Reprographic Rights and The Growing Dependence on The Intangible Assets

27 Jul 2022

Any asset which is not in its physical nature is an intangible asset. Even though the term Copyright is frequently employed in common speech, its significance to the UAE legal doctrines is rarely thoroughly examined. The Copyright is specifically an author’s right. It is the right that any creator shall have over their literary or artistic works. It is the right that any creator shall have over their literary and artistic works. It is a well-established doctrine that it is only the expression and not the ideas that are protected. The copyrights provide for 2 various parts of rights: (a) an economic right and (b) a moral right. Economic rights are those where the monetary benefits are derived from the usage of the copyrighted work by others. Under the economic rights, the author of the copyright has the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the following acts, reproduction, distribution, rental and lending, public performance, communication to the public and adaptation. The moral rights protect the non-economic interest of the copyright owner or the author.  This right allows the authors or the creators to take certain actions to protect and preserve their link with their works. This is because the UAE is a member state of the Berne Convention and is bound by the Convention's Principle of Automatic Protection. The relevant domestic Federal Law Number 7 of 2002, as revised by Law Number 32 of 2006 concerning Copyrights and Neighboring Rights, reiterates this.

To strengthen its position in the Intellectual Property field, the UAE is a member of the International and regional treaties and bodies, and it is possible to take advantage of these conventions when considering copyright protection in UAE. The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the Berne Convention for the Protection of the Literary and Artistic Works.

A reprographic revolution is currently underway, with enterprises, educational institutions, and individual customers all having access to technologies that can copy intellectual property. This increase in reprographic skills is a double-edged sword because it challenges copyright holders rights while also promising improved public access to works of art. The current copyright legislation provides little protection against this threat since unlawful copying is so pervasive and challenging to detect.

Reprography, or the repetition of a published graphic picture or text, is a type of reproduction. The term was created by fusing the phrases reproduce and photography. Using mechanical or electronic means, reprography creates a reproduction of a published graphic or text such as the following procedures:

  • First printing
  • Copying a photo
  • A scan
  • Digitization
  • Telefaxing and other electronic transfer
  • Database electronic storage

Although the precise meaning of reprography varies from country to country, it basically refers to the mechanical or electronic duplication of an already existing image or text. Reprography is a common activity in academic institutions, libraries, and archives, situations where photographs are reproduced for use by publishing, government entities, and other purposes such as in-class instruction, books and other materials for research, cataloguing, and archiving, academic publications and information documentation. 


Reprographic Rights: What Are They?

The rights employed in reprography are known as reprographic rights. In contrast to a rights holder's principal right to license the initial publishing of the graphic image or text, reprographic rights are viewed by rights holders as secondary rights. Depending on whether a particular reprographic use occurs in any determined state or overseas, this characteristic as a secondary right manifests itself in different ways.

In contrast to a rights holder's principal right to license the initial publishing of the graphic image or text, reprographic rights are viewed by rights holders as a secondary right. It's challenging to manage reprographic rights. How may a writer detect unauthorized photocopies of their work made by library patrons? As a result, the rights are collectively controlled by organizations like ERRA. The organization is in charge of collecting and distributing royalties to the rightsholder as well as monitoring and enforcing those rights. In partnership with the relevant government agencies, including the Ministries of Economy and Education, ERRA will be entrusted with monitoring the use of print and digital works throughout the UAE in educational institutions, libraries, and print centers.

The framework of copyright law faces a special challenge as a result of the reprographic revolution. Reprographic technology makes it simple, affordable, and anonymous for consumers to copy protected works, resulting in widespread, an imperceptible infringement that reduces the incentive to innovate. The potential threat that widespread consumer reprography poses to established ideas of copyright has been acknowledged, but the necessary reform has not been implemented. Furthermore, the fair use doctrine-based legal reaction has been too capricious and uneven to provide a substantial resolution. However, one strategy effectively strikes a balance between the interests of copyright holders and consumers. To make up for the harm caused by particular reprographic technologies, copyright law should be changed to impose a tax on reprographic hardware and software. Few uses of copyrighted works would be prohibited under such a system, turning the general rule of law that the noblest human productions knowledge, truth ascertained, conceptions, and ideas should become voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use from ideal to reality while maintaining adequate economic incentives to create.


