Copyright laws and journalism codes are vital issues of the media and journalistic practices in all countries. Copyright protects the intellectual property of authors and limits the possibilities of its distribution and usage for a certain period of time. Journalism codes are sets of rules and standards that should be observed in the journalistic practice. The peculiarities of copyright laws and journalism codes differ from country to country. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of the ones in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
In the United Arab Emirates, the question of copyright is currently regulated by the Federal Law Concerning Copyright and Neighboring Rights adopted in 2002. The UAE copyright extends on the works of art, literature, cinema, architecture, religious texts that have a known author, geographical maps, and so on. However, the origin of the copyright laws in the country dates back to 1993. The first law was issued in April 1993 based on the earlier Federal Law Regarding the Printed Matters and Publication adopted in 1980. It was called the Federal Law for the Protection of Intellectual Works and Copyright. This law was extended and corrected in September 1994. The 2002 law is a modified version of the old copyright law and the appendix to it. The UAE copyright is aimed at the protection of financial and moral rights of the author and the regulation of transferring and licensing their works.
The UAE journalism codes include the codes of ethics, conduct, and practice. The creation of such codes started in 1978 in order to provide a friendly environment for the media. The functioning of the latter and the activity of journalists have always been thoroughly monitored by the Ministry of Information. In 2007, a set of journalism codes was adopted, which concerned most aspects of the journalistic activity, such as ethics, conduct, and practice. The codes were expanded and improved in April 2008. The reason for this was the spread of sectarian violence and the need for increasing censorship and ideological control over the mass media. However, maintaining a friendly atmosphere for media expression remains the priority of the UAE journalism codes.
Therefore, the current copyright legislation of the UAE is based on the 2002 Federal Law No. 7 Concerning Copyright and Neighboring Rights, the 1980 Federal Law No. 15 on the Press and Publication, and four laws implemented on intellectual property. The laws deal with the rights of the authors, distribution of works of art, hereditarily rights, and so on. The copyright laws of the UAE and the UK are extremely similar in their subject matter, protecting artistic, literary, dramatic, musical, and other works. Slight differences in the definitions do not greatly change the essence of the laws. The approaches to the distribution of copyright are also rather similar. According to the laws of both the UAE and the UK, a work of art is automatically protected by the copyright as soon as it is embodied in a certain physical form by the author. The selling of a physically embodied work of art, such as a book, does not transfer the copyright to the new owner. The buyer receives only the ownership right of the item while the copyright still belongs to the author. Article 3 of the UAE Copyright Law claims that the copyright involves the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. However, in the UK, ideas are also subject to copyright. The UK uses the so-called “Sweat of the Brow” Doctrine. It implies that any work the production of which has involved the element of skill and creativity can be protected by the copyright, even though it should not necessarily be a fully original work. The UAE and the UK have the same duration of copyright. In the latter, the copyright for economic rights of the author lasts for fifty years. In the former, the average time of copyright protection is also fifty years, though sometimes this period can vary depending on the subject matter. Besides, in the UAE, the moral rights of the author are also protected for fifty years. However, UK law protects moral rights for the whole life of the author and twenty years after his or her death. Moreover, the UAE laws do not extend on the works by unknown authors. On the contrary, the UK law has an article that deals with the so-called anonymous copyright.
The journalism codes in the UAE are regulated by the local as well as international legislation. The six main journalism codes are postulated in the 1989 ASEAN Journalists’ Code of Ethics, 1978 Arab Information Charter of Honor, 1972 Arab Code of Ethics, 1980 Islamic Mass Media Charter, and the International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism provided by UNESCO. The main purpose of the UAE journalism codes is the maintenance of fair and accurate journalism. In the UK, the essence of the codes is basically the same, though the main focus on the quality and accountability of the media. However, high quality implies fairness and accuracy. In both countries, special attention is paid to the privacy concerns. Journalism ethics implies respect for the privacy of individuals and the observance of safety measures. When interests of an individual contradict those of the public, journalists are obliged to provide complete privacy of the former. However, the UK journalism codes are more concerned with media freedom and the right of the public to be told about important events. On the contrary, in the UAE, the journalism codes imply the need for censorship that has appeared because of frequent cases of violence. Both countries strive for the impartiality of the media and the credibility of the information. In order to achieve this, journalism codes regulate reporters’ conduct. In both countries, journalists should maintain neutrality and never express their personal opinion in media reports. In the UAE, they are forbidden to accept gifts or money for their work since it leads to the formation of biases. The UK codes equal the acceptance of gifts to bribery. Therefore, the codes of both countries provide strict requirements for the conduct of journalists and state that information must not be obtained through violence, blackmailing, and deception.
In conclusion, it can be noted that both the UAE and the UK copyright laws and journalism codes are based on the same principles aimed at the protection of the authors’ rights and control over the distribution of intellectual property. The journalism codes are supposed to ensure safety and enable the media to perform their functions successfully. It can be achieved through certain rules that help to provide optimal conditions for media activities. The differences in the legislation of the two countries are rather slight and do not have a great influence on the essence of the laws.