Sunday 30 March 2008


Somali bank notes: is there a copyright issue?

Reuters reports on the continuing problems faced by Somalia's central bank, which plans to revamp the country's currency in the wake of a flood of fake notes printed by local warlords and businessmen. Speaking in Kenya, the bank's director general Sharif Mohamed Hassan said that "greedy" individuals had pumped counterfeit cash into the market for years, driving the local unit to its lowest-ever level. In 1990 the Somali shilling was worth around 930 to the US dollar; by 2001 it had fallen to 14,000 and was now around 25,000 shillings to the dollar.

While currency forgery is generally seen as a fiscal and criminal issues, there are also copyright issues involved: many countries make specific provision for the copyright protection of banknotes, while others regard them as falling within the general provisions relating to the protection of authors' works. A search of WIPO's CLEA database of national intellectual property laws failed to find any materials for Somalia at all. Can any reader advise as to what the copyright provision is there?



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31 March 2008 at 13:16 delete

Jeremy, Somalia does not appear to be a signatory to the Berne Convention for the protection of copyright, either. Do currency markings qualify for trade mark protection? They are distinctive of the only undertaking legally set-up to print money in Somalia ie the govt.