July 31, 2023

Copyright Registration in the UAE

By Sarah Malik and Luwam Fikadu

Article 1 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights (the ‘Copyright Law’) defines a copyrightable
work as any innovative production in the fields of literature, arts, or science, of whatever type, manner of expression, significance, or
purpose (‘Copyrightable Work’, ‘Work’).

The UAE is a member state of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works (Berne Convention) and
the registered copyrights in any Work registered in the UAE is extended to all members of the Berne Convention.[1]
Copyright protection under the Berne Convention is the same in all member states and is not conditional upon compliance
with any formality.

An author is defined as “the person who creates the Copyrightable Work, or the person whose name is mentioned upon
” (Article 1 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021). There is no age restriction in relation to the author set out
within the Copyright Law and therefore minors are also able to register their Work.

Various individuals are considered joint authors of the Copyrightable Work if they originated the idea of the Work, modified an
existing literary Work, composed the Work, or directed the Work (Article 29 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

The authorisation for the use of the Work can only be granted by the author, their successors, or the holder of the author’s
rights. Copyright owners have the option to authorise specialised professional associations or other entities to manage and
enforce these rights on their behalf (Article 7 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

Copyright Registration Process
The Ministry of Economy (the ‘Ministry’) in the UAE is responsible for the registration of Copyrightable Work, and an online
application is submitted through an official website to register Work.

It takes circa 3 working days to register the copyright once the application has been submitted to the Ministry.

The required documents for registration of copyright are:
– a short description of the Copyrightable Work
– a sample of the Copyrightable Work,
– ID or passport of the author,
– information about applicant (if not the author),
– a Power of Attorney (if the applicant is not the author), and
– confirmation of official fee payment.

The cost of each application is AED 50 for individual applicants and AED 200 for companies.[3]

Copyrightable and Uncopyrightable Works
The protected Copyrightable Work includes books, articles, computer software, lectures, plays, audio and video works,
architectural designs, fine art, photographs, applied art, charts, maps, and derivative works, with the protection extending to
titles and creative concepts for broadcast material (Article 2 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

The protection does not apply to ideas, procedures, working methods, mathematical concepts, principles, or abstract facts,
official documents, such as laws, regulations, decisions, international agreements, judicial rulings, arbitrators’ awards, and
decisions from administrative committees with judicial authority, news and reports and works in the public domain (Article 3
of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

The Purpose of Copyright Registration
The purpose of copyright registration is to create a public record with legal proof of ownership of the copyrighted Work.
Copyright registration protects the Work against plagiarism and duplication, and such registration is required to file a
copyright infringement lawsuit.

Registering the Copyrightable Work also allows the owner to treat it as an intellectual property.

The Rights enjoyed by Copyright Owners
The copyright holder enjoys both economic and moral rights of the copyright including the right to decide on the first
publication of the copyrighted Work to claim the ownership over their Work; to forbid any alteration of the Work; to reproduce
the Work; to submit a request to the Civil Court to withdraw the Work from circulation or distribution (Article 5 of Federal
Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

The economic rights of the author are safeguarded throughout their lives and continue for a period of 50 years starting from
the beginning of the first of the calendar year after the author’s demise. Economic rights of applied art works expire after 25
years from the first day of the calendar year following the first publication (Article 20 of the Copyright Law).


The penalty for infringing the moral or economic rights of the author or holder of the neighbouring rights and selling or
circulating a copyrighted work without the written permission of the author as outlined in Article 39 the Copyright Law is a

prison term of at least two months and a fine ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 100,000. Cases of repeated offences will
constitute a prison term of at least six months and a fine ranging from between AED 100,000 to AED 500,000 (Article 40 of
Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021).

The registration of an intellectual work in the UAE, as administered by the Ministry of Economy UAE (Department of
Copyright) and governed by the Copyright Law, is an easily accessible, affordable, and internationally recognised process.
Copyrightable Work registered in the UAE are protected in all member states of the Berne Convention.

The registration of copyrights protects the authors and their Copyrightable Work from infringement and its wrongful
circulation by treating it as an intellectual property.

The registration establishes a public record and proof of ownership, and the authors enjoy economic and moral rights that
continue throughout the author’s life and continue for 50 years after their death.

As part of SOL’s entertainment, fashion and sports offering, SOL assists in protection of intellectual property of our Clients.
We recently registered the copyright to a minor’s artistic works in the UAE including composing, song writing and lyrics of two
songs and we are happy to deal with any queries.

1.^ https://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/treaties/ShowResults?search_what=C&treaty_id=15[2].
2.^ https://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/treaties/ShowResults?search_what=C&treaty_id=15
3.^ https://www.moec.gov.ae/en/material-copyright-registration.

Also published by LexisNexis Middle East.