This article has been written by Roshini Sivakumar, pursuing a Diploma in US Contract Drafting and Paralegal Studies  from LawSikho, and has been edited by Shashwat Kaushik.

This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is known for its artistic designs and architecture. It incorporated its first Intellectual Property Rights in 1992 and was later revised in 2002. It is one of the signatories to several other International Conventions to ensure that intellectual property rights are protected under international standards and that there is unified legislation governing various aspects of Intellectual Property rights.

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International conventions

Intellectual Property Rights in the UAE are governed by the Ministry of Economy, but the UAE does not have comprehensive legislation, and there are other governing laws that are related to Intellectual Property Rights. For example, Trademark Federal Law No. 37 of 1992, as amended, which regulates the protection of Trademarks and Trade names; Federal Law No. 7 of 2002, on Author’s and neighbouring Rights; and Federal Industrial Property Law No. 17 of 2002, as amended.

As the United Arab Emirates is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it includes the GCC unified patent law and the unified draft GCC Trade law. Furthermore, the UAE is found to be a part of a number of International conventions, such as:

  1. WIPO Berne Convention for Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, 1971(Berne Convention).
  2. WIPO Rome Convention for Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organization, 1961( Rome Convention).
  3. WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996.
  4. Paris Convention.
  5. World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, 1994.

Copyright in the UAE

Copyright in the UAE is an exclusive legal right of the owner of the creative work. It is considered to be the right to copy or reproduce. The Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 is in respect of Author Copyright and Parallel Rights and is defined as having a diverse array of original and tangible works such as books, lectures, musicals, architectural drawings, photographs, computer software, and other similar creations that are subject to copyright protection. The following are the important rights under the copyright laws:

Performers rights- These are the rights that are interchangeably used as related rights and neighboring rights. They are generally aligned with the rights that are used to safeguard the legal interests of a particular class of individuals who are associated with cultural performances, performing artists, and phonogram producers. Further, it is to be noted that in 2016, keeping in view the rights of the performers, the UAE government considered establishing a committee for the purpose of providing licences to music performers and acquiring royalties on behalf of the composers. 

Moral rights – These are personal rights that connect the creator to their work. Moral rights are considered to be inherent in an owner’s intellectual work  and in being identified as the originator of that work. The law also safeguards the right to hinder alteration or mutilation of the same and does not allow the transfer of the right to another person; thus, the author would solely continue to enjoy his or her rights.

Economic rights- These are a set of rights that permit copyright holders to retain ownership but allow authorised reproduction and dissemination of their work in return for remuneration. These rights are also called exclusive rights, which are granted to withhold  the creation from being circulated and maintain anonymity.

Protection for copyright under UAE Law

The term of copyright protection for the author or composer of their work is secured from the time the work originated until a period of 50 years is granted exclusive rights over it. But, for work related to Broadcasting Organisations, the term of the copyright can be protected for only 20 years after the start of the succeeding calendar from the date of first transmission. There are many other exceptions that are covered under the copyright law, such as legal documents such as regulations and contracts, newspapers and articles in the media, and various other works that are under the domain of public property. 

The new copyright law is the result of the vast changes occurring in various legislative matters in the land of the United Arab Emirates. The new copyright law replaces the old one as Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 and came into effect on January 2, 2022.

It is imperative to note here that the copyright law follows the repealed copyright law in prohibiting a blanket assignment of future works. However, the previous copyright law allowed the transfer of future copyright only up to five or fewer, but there is an exception to the same, wherein it is seen that there will be an implementation of regulations that would have lesser restrictions around the transfer of future copyright.

The concept of work for hire

As the new Copyright Law is the replacement of the old Federal Law No. 07 of 2002 (old Copyright Law), developments were made to the new law, and the concept of work for hire was introduced, wherein the work is created by an employee and commissioned by an employer, by which the employee is compensated for the same, and the employer would be the legal author for the same.

However, there are two instances where the employer will be the legal author for the work –  when an author creates the work for the benefit of another person, in such cases the copyright would belong to the latter. Secondly, where the author creates the work within the scope of the employer by using their resources, tools, etc., the employer would have the right to the copyright. Thus, the law also discovers situations where the employee remains the copyright holder and includes instances where the author creates work outside the scope of employment and not related to the business or activities of the employment. If the author creates the work without the employer’s resources, tools, and information, then ownership merely lies with the employee. 

Importance to the government

There are some improvements that were made in the introduction of copyright’s work with some software entities to guard smart appliances, PC programs, databases, and similar other software appliances that are determined under the Ministry of Economy. It is important to have protection for these works, as they are considered to be fast growing sectors in the innovation space. The New Copyright Law under the United Arab Emirates also allows protection of ownership on architectural designs, which are also of importance to the country for their brilliance in designs and buildings. Further, under the new law, the ownership of the designs for architecture will be with the owner of the property instead of the first author of the designs.

Protection of individual rights

Under the new regime, an important concept introduced was the concept of “fair use. To understand this better, let’s take, for instance, a photograph, a sound, or a visual effect that has individual involvement; it will not be easy to get that published or distributed without the permission of the person. Thus, it would always be important for any media company to seek permission from other companies or agencies to avoid exploitation and have validity for use. This concept shows there is overall protection for individual rights and not just mere protection for  the subject matter. However, this right is situated only with fair use of the work where there is no infringement on the rights of the author. 

New grievance committee

The new copyright law allows for a provision under the law to form a competent committee under the Ministry of Economy in the Name of “The Grievance Committee for Copyrights and Neighboring Rights” in order to deal with disputes regarding copyrights and neighboring rights.

Amendment to the existing provisions

The law also provides increases in the penalties for violations and infringement of the copyright, which have increased to AED 100,000 for infringement of the copyright. Also, for the infringement of one of the moral or monetary rights, it has increased to AED 100,000 from AED 50,000 under the previous law. Furthermore, the penalties for exploitation of computer applications or viruses for not getting licences from the authors or the successors will lead to a minimum fine of AED 100,000 to AED 10,00,000, up from the earlier rate of AED 30,000.


It is pertinent to note that, apart from what’s been discussed above, there are certain provisions that talk about the withdrawal of the circulation of proprietary works by the author  if it has a justified reason. There are exceptions for that, which include the  withdrawals, chance of retreating the smart appliances, PC programs, and circulation of software, which successfully involve third parties to invest in such fields with incentives.

The law also includes comments on joint works, where multiple people have joined hands to create a work and it’s out of the question to separate the work between them. The right to the work will be co-jointly owned by all the authors, and it cannot be owned by any one author alone. And, where there are no legal heirs for any copyright, the work of such would be appropriately preserved by the Ministry of Economy, which can still exercise the relevant rights with the aim of conserving.


The new copyright laws regarding copyrights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have filled the gaps through their latest amendments, as briefly stated above. This is considered a huge step for the consideration, removal, and  addressing of the issues, notably on the topics of work and possession of the rights. However, there is clarity in certain areas of the law, but it requires a lot of work to make it much more stringent and exhaustive in nature to avoid loopholes.



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