‘Creative Publishing Café’ discussion shines light on UAE copyright laws

‘Creative Publishing Café’ discussion shines light on UAE copyright laws

Panel presents a comprehensive picture of authors’ rights and duties under intellectual property right laws

Sharjah, September 18, 2019:The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Foundation (Ruwad) conducted a legal panel discussion titled ‘Copyright Protection’ on September 17, 2019, as part of the ongoing ‘Creative Publishing Café’ organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) at Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ).

The Creative Publishing Café is a five-day event that aims to connect young entrepreneurs with UAE’s publishing sector which is expected to grow from $260 million to $650 million by 2030, according to an SPCZ study.

The panel, presented by advocate and legal consultant Ibrahim Al Hosani, aimed to introduce participants to copyright and neighbouring rights, with case studies detailing the legal procedures. The panel also highlighted the relationship between writers, authors and publishing institutions.

Al Hosani noted that neighbouring rights, also known as related rights, was not connected with the work’s actual author, and included the rights of performers, phonogram producers and broadcasting organisations.

Performers are singers or actors who use the composer’s product in singing, performing on stage or acting in general. Performers’ rights, however, should not be confused with performing rights, which are the royalties due to the composer for a performance of a piece of music under copyright in return for the permission to perform it in public.

The copyright law prescribes a 50-year protection period for performers and phonogram producers (producers of sound recordings), and a period of 20 years for broadcasting organisations which produce their own programmes and dramatic works.

Speaking about copyright as defined by law, Al Hosani said authors’ rights belong to the author of a literary or artistic work and includes moral and economic rights. Moral rights grant the author the right to determine the period or the date of publishing his work and the right to be named as the author. They also include authors’ right to protect their work from being used in a detrimental way or context, and the right to decide when to publish a work.

Authors also have the right to preserve the integrity of the work which allows them to object to alteration, distortion, or mutilation of the work that is prejudicial to their honour or reputation. They also have the right to prevent others from interfering with the integrity of their work, and the right to withdraw the book from the market due to a change in their convictions or concepts.

Al Hosani added that moral rights allow authors to adapt their book for film screenplays as authors have the right to get royalties from film adaptations of their work. He pointed out that economic rights are property rights that enable authors to protect their work, and authorise or prevent use of the work.

The author’s right to withdraw his book from the market was subject to the publisher not incurring a loss because of this. This generally specified in contracts usually signed between authors and publishing institutions.

He underlined the importance of writing and signing contracts that enable the two sides to protect their rights, especially since the author’s decision to withdraw his book from the market may harm the publisher, who will suffer two types of losses – halt of profits generated from the book’s distribution, and losing the opportunity to gain more money from continuing to sell the book in the future.

During the session, Al Hosani also spoke about the concept of work, noting that according to the Intellectual Property Rights Act the book is a form of work, and that films or dramas based on scenarios also fall within the scope of copyrighted works. This was done to protect them from theft, imitation and copying, and prevent them from being distorted.

The legal consultant said that various genres of artistic and literary works, such as painting, engraving, sculpture, drama and architectural designs, fall within the scope of works subject to intellectual property rights. In addition, derivative works, which means the use of a work in another language through translation, fall under the intellectual property law. Translated works are also subject to the law.

On areas that are not subject to individual property laws, Al Hosani noted that news, or laws enacted by professionals and specialists in countries, as well as official decisions and documents, do not fall under intellectual property rights. The exceptions are materials that are of an innovative nature, which grant the idea’s owner intellectual property rights as protected by law.

Al Hosani gave an example citing the Emirates Association for Lawyers and Legal (EALL) which has published a book detailing a set of UAE legislation and laws, including Copyright Protection Law and Protection of Industrial Property. The book, which contains these laws, has become an intellectual property of the association. The same applies to a journalist who compiles various news items in a book, which is automatically subject to Intellectual Property Rights.

Referring to instances where on purchase of a literary product the buyer claims authorship of the same, Al Hosani stressed that such contracts are considered invalid by law, given that such practices would set a dangerous trend in the literary and cultural arena if unqualified persons claimed authorship of creative works.

The legal consultant stressed the importance of contracts between authors and publishers. “The two parties need to have written contracts governing their rights and duties,” Al Hosani emphasised.

He pointed out that an agreement which binds the entire future output of an author had been annulled. The law allows such agreement for a maximum of five books in order to prevent monopoly, ensure the quality of literature and authorship, and not turn creative products into consumer material devoid of literary and cultural content.

Answering a question about copyright protection periods, Al Hosani said that a work is protected in law during the author’s lifetime and for 50 years after his death. If the book is a collaboration by a group of authors the copyright rests with all of them for the lifetimes of the authors, plus 50 years after the death of the last co-writer.

If a work is prepared by a body, publishing house, businessmen or a group of writers, this type of authorship is defined as a joint authorship or a collective work. The names of all authors shall be credited in the book, but the property rights shall be attributed to the person or the body that assigned them. The law grants collective works protection for 50 years, since the publication of the first edition.

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