Legal notes to copyright registration in Ethiopia

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Copyright registration in Ethiopia. Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia is a multiethnic state with 80 different ethnic groups. Christianity is the largest religion followed by Islam. This sovereign state is a founding member of the UN, the Group of 24 (G-24), the Non-Aligned Movement, the G77, and the Organisation of African Unity. Addis Ababa is the headquarters of the African Union, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Standby Force, and many of the global NGOs focused on Africa. Ethiopia is classified as a developing country, with a growth rate of 9.4% from 2010 to 2020. Accordingly, many businesses want to enter this market and one of the most important preparations a business needs to take before expanding to this country is to learn the procedure of copyright registration in Ethiopia.

Copyright in Ethiopia

Unlike other intellectual property rights such as trademarks, patents, industrial designs, plant varieties, etc., copyright does not need to be registered for protection but will be automatically protected from the time the works are created.

The creation must be visible in a certain material form, like content, quality, form, medium, language, published or unpublished, registered or unregistered.

Accordingly, whether registered or not, the copyright to the work will still be protected. However, copyright registration is still advised because early registration will give the author/owner of the work many advantages in the event of a dispute.

When unauthorized use of work occurs around the world, the owner of a work who has registered copyright in advance will not have to waste time and complicate matters with proving himself/herself to be the legitimate owner of the work.

Thereby, in order to avoid passivity, the owner of the work should make a copyright registration to protect their rights and interests when there is an infringement.

Copyright registration in Ethiopia

Currently, Ethiopia is not a member country of The Berne Convention for Copyright.

This country is an observer of the TRIPS agreement and has been a member of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty since 2021.

While in most countries, copyright protection is automatic as soon as the work existed in material form, copyright registration in Ethiopia is critical in order for the copyright owner to obtain evidence of copyright.

Evidence of copyright is extremely important even when copyright is obtained automatically.

When registering, the creation gets a date and a time stamp recorded, as well as information about the creation and proof of creative concept and development. This provides unambiguous proof of authorship and ownership that can’t be denied.

Proof of copyright is essential in an age when the publishing, dissemination, and theft of material is extremely easy with the exposure of the Internet.

If copyright registration is not made, copyright owners will lose a significant big amount of money and time attempting to fight copyright issues and prove ownership of the original work.

If the copyright owner has already registered for copyright protection to the IP office, they would have a strong legal foundation which would increase their chance of winning against the violating parties.

Documents for copyright registration in Ethiopia

To obtain copyright registration in Ethiopia, the author of the work needs to prepare the following documents:

  • Declaration of copyright registration in Ethiopia;
  • Two copies of copyrighted work;
  • Documents proving the right to apply;
  • Written consent of co-authors, if the work has co-authors;
  • Written consent of the co-owners, if the copyright is jointly owned;
  • Notarized identity card of the author or owner of the work;
  • Power of Attorney, if the applicant is an authorized person;
  • Notarized copy of the company’s business registration certificate (if the owner is a company).

The copyright law of Ethiopia

The enactment of Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Proclamation, no. 410/2004 provides a wide aspect of protections for copyright works in general within this jurisdiction.

On top of that, as of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, listed the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Proclamation No. 410/2004 as the main IP law enacted by the legislature of Ethiopia. WIPO holds the text of this law in their WIPO Lex database. The law was amended in some aspects by the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection (Amendment) Proclamation No. 872/2014.

You can see a list of Ethiopia IP firms here.


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