Protection of copyright was introduced in 1993, and in 1994 Albania signed the Berne Convention. The absence of copyright under the communist state resulted in some unusual cases; for example the best known and most translated Albanian writer abroad is Ismail Kadaré, but the ceding of rights to his works was handled by the state with no provision for the payment of royalties to the author. Payment to authors is usually done on a lump sum basis and the figure is generally very low, the same applies to translators. Publishers themselves are the ones who declare how little they pay. As far as school text books are concerned, the authors are paid by the Ministry, based on a varying, and decreasing, percentage: 5% for the first edition, 4% for the second and so on. This system prevents the development of genuine professional figures, especially in the field of translation and it should be noted that about 50% of the annual production of general books consists of translations. Since 1991, as in the whole central-eastern European region, there have been a relatively high number of writers in exile whose works were censored by the previous regime.
In April 2005, the Parliament passed Law no. 9380 on Copyright and other related rights which abolished all previous parliament and government acts dating since 1992. The new Law offers better specifications on authors’ rights for collective works and requires all parties to certify their contracts with the Albanian Copyright Office (ACO), which has gained authority for conflict resolution.
Musician’s rights are handled by the “Albautor” Association and other international copyright organisations such as SACEM, SIAEI etc. There has been some progress in the area of intellectual property rights. As regards legislative development, Albania ratified the Hague Agreement of 1960 on 19 February 2007 and ratified 1999 Geneva Act on 23 March 2000 on the international registration of industrial designs. The Copyright Office, provided for under the Copyright and Related Rights Act No9380/28/05 2005, has become operational with 12 staff. The office has established working relations with the two collecting societies operating in Albania, namely ALBAUTOR, which protects music copyrights and FMMA which protects the copyrights of audiovisual works. In April 2006, the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT) signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Film Centre (NCC) aimed at fighting piracy and Copyright Law.
However, further strengthening of the capacity of the Copyright Office is still required. Piracy remains widespread and the enforcement of intellectual property rights is hampered by the lack of appropriate experience and qualifications of the Albanian courts in this field. The general level of knowledge about intellectual property rights and infringements remains poor and it is associated with the lack of a national strategy in this field. Under the Interim Agreement (entered in force on 1 December 2006, after Albania signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU on 12 June 2006), Albania has made significant commitments in the area of intellectual property rights but the preparations in this field remain at early stage.