The Right of Reproduction

The right of reproduction is an exclusive right under the Berne Convention and under the copyright laws in most countries. This right constitutes the basis for the work of all Reproduction Rights Organizations. Once the RPO has collected a sufficient number of authorization or mandates from the rights holder, it can commence collective administration of the reprographic rights on a voluntary basis. It issues licenses on behalf of the rightsholder, collect remuneration, and distributes it to the rightsholder. However, limitations in copyright laws on this exclusive right can constitute a major hurdle for the RPO.

Some examples of such limitations are free reproduction in libraries and free reproduction for fair dealings, fair use or private use. Many users who photocopy copyright-protected works believe that they can do so with reference to the limitation on the author's exclusive right laid down in the law. This confusion results from the fact that many laws in use today were developed before the invention of the copying machine when copying was done by hand or on the typewriter. Article 9 (2) of the Berne Convention provides that “it shall be the matter for legislation in the countries of the union to permit the reproduction of such works in certain special cases, provided that such reproduction does not conflict with a normal exploitation of work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interest of the author”.


International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations

An important milestone in the organization's efforts to defend publisher’s rights at the national and international levels was reached when the Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association (ERRA) became the first organization in the region to join the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO). The announcement of the membership was made recently in Oslo, Norway, at an IFRRO board meeting. After the 1971 Paris amendment of the Berne Convention, which posed serious copyright issues and for which it was determined that the joint administration of the rights was the best possible answer, reprography was the first significant new technology.

Reprography was the first significant advancement in technology following the 1971 Paris amendment of the Berne Convention, which resulted in substantial copyright issues and revealed that joint management of rights was necessary and the most effective remedy. Reprographic equipment has advanced constantly throughout in recent decades, they now create goods of higher quality while also cheaper and quicker. Color copiers have made reprographic opportunities more widespread. Replication of works that are protected (not to mention the fusion of electro copying and reprography with the retrieval of digitally stored works. However, this already has much to do with the alleged "digital agenda" of the WIPO "Internet treaties" were adopted during a diplomatic conference in 1996.

Regarding the legal situation surrounding reprography, the first and most crucial truth is that, according to Article 9(1) of the Berne Convention (and also under the TRIPS), the right to reproduce is an exclusive right. By including this by reference in the Agreement and the WCT, and other important Convention provisions) that cannot be circumscribed except in cases where free use is permitted or non-voluntary permissions are required instances that meet the "three-step criteria" outlined in Article 9(2) of the Convention. It has never been contested that replication of artwork Reproduction in the form of (photocopying, etc.) is protected by the mentioned absolute authority. Consequently, the issue is not what rights authors should have, in regards to the reprographic replication of their works, rather than what are the circumstances under which exceptions or restrictions may be permitted.

The applicable norms text and drafting history should both be considered in order to respond to this question. Authors of literary and artistic works protected by this Convention shall have the sole right to provide permission for their reproduction, in whatever form or media, according to Article 9(1) of the Berne Convention. The potential for permitting the following are the exceptions or restrictions to this privilege that are governed by Article 9(2):

Legislation in the Union's member nations will be responsible for allowing the replication of such works in specific circumstances, as long as it does not contradict with the work's regular exploitation, and does not unfairly impair the author's legal interests. Reproduction is not allowed at all if it is determined that doing so will clash with the work's usual exploitation. The next stage would be to determine whether or not reproduction does not conflict with the regular exploitation of the work and prejudice the author's legal interests in a way that is unreasonable. This can be substantiated with a brief explanation of case laws:


Rameshwari Photocopy Services vs. The University Of Oxford

Facts: In India, the in famous DU photocopy case set a precedent for copyright violations. The practice of copier shops in the University of Delhi, which involves copying reading materials from required textbooks and selling them to students at discounted prices, is what gave rise to this case. The chancellors, masters, and scholars of the University of Oxford brought a claim under Section 2(o) of the Copyright Act against Rameshwari Photocopy Services to oppose the same.

