Copyright Infringement in the UAE

A copyright is a symbol of hard work put in by the original author in coming with a book, song, novel, program etc. With the growth in technology, it has become harder for the authorities to protect copyrighted work adequately. The increase in the number of security hackers has created issues in the cyber world as all data are now stored in cloud-based systems instead of hard disk drives.

While starting a company in the UAE, it is important to have a good cybersecurity system as well as countermeasures taken against copyright infringement if the enterprise is set to deal with copyrighted material.

What is Copyright Infringement in the UAE?

Copyright infringement, popularly referred to as piracy is the use of original works given protection by copyright law without authorisation or permission for usage where such authorisation is a must. This is infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to display, reproduce, distribute or make derivative works, or to perform the work. The copyright holder is naturally the work's publisher, author, or other enterprises to which the said copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders regularly take legal and technological measures to penalize and prevent copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement issues in the UAE are usually decided through direct meetings and further negotiation. If not, then a notice and takedown process or litigation in civil court is the alternative. Large-scale commercial infringement, usually involving counterfeiting, is sometimes prosecuted under the criminal justice system. The copyright-dependent industries now give less importance to pursuing individuals who seek and share copyright-protected content online, and more importantly to expanding copyright law to penalize, as not direct but indirect infringers, the software distributors, service providers and who are said to encourage and facilitate acts of infringement by others.

How Does Infringement Take Place in the UAE

Infringement is usually associated with the terms of piracy and theft. Piracy is usually referred to as acts of unauthorised copying, selling and distribution of words. Sometimes copyright holders refer to infringement as theft. Under the copyright law of the UAE, infringement does not mean theft of objects that take away possession from the owner. Instead, it means where one person exercises exclusive rights of the original copyright owner.

Infringement takes place in various ways. One of the most common ways infringement takes place these days is through P2P or torrent. Here the infringement takes place on a large scale where the entire content is available to the entire public domain. It is also difficult to track due to the existence of virtual proxy networks. This is why any movie, video game, the song is available on torrent for free. Uploading of the copyright content on the torrent is however illegal.

Another common occurrence of infringement is photocopying. A book is sometimes photocopied and sold. This usually happens in photocopying shops that photocopy educational textbooks on a mass scale. Thereby students are prevented from buying the textbook. This again amounts to copyright infringement. There is a limit allowed for educational use, but copying half a textbook definitely amounts to copyright infringement. It is advisable to have a thorough knowledge of the copyright law before starting an educational business in the UAE

Another common form of copyright infringement is the unauthorized replication of graphic images or protected text in work circulated to the public. Copyright law permits a limited amount of direct copying only if the user is quoting material, as in a book that quotes a source, or in a distributed book analysis to explain an author’s style or content. The source must attribute to the author, either by a reference note or in the accompanying text. This concept of fair use, however, is not well defined, and all publishers set their own standards for the authors in the interest of avoiding a copyright infringement suit by the original author.

Unauthorized downloading of copyright-protected work is another form of infringing copyright. While video and music files are retailed over the Internet for private use, selling, distribution or copying, without permission amounts to copyright infringement. This is irrespective of whether there’s a profit gained. Any display of a text or image or from work protected by copyright for any purpose including promotional activities is also is a violation of copyright, for example, that material in a  banner, T-shirt or advertisement. For those looking to start an E-Commerce company in the UAE, it is imperative to be aware of this law.

The web offers nearly unlimited opportunities for infringement. In addition to directly copying  or images to another web page, anyone who downloads an image for theiown use, or uses a "pointer" to bring an image up to his web page, is violating copyright. To avoid copyright infringement, the second user must get permission from the original creator to use the text, image, or link. The use of copyrighted material in an e-book without permission is also a violation.

Need Help?

Need help on copyright law, or want to file a suit against copyright infringement? Our team of experts at Commitbiz can help you with all your needs. Feel free to contact us


Which department deals with copyright infringement in the UAE?

Ministry of Economy.

What are the areas that come under copyright laws?

  • Books, booklets, articles and other literature 
  • Computer software and applications, databases and similar works
  • Lectures, speeches, sermons and other pieces of similar nature 
  • Plays, musicals and pantomimes 
  • Musicals are accompanied by dialogue, and musicals are not accompanied by dialogue.
  • Audio and video work or audiovisual work 
  • Architectural work and architectural plans and drawings 
  • Work involving drawing, painting, sculpturing, etching, lithography, screen printing, relief and intaglio prints, and other similar pieces of fine art 
  • Photographic work and the like 
  • Works of applied art and plastic art 
  • Charts, maps, plans, 3-D modeling for geographical and topographical applications and architectural designs etc.a

What is the penalty amount for copyright infringement in UAE?

Minimum fifty thousand (50,000) UAE Dirham.

Which areas don’t come under copyright infringement?

  • Provisions of the law, regulations, decisions, international treaties, court judgments, arbitrator awards, and administrative committee decisions concerning legal issues
  • News on current events and topics that are solely covered by the media
  • Works that have been designated as public property

What are the documents required for copyright registration?

  • An application 
  • A sample of copyright work 
  • The author's ID or passport 
  • Information on the right holder (owner) 
  • Proof of official fee payment
  • The applicant's contact information