Copyright protection is an author’s exclusive right. It grants the creator the right to prohibit and restrict others from copying and benefiting from his work without his consent. Copyright automatically applies when an idea is expressed in a material form, such as a book, music CD, or website. Copyright protects works produced or preserved in an electronic or digital medium, as well as those conveyed in print. It is found in both published and unpublished works, as well as electronic works. Copyright encompasses all documented expressions and works. The purpose of this article is to examine the works that are protected and those that are not under UAE copyright law.
Works Protected by Copyright
Following are the works that are eligible for copyright protection:
1. Original Work
Work must be original to be eligible for copyright protection. Original work is one that ‘originates’ in its expression from the author; that is, the work was produced independently and was not taken from another’s work or public domain resources. Under copyright law, the precise definition of originality varies by nation. In any event, originality refers to how a concept is expressed, not to its content. To create an original work, labour, skill, time, creativity, selection, and mental effort are required. Even yet, a work is protected by Copyright regardless of its creative components, quality, or worth and does not need literary or aesthetic merit.
The Supreme Court emphasized the idea of “creative originality” in Feist Publication Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service [499 U.S. 340, 342 (1991)] and created a new standard to protect those works that exhibit a minimal degree of innovation. This doctrine maintains that work created with sufficient intellectual creativity and judgement has originality. Although extreme originality is not needed, a certain degree of creativity is required for copyright protection in UAE.
2. Fixation of work in tangible form
For copyright protection, the work must be fixed in some material form. It is possible to fix a copyrighted work in many ways, such as writing it on paper, storing it on a disc, painting it on canvas, or recording it on tape. Because of this, choreographic works or spontaneous speeches or musical performances that are not written down or recorded do not qualify for intellectual property rights protection.
3. Published Works
Websites and other electronic formats, such as emails, are protected by copyright because they are considered published material.
4. Unpublished Works
Copyright protects material that has not yet published. Until it is published, played, performed, or otherwise made available to the public, the material is unpublished. Unpublished material retains its Copyright indefinitely or until it is published.
5. Other Works
Copyright protection also extends to package labels, recipes, strictly technical instructions, instruction manuals, and engineering drawings.
Let us focus on the works which are not eligible for copyright protection.
Works not protected by Copyright Law
There are certain kinds of work to which copyright protection does not apply:
1. Ideas or concepts
Copyright law protects only the mode of expression of ideas or concepts in a specific work. It does not cover the underlying concept, invention, method of operation, principle, technique, process, or system, regardless of how it is expressed or incorporated in work. While an idea or technique of accomplishing something unprotected by Copyright, written instructions or drawings showing or describing the concept or process is.
For instance: Suppose a business owns the Copyright to an instruction manual describing beer brewing equipment. Copyright protection in the manual enables a company to prevent others from duplicating how the handbook is created and the words and illustrations utilized in such a book.
It will not, however, provide you with the right to prohibit competitors from
(a) using the equipment, procedures, and marketing techniques specified in the handbook; or
(b) creating another manual for a beer brewery.
In University of London Press v. University Tutorial Press  2 Ch. 601 (U.K.: High Court), the Chancery Division of England, commonly known as “sweat of the brow,” defined the “originality” criteria applied to copyrighted work. The Court determined that the word “original” must be construed in the sense of “original expression.” Copyright law protects the expression of ideas contained in an original work, not the ideas themselves. To be protected by copyright, a work must originate with the author — the legal meaning of the word “original.”
2. Facts or information
Copyright fails to protect facts or information such as science, history, biography or news. However, copyright protection extends to how such information or facts are presented, chosen or organized.
For Instances: A biography contains numerous information regarding the life of a person. The author may have spent a lot of time and effort uncovering previously undiscovered things. However, others can utilize such information unless they duplicate the specific way of presenting the facts. Similarly, the information in a recipe can be used to prepare a meal without permission but not to create duplicates of a recipe.
3. Names, titles, slogans and other brief sentences
In general, names, titles, slogans and other brief sentences are not protected against Copyright. Some nations, however, protect if they are highly innovative. The name of a product or advertising slogan is not typically copyrighted but may be subject to trademark legislation or unfair competition law. In contrast, a logo may be protected by both copyright and trademark law, provided that the relevant criteria for protection fulfilled.
4. Official government works
Official government works (such as copies of laws or court judgments) in the UAE have no copyright protection.
5. Unfixed Works
The Copyright Act does not protect works that have not been fixed in a physical form of expression since fixation is one of the conditions for copyright protection. For instance: unnoticed or unrecorded choreographic works.
6. Works available in the Public domain
Public falls in domain works are freely available to the public. You are free to utilize any work in the public domain without the need to seek permission from the original author or creator. When the copyright term of a work ends, the work becomes part of the public domain.
To know more information on copyright protection, don’t hesitate to contact experts.
The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the subject. Regarding your situation, you can seek expert guidance. HHS lawyers and legal consultants specialized in dealing with cases relating to the infringement of Copyright.