Morocco/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Protectorate Era
The first dahir pertaining to copyright was issued in 1916 [59]. It acknowledges the rights of authors and protects works of art for 50 years after their authors’ deaths. The dahir (which remained in force until 1962) used the French Penal Code to determine punishments for copyright infringements.


Independence Era
A 1970 Dahir [54] pertaining to copyright maintained the 1916 dahir’s general philosophy and nullified all copyright-related laws in force at the time.


A law [42] pertaining to copyright and associated rights was issued in 2000 to amend the 1970 dahir [54] and adapt Moroccan laws to international copyright standards. This law defines the artist as any person who creates a work of art. A work of art is any original literary or artistic work created in the field of literature or art. The key elements of this law are as follows:

  • Expansion of the exclusive privilege of authors over their creative works in terms of rental, leasing, licensing for public distribution, importing copies or showing their works via cable television or any other means.
  • Adaptation to TRIPS requirements (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights): protection of new works of art (software and databases) and protection of new types of artists (performing artists, phonogram producers and radio stations).
  • Adaptation to the WIPO convention pertaining to the internet (software, databases, distribution right and publication), performance art and sound recording (introduction, copying, distribution and lending rights, fair compensation for radio transmission or publication and enhancing the technological measures meant to prevent fraud or distortion of information related to the copyright system).
  • Dedication of a full section to measures, challenges and penalties against piracy and other infringements (precautionary measures, civil penalties, criminal penalties, measures and compensations for damages, penalties in cases of unlawful use of technological means and distortion of information related to the copyright system).


A law [20] pertaining to A-V communication was issued in 2002, obligating contractors to observe copyright laws and associated rights.

A law [18] was issued in 2006 amending and complementing the 2000 copyright law [42] in order to:

  • Adapt to international agreements (define copying and representation).
  • Enhance the role and function of the Moroccan Copyright Office (right to file lawsuits, right to direct seizure and the need to provide administrative support and assistance to the office).
  • Improve the exclusive rights of authors and persons with associated rights. Authors, performance artists and sound producers of any sort were all afforded exclusive rights to republish or copy their own work in any medium (including electronic), whether temporary or permanent.
  • Extend the copyright period from 50 to 70 years after the death of author as a general principle.
  • Enhance technological measures.
  • Enhance procedures, measures and penalties.
  • Enhance inspection measures at border checkpoints.
  • Rehabilitate the customs administration to prevent free circulation of goods.
  • Boost the limited liability system of service providers.


On 26 April, 2013, a draft law about the Rights of the author was presented by Government of Morocco.


It was aimed at the adoption of the legal requirements that govern authors’ rights in order to promote innovation and encourage talent and maintain the interest of  various individuals in the creation of works by authors, composers, artists and producers of videos. The framework recognises the development of modern technology for recording, and the multiplicity of ways and means of exploitation and usage of  files, says a government notification. The draft project aims to provide reparation for infringement of copyright and related rights because of the increase of copying operations by private individuals for personal use.


Under this project, local manufacturers and importers of recording devices and reproduction and audio-visual supports are committed to paying the Moroccan Copyright Office all reproduction dues with a view to personal use. The authors, performers and producers of recordingsbenefit from these receivables, and a percentage is dedicated to fight unauthorised duplication and hackering. The project also provides for some exemptions to the benefit of operators of audio and audio-visual communication, and producers of recordings, and the public administrations and public institutions which care orf people with special needs and their associations.


In spite of this, piracy remains an epidemic threatening Moroccan creativity, this is confirmed by the appearance of high-quality copies of the Moroccan film “The Road to Kabul” on YouTubein the summer of 2014.This was very controversial as the first original copies leaked of  this Moroccan film came from the Morrocan Cinema Centre.


Despite the attempts by the Moroccan Cinema Centre  and the film production company to delete the backup, new versions appears on other channels, which made it difficult to stop the circulation of this Moroccan film illegally.


With regard to the Moroccan office for author’s rights, it should be noted that the follow up meeting held by the Governance Committee on the rights of authors and neighbouring rights on 24 Dec, 2013, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Communication, in the presence of the Minister of Communication; the spokesman for the government was devoted to studying a number of issues and developments relevant to efforts associated with the progress of the Moroccan office for rights of authors and with recognition of  transparency and governance in fighting piracy and ensuring dedicated copyrights and neighbouring rights.


