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I. LEGAL BASIS
At present, Myanmar has no IP Laws. Therefore, it also has no specific IP Governing Body as yet. In Myanmar, as domestic legislations, IP rights are protectable under the following existing laws:
II. COPYRIGHT RELATED MATTERS IN MYANMAR
1. Defition of Copyrights
Copyright is a legal term used to describe exclusive rights granted to authors, artists and other creators for their creations. These rights, generally, include: copying; publishing; translating; adapting and altering; distributing; etc. and are granted automatically following the creation of the work.
2. Basic information on Copyrights in Myanmar
Copyright for written work, film, music or software may be difficult for foreign companies to enforce in Myanmar under the current Myanmar Copyright Act of 1914 (CA 1914). Copyrights from other countries are not recognized in Myanmar and there are no procedures for registering foreign copyrights in Myanmar.
Notwithstanding its accession to the TRIPs Agreement, Myanmar has yet to implement national treatment principles into local laws. Myanmar is not a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, nor is it a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
The CA 1914 provides and outlines copyright of original literature and dramatic and artistic work if: (a) in the case of a published work, the work was first published within Myanmar; and (b) in the case of an unpublished work, the author was a citizen of Myanmar or “within” Myanmar when the work was created.
According to the CA 1914, infringement of copyright is actionable in both criminal and civil courts. The owner of the copyright may be able to appeal to the courts to institute criminal proceedings against the infringer under the Act. Punishment with regards to infringement consists of a fine not exceeding Kyats 500 (approximately EUR 0.38), but this is expected to increase. Making or possessing plates for the purpose of producing counterfeit copies shall be punishable with a fine, which is also up to a maximum of Kyats 500 (approximately EUR 0.38). For any subsequent offence the penalty is imprisonment for up to one (1) month or a fine to a maximum of Kyats 1,000 (approximately EUR 0.76), or both.
In Myanmar no specific mechanisms exist for search, seizure and disposal of property relating to copyright. However, the general provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code relating to search, seizure and disposal of property can be applied. Sections 101 – 103 allow for any search to be made in the presence of at least two witnesses who are respectable inhabitants of the locality and will be required to sign the list to attest to its accuracy. The proprietor of the place searched may be present during the search.
However, based on the latest Copyright Bill issued in July 2015, which implements national treatment, copyright protection will cover works created by nationals of other state members that adhere to treaties or conventions related to copyright. The protection will principally last for the lifetime of the creator and an additional fifty (50) years after his or her death. The infringement of copyright is considered both a criminal and civil offence.
Term of protection
In relation to domestic copyrights recognised under the CA 1914, the duration of the protection for literature and, dramatic, musical and artistic work under copyright lasts the life of the author and fifty (50) years after his/her death. However, in any case where the sound can be mechanically reproduced, the original piece of work will only be protected for fifty (50) years after creation.
Currently, there is no registration procedure in Myanmar. Copyright protection under the CA 1914 arises automatically at the time of the creation of a recognised work.
Copyrights from other countries are not recognized and there are no procedures for registering foreign copyrights in Myanmar. There may be strategies to protect IP in lieu of traditional copyright rules and companies should determine whether some combination of trade mark rules and existing laws such as the Television and Video Law of 1996 may be used to protect certain rights.