Copyright is the bundle of rights that an author gets for his work. The term ‘work’ in the context of copyright includes within its scope any innovated work, in the literary, artistic or scientific domain, of whatever type, manner of expression, significance or purpose. Thus the term ‘work’ has a very wide scope with the main criteria being that the work should be an innovative work where the term innovation refers to the creation of something new which does not previously exist. Thus copyright thus refers to exclusive right to exploit one’s own innovative creation.
Copyright and the rights related to it are rights that the author of the work may utilize in many ways. The author of the work is the person who creates the work. There is a presumption by law that the person whose name appears or is mentioned on the work or the person to whom the work is attributed on publication is the author of the work. But such presumptions can be refuted by establishing essential evidence that such person is not the author.
Where the work is published as an anonymous work i.e. without the name of the author or it is published as a pseudonymous work i.e. where the author uses some fictitious name and not his own name, but the true identity of the author is known and there exists no doubt for the same, then he shall be considered to be the author of the work. In case the true identity of the author is hidden and not known, in such cases the publisher or the producer of the work is taken to be the representative of the author and therefore they are allowed by law to exercise the rights of the author on his behalf until the true identity of the author is recognized beyond all doubts.
As discussed above, copyright is a bundle of rights which the author enjoys. But these rights are not inseparable, they can be enjoyed separately and the author can also part with it for financial consideration by assigning a specific right in another person. But out of the bundle of rights, there is one right that always remains with the author even after separating and assigning all other rights related to copyrights. This is a special right of the author known as author’s special rights or moral rights.
Article 5 of the federal law no. 7 of 2002 on copyrights and related rights (hereinafter referred to as ‘the law’) provides for moral rights for the author and his successors for the work of the author. The law provides that this right cannot be prescribed or assigned. It is a personal right. The moral rights of the author comprises of three rights which are as follow:
1. The right to decide publishing the work for the first time. This right is only a right to decide to publish and not the right to publish. Therefore after deciding to publish his work the author may assign his right to another person for the actual publication. This right is to safeguard the work of the author from publication without the consent of the author.
2. The right to claim paternity of the work. The author may assign his copyright to another person, and that shall give the other person all rights to exploit the work but it shall not make him the author of the work. No other person other than the author himself can claim to be the creator of the work. This right provides a distinction between the author of the work and copyright owner of the work. Owning the copyright does not make the person the author of the work.
3. The right to object to any alteration of the work if such alteration shall cause distortion or mutilation to the work, or be prejudicial to the standing of the author. This right is in confirmation with the right provided by the Berne Convention in article 6bis clause (1) which reads as follows: “Independently of the author’s economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to his honor or reputation.” The law provides that the distortion or mutilation should not be prejudicial to the ‘standing’ of the author. The term ‘standing’ can refer to the position and status of the author in the society and it could also denote the opinions of the author of his own work. This term has a very wide meaning and can be interpreted in various ways. It can also be interpreted to be the honor and reputation of the author as provided by the Berne Convention.
4. The rights to withdraw his work from circulation in case of serious and justifiable reasons. This right can only be exercised through a competent court. In such cases the author or his successor who approaches the court is made to pay a fair compensation in advance for the financial rights of the assignee which he can no longer enjoy due to the withdrawal of the work from circulation. The period within which such compensation has to be paid is decided by the court and it has to be before the execution of the judgment as the judgment is considered to be void if such compensation is not paid.
According to the Berne Convention the moral rights of an author shall be enjoyed by the author for a period equal to the period for which he enjoys economic rights which are known as the financial rights according to the UAE federal law no. 7 of 2002. The law provides for the protection of these rights for a period of 50 years after the death of the author and therefore moral rights are also enjoyed by the author or his successor for a similar period i.e. fifty years after the death of the author.
It should be noted that all rights due to a copyright are alienable except for the Author’s Special Rights (Moral Rights) which always remains with the author even after parting with the copyright.