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NGO takes battle over culture ministry IP decree to court.

CAIRO: An NGO has lodged a case against a decree allowing the Ministry of Culture to closedown websites held to be in breach of intellectual property regulations.

In a statement issued Sunday the Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) says that the powers Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni awards to the ministry in the decree exceeds its jurisdiction.

The decree was issued on Aug. 31, 2010, following a complaint received by the Central Association of Audio and Visual Recordings Producers that websites are hosting their material without prior permission, in violation of their intellectual property rights.

Ahmed Ezzet, an AFTE lawyer, explained to Daily News Egypt that while the government should aim to strike a balance between intellectual property rights and the right to information, it is "giving precedence to intellectual property rights."

AFTE says in its statement that Law 82, which governs the protection of intellectual property rights, provides that it is the author of a work himself who possesses the right to seek protection of his intellectual property rights.

In addition, article 146 of law 82 "precisely" lists the acts constituting an attack on intellectual property rights and the penalties laid down for such breaches.

AFTE says that the Minister of Culture has awarded himself, the body monitoring artistic products and to the Ministry of Communications "more power than the law gives to the courts which examine disputes concerning intellectual property rights." The law only gives courts the power to target the artistic product in question rather than the website as a whole. In addition, these measures are time-limited.

"The closure of websites which host material in violation of the intellectual property law lays down a penalty not provided for in the law itself. Closing a website punishes not only its owner, it punishes the general public since it is a primary source for the exchange of information," the NGO says.

AFTE also invoke international human rights law in their criticism of the decree, citing article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Egypt is a signatory which enshrines the right to freedom of opinion.

Article 19, the NGO says, "releases freedom of the circulation of information and the right to knowledge, and may not be restricted in any way. The decree is a violation of the right to access information and will necessarily lead to increased monitoring of the internet."

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Sep 7, 2010
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