Fair Practice under Copyright Law of Ethiopia

The purpose of copyright law is not to ensure the owner of copyright a maximum economic benefit, rather to balance the right of the copyright owner to obtain a fair return and society’s interest in access to and use of information. As a result, the copyright law does not only provide exclusive right to the copyright owner, but also exceptions to the exclusive right and allow the use of copyrighted work by third parties in certain circumstances.

One of the important exception is education. An exception to the exclusive right of the owner can be given for the purpose of education. Article 11 of the Ethiopian copyright proclamation No.410/2004 allows the reproduction of a work by persons other than the owner for the purpose of teaching. Such exception by itself does have its own limit.The exception, education, is generally guided by a limit known as fair practice .Fair practice is an equitable rule of reason that helps to balance the interests between the copyright owner and the public.

Even if the fair practice is provided in the proclamation, its meaning and standards to apply it are not known .Without these it is difficult to implement. As a result many individuals do not know about fair practice. Even, they do not know as it is stated in the copyright proclamation. So, if they do not know, they do not observe and respect. And many teachers and students understand that they can copy the work of another without limit if it is for the purpose of education. Here the writer wants to notify to everybody that even if the educational exception is provided by the proclamation, article 11 of it also provides a limit –fair practice. The owner of the work can raise such limit and accuse the user of his work. Then determining whether there is infringement or

a fair practice is left to be determined by the courts. The problem is here. There is no standard for judges to interpret and apply fair practice. Even the individuals have to be certain about the outcome of the cases before court.

Therefore, the following recommendations have to be taken into account to avert the problems:

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