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Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison Case Study


According to Fitzgerald and Olwan (n. d.), the copyright law is used to protect the work of an author, for a specified period of time, from being used for commercial purposes by any another person. This is meant to protect the author from those who may seek to gain from the work without the express authorization from the author of that work.

However, an important point to note is that the copyright laws seeks to protect he work of the author from being used by other but it does not cover the idea or the concept behind the published work. Thus it is possible for another person to use the same idea to produce his own work without violating the provisions of the copyright laws.

Fitzgerald and Olwan (n. d.) contends that in the UAE, the copyright law supports the assertion that copyright protects the expression of ideas as well as the ideas themselves. It further supports the view that the purchase of an item for which an author has copyright only transfers the ownership of the item to the person and it does not transfer the economic or financial rights of the item. The UAE copyright laws cover literary items such as books, computer software, speeches, and databases. The copyright laws confer to the holder the exclusive financial rights on the said property. These financial rights allow the holder to determine whether he can allow another person to reproduce or even broadcast the content of the literary works. This in effect implies that the third parties are not allowed to use the content of something which has been protected under the copyright laws unless they are expressly authorized by the owner of that copyright.

As in other jurisdictions, the copyright laws in UAE also confer on the holders of such rights the moral rights over the work. Pursuant to that, the author can decide on publishing the literary work and if a serious violation ensues from the publication of such work the author might decide to withdraw the work from circulation. The UAE copyright laws treat the literary work as an extension of the character of the person who created it. Thus there is no distinction as to the character of the creator and the literary work.

Under the UAE copyright laws the author is taken to be the person who created the literary work which is protected under the copyright laws. In circumstances where the author uses a pseudonym he is still deemed to the author provided his identity can be authenticated. Nevertheless, in situation where the identity of the author remains unknown, the publisher shall be assumed to represent the author and shall enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that are attributed to that author. The copyright law in UAE also assumes that the person, whether natural or recognizable under the law, who directs the creation of a particular literary work shall enjoy the moral and financial rights of the work unless an agreement to the contrary was entered into by the two parties.

In the circumstances where the literary work was done by two or more author whose shares in the work cannot be satisfactorily separated, all the authors shall be deemed to be the joint authors of the said literary work unless there is an agreement which gives right to one author to exercise the moral and the financial rights over the work. If such an agreement does not exist no one can exercise the financial and the moral rights. In the UAE copyright laws there is a provision which allows the authors or their successors to transfer their financial and moral rights over their literary works to third party on the condition that the agreement should be captured in writing. In situation where the authors confer limited rights to the transferee the agreement must specify the period for which this agreement is applicable and the place where these rights can be exercised. This agreement to transfer the rights to third parties may be accompanied by a compensation which can be computed as a percentage of the revenue generated due to the exercise of the rights conferred by the transfer.

The copyright law also determine the period in which the protection will be applicable. Under the UAE copyright laws, the author of a book or musical composition will enjoy the copyright rights in his entire lifetime and another additional fifty years after his death. In the case of a sound recording the copyright rights will be applicable for fifty years while in the case of a broadcast the copyright rights will apply for twenty years. An interesting point to note is that while other countries specify that the moral rights, which are granted under the copyright law, will be applicable for a specified period of time the copyright law in the UAE does not specify the time period for the moral rights over the literary works.

Furthermore, the UAE copyright law provides that the literary works authored by foreign national shall be enjoy the same rights as those applicable to the national of the UAE so long as the principle of reciprocity is observed. The material reciprocity principle provides that the rights granted under the UAE copyrights laws to foreign authors shall not exceed the time frame provided in their country of origin. Material reciprocity principle is applicable in situation where the international treaty is not applicable.