The Outcome: The publishers were forced to drop their claims against the defendants after it was discovered that the shop has a permit to operate on DU's North Campus.

My Opinion: Possessing a reprographic license is very helpful. You save money and are given the power to run your business without provoking conflict. Copyright is not a divine right, and it is meant to advance rather than obstruct the harvest of knowledge. Copyright violations don't occur when someone copies something for educational or informational purposes.


David Bowie & Freddie Mercury vs. Vanilla Ice

Facts: The theme of this case was Vanilla Ice's song Ice Ice Baby. The song used a sample from David Bowie and Queen's Under Pressure, however it was not given credit. Despite initially denying it, Vanilla Ice later acknowledged utilizing the same melody.

The Outcome: The dispute was informally resolved outside of court. In the end, Vanilla Ice agreed to pay a set amount as royalty and give Bowie/Queen credit on the song.

My Opinion: Stealing from other artists creations is never beneficial. Many of us occasionally find inspiration in the work of others. No matter how flattering it may be to the original artist, stealing or copying is wrong. Just think about how annoying it would be to see your work stolen and used to make money by someone who didn't even produce it. So, even if you were inspired by someone else's original creation, be sure you have the right license to replicate it to avoid legal trouble. 


Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association (ERRA)

An important milestone in the organization's efforts to defend publisher’s rights at the national and international levels was reached when the Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association (ERRA) became the first organization in the region to join the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO). The membership gives ERRA greater chances to increase support for safeguarding the copyrights of all content creators and highlighting the crucial function and value they contribute via their work. In response to the UAE's duty to protect the copyrights of content creators and preserve the rights of authors and publishers through suitable rules and legislation, ERRA, a first-of-its-kind association in the region, was founded in March 2022. The association will be crucial in bolstering the UAE's position and role in promoting and supporting the creative industries as a critical pillar of the contemporary economy. The launch also highlights the increasing reliance on intangible assets or intellectual capital, which is illustrated by the quick rise of the cultural and creative sectors in the digital economy of the United Arab Emirates. In conjunction with public libraries, copy and print shops, schools, colleges, and other institutions, ERRA's strategy involves tracking the reuse of print and digital works. With the assistance of relevant government organizations, such as the ministries of economy and education, the National Media Council (NMC) of the UAE, and statistic centers all over the nation, the new Emirates Reprographic Rights Association's approach is anticipated to monitor the reuse of print and digital works in schools, universities, copy and print centers, as well as at public libraries.



One of the areas of the global copyright community that lay people may be least familiar with the reproduction rights groups. Many people, even in the publishing community, are unaware of what these agencies are and do. Since educational contents might frequently be those where content reproduction is most prevalent, those in educational publishing are more likely to be aware of them. Reprography, or facsimile reproduction like photocopying, is one of the most prevalent types of reproduction that writers and publishers are concerned about. When it comes to collecting the copyright fees that must be paid to publishers and/or authors when their copyrighted content is reproduced, CCMO’s, another sort of agency in addition to RPO’s, may also be at work. The RPO’s, or the reprographic rights organizations are required to jointly manage copyright protection of content either through voluntary private agreements (in which a publisher may arrange for such services) or as a result of a legal licensing system established by local laws. In collaboration with relevant government organizations, such as the Ministry of Economy and the Education, the National Media Council (NMC) of the UAE, and the statistic centers throughout the nation, and the new Emirates Reprographic Rights Association’s approach is expected to monitor the reuse of the print and the digital works in schools, universities, copy and print centers, as well as at the public libraries. If there are any legal issues regarding copyrights you should reach out to a well-experienced intellectual property lawyer.