UAE Implements Stricter Measures: Heavy Fines (100,000 AED) and Jail Time for Unauthorized Cinema Photography

Have you ever been tempted to capture a memorable movie moment on your camera or smartphone while enjoying a film in the theatre? Well, think twice if you’re in the UAE, as doing so could lead to hefty fines and even a stint behind bars.

Despite clear warnings before the commencement of movies urging audiences not to engage in unauthorized photography, many individuals disregard these regulations, oblivious to the legal repercussions.

According to Alexander Kukuev, the managing partner at Uppercase Legal Advisory, capturing images or videos during a cinematic experience in the UAE without the copyright holder’s explicit permission directly violates the country’s copyright laws. Kukuev sheds light on the legal implications, citing the UAE’s updated Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 concerning Copyright & Neighboring Rights, which occurred in January 2022, replacing Federal Law No. 7 of 2002.

“In the UAE, it is illegal to film or photograph a movie scene while watching a film in a cinema without the permission of the copyright holders of the movie contents,” emphasizes Kukuev. The penalties outlined in Articles 39, 40, and 41 of Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 include fines, imprisonment, and confiscation and destruction of infringing copies. Offenses considered copyright infringement encompass reproducing, distributing, and communicating a copyrighted work without the owner’s consent.

Quoting Article 30 of the law, Kukuev specifies that the offense of unauthorized filming or photography in cinemas can result in fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment for up to two months.

Furthermore, the UAE’s copyright legislation aligns with international agreements and treaties, such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Having become a member of the convention in 2004, the UAE is committed to upholding intellectual property rights on a global scale.

In addition to these stringent measures, UAE cinemas must adhere strictly to age ratings. This involves inspecting customers’ proof of age and identification documents to ensure compliance. While there is no legal liability for underage individuals or their parents, the primary consequence is denying the opportunity to watch a film in the cinema.

In conclusion, the UAE’s reinforced copyright laws are a stern reminder to movie-goers to respect intellectual property rights and refrain from capturing unauthorized content in cinemas. The potential financial penalties and legal consequences underscore the seriousness of the authorities approaching copyright infringement in cinematic experiences.



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