out certain works such as computer programs, films, and sound recordings. Carrying out any of the activities cannot be legitimately done without acquiring the conset of the copyright owner. Though originally meant to be an exhaustive list of activities, as we consume today most of our media electornically, any use of digital works requires creating a copy of the work temporary or permenantly on the computer to process and consume that work. However, the law provides an exception for using digital media to allow users to copy works on their computer as long as they do it to be able to carry out the intended use of the copyright work.

A further limitation to the control of the author of his work is imposed through a number of limitations for permitted uses provided for in the law. In the UK these include fair dealing for purposes of research and private study; and fair dealing for the purposes of criticism, review, and news reporting (provided that sufficient acknowledgement of the work is made); incidental inclusion of the work in others; activities done for instruction or examination; the creation of anthologies for educational use; playing, showing or performing in an educational establishment; recording of broadcasts by educational establishments; reprographic copying that does not exceed 1% of the work; copying by libraries and archives for purposes of preservation;  copying for purposes of public administration (e.g. by courts); and a number of lawful uses of computer programs and databases.

The existence of copyright law is justified on a number of ethical and economic grounds. Many believe that ethically an author of any work has a natural right or a human right over the product of his labour. Economically, it is a believed that the grant of this protection operates an incentive which is capable of driving people to create more. It is also essential to have copyright to protect the investment made in the creation of works that couldn’t be funded if it wasn’t for the ability to have these works exclusively exhausted through the protection of copyright (competitors easily copy-market failure?). It is also believed that it is fair to reward authors for the effort they expended in creating a work and then giving it to the public.