Legal notes to copyright registration in Laos

Legal notes to copyright registration in Laos

Copyright registration in Laos. The Lao economy depends on investment and trade with its neighbors, Thailand, Vietnam, and, especially in the north, China. Laos is rich in mineral resources and imports petroleum and gas. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government hopes to attract foreign investment to develop the substantial deposits of coal, gold, bauxite, tin, copper, and other valuable metals. The mining industry of Laos has received prominent attention with foreign direct investments. Accordingly, many businesses want to enter this market and one of the most important preparations a business needs to take before expanding to Laos is to learn the procedure of copyright registration in Laos.

Copyright in Laos

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The creation must be visible in a certain material form, like content, quality, form, medium, language, published or unpublished, registered or unregistered.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, the creator should still apply for copyright registration in Laos early 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 made a copyright registration in Laos 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 in Laos immediately to protect their rights and interests when there is an infringement.

Copyright registration in Laos

Laos is a member country of The Berne Convention for Copyright since 2012.

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (the Berne Convention) is an international agreement governing copyright. The agreement was first accepted in Berne, Switzerland, in 1886.

As Laos is a contracting party of the Berne Convention, any work originating in Laos will be given copyright protection in each of the Berne Convention member countries.

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

Evidence of copyright is extremely important even when the works are automatically protected according to copyright law.

When registering, the work will get an application submission date, 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 big amount of money as well as 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 Laos

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

  • Declaration of copyright registration in Laos;
  • 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 Laos

Laos recently had a newly amended copyright law in 2018 which replaced the previous version issued in 2011. Law No. 38/NA of November 15, 2017, on Intellectual Property was published in Lao Electronic Official Gazette on May 25, 2018, and entered into force on June 8, 2018, 15 days after its publication.

WIPO’s Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives (SCCR/35/6) found that while the 2011 law in Laos had some basic exceptions allowing certain uses of copyright-protected works, there were no explicit exceptions. This is also not resolved in the current version of the copyright law.

Besides the Berne Convention, Laos has also joined the following international treaties which regulate copyright in Laos:

  • Universal Copyright Convention (Geneva)
  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

You can see a list of Laos IP firms here.

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