The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has called on authors, artists, companies and students to produce their own work rather than resort to plagiarism. This is to avoid legal complaints, it said.

The appeal came on February 24, before the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 1886 and its amendment in 1979 – which Cambodia has ratified – goes into effect on March 9.

Ministry spokesman Long Ponna Sirivath said that ratifying the Berne Convention gave Cambodia equal rights on the international stage.

Through this convention, the Kingdom has increased its human resource potential and the development of cultural and economic innovations. It would also increase investment, protect the export of cultural items and strengthen the education sector, he said.

Ek Buntha, deputy director-general of the ministry, said however that ratifying the convention also meant the Kingdom would face some challenges. One of the conventions requirements is that all nations must protect the intellectual rights of all other member states.

“We cannot use the work of other signatories without permission. If someone plagiarises the work of another, they must pay compensation to the owner,” he said.

He said Cambodia still has several shortcomings in its implementation of copy right law, as the authorities in charge of the work do not appear to be enforcing them effectively. The problem is compounded by limited public understanding of intellectual property rights, he said.

He noted that although the convention had been ratified, the Kingdom had not accepted Section 1 of Article 33 – which required disputes to be dealt with in the International Court of Justice. Cambodia would instead resolve disputes through the national laws of the relevant countries.

Cambodia accepted articles 2 and 3 of the annex to the convention which enable it to translate foreign artistic works for educational, research and developmental purposes.

The Department of Copyright and Related Rights at the ministry said that Cambodia has yet to draw up legal standards to solve copyright disputes outside of the judicial system.