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New Copyright Law to Enter into Force in Albania

Jul 29 2016 - 17:59

A new Law on Copyright and Related Rights will enter into force in Albania on October 20, 2016, replacing the current copyright law adopted in 2005.

The new law (No. 35/2016, adopted on March 31, 2016) has been harmonized with the EU legal framework with the exception of Directive 2012/28/EU on orphan works, which should be transposed at a later date by means of further amendments.

The new law aims to create an equal level of copyright protection and enforcement to that existing in the EU, due to obligations deriving from Article 73 of the Albania-EU Association and Stabilization Agreement, in force as of April 2009.

One of the most important novelties is the introduction of the ‘one-stop-shop’ system enabling commercial users of copyrighted material to pay a single fee that applies to separate copyright collectives. So far, commercial users have been paying different royalty rates to different copyright collectives. This new system is expected to improve collection efficiency and increase transparency in terms of the fees charged for a copyright license.

The new law also aims to establish a better balance among the interests of copyright owners in receiving a fair reward, the interests of general public in receiving information and the commercial users’ rights to the copyrighted material. The law allows commercial users to participate in establishing methods for determining royalty rates. The law also provides for the creation of a commercial user society where commercial users can make suggestions and voice concerns.

The current law’s emphasis on the collective management of copyright and related rights has led to high and unjustified fees imposed by copyright collectives, without obligating them to distribute royalties to copyright owners. Under the new law, in addition to collective management of rights, the owners can opt for individual management of rights. Moreover, collective agencies are required to follow a specific method for determining compliance costs and royalties, as well as to distribute the royalties to right holders on a yearly basis. In contrast, the current law does not specify a methodology for calculating compliance costs and royalties neither does it set forth the procedure for royalty distribution.

The new law also establishes strict rules governing the work of collective agencies, such as the principles that govern the relationship between collective rights managers and rights holders, in line with the Directive 2014/26/EU on collective management of copyright.

The new law also tackles Albania’s high piracy rate (70 percent) by making certain legal tools available to IP rights holders. Namely, preliminary injunctions should be easier to obtain and the burden of proof will generally rest on the defendant, whereas so far it has rested solely on the plaintiff. These legal tools are expected to give right holders an incentive to fight against piracy in Albania and will generally make the country a more attractive investment destination.

Generally, the new law has been praised by Albanian IP professionals and is in line with EU regulations. However, it remains to be seen how willing the Albanian authorities will be to implement the practices established by the EU authorities. The IP professionals in Albania will possibly face the challenge of convincing the authorities to follow the EU’s practice. The Albanian courts have shown willingness to follow the EU rulings in industrial property cases, so it is expected that this will hold true in the copyright field as well.

By: Irma Cami

For more information, please contact Irma Cami at our Albania office.

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