Copyright is considered to be a significant part of Intellectual Property. Copyright refers to the right granted by the Law to the author of any literary, dramatic, musical, or creative work and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. In addition, copyright owners have certain exclusive rights that allow them to utilize their work without interference and prevent it from being misused. Copyright entails several rights, including reproduction, public communication, adaptation and translation of the work.
UAE has implemented specific legislation to penalize copyright violations. Dealing with torrent websites may also constitute a violation of IP rights and the original uploader of the content can be traced in the UAE.
The main victims of this crime of IP infringements are local media companies. Therefore media companies are carefully monitoring the local market to arrest the infringers. Media companies are also working with UAE authorities such as the Department of the Economic Development (DED) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), for the purpose of locating and bringing to justice the offenders who willfully participate in these activities.
Infringers face severe punishments in the UAE, which may lead to deportation for expats. In a case, the Dubai Court sentenced an individual for distributing or promoting unauthorized decoders (a device capable of converting audio or video signals into a different form, for example from digital-analog) which use internet protocol television (“IPTV”).
Any person, who performs the acts such as unlawful producing or importing for selling, renting out, or dealing in any device, instrument, or apparatus designed or prepared for the purpose of fraud against any technique used by the author or right holder to broadcast, offer for the public, administer, or manage the copyrighted work or maintain the qualities of the copyrighted work, without the prior written consent of the author or neighbouring right holder, shall be punished by detention for not less than three months and payment of fine, not less than AED 50,000 and not more than AED 500,000:
If a foreigner is sentenced to a custodial punishment for a felony or a misdemeanour, the Court may order in its sentence that he/she be deported from the state.
Any person who benefited or unlawfully facilitated to a third party the use of communication services or audio or visual transmission channels through the Information Network or the Information Technology Instrument shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not less than one year and a fine not less than (AED 250.000) and not exceeding (AED 1.000.000) or by any of these punishments.
What is protected under this law?
The following works include Copyright and are the subject matter of Copyright:
Work of literature such as books, articles, the innovative title of work, and innovative broadcast programme in writing.
Computer software, Computer applications, databases and similar works.
Lectures, speeches, sermons and other works of similar nature
Plays, musicals and pantomimes
Musicals accompanied with and without dialogues
Audio and video work or audiovisual work
Architectural work and architectural plans and drawings
Artistic work that involves drawing, painting, sculpturing, etching, lithography, screen printing and similar works of fine art.
Photographic work and the like.
An innovative expression of ideas, work methods, mathematical concepts and likewise.
Charts, maps, plans, 3-D modelling for geographical and topographical applications and architectural designs, etc.
What is not protected under this law:
The following works are not the subject matter of copyright protection:
Ideas, procedures, work methods, mathematical concepts, abstract principles and facts.
Legal documents, including statutes, rules, rulings, international conventions, court judgments, arbitral awards, and judgments of administrative bodies with judicial authority.
News and reports that cover incidents and information regarding any current events.
Works falling into the public domain.
Acts that amount to copyright infringement:
Copyright Infringement shall occur when someone, other than the copyright owner or someone authorized by him, does an act that is the owner’s exclusive right like reproduction, translation, adaptation and public performance. Whosoever does any of the following acts shall be liable for copyright infringement:
Violation of provisions of Copyright Law and rights of Authors
Violates legislation requirements to protect intellectual property rights and associated regulations, namely any moral or economic copyright or similar right.
Publish a copyrighted work accessible to the public through computer networks, the Internet, information networks, communication networks, or any other means without the author’s prior written permission.
Without the prior written permission of the author or the owner of the relevant right, selling, renting or circulating, in any form, a copyrighted work.
Unlawfully reproducing or importing for sale, rental, or circulating any pirated copies.
Install any computer software without the consent of the owner
Remedies available to the copyright owner:
The Court of First Instance may require the following measures to be done concerning a published work or exhibited without the author’s or his successors’ written permission:
Put a restriction on publishing, displaying or producing work.
Pass order of attachment of the original work or copies thereof (books, photos, drawings, shows, photographs, sound recordings, materials for broadcast, etc.)
The Court shall also make an order for the attachment, if intended to republish the work, of material utilized in the republication or reproduction of the work.
Any person guilty of any of the acts of copyright infringement (as mentioned above) shall be punished with imprisonment for a minimum term of two months and/or a fine varying from 10,000 to 50,000 Dirham. Nevertheless, the sanction can be higher in specific cases of infringement.
The Court may pass an order of Seizure of the original and pirated copies.
The Court may pass an order for the Seizure and destruction of infringing goods, as well as the equipment and devices used to perpetrate the infringement.
UAE legislation provides a wide range of legal actions against copyright violators, especially those who use the internet as the means to commit crimes. The punishment of such acts can vary between a fine, imprisonment, closing the operations and possible deportation of expats.