Most copyrights laws in the world provide for the exercise of the exclusive rights subject to certain limitations and exceptions. These limitations and exceptions provide that the copyrighted materials can be used without the express permission of the author under certain specified circumstances. In the UAE the law provides guidelines for the actions which are permitted under the copyright laws. Firstly, the law provides that one can make a copy for a given piece of literary work provided it is made for personal use and not for commercial purposes. However, this exception does not allow for copying of materials such as architectural works, software and literary works pertaining to fine and applied arts.

The copyright law also allows a person to make a sole copy of the software provided that the person who is responsible for that software is aware of it. This should be within the provisions of the license and can be used in circumstances where the original is lost or for the purpose of a backup of the existing software. However, this copying necessitates that the original copy should be destroyed in circumstance where it is found. The copyright laws in the UAE also provide that the literary works can be used for the purpose of judicial proceedings.

Additionally, the copyright laws provide that a person can make a copy of the literary works provided there is express acknowledgement by the libraries and archives. However, this should not be done with the intention of making profit from the said literary works. The copying should be done for the purpose of the preservation of the literary works or even for research and study. The laws also allows for the usage of literary works for the purposes of criticism and review.

Another exception is that a person can use the copyrighted work for entertainment in family gatherings or by students in an educational setting provided it is not with the intention to make commercial gains from the same. The laws also provides that the architectural works or even items pertaining to applied and fine arts can be used in a program which is broadcast program provided that such work is found in public places. One is also permitted to copy from copyrighted work provided it is done for the purpose of religious, cultural, vocational and educational purposes. However, this copying should be such that it is within the limits of the purpose for which it is intended and the author of the work should be acknowledged as much as possible. This copying should not be intended for either direct or indirect profit. The law further provides that the newspaper, broadcasting and periodical organization are allowed to use literary works by other authors provided that the usage of those materials is justifiable for the purpose of effective performance of their duties.

Sherman and Bently (1999), claims that the laws of copyright originated from the UK as a result of the common law. The copyright law in the UK is applicable for items such as literary works, broadcasts and cable programs, films and sound recording. Other items include: dramatic works, musical creations, artistic impressions as well as magazines and periodicals. In the UK the work is copyrighted as soon as it is created provided the work is found to be original. The copyright law is meant to protect the creation and not the idea which informs the creation of the work. Thus the implication is that the content of the literary work is protected but the concept behind the creation is not protected. There are other parts of the literary works which are not covered by the copyright law because they are not considered to be unique. Such elements include: names, titles, short phrases and colors. However, items such as logo are considered substantial and are covered by the copyright laws.

The copyright laws in the UK provide that the one who enjoys the copyright law is the person who creates the work being patented. This person is referred to as the first owner of the copyright in the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Acts. However, if the creation of the literary work was a result of the direction of the employer to an individual, the person who is deemed to be the author is the employer and not the person who authored the work. Furthermore, the freelance or the commissioned work is considered to the exclusive property of the person who authored it provided there is no agreement that specifies otherwise.

The copyright in the UK provided that the ownership of the copyrighted work can be transferred to a third party for the consideration of compensation. However, this transference of financial rights does not occur in situation where someone uses a part of another person’s copyrighted work in authoring his work. That part which has been abstracted for the other authors work is still considered to be the property of the original author. Another way in which the rights of a published work can be transferred is by one party inheriting the work from another author. In this case, the new owner assumes all the exclusive rights.

If there is any violation regarding the usage of the copyrighted work, the person who can institute legal proceedings about the same is the author or the person to whom the exclusive rights has been sold by the original author who is referred to as the licensee.

The copyright laws further provide that the duration for the exclusive right granted is subject to the type of work which has been copyrighted. For instance the law provides that incase of a dramatic, musical and literally works the exclusive rights granted under the laws copy right will be applicable during the lifetime of the author plus seventy years after the demise of the last known author. However, in case the author is unknown the copyright will be applicable for seventy years since the work was created. If the work is made available during the time when it is created the seventy years will run from the time that the work was made available to the public.

In case of sound recordings or broadcasts the duration over which the rights granted by the copyright law will be applicable is fifty years. It is provided that for a film the duration in which the copyright laws are applicable is during the lifetime of the author or the principal director of that film plus an additional seventy years since the last such author or principal dies.

