Innovation, creativity, and soft skills are some of the most rewarding sources of businesses in the modern world. In light of this, there is an urgent need to develop copyright laws to encourage for developments in this direction. In addition to this, copyright laws will lead to protection of the inventors from piracy and illegal commercialization of their inventions without their consent. This paper will evaluate the copyright laws in UAE, clearly checking when they were established, as well as any changes in them. In addition, this paper will also check at the effectiveness of the copyright laws, challenges faced in their implementation, and ways that the government can make them more effective. Finally, a conclusion will be formed based on the ideas derived from the discussion on the copyright laws.
Keywords: UAE, copyright, law
Copyright in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Innovation and creativity are drivers of economic and social progress. In light of this, all governments have a moral and legal duty to protect their innovators from piracy or misappropriation of their work. By so doing, these governments will encourage more innovation and research which will lead to the development of new industries, businesses, products, and solutions to ordinary day challenges. Currently, UAE has grown to be an economic powerhouse in the Middle East, and despite the political and security instability that the region has been undergoing, its economy has continued to grow steadily. Actually, the county is now the second largest economy in the region after Saudi Arabia. Better still, the country has been enjoying a sound economic growth at about 4.5% per annum, and it is expected to double its GDP by 2020 (Saleh, 2014).
UAE’s remarkable economic growth and continuous social and political developments have been a major attraction to local and international investors. In effect, the country is no longer a petrol-dependent economy. Today, more than 70% of the country’s GDP is from non-oil based industries such as banking, hospitality, real estate, trade, and transport. Consequently, the development of a knowledge-based economy is currently one of the country’s main objectives to see it through in attainment of its social, political, and economic progress. Remarkably, this kind of economy is able to sail through major economic challenges such as the current plummeting oil prices, as well as changes in production and manufacturing competitiveness of a country. In order to do this, UAE developed a robust copyright law in 2002. In addition, the country has increased incentives that are geared towards the development of new innovations and accelerating the process of patency. Notably, among the major developments are the Dubai Internet City, Dubai TechnoPark, Media Free Zone, and Tawakalu. UAE’s rapid economic growth coupled with the incentives in knowledge-based industries has led to the rise in new innovations (Saleh, 2014). Consequently, copyright laws, now more than ever before are important in ensuring that the country has robust policies to increase its social and economic developments.
UAE Copyright Laws
Copyright laws in UAE are regulated by the Federal Law no. 7 of 2002, which was amended by law no. 32 of 2006. Copyright protection is granted for novel, useful and innovative works of art. UAE copyright law required authors to submit their works of art to the Intellectual Property Protection Department (IPPD) in the Ministry of Information and Culture to access copyright protection. Basically, the law provides protection on literary, software, audio productions, architectural, and scientific works (Fitzgerald & Olwan, 2009).
Copyright protection period differs depending on the specific work of art and underlying circumstances of the work that is been protected by the law. Overly, the period of protection is usually within the lifetime of the authors or authors plus 50 years after their death. Notably, however, the work published by anonymous authors is protected for fifty years by the state, those for applied artwork are protected for 25 years, and the rights for broadcasting authorities are protected for 20 years (Fitzgerald & Olwan, 2009). Importantly, the protection period starts from the period when the work of art was first published. Noteworthy, owners of the copyright may transfer, sell or license individuals to use their works.
In addition, the law also permits the reproduction of a single copy of the work of art by a buyer for personal use only, as long as he/she still possesses the original copy of the production. However, illegal reproduction of work that has copyright may attract a jail term and a fine of a minimum of 50,000 UAE Dirhams. Nonetheless, the registration of copyright is voluntary, and as such, authors may voluntarily decide not to copyright their inventions (Fitzgerald & Olwan, 2009). It is important to note that copyright arises automatically when the original work of art was first published and not when it was registered. Further, the registration of copyright does not validate the content of the registered work.
UAE is also part of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Therefore, copyright works from citizens of nations that are members of this convention, or whom their inventions were first published or registered in the member state countries are also protected in UAE. Noteworthy, for registration in UAE, all official documents must be written in Arabic.
Documents Required for Application of Copyright
- A legalized power of attorney which is legalized by the UAE consulate in a foreign country or by a notary public in UAE.
- A legalized assignment of rights between the author of the work of art and the applicant.
- Three samples of the work that is to be registered.
- A letter of application for registration.
Copyright protection espouses at leading to more innovations, increased business opportunities, execution of justice in copyright cases, and increased trade in UAE. In effect, this is a noble process that the country should be encouraged to continue undertaking. In brief, this case on copyright aims at evaluating the economic impact of copyright protection in a country. In addition, it will also check whether copyright protection inhibits innovation in the existing industries.
Copyright and Economic Development
Globalization and the increase in protectionist policies such as copyright protection are viewed to have an effect of bringing economic growth, as well as inequality. In effect, there is usually a heated debate on their importance to improving the society’s wellbeing. Evidently, the exclusive licensing of the copyright to the inventors leads to them amassing a lot of wealth when compared to the majority of the members of the society. In principle, this means there may be a likelihood of the emergence of a high-income variance in the society (Dollar & Kraay, 2002). On the contrary, the protectionist policies enable the innovators to recover their huge investments in research. Consequently, copyrights encourage the development of innovations, research, and increased economic growth and development.
