Summary of Cameroon’s legislation on copyright

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Under article 13-1 of Law n° 2000/11 of 19 December 2000, authors of any works of the mind
shall enjoy, by the mere fact of its creation, an exclusive incorporeal property right in the work
which shall be enforceable against all persons. Copyright shall include attributes of a
proprietary and moral nature.
Under the terms of article 14 of the Law of 19 December 2000, the attributes of a moral nature
confer to the author the right to disclose his work and to determine the disclosure process and
lay down the conditions thereof; to claim authorship of his work; to defend the integrity of his
work by opposing any distortion or modification of his work; to halt distribution of his work
and to make alterations. According to article 15 of the above-mentioned Law, the attributes of
a proprietary nature shall give an author the exclusive right to exploit or the authorization to
exploit his work in any form whatsoever and to obtain monetary advantage.

Policy on Copyright Protection in the sub-region and Cameroon
AIPO’s objective is to contribute to ensuring the protection and publication of industrial
property titles, making the legal space attractive to private investments by creating conditions
that are favourable to the effective application of intellectual property principles, encouraging
creativity and the transfer of technology, implementing efficient training programmes to
improve the capacity of the AIPO system so as to offer quality services, creating conditions for
national companies that are favourable to enhancing research outcomes and to exploiting
technological innovations.
In Cameroon, intellectual property rights apply more to digital musical works than to art and
cultural works. This branch of intellectual property seems to be particularly fragile due to
forgery and the piracy of digital works. This situation is extremely worrying to the government
of Cameroon and its international partners. Following the illegal and fraudulent exportation of
art works – often seemingly orchestrated with the complicity of port authorities – intellectual
property rights have become a matter of public security in the 16 member States (Benin,
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central-African Republic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea,
Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo). The
technological development branch of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological
Development is tasked with representing Cameroon in the organization. The Ministry of
Justice, the Copyright Office (SOCAM, CMC, etc.), the Customs division, the Police, the legal
national institute and members of the industrial, pharmaceutical, digital, musical and
cinematographic community are also involved in protecting intellectual property rights in the
sub-region in general and in Cameroon in particular.
For a number of years, the government of Cameroon has drawn attention to the safety of food
and pharmaceutical products as well as to the protection of the environment with the objective
to adopt the experts’ arguments according to which the correct application of intellectual
property rights is an important requirement for good economic growth and development.
According to these experts, the rights conferred by patents, brands and copyright encouragelocal companies, artists and industrialists to create, to favour competition and to stimulate
productivity.
On 13 September 2009, the day on which the African Intellectual Property Organization
celebrated its 47th anniversary, officials from the organization in collaboration with
Cameroonian officials observed and confirmed that the protection of works does not drive
many Cameroonians away. The gathering of these regional officials indicated that there are
many researchers in Cameroon’s ministries. However, they do not always make an effort to
have their works protected within the organization. During this meeting in Douala, AIPO
officials were disappointed by the situation and called on all creators to move closer to the
structure whose general objective is precisely to be involved in the development of the
organization’s member countries by highlighting all the opportunities presented by industrial
and intellectual property.

Cameroon and the different intellectual property conventions
In terms of literary and artistic property, Cameroon is a member of International Treaties and
Conventions such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
(since 1964), the Universal Copyright Convention (since 1973), the Agreement on TradeRelated
Aspects of intellectual property rights of the WTO (since 1995), the Bangui Agreement
of 2 March 1977 on the creation of the African Intellectual Property Organization (revised on
24 February 1999), the Paris Convention of 20 October 2005 on the Protection and Promotion
of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Penalties
In case of violation of or threat to violate the rights provided in this law, the natural persons or
corporate bodies or their legal representatives who own such rights, may request a judicial
police officer or a bailiff to establish the said infringements and, if need be, seize, on the
authorization of the State Counsel or competent judge, the forged copies, the illegally imported
copies and objects and the equipment used or to be used for performance or reproduction, and
set up to commit such forbidden acts. Works, performances, phonograms, videograms and
programmes by Cameroonians shall be protected by this law.
The offences relating to forgery and similar offences (imports, exports, reproductions, etc.)
referred to in Sections 80 and 81 shall be punishable by imprisonment of from 5 (five) to 10
(ten) years or a fine of from 500,000 to 10,000,000 CFA francs or by one of the two. The
penalties provided for in this section shall be doubled where the offender is a partner of the
owner of the infringed right.

The authorities responsible for the application of Law n° 2000/11 of 19 December 2000
relating to copyright and to rights in Cameroon are judicial police officers, bailiffs, the State
Counsel, the President of the Civil Court, the Minister in charge of Customs, the Minister in
charge of Culture as president of the National Anti-piracy Committee.
There is no court specialized in matters of copyright and intellectual property rights, but in
terms of borders, application of the Law is provided for by article 90 of Law n° 2000/11 of 19
December 2000. In fact, where the owner of a copyright or neighbouring rights suspects
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imminent importation or exportation of goods that infringe his rights, he may petition the
Minister in charge of customs or the president of the court to request the customs authorities to
suspend the free circulation of the said goods (article 90(1)).

Awareness campaigns in Cameroon
Awareness campaigns are organized by the anti-piracy committee. There is no information
available today on the promotion of legal exploitation. Information on associations and
organizations in terms of awareness is obtained from activities by the Association Culture
Mboa.
Capacity building, training, the creation of specialized services and intersectoral groups, the
creation of a National anti-piracy committee placed under the authority of the Minister of
Culture who assists artist groups in their fight against piracy are some of the initiatives
launched by the government.
Contact details to get further information on the protection of intellectual property in
Cameroon can be obtained from Mr Binam Bikoi Ruben of the Association Culture Mboa, the
SOCADAP (Collective management organisations of copyright), SCAAP (Civil Society for
audiovisual and photographic art), SOCILADRA (Civil Society for Literary and Dramatic Art).

Conclusion
In principle, intellectual property is a notion that aims to protect and promote creativity and
innovation with the objective to stimulate progress and economic development. It represents all
exclusive rights granted in terms of intellectual creations. Its first branch is the Literary and
Artistic Property applicable to works of the mind and consisting of copyright and neighbouring
rights. The second branch of intellectual property is industrial property. On the one hand, it
consists of utilitarian creations such as the patent and plant variety rights, and on the other
hand, of distinctive signs such as the trademark, domain name and label of quality. Since the
Bangui Agreement of 2 March 1977 revising the Agreement of Libreville, the AIPO is
currently made up of 16 member States. In Cameroon, the government has adopted the experts’
arguments according to which the correct application of intellectual property rights is an
important requirement for good economic growth and development. However, officials in the
organization have observed that creators of art works do exist but that they do not approach the
structure to highlight the opportunities presented by industrial and intellectual property.

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