Copyright reform in Myanmar

EIFL supports libraries in Myanmar as the country adopts a new copyright system

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Left to right: Daw Myat Sann Nyein, Local Coordinator Yangon, EIFL eLibrary Myanmar Project, Teresa Hackett, EIFL's Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager and Dr Kay Thi Htwe, Director, National Library Nay Pyi Taw at a MOST-WIPO conference in Myanmar.

EIFL began working on copyright in Myanmar 2013 at a time of sweeping legislative and administrative change. Among the laws under review was the outdated and defunct Copyright Act of 1914. In 2019, this law was repealed and replaced with the Copyright Law 2019 (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No.15, 2019).

EIFL supported libraries as the new copyright law was being developed. During two visits to Myanmar in 2015, EIFL briefed the local library community, gave presentations on copyright to librarians and law students at Yangon University, met with policy-makers and prepared written comments on the draft law.

The Copyright Law 2019 (that entered into force in 2023) introduces many important changes. Key recommendations made by EIFL and the Myanmar Library Association (MLA) are included, ensuring that the building blocks to support modern libraries, education and research are in place in the new law. There are new exceptions for private study, quotation, online teaching, course-packs, orphan works and use in virtual learning environments. Document delivery services, digital preservation by libraries and archives and the making of accessible format copies for persons with print disabilities is permitted. 

In addition, foreign works are protected for the first time in Myanmar - works first published in Myanmar, or within 30 days of first publication in another country. (Note Myanmar is not a member of the Berne Convention). This change represents a big shift in ‘copy culture’ - how people and institutions such as libraries access, copy, share and download books and other materials. In a transitional arrangement that will benefit libraries, copies of works lawfully made in the public interest under the 1914 Act may be distributed to the public for up to two years from entry into force of the law i.e. up to October 2025.

While the 2019 Copyright Act provides a solid foundation for the copyright infrastructure needed to support libraries, education and research in Myanmar, there are shortcomings that we hope will be addressed in future, for example, the flexible fair dealing provision was not carried forward into the new law, and the newly introduced exceptions can be taken away by terms in licences. 

In October 2023, the Copyright Law 2019 entered into force (see European Commission IP Helpdesk), available on WIPOLex here.


2013 – 2023

Main activities and achievements


  • EIFL attended a number of national events and meetings in Myanmar - we participated in a conference on the Establishment of a Modern and Development-Oriented Intellectual Property System, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and WIPO in Nay Pyi Taw (February); and gave presentations to the Myanmar Library Association (MLA) on ‘Copyright and Advocacy: an introduction’ (February) and at Yangon University Department of Law on ‘Copyright and Libraries’ (May).
  • We met representatives of three key ministries - Science and Technology, Culture and Information (February and May).
  • We held discussions with the Myanmar Library Association (MLA) Legal Affairs Committee, and made visits to several libraries, for example, the parliamentary Library of the Assembly of the Union (known as the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw).
  • We submitted written comments on the draft copyright law, in cooperation with MLA, to the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Culture (March and May).
  • We supported participation of EIFL's Copyright Coordinator, Daw Tin Win Yee, EIFL eLibrary Myanmar project, and Daw Khin Sandar Win (MOST) at a regional seminar in Nepal co-organized by EIFL, ‘Enabling Universal Access and Preservation of Knowledge through Libraries: Copyright Matters’ on 3-4 September.

2016 - 2017

  • In 2016, EIFL supported the Director of the National Library of Myanmar Yangon, Daw Mya Oo, in preparing a presentation on 'Copyright reform in Myanmar' at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2016 in Columbus, US.
  • In 2017, the Myanmar Library Association (MLA) submitted suggestions - including EIFL’s recommendations - to Parliament when the copyright bill was being debated.

2019 - 2023

  • In 2019, the Copyright Law (Law No. 15, 2019) was adopted. The new law includes key EIFL/MLA recommendations, such as support for online education, document delivery services, and digital preservation by libraries and archives.
  • In 2020, EIFL published a review of Myanmar's Copyright Law 2019 available here.
  • In 2023 (October 31), the Copyright Law 2019 entered into force - full text available on WIPOLex here.

More about EIFL's work in myanmar