Sara Ibrahim Advocates & Legal Consultants


Can you face deportation for Copyright Infringment?

A person puts both physical and mental effort into creation of an intellectual work. This intellectual work varies from books to cartoon to speeches to sermons. The creator of the work (“author”) has a right over its production and reproduction called the copyright. Infringement of copyright is a grave violation of the author’s rights and is served with adequate punishment under the UAE Laws. It is evident to note that copyright infringement doesn’t merely involve serious conspiracies for duplication but a mere copy-paste from the wide realm of the internet, usage of torrent websites, pirated videos etc all fall under the ambit of copyright infringement.

Copyright Laws in UAE

Federal Law no.2 of 2002 (“the law”) deals with copyright related issues, including infringement and its punishment. As per Article 1 of the law, an intellectual work includes any work expression in the literary, scientific or artistic domain. The author is the person credited for the creation or publication of the work. Article 2 specifies the work to be protected under the law including books, computer programs, architectural works etc and derivative works. Derivative works, though vague in interpretation, include the works derived or inspired by the original work like translation of an existing work.

Article 7 grants the author the sole rights to exploit his intellectual work the exception to which is Article 21 which allows any person to apply for a compulsory license for reproducing a work.

Deportation due to Copyright Infringement

As per Article 38 of the law, a person is liable to be punished for copyright infringement with either a detention period of minimum 3 months or a fine between AED 50,000 and AED 500,000, in case he has exploited the intellectual work without the written consent of the author or the neighbouring right holder.

Local media companies are the major victims of this infringement and are working alongside Department of the Economic Development and the Criminal Investigation Department to track and punish the infringers. 

Who can bring a claim for copyright infringement? Other than the author and the neighboring right holder, the licensees, successors or other interested parties can bring a claim or register a complaint of infringement with the prosecutors or ministry.

According to Article 121 of the Law no. 3 of 1987 (Penal Code), UAE courts have the right to deport any foreign national for any cases of criminal charges, felony or misdemeanor against them.

Hence, Article 38 of the copyright law of 2002 read with Article 121 of the Law no. 3 of 1987 enables the UAE courts to deport a foreign national if found guilty of copyright infringement such as intruding moral or monetary privileges of the creator, distribution of any work under protection, reproducing or disseminating falsified work, saving or downloading any duplicate program etc.

What can you do?

The process of deportation is initiated and completed by the Ministry of Interior. The accused remains in jail till the documentation process is completed which might take 3 or 4 weeks. After the documentations are revised and compiled, the accused is deported.

A deportation order is final and infinite, but when someone deported does not cause a threat to the safety and security of the country, they can appeal to cancel the deportation. In Dubai, you can appeal to cancel the deportation online via the website of the Public Prosecution. A formal appeal can also be made to the Diwan court to cancel the deportation citing justified reasons. The accused can apply for a mercy petition on the Ministry of Interior Website or they can appoint a lawyer to submit a position on their behalf. It is advisable to take help of legal professionals while dealing with a case of deportation due to copyright infringement.

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