In principle, this meeting was characterised with endorsement on program plans of action of the Moroccan office on the rights of authors for 2014 with a budget allocated by the Ministry of Communication at an amount of 4.5 million dirhams. Expenditure aspects of the budget were basically represented on by the expenses of auditing,, strengthening of human resources, promotion, formation and ongoing training, as well as on digitalising protected works and consolidating an information system to ensure transparency and effectiveness of distribution. It also covered the launching of sensitisation and awareness campaigns to fight piracy and fraud and complete the construction of the new headquarters of the Moroccan Office for Rights of Authors, and for appraisal of social work to the benefit of users of the office, and renewal of membership cards.


During the meeting, which was attended by two representatives of the Moroccan Association for Rights of Authors as observers, the Committee also examined the draft project contract of the Moroccan Bureau of Authors Rights program for 2014-2016 with an in-depth thoughtful discussion on developments in the draft law concerning the special version currently submitted to the attention of the House of Representatives, and the draft project for transferring the office into the public institution. Italso agreed on the formation of a committee to develop a celebration of World Intellectual Property Day which would take into consideration the various issues including the works of construction of the new headquarters of the Office.


Aspects of International Protection in the Moroccan Legislation

  • International Agreements Ratified by Morocco.
  • Bern Convention (9 September, 1886) supervised by WIPO (a UN body created in 1967).
  • Universal Copyright Agreement (6 September, 1952, supervised by UNESCO).
  • WIPO Convention (14 September, 1967).
  • Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite (21 May, 1974).
  • TRIPS Accord, concerning the commercial part of intellectual property rights.
  • WCT and WPPT (1996): WIPO's treaty for copyright, performance and phonograms. Legal terms are being developed to ratify these two agreements.

International Copyright Standard in the National Legislation

  • National treatment (Bern, article 5/1).
  • Reciprocal treatment (Bern, article 6/1).
  • Non-discrimination in protection (Bern, article 7).
  • Automatic protection without formalities (Bern, article 5/2).
  • Most favoured country (TRIPS, article 4).
  • Protected works (Bern, article 10).
  • Material rights (Bern, article 8, 14).
  • Moral rights (TRIPS, article 14).
  • Software and databases (Bern, article 10).
  • Mechanisms of and Means of Activating Copyright and Associated Rights
  • Moroccan Copyright Office (a government body in charge of communication since 1965)
  • Joint Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee for Combating Forgery and Piracy

a. Protectorate Era

The first dahir pertaining to copyright was issued in 1916 [59]. It acknowledges the rights of authors and protects works of art for 50 years after their authors’ deaths. The dahir (which remained in force until 1962) used the French Penal Code to determine punishments for copyright infringements.

 Independence Era

A 1970 Dahir [54] pertaining to copyright maintained the 1916 dahir’s general philosophy and nullified all copyright-related laws in force at the time.

A law [42] pertaining to copyright and associated rights was issued in 2000 to amend the 1970 dahir [54] and adapt Moroccan laws to international copyright standards. This law defines the artist as any person who creates a work of art. A work of art is any original literary or artistic work created in the field of literature or art. The key elements of this law are as follows:

-          Expansion of the exclusive privilege of authors over their creative works in terms of rental, leasing, licensing for public distribution, importing copies or showing their works via cable television or any other means.

-          Adaptation to TRIPS requirements (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights): protection of new works of art (software and databases) and protection of new types of artists (performing artists, phonogram producers and radio stations).

-          Adaptation to the WIPO convention pertaining to the internet (software, databases, distribution right and publication), performance art and sound recording (introduction, copying, distribution and lending rights, fair compensation for radio transmission or publication and enhancing the technological measures meant to prevent fraud or distortion of information related to the copyright system).

-          Dedication of a full section to measures, challenges and penalties against piracy and other infringements (precautionary measures, civil penalties, criminal penalties, measures and compensations for damages, penalties in cases of unlawful use of technological means and distortion of information related to the copyright system).

A law [20] pertaining to A-V communication was issued in 2002, obligating contractors to observe copyright laws and associated rights.

A law [18] was issued in 2006 amending and complementing the 2000 copyright law [42] in order to:

-          Adapt to international agreements (define copying and representation).

-          Enhance the role and function of the Moroccan Copyright Office (right to file lawsuits, right to direct seizure and the need to provide administrative support and assistance to the office).

-          Improve the exclusive rights of authors and persons with associated rights. Authors, performance artists and sound producers of any sort were all afforded exclusive rights to republish or copy their own work in any medium (including electronic), whether temporary or permanent.

-          Extend the copyright period from 50 to 70 years after the death of author as a general principle.

-          Enhance technological measures.

-          Enhance procedures, measures and penalties.