In case of broadcasts the copyright duration is fifty years from the time that work was broadcast. The provision for the duration extends to the crown publication whose copyright period is 125 years since the work was published. However, if the work was made for commercial purposes the period during which the copyright will be in effect is 75 years since the work was created. Additionally, the crown copyright is deemed to run for fifty years since the work was published.

In the case of parliamentary publications the period over which the copyright will be in effect is fifty years since the work was authored. In case of published editions the period provided for under the copyright law is 25 years since that publication was made.

Under the UK copyright laws any person is prohibited from copying the work without the express permission from the author of such work. Other offence under the copyright law is the use of the work of any author for the purpose of renting, lending or issuing it to the public with the sole purpose of gaining either direct or indirect profit from the same. The law also prohibits any person from displaying the content of a copyrighted work in public. Additionally, any other person apart from the author is not allowed to adapt any literary work for which exclusive rights have been granted under the copyright laws.

The copyright laws confer on the author the moral rights over the literary work. These rights pertain to the right of the author to be identified as the creator of the published work. These moral rights also give the author the right to respond to demeaning comments about his work.

Additionally, the law offers exemptions regarding the use of the copyrighted work. Firstly, the use of the copyrighted work for the purpose of study and research is not prohibited. Moreover, a person may use the work of another author for educational purpose. A person may use the contents of a work which has been copyrighted for the purpose of news reporting or for criticism or reviewing of that work. Other actions which cannot be taken as a violation of the provisions of the copyright laws include: the lending of books by the librarians, subsidiary inclusion, and the use of the work of other authors for the purpose of judicial proceedings, royal commissions and for parliamentary proceedings.

The copyright laws also allows for the recording of broadcasts to be viewed at a more appropriate time. One can also create a copy of computer software for the purpose of having a back up copy without infringing on the rights granted under the copyright law. The non- profit making organizations are allowed play a sound recording which is prohibited for the profit making entities unless they obtain a license from the relevant authority. The copyright in the UK goes as far as to protect the literary works which are produced on the internet.


It can be seen that the copyright laws in both jurisdictions converge in that they seem to be used to protect the literary work from being used by others who never participated in their creation. The laws in both the jurisdiction provide that there should be a guiding principle which should provide the basis for determining the duration applicable for the exclusive rights. This period is dependent on the type of work which is under consideration. However, it can be seen that in UK the period provided for under the copyright laws is longer than the one which is provided for by the copyright laws in the UAE. It can also be said that both laws somehow do not seem to have caught up with the digital age which is reflected in the fact that the laws do not seem to recognize work made on the internet as constituting literary works which should be covered by the copyright laws.

In the UAE copyright laws there is an assertion that the character of the literary work is taken to be an extension of the character of the author. This can be inferred from the moral rights of the author which seem to lend credence to the view that there is no distinction between the literary work and the person who authored it. However, in the UK copyright laws there seems to be a different stance in that there is no implication about the assertion put forth in the UAE laws. The moral rights conferred under the UK laws require that the author refutes any erroneous claims which can be made over his work.

Reference List

Fitzgerald, B & Olwan, R (n. d.), Copyright Law in the United Arab Emirates in the Digital Age. Web.

Sherman, B & Bently, L 1999, The Making of Modern Intellectual Property Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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IvyPanda. (2020, June 3). Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/law-of-copyright-uae-and-uk-comparison/

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"Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison." IvyPanda, 3 June 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/law-of-copyright-uae-and-uk-comparison/.

1. IvyPanda. "Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison." June 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/law-of-copyright-uae-and-uk-comparison/.


IvyPanda. "Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison." June 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/law-of-copyright-uae-and-uk-comparison/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison." June 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/law-of-copyright-uae-and-uk-comparison/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Law of Copyright: UAE and UK Comparison'. 3 June.

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