New Copyright Law: A Perspective

01 Dec 2002

The UAE has been exerting continuous efforts to modernize its legislation especially after it joined the WTO. Accordingly, the UAE has started amending all its existing IP Laws to ensure their conformity with the TRIPs agreement. The new copyright and neighboring rights law came within this context.

This new Federal Law, No. (7) of the year 2002, that has become effective upon publication in the Official Gazette, abrogated the Federal Law No. (40) of the year 1992.

The eight sections of the Law cover a wide scope of copyrights and the means of protection as well as specific details of the rights of authors and their successors.

Section One deals with the scope of protection, and lists copyrights and neighboring rights including books, essays and other written works, computer programs and applications, lectures, dramatic works, music compositions and others. Conversely, the law also lists the works that cannot be protected.

Section Two elaborates on the rights of the author and his successors with respect to the others’ exploitation of their work in various ways such as translation. It also asserts the financial and literary rights of the copyright holders and their successors.

Section Three is concerned with the protection of neighboring rights. Its provisions specify the literary and financial rights of the performers and their successors, as well as the financial rights of the phonogram producers and broadcasting organizations.

The fourth section elaborates on the term of protection and the usage licenses, particularly for copying and translation. It defines the protection period for the financial rights of the authors, joint authors, authors of collective works, authors of applied art works, performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organizations. In general, protection consists of two phases, the author’s lifetime and a period ranging from 20 to 50 yeas following his death.

Despite tightening protection, third parties can, under specific conditions, use, copy or perform protected works, especially when such uses are directed to educational, cultural or other public ends.

Section Five stipulates special provisions on certain types of works. For the most part, this section sorts out the rights and responsibilities of joint authors of a work especially in terms of audio and/or visual performances.

Section Six deals with the collective administration of copyrights and neighboring rights. It sets stipulations of the manner through which right owners may entrust their financial prerogatives to professional societies to administer them.

Section Seven lays out the imprisonment sentences and fines imposed on infringers of copyrights. Worth noting here is the emphasis on the issue of forging or copying computer programs and applications. Courts are given the authority to impose a wide spectrum of penalties that reach the closure of a whole company where the forgeries were made.

The law concludes with general and final provisions that cover legal matters not included in previous sections. For example, Article (42) states that the Ministry of Information and Culture shall exercise the literary and financial rights stipulated in this Law in the event of absence of a successor or legatee, while Article (44) points out the conditions under which any foreign party can present its work in the UAE.

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