Commons:Copyright rules by territory/Somalia

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This page provides an overview of copyright rules of Somalia relevant to uploading works into Wikimedia Commons. Note that any work originating in Somalia must be in the public domain, or available under a free license, in both Somalia and the United States before it can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. If there is any doubt about the copyright status of a work from Somalia, refer to the relevant laws for clarification.


In the late 19th century the British and Italian empires established the colonies of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. Italian occupation lasted until 1941, when a British military administration took over. In 1949 Italian Somaliland became a United Nations Trusteeship under Italian administration. The two regions united on 1 July 1960 to form the independent Somali Republic. On 18 May 1991 the former British Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia.

Copyright in British Somaliland was covered by the 1911 Copyright Act, which was superseded by the Copyright Act 1956. Italian laws covered Italian Somaliland. These two sets of laws remained in force in the respective regions until the Somali Democratic Republic passed the first Copyright Law, Law No. 66 of 7 September 1977.[1] The 1977 law does not appear to have been widely used or enforced, and it is unclear whether it is relevant to the breakaway state of Somaliland.[1]

As of 2018 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, did not list any IP laws enacted by the legislature of Somalia.[2] The Ministry of Education, Culture & Tourism has published a press law dated June 2017 on the government website, which refers to copyright.[3] The law does not specify a duration and is unclear.[4]

The United States Copyright Office declares the state of copyright relations with Somalia to be "unclear", as opposed to "none".[5]

General rules

According to the 1977 Copyright Law - Law No. 66 of 7 September 1977, Somali law includes copyright protection for registered works. However, there is no longer anywhere to register copyrights. There are records of a copyright office existing prior to being destroyed in the civil war in 1991. Durations were:[6]

  • The copyright of (registered) literary and artistic and scientific works shall be protected during the life of the author and for a further period of 30 years after his death.[6/1977 (Art.24)]
  • In the case of joint works, the copyright shall be protected up to 30 years after the death of the last surviving author.[6/1977 (Art.24.2)]
  • Works whose authors are not known or were published anonymously or under pseudonyms shall enjoy protection from the date when the unknown name or the real name of the author is found in the Copyright Register.[6/1977 (Art.25)]
  • Works undertaken after the death of an author shall enjoy protection from the date of their publication.

Treaty status

Copyright notes

Copyright notes
Per U.S. Circ. 38a, the following countries are not participants in the Berne Convention or Universal Copyright Convention and there is no presidential proclamation restoring U.S. copyright protection to works of these countries on the basis of reciprocal treatment of the works of U.S. nationals or domiciliaries:
  • East Timor, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Marshall Islands, Palau, Somalia, Somaliland, and South Sudan.

As such, works published by citizens of these countries in these countries are usually not subject to copyright protection outside of these countries. Hence, such works may be in the public domain in most other countries worldwide.


  • Works published in these countries by citizens or permanent residents of other countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention or any other treaty on copyright will still be protected in their home country and internationally as well as locally by local copyright law (if it exists).
  • Similarly, works published outside of these countries within 30 days of publication within these countries will also usually be subject to protection in the foreign country of publication. When works are subject to copyright outside of these countries, the term of such copyright protection may exceed the term of copyright inside them.
  • Unpublished works from these countries may be fully copyrighted.
  • A work from one of these countries may become copyrighted in the United States under the URAA if the work's home country enters a copyright treaty or agreement with the United States and the work is still under copyright in its home country.

Somalia inherited the UK Copyright Act 1911, but replaced it with Law No. 66 of 7 September 1977. The new law was based on the 1976 Tunis Model Copyright Law and gave a general term of 30 p.m.a. for works. However, it also had a highly prescriptive registration requirement to obtain copyright protection, and no copyright registration office currently exists (if it ever did).

Copyright tags


See also: Commons:Copyright tags

Freedom of panorama

See also: Commons:Freedom of panorama

  • De facto: Purple question mark.svg Unsure
  • De jure: OOjs UI icon close-ltr-destructive.svg Not OK.

The list of exceptions or limitations to copyright in Law No. 66 of 7 September 1977, Sections 33–35, does not include a freedom of panorama provision. For artistic works, Section 35 states these can only be used freely for personal or educational purposes (thus non-commercial uses of artistic works).

However, in practice there are no protected architecture and public artistic works in Somalia, as the law required registration for these to be protected by copyright, granting a short 30-year copyright duration. There is no longer anywhere to register copyrights; records indicate of a copyright office that existed before being destroyed in the civil war in 1991.

See also


  1. a b Somaliland Copyright Law. Somaliland (2018). Retrieved on 2018-12-09.
  2. Somalia Copyright and Related Rights (Neighboring Rights)[1], WIPO: World Intellectual Property Organization, 2018
  3. Press Law (2017). Retrieved on 2018-12-092016.
  4. Mohamed Ali Juhaa (September 23, 2017). Wasiirka Warfaafinta Oo Golaha Shacabka Hor Geeyey Wax Ka Bedelka Xeerka Saxaafada Si Ay Ansixiyaan (media article). Retrieved on 2019-01-13.
  5. Circular 38a: International Copyright Relations[2], United States Copyright Office of the United States, 2019, page 11
  6. Somali Democratic Republic Copyright Law 1977: Law No. 66 of 7/9/1977 (in Somali). Retrieved on 2020-12-21.
Caution: The above description may be inaccurate, incomplete and/or out of date, so must be treated with caution. Before you upload a file to Wikimedia Commons you should ensure it may be used freely. See also: Commons:General disclaimer