History and Traditions of Copyright in Azerbaijan

When characterizing the current state of intellectual property as a whole, and of copyright separately, one cannot ignore the centuries-old copyright traditions of the Azerbaijani people. The roots of Azerbaijani copyright go back to ancient times, when the primitive-natural concept of anonymity was replaced by the identity of the author. “Kitabi-Dada Gorgud”, whose 1300th anniversary was recently celebrated, can be a bright example of this, although according to some information, the events described by Gorgud belong to the first centuries of our era. It is in those centuries that works that not only record folklore examples, but also preserve the names of their authors, begin to appear. In medieval Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani authors – Ashiqs, found the original form of perpetuating their authorship, and it spread throughout the East. The creator’s real name and poetic nickname were always included in the last stanza of the poem-song, “assignment”. In modern copyright terminology, this was an active form of protection of the author’s personal rights. Misappropriation or alteration of the assignment was prosecuted by common civil law – custom, and plagiarists were subject to public scorn. Thanks to the traditions of protecting the author’s personal rights and the rapid development of paper production in Azerbaijan, the manuscripts of Tusi, Tabrizi, Marzban, Habibulla Ganjavi, Maraghayi, Nakhchivani, Khagani, Beylagani, Mehsati Ganjavi, Nizami and other Azerbaijani scientists and poets have survived from the Middle Ages to the present day.

What is called the author’s property right in today’s copyright tradition was then patronage. Just as Vergil, Horace, Martial wrote and created with the financial help of their patrons – patrons, the great Azerbaijani architect Ajami Nakhchivani created his most beautiful works under the order and patronage of Azerbaijani Atabays. Shirvanshahs of Azerbaijan patronized famous philosophers such as Seyyed Yahya Bakuvi and famous poets such as Khagani and Falaki. Genius Nizami Ganjavi was awarded a special gift by the great ruler Gizil Arslan for his poem “Khosrov and Shirin”.


As is known, Gutenberg’s discovery of the printing method is considered the beginning of the formation of modern copyright.

Thanks to the foreign relations of the Aghgoyunlu and Safavid states of Azerbaijan with Western European countries, especially the Republic of Venice, in 1594, the book of the first Azerbaijani author was published in the “Medici” district in Rome. This book was the work of the great Azerbaijani scientist Nasreddin Tusi, “Tahriri-Ogilidis”, which was considered the best textbook on geometry and algebra in Asian and Eastern countries until the end of the 19th century, and whose manuscript existed from 1248.


This work was later republished in London in 1598, after being translated into Latin, in 1657, and was used as a textbook in European schools until our own time.

From the 17th century, from the era of the Safavids, when book publishing by font method was actively developed, copyright in Azerbaijan began to be accepted in a modern sense, and its regulation was carried out within the framework of ordinary law.

This is the brief history of the formation of copyright in Azerbaijan thanks to the rich authorship traditions of our people. It is quite natural that Azerbaijan’s modern, today’s copyright has been completed and enriched by the best practices of Latin and Anglo-Saxon law mothers, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and developed countries.

In the words of the French writer Chateaubriand, “the right did not give rise to the debt, but the right to debt”. The debt of the society and the state to Azerbaijani scientists and cultural figures crystallized the copyright and brought it to today’s level.