Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Copyright and Related Rights in the United Arab Emirates: Part I

Because of the complexity of the topic I shall discuss it in two separate articles.   In this article I shall deal with the Treaties and Conventions to which the United Arab Emirates ("UAE") is party, the applicable domestic legislation, the works that are protected, economic and moral rights and the term of subsistence of these rights.  In Part II I shall discuss exceptions to copyright and rights in performances, collecting societies, infringement and remedies.

International Agreements
The UAE was one of the first members of the World Trade Organization and is party to the Berne Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the Rome Convention and the WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty. Those conventions and treaties require the UAE to protect the works of art and literature of its nationals and those of nationals of other contracting parties.

Implementing Legislation
The legislation that implements the UAE's obligations under those instruments is Federal Law No. 7 of the Year 2002 Concerning Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights ("FL7").   It is available in Arabic and English on the WIPO Collection of Laws for Electronic Access.  FL7 was issued on 1 July 2002 by the President of the Union with the consent of the Council of Ministers and the Principal of the Supreme Council of the Union.

FL7 codifies the law of copyright and rights in performances. Compared to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 of the United Kingdom it is a very short instrument consisting of 50 articles in 8 sections over 16 pages including contents and recitals.

Copyright Works
Art 2 of FL7 lists the following:

1. Books, pamphlets, essays and other written works;
2. Computer programs and applications, databases and analogous works;
3. Lectures, addresses, sermons and other works of similar nature;
4. Dramatic works and mine,
5. Musical compositions with or without words,
6. Sound and audiovisual works,
7. Architectural works, engineering plans and layouts,
8. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, lithographs, engravings and similar works,
9. Photographic and analogous works,
10. Works of applied and plastic art,
11. Illustrations, geographical maps, sketches, three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography and architecture (art 2).

Copyright does not extend to Ideas
Art 3 makes clear that "protection does not extend to mere ideas, procedures, methods of work, mathematical understandings, principles, and abstract facts, but extend to creative expression in any of them."

Art 3 also provides that protection does not extend to:
(1) official documents such as laws, regulations, decisions, international agreements, judgments, arbitrators’ awards and the decisions of the administrative committees having judicial competence;
(2) news, events and the current affairs which constitute merely media news, or
(3) works in the public domain.
However, copyright can subsist in compilations of such materials.

Authors' Economic Rights
Art 7 reserves to the author (or persons deriving title through the author) the right to exploit the work by any means including copying, "electronic loading or storing, acting a play by any means, broadcasting, re-broadcasting, transmission, performance, public communication, translation, modification, alteration, rental, lending or publication by any means including provision of publication through computers or information nets or communication nets or other means." These rights can be assigned, licensed or seized by creditors in contrast to moral rights which are inalienable.

Authors' Moral Rights
Art 5 confers the following moral rights upon an author:
"1. The right to determine first publication of the work;
2. The right of writing the work in his name;
3. The right to protest against alteration of the work if the alteration leads to distortion,
mutation or causing derogation to the author.
4. The right to withdraw his work from circulation in case of serious reasons justifying
such an act."
Rights in Performances
Section 3 of FL7 confers economic rights on performers, "producers of phonograms" and broadcasters.   In addition, performers enjoy moral rights in their performances.

Performers are defined in art 1 of FL7 as:
"The actors, singers, musicians, dancers and other persons who recite, chant, play or perform by any way literary or artistic works or others protected according to the provisions of this law or inclusive within the public property."
Art 17 confers the following economic rights on performers
"1. The right to transmit their unfixed performance and communicating it to the public.
2. The right to fix their performance on a phonogram.
3. The right to reproduce their fixed performance on a phonogram."
Their moral rights are as follows:
"(i) The right of having the performance in their names whether live or recorded.
(ii) The right to suspend any distortion, mutilation, modification or derogation action, which would be prejudicial to their status."
Producers of Phonograms
A phonogram is defined by art 1 as "any fixation of certain performed sounds addressing the hearing irrespective of the mode of fixation or the used device." The definition also includes "sounds fixation with picture in order to prepare audiovisual work unless agreed otherwise." A "producer of a phonogram" is defined by the same article as "the natural or legal person who records for the first time sounds of a performer or other sounds."

Art 18 confers the following rights upon producers of phonograms:
"1. The right to prohibit any exploitation of their phonograms by any means without their authorization. Copying, rental, broadcasting, re-broadcasting, availability to the public via computer or other media is an exploitation prohibited to be used by third parties.
2. The right to disseminate their recordings via wire, wireless, computer or other means."
Art 19 confers the following rights upon broadcasters:

1. The right to grant licenses for exploitation of their recordings and broadcasting programmes.
2. The right to prohibit any communication of their programmes or recordings to the public without their authorization. Recording of such programmes, copying or re-copying their recordings, rental, re-broadcasting, and communication to the public by any means are prohibited to the third parties in particular.

Copyright subsists for the following terms in respect of the following categories of rights:
  • Authors' Economic Rights: the life of the author or in the case of a joint work the life of the last surviving author plus 50 years (art 20 (1) and (2));
  • Economic Rights in Applied Arts: 25 years from first publication (art 20 (5));
  • Economic Rights of Performers: 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year after the performance (art 20 (7));
  • Economic Rights of Producers of Phonograms: 50 years from the beginning of the calendar year after the publication of the phonogram (art 20 (8)); 
  • Economic Rights of Broadcasters: 20 years fro the beginning of the year of first transmission (art 20 (9)).
Further Information
Should anybody wish to discuss this topic further, he or she can call me on +44 161 850 0080 or fill in my contact form. He or she can also contact me through FacebookLinkedinXing or twitter.
Modified 11 Feb 2012

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