A changing landscape: copyright in Cyprus


Ermioni Pavlidou

A changing landscape: copyright in Cyprus

Copyright is Cyprus has come a long way towards harmony with international standards, but there are still some anomalies, says Ermioni Pavlidou.

In Cyprus, copyright law proceeds from domestic legislation and international treaties to which Cyprus is party. The latter has a superior force in Cyprus national legislation.

Copyright in Cyprus is regulated by the Copyright & Neighbouring Rights Law of 1976 to 2006.

The conventions to which Cyprus is party include the International Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works, known as the Berne Convention.

The Berne Convention was adopted in 1979, and the Universal Copyright convention was adopted in 1990, while Cyprus also acceded to the 1971 Paris Revisions of the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention. And while Cyprus has not yet ratifi ed the law instigating the Rome Convention, it has has enacted Law No.14 (III)/1999 concerning this and the European Directive 2001/29/EC on copyright.

Copyright is the statutory right to stop others copying or exploiting in any way original work, ie, artistic work, literary work, music recordings, broadcasts, computer software, etc, without permission from the owner of the rights.

The Copyright Law protects Cypriot nationals for works which are published anywhere in the world and the nationals of foreign countries for works which are published in Cyprus. Only the owners of a copyright have the exclusive right to reproduce, translate and off er their works to the public.

Rights are recognised under the law for every protected object whose beneficiary is at the time of the creation of the right, or if it is a broadcast, the time of the transmission of the broadcast, a qualifying person, namely:

  • A person who is a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus or who habitually resides in the Republic;
  • A legal person, established in accordance with the Laws of the Republic; or
  • A citizen of another member state of the European Union.

According to the law, ‘artistic work’ means irrespective of artistic quality, any of the following, or works similar to them:

  • Paintings, drawings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, engravings and prints;
  • Maps, plans and diagrams;
  • Works of sculpture;
  • Photographs not comprised in a cinematograph film; under the condition that it is a creation of the author and not a copy of an existing photograph;
  • Works of architecture in the form of buildings or models; and
  • Works of artistic craftsmanship not falling within any of the preceding paragraphs.

According to the Cyprus Copyright Law an object which is not original is excluded from protection. No copyright shall subsist in a literary, musical or artistic work unless it is of an original character, and has been reduced to writing, recorded or otherwise reduced to some material form.

Protection against infringement

The Intellectual Property Law provides remedies for copyright infringement.

For the criminal offences listed in the law, penalties include a fine not exceeding 30,000 CYP (the law quotes this figure in CYP, equivalent to € 50,872) or imprisonment for up to three years.

The court may order the offender to destroy any copies of the work in his possession or to deliver them to the copyright owner.

Civil Remedies include damages, destruction or delivery of infringing copies and the equipment by which copies are produced, an account of profits and an injunction.

The following article of the directive should be noted in respect of the harmonisation and the infringements remedies:

“1. Member States shall provide appropriate sanctions and remedies in respect of infringements of the rights and obligations set out in this Directive and shall take all the measures necessary to ensure that those sanctions and remedies are applied. The sanctions thus provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

2. Each Member State shall take the measures necessary to ensure that rightholders whose interests are affected by an infringing activity carried out on its territory can bring an action for damages and/or apply for an injunction and, where appropriate, for the seizure of infringing material as well as of devices, products or components referred to in Article 6(2).

3. Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”

Duration of registration & protection

Copyright exists in: scientific works, literary works including computer software, musical works, artistic works including photographs and an original database for a period of 70 years, commencing from the death of the author.


The Berne Convention provided for copyright protection for a single term based on the life of the author, and did not require registration or the inclusion of a copyright notice for copyright to exist. Under the convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not “register” or “apply” for a copyright in countries adhering to the convention. Foreign authors are given the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that signed the convention.

The Berne Convention requires its signatories to recognise the copyright of works of authors from other signatory countries in the same way it recognises the copyright of its own nationals.

For photography, the Berne Convention sets a minimum term of 25 years from the year the photograph was created. Countries under the older versions of the treaty may choose to provide their own protection terms, and certain types of works may be provided shorter terms.

The Berne Convention Art.9 explicitly states that:

  • Authors of literary and artistic works protected by this Convention shall have the exclusive right to authorise the reproduction of these works, in any manner of form.

It shall be a matter of legislation in the countries of the union to permit the reproduction of such works in certain special cases, provided that such reproduction does not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

  • Any sound or visual recording shall be considered as a reproduction for the purposes of this convention.

According to copyright laws, then:

Taking pictures of buildings is a reproduction, which must theoretically be authorised by the architect if the right to reproduction is not in the national copyright law.

The article above allows reproducing and publishing photographs taken in public places.

It is understood that this includes the pictures in a commercial way.

The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) ensured that international protection was available to authors even in countries that would not become parties to the Berne Convention. Berne convention countries also became signatories of the UCC to ensure that the work of citizens in Berne Convention countries would be protected in non-Berne Convention countries. The Universal Copyright Convention is of limited importance today, as most countries are now part of the union of the Berne Convention.

Ermioni Pavlidou is head of Michael Kyprianou & Co. LLC’s IP department. She can be contacted at: ermioni@kyprianou.com.cy

This article was first published on 01 March 2013 in World IP Review

Cyprus copyright law, Copyright & Neighbouring Rights Law, Berne Convention, UCC

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