New Copyright law In United Arab Emirates: Moving Digital World

New Copyright Law In United Arab Emirates Moving With The Digital World, In the past few months of 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government adopted and enacted many vast legislative changes by passing 50 new laws of the land that coincided with the 50th year Anniversary of United Arab Emirates (UAE) foundation. Amongst those laws passed, the most anticipated one was Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights[1]  (“Copyright Law”) or the new United Arab Emirates (UAE) Copyright law, 2021.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued the new law to remove Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 (Old Copyright act), thus introducing vital changes to take account of the fast-moving digital world. The Law came into force on 2nd January 2022.


new Copyright law United Arab Emirates , Burj Khalifa
New Copyright law United Arab Emirates

FThe new Copyright law has taken quite a long time to be implemented, and it’s been worthwhile because it has led to quite vast and significant and positive changes to the Copyright law within the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

A new concept introduced: “Work made for hire”!

The addition of the concept “work made for hire” is a great step towards building the future and a highly appreciated one. Basically, if the work is created by an employee, and commissioned by the employer, then the employer compensates such employee for the same.

The employer is thought of as the legal author of such work (unless otherwise agreed) underneath the New Copyright Law, unlike the old Copyright law.  This idea applies to the following 2 scenarios:

  • If the author creates the work for the advantage of another person, the copyright belongs to the latter; and
  • If the author creates the work using resources of employment, the copyright belongs to the employer.

Situations, wherever the worker will stay the copyright holder, are the following:

  • If the author creates the work outside the scope of employment and not regarding the business or activities of the leader; and
  • If the author creates the work while not using the employer’s resources, tools, data etc.

Future rights and their transferability

Underneath the previous Copyright Law, there had been restrictions around the transfer of future copyright works, wherever only five or fewer future works could have been assigned.  There still remain restrictions in regard to the transfer of future copyright works, however, the new Copyright law doesn’t go to any extent further to discuss it. It shall be provided together with the Implementing Regulations which shall be released soon with the expectation that there shall be less restrictiveness around the transfer of future copyrights.

Areas of key importance to the government

  • There’s conjointly much clarity around copyright works currently for software entities, with the introduction of a particular copyright work to guard smart applications, pc programmes and applications, databases, and similar works as determined by the Ministry of Economy.  With such areas being of key importance within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fast development in the innovations space, it’s a major step in providing this clear protection to such works.  Software developers under this law shall be required to develop smart applications in accordance with the provisions.
  • The New Copyright Law additionally makes clear the ownership around Architectural Designs, which is of importance to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as long as it’s the home of such a lot of distinctive and iconic buildings.  Underneath the new law, it’s been expressly explicit that the ownership of the copyright in architectural styles vests in the owner of the property, instead of the first author who created the architectural style (unless otherwise agreed).  Again, this is often a crucial issue for rights holders in iconic buildings, notably with the emergence of the Metaverse and a lot of assets firms wanting to commercialize or enforce rights in landmark buildings.

Protection of individual rights is still a priority

  • Under the new Copyright Law, the overall theme has been the protection of an individual’s rights and therefore, vigorous protection has been given not just to the photographs but also to the subject matter as well. For example, wherever a photograph or sound or visual recording involves an individual, it’ll not be attainable for the works to be published, exhibited, distributed or kept, without the permission of the person.  It’ll be important for media companies, or companies to commission images or alternative styles of recording, to make sure that the consent of all people is obtained so as to validly use and exploit such works.
  • The New Copyright Law further implements the concept of “fair use” with regard to the reproduction of a copy of the proprietary and restricted works. This law currently permits the reproduction of a copyrighted work while not infringing an author’s property rights inbound situations.

Inclusiveness with the Marrakesh Treaty[2]

One of the most vital changes brought by the New Copyright Law is that people with visual or physical impairments will be permissible to use accessible format or copy of a work for private use.  It’ll facilitate the transition into the information economy and implement the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, 2013 (‘Marrakesh Treaty).  Under the new law, there are separate provisions for licenced non-profit entities to have restricted rights to some works, for non-profit purposes.

Formation of a new grievance committee

The new Copyright law provides for provisions to create a new committee which shall be the competent authority created under the Ministry of Economy under the name “The Grievances Committee for Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights” in order to deal with all disputes concerning copyright or neighbouring rights.

Amending the provisions of penalties and sanctions

  • The New Copyright Law provides for increased penalties for violations and infringements of copyrights. The penalties for infringements are increased to AED 100,000 (approximately USD 27,500). For example, the sanction for infringing one among the moral or monetary rights of the author has been increased to AED 100,000 from AED 50,000 (in the previous Copyright Law).
  • Further, the penalties for exploitation of a computer virus or application while not getting a license from the author or successors may lead to fines of a minimum of AED 100,000 to AED 1,000,000 (USD 275,000) from earlier AED 30,000 (USD 8,175).

Additional changes done to the new law

  • There are provisions in the new law for an author (or successors) to withdraw proprietary work from circulation provided that there are justified reasons. However, such withdrawals expressly exclude the chance of retreating smart applications, pc programmes and applications from circulation, which successively provides third parties with an extra incentive to firmly invest within the field.
  • The new law, with regard to joint-works wherever multiple people work together to create a work, where it’s out of the question to separate the share of the work, all joint authors will equally co-own such work and shall be thought of joint creators (unless otherwise agreed).  The right cannot be owned by anyone singlehandedly.
  • With regard to a copyright holder that doesn’t have any legal heirs, the rights of such works are appropriated by the Ministry of Economy which can still exercise the relevant ethical rights with the aim of conserving such works.


The new laws have helped take United Arab Emirates (UAE) a huge step in the right direction to removing and addressing considerations under the previous Copyright Law – notably around possession of worker created rights.  In many areas, the position within the New Copyright Law is clear, with thr updates that have been provided by the legislature clearly showing the direction the government wants the law to progress in. This clearly shows that progressive laws will definitely lead to better protections to the newer innovations and will promote the development of the overall economy.

Author: Asutosh Kumar Singh- a student of University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab, an intern at at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney,  in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email


[1]Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights (11th April, 3.30 PM)

[2]The Marrakesh VIP Treaty (formally the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, colloquially Marrakesh Treaty or MVT) (11th April, 3:45 PM)

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