Stay Aware: Copyright Guidelines For Theatre Recordings

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In today's digital age, where smartphones and cameras are common, capturing moments through videos or photos has become second nature.
United Arab Emirates Intellectual Property
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In today's digital age, where smartphones and cameras are common, capturing moments through videos or photos has become second nature. However, it's important to be aware of copyright laws, especially when recording inside theatres during live performances. Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021 on Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights provides clear guidelines on copyright infringement, emphasizing the importance of respecting intellectual property rights.

Article 45 of Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2021:

Article 45 of the aforementioned law specifically addresses the restrictions on capturing photographs, sound, or visual recordings of others without permission. It states that individuals must obtain consent before keeping, publishing, exhibiting, or distributing original or reproduced photographs or recordings of others unless otherwise agreed upon.

When it comes to recording inside theatres, whether it's a live performance, a play, or a musical, there are several legal considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, the performers, directors, and producers hold intellectual property rights over their work, including the performance itself, the script, the music, and the set design. Recording these elements without proper authorization constitutes a violation of copyright law.

Furthermore, audience members may also have rights to their likeness being recorded. Even if the focus of the recording is the performance, capturing individuals in the audience without their consent may lead to legal repercussions.

Copyright Infringement Penalties:

The penalties for copyright infringement outlined in Articles 39 and 40 of the decree-law are severe to prevent such actions. Individuals found guilty of infringing the moral or economic rights of authors or neighbouring rights holders may face imprisonment for a minimum of 2 months and fines ranging from AED 10,000 to AED 100,000 or both. In cases of repetition, the penalties may be even more, with imprisonment for a minimum of 6 months and fines from AED 100,000 to AED 500,000.

Moreover, manufacturing or importing counterfeit works, disrupting technical protection measures, or downloading copyrighted material without proper authorization may result in imprisonment for a minimum of 6 months and fines ranging from AED 100,000 to AED 700,000, or both. Repeat offenders may face even more penalties, including imprisonment for a minimum of 9 months and fines from AED 500,000 to AED 1,000,000.

In addition to legal consequences, copyright infringement may damage the reputation and financial interests of artists, performers, and content creators. It challenges their ability to earn a livelihood from their creative works and discourages future innovation and artistic expression.


It's necessary for individuals to respect copyright laws and obtain appropriate permissions before capturing videos or photos inside theatres. By doing so, they not only comply with the law but also uphold the rights and integrity of artists and creators.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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