-          Enhance inspection measures at border checkpoints.

-          Rehabilitate the customs administration to prevent free circulation of goods.

-          Boost the limited liability system of service providers.

E - On 26 April, 2013, a draft law about the Rights of the author was presented by Government of Morocco.

It was aimed at the adoption of the legal requirements that govern authors’ rights in order to promote innovation and encourage talent and maintain the interest of  various individuals in the creation of works by authors, composers, artists and producers of videos. The framework recognises the development of modern technology for recording, and the multiplicity of ways and means of exploitation and usage of  files, says a government notification. The draft project aims to provide reparation for infringement of copyright and related rights because of the increase of copying operations by private individuals for personal use.

Under this project, local manufacturers and importers of recording devices and reproduction and audio-visual supports are committed to paying the Moroccan Copyright Office all reproduction dues with a view to personal use. The authors, performers and producers of recordingsbenefit from these receivables, and a percentage is dedicated to fight unauthorised duplication and hackering. The project also provides for some exemptions to the benefit of operators of audio and audio-visual communication, and producers of recordings, and the public administrations and public institutions which care orf people with special needs and their associations.

In spite of this, piracy remains an epidemic threatening Moroccan creativity, this is confirmed by the appearance of high-quality copies of the Moroccan film “The Road to Kabul” on YouTubein the summer of 2014.This was very controversial as the first original copies leaked of  this Moroccan film came from the Morrocan Cinema Centre.

Despite the attempts by the Moroccan Cinema Centre  and the film production company to delete the backup, new versions appears on other channels, which made it difficult to stop the circulation of this Moroccan film illegally.

With regard to the Moroccan office for author’s rights, it should be noted that the follow up meeting held by the Governance Committee on the rights of authors and neighbouring rights on 24 Dec, 2013, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Communication, in the presence of the Minister of Communication; the spokesman for the government was devoted to studying a number of issues and developments relevant to efforts associated with the progress of the Moroccan office for rights of authors and with recognition of  transparency and governance in fighting piracy and ensuring dedicated copyrights and neighbouring rights.

In principle, this meeting was characterised with endorsement on program plans of action of the Moroccan office on the rights of authors for 2014 with a budget allocated by the Ministry of Communication at an amount of 4.5 million dirhams. Expenditure aspects of the budget were basically represented on by the expenses of auditing,, strengthening of human resources, promotion, formation and ongoing training, as well as on digitalising protected works and consolidating an information system to ensure transparency and effectiveness of distribution. It also covered the launching of sensitisation and awareness campaigns to fight piracy and fraud and complete the construction of the new headquarters of the Moroccan Office for Rights of Authors, and for appraisal of social work to the benefit of users of the office, and renewal of membership cards.

During the meeting, which was attended by two representatives of the Moroccan Association for Rights of Authors as observers, the Committee also examined the draft project contract of the Moroccan Bureau of Authors Rights program for 2014-2016 with an in-depth thoughtful discussion on developments in the draft law concerning the special version currently submitted to the attention of the House of Representatives, and the draft project for transferring the office into the public institution. Italso agreed on the formation of a committee to develop a celebration of World Intellectual Property Day which would take into consideration the various issues including the works of construction of the new headquarters of the Office.

Aspects of International Protection in the Moroccan Legislation

-          International Agreements Ratified by Morocco.

-          Bern Convention (9 September, 1886) supervised by WIPO (a UN body created in 1967).

-          Universal Copyright Agreement (6 September, 1952, supervised by UNESCO).

-          WIPO Convention (14 September, 1967).

-          Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite (21 May, 1974).

-          TRIPS Accord, concerning the commercial part of intellectual property rights.

-          WCT and WPPT (1996): WIPO's treaty for copyright, performance and phonograms. Legal terms are being developed to ratify these two agreements.

International Copyright Standard in the National Legislation

-          National treatment (Bern, article 5/1).

-          Reciprocal treatment (Bern, article 6/1).

-          Non-discrimination in protection (Bern, article 7).

-          Automatic protection without formalities (Bern, article 5/2).

-          Most favoured country (TRIPS, article 4).

-          Protected works (Bern, article 10).

-          Material rights (Bern, article 8, 14).

-          Moral rights (TRIPS, article 14).

-          Software and databases (Bern, article 10).

-          Mechanisms of and Means of Activating Copyright and Associated Rights

-          Moroccan Copyright Office (a government body in charge of communication since 1965)

-          Joint Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee for Combating Forgery and Piracy


Chapter published: 05-05-2016


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