Cameroon

Legal background

Scope and duration of copyright

Does copyright end immediately after the minimum period mandated by the Berne Convention? Yes
But, the law is not very specific about photography whose minimum term set by the Berne convention 25 years
Section 37 of Law, 19/12/2000, No. 2000/011 on copyright
Has a court or tribunal ever limited the exercise of IP rights under competition law, for example by imposing compulsory licensing or regulating royalties charged by dominant rights holders? Yes
The case of a cigarette brand known as "Delta", whose ownership has been disputed by two former business associate who used to market the brand. In June 2001, the OAPI ruled in favor of the cameroonian business partner, but in an Appeal court in Cameroon later overturned the ruling and granted exclusive rights to the germarn part.
Has a court or tribunal ever limited the exercise of IP rights pursuant to a bill of rights or similar human rights instrument, for example by preventing copyright from being used to stifle protected speech? No
Can databases of non-original material be reproduced without infringing a copyright or sui generis database right? No
CM001 s.4b
Are rights holders prohibited from excluding user rights under copyright law? Yes
The role is a rescourse for the parties under contract, and should therefore prevail over any type of contracts.
Is computer software excluded from the scope of patentable subject matter? No

Freedoms to access and use

By Home UsersIs there any general user right that is based on a set of balancing criteria, such as a "fair use" right? No
The law was made from the standpoint of the copyright holder, and not from the users of the copyrighted material.
Is time, space and format shifting allowed (such as ripping music from CD to an MP3 player)? No
Normally, a written authorisation from the author is required .
Can consumers reproduce copyright material for their own use in the original format, for example for backup purposes? Yes
Can works be communicated to a limited public (for example, family and friends) without infringing copyright? No
The following shall constitute forgery...any reproduction, communication or supply to the public through sale, exchange, rental of a recording, a phonogram, videogram, undertaken without the authorization of the performer, phonogram or videogram producer, or the audiovisual communication firm, where such authorization is required.
CM001 s.80
For EducationMay students copy works for private research or study? No
Does any such research and study provision cover distance and online education? No
May translations of works be made for educational purposes? Yes
May educators copy works for use in the classroom? Yes
OnlineAre temporary or transient copies, incidental to a lawful use, excepted from copyright? In part
Does the law exclude or limit the liability of intermediaries such as ISPs for copyright infringements carried out on their network? Yes
Is Internet access free of ISP filtering or monitoring for potential copyright-infringements? Yes
Though they may have to respond to court at times.
By content creatorsIs there any protection for consumers who non-commercially remix or mash up copyright works? Yes
May computer software be reproduced or transformed for the purpose of reverse-engineering interoperable software? No
Is the incidental inclusion of a work in other material permitted? Yes
Is there are copyright exception for parody or satire? In part
By the pressIs there a copyright exception for the news of the day? In part
This explicitly only applies to speeches at political and public gatherings.
CM001 s.67
May copyright material be reproduced for the purposes of review and criticism? In part
May quotations be used for any purpose? No
By LibrariesMay libraries copy works if they cannot reasonably be obtained commercially? No
There is no express provision on library use.
May librarians copy works for users for the purpose of research or study? No
There is no express provision on library use.
Are libraries allowed to make preservation or archive copies of materials in their collections? No
There is no express provision on library use.
Can lending libraries operate without incurring public lending rights fees to copyright owners? Yes
By disabled usersIs it permissible to copy or adapt work for the use of those with disabilities? In part
It is actually done, but no provision clearly permits it.
In public affairsAre laws excluded from copyright? Yes
Are other governmental works either excluded from copyright, or routinely shared under permissive licences? Yes
Court judgements and “other official instruments as well as their official translations”.
Are the results of publicly funded research required to be published under an open access licence? No

Freedoms to share and transfer

Do copyright owners have the right to release their works to the public domain, without any limitation on how those works may be used? No
Can public domain works be used without the need for any payment or registration of the use?
Does the law make special provision for the legal use of orphaned works? No
Is parallel importation of copyright works permitted? In part
Are there national programmes or policies to promote the use, production or dissemination of openly-licensed material such as free and open source software or open educational resources? No
Cameroon's law is still very backward as concerns Information and Communications New Technologies.
Are there national programmes or policies that specify or promote the use of open document formats? No

Administration and enforcement

What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for an individual? $46.000 CM001 s.82 (1)
What is the maximum penalty for copyright infringement for a corporation? $46.000 CM001 ss.82 (1) and (2)
Is innocent infringement of IP treated differently by the law? No
This is not specified in the law.
CM001 s.82
Is the creation or distribution of devices that can circumvent technological protection measures (TPM) permitted, where such devices can be used for legal purposes? No
Is the use of such devices by consumers or intermediaries permitted in the legal exercise of user rights? In part
This only limits the "fraudulent" circumvention of such measures, which might not impede their circumvention for purposes the law allows.
CM001 s.81
Does national copyright or consumer protection law require that the effect of TPMs distributed with copyright works be disclosed to consumers? No
Are there cases in which the availability of injunctive relief for IP infringement is limited by the law on public policy grounds?
Does the law protect a user's Internet access from being suspended for alleged copyright infringement, except after a hearing in court? Yes
But, they are often called to court over such infringements.
Are criminal sanctions limited to cases of large-scale commercial counterfeiting? No
There have been many cases of individuals sent to jail and/or fined
Are damages for copyright infringement limited to the loss sustained, rather than a pre-established or statutory damages award? No
Is there provision to penalise the wrongful allegation of copyright infringement? Yes
Is there provision to penalise the obstruction of consumers' exercise of user rights?
Does the patent system allow for pre-grant opposition?

Recent or upcoming changes

Summary of position

The copyright law of Cameroon is unsatisfactory.  There are insufficient specific exceptions, and an over-reliance on the general exception for private copying, which is remunerated by a levy.  Although this may often be a good enough substitute for a research and study exception, it is no substitute for institutional exceptions for libraries and disability support organisations.

On the other hand, Cameroon has been very swift to legislate against the circumvention of technological protection mechanisms.  This, and the general tenor of the law, indicates that too much influence has been had on its drafting from industry lobbyists, with insufficient attention being paid to the needs of consumers.

One of the few brighter notes in the Cameroon legislation is a specific provision dealing with folklore, which can be reproduced for free for private purposes.  For profit-making purposes, a royalty must be paid into a cultural fund.

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