Copyright-Based Business on Economic Growth
According to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), copyright-based industries are those that create tradable commodities using their copyrights. In particular, these industries use the copyright protection and rights by enforcing them and ultimately ensuring that they receive a commission from the sale of products and services associated with their copyright (WIPO, 2011). In some cases, these companies use their copyright powers to establish their own monopolies in the production of the protected goods or services.
Copyright-based industries are major contributors to economic growth, especially in developed countries. For example, in 2002, this industry contributed 7.1% and 6% of the UK and USA national economy respectively. In particular, the copyright-based industry contributed 12% of US GDP in the same year. Overly, the net contribution of copyright-based industries to a country’s GDP is usually about 5.4%. On the same accord, these businesses also contribute to economic growth and development. On average, these businesses contribute about 5% of the country’s workforce (WIPO, 2012).
In general, however, empirical studies on the impact of copyright suggest that the relationship between economic growth, copyright protection, and growth in employment are complex in nature. In light of this, copyright laws may not result in the desired social and economic benefits of a country. Essentially, the economic growth rate of a country is directly related to copyright policies that have a great scope of flexibility and allow for licensing and sharing of rights (Dollar & Kraay, 2002). Further, the flexibility in exclusive ownership of rights that has a wide coverage is positively correlated to the growth in value-added outputs in IT and information related industries. In turn, this has an effect of increasing labor compensation levels in the country. Finally, increased scope and flexibility to exclusive rights is associated with an increase in value-added output and labor (Gilbert, 2015). Notably, this normally occurs in the ICT and goods and service industries.
Given the potential benefits that copyrights have to the economy, governments should help in protecting and enforcing these rights by doing the following:
- Help in promoting research and generation of intellectual capital.
- Lead to the development of new businesses and employment.
- New businesses and developments lead to increase in the country’s revenues through taxes.
- Protect a country’s culture, heritage, and work of art.
Challenges Facing Copyright-Based Industries
Despite the strong copyright laws that aim at protecting copyright-based industries, most of the companies in this industry face enormous challenges. Worse still, most of these challenges are beyond their control. To enumerate, the challenges they face are as follows:
- High piracy levels, through copying and illegally distributing of music, software, and films.
- Limitation in the enforcement of copyright laws. In general, this is due to the pervasiveness of technology that allows easy copying and distribution of works of art.
- Inadequate financing for both organizations that protect copyrights and inventors.
- Ignorance and failure by the society to appreciate and protect copyrights (Ouma, 2012).
In order to change this situation, there is a need for an increased government role in the protection of copyright based industries. In light of this, governments in the world should emulate most of the policies that the UAE government undertook to protect its innovators. To begin with, the UAE government undertook the following measures to protect its copyright based industries:
- It developed a robust copyright law in 2002.
- Further, it revised the law in 2006 to ensure that it is aligned with the global changes and developments in copyright laws.
- It created an enabling environment that quickened and eased the provision of copyright permits.
- It established punitive measures and penalties for first-time and repeat offenders.
- It partnered with international organizations such as WIPO and Berne Convention on the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works to ensure global coverage of individuals who patent through UAE (Ouma, 2012). In effect, these measures have been effective in encouraging the development of copyright based industries.
In summary, copyright laws especially when well drafted have a potential of increasing economic and social development in a country. Basically, this is because proper laws lead to the development of copyright based industries, which not only develop new inventions but also license them to other businesses leading to an overall growth in the economy. In effect, all countries should develop sound copyright laws to steer economic growth and lead to social, cultural, and political development.
Dollar, D., & Kraay, A. (2002). Growth is good for the poor. Journal of Economic Growth, 7(3): 195-225.
Fitzgerald, B., & Olwan, R. (2009). Copyright and innovation in the digital age: The United Arab Emirates (UAE). Retrieved from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/21020/1/c21020.pdf
Gilbert, B. (2015). The 2015 intellectual property and economic growth index: Measuring the impact of exceptions and limitations in copyright on growth jobs and prosperity. Retrieved from http://www.innovationeconomics.net/component/attachments/attachments.html?id=263&task=view
Ouma, M. (2012). The role of copyright in economic development: A review from Kenya. NIALS Journal of Intellectual Property, 1(1): 65-76.
Saleh, A. (2014). Patency protection in UAE. Retrieved from http://www.tamimi.com/en/magazine/law-update/section-8/march-7/patent-protection-in-the-uae.html
World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO] (2011). National studies on assessing the economic contribution of the copyright-based industries. Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/copyright/1024/wipo_pub_1024.pdf
World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO] (2012). Copyright+ creativity=jobs and economic growth: WIPO studies on the economic contribution of the copyright industries. Retrieved from http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/WIPO-Copyright-Economic-Contribution-Analysis-2012-FINAL-230-2.pdf