Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

UAE legal Q&As: How does the social media law affect photography?

And an employee looks to end his contract without gaining an employment ban.

Q: I wondered if you could help in relation to the social media law and public photography. I am an amateur and hobbyist photographer and I do a lot of street photography (souq, markets, streets) where people are shopping, walking down the street and so on. So, when taking a street photo with many people in it, how is it possible to get permission from everyone? Also, suppose I do get their permission verbally and then the image appears in the media, what if a person in the photo then files a police complaint against me? It would be impossible to get everyone to write down that they do not object to being in the photo. Similarly, I and many people I see out and about take photos of my family in public places and some people are in the background. Are people protected from being prosecuted for having someone pictured in the background? This also affects National Day, when I take lots of photos of decorated cars, so it would be good to know how people can protect themselves.

A: No person may capture a photo of any other person and distribute it on the internet without his/her personal approval or the approval of his/her legal representative. This is in line with many legal provisions, including Article 43 of Federal Law No 7 of 2002 on copyright, which reads: “The person who made a photo of another in any form may not save, expose, publish or distribute its original or a copy thereof without the approval of the photo holder, unless otherwise is agreed upon”. Other articles back up that assessment and some even talk of punishment of one year in prison and fines of not less than Dh50,000. Therefore, if you take photos of people without their consent, you are liable, even if it is a street scene in a public place with lots of people around.

Q: I have been working as a security guard since June 18, 2013 and I renewed my two-year visa on the same date this year. Can I cancel my contract in December without an employment ban and take on another job? I’ve heard that after six months with a company, you can resign and get another job without being banned - is this true?

A: If your employment contract is limited then, as per Article 128 of the Labour Law, you would get a one-year employment ban, which means you cannot apply for a new job or labour permission. If you have an unlimited contract then you would be able to resign and take on a new job without a ban.

If you have a question for our lawyer, please email it to newsdesk@thenational.ae with the subject line “Know the law”.

Updated: October 3, 2015 04:00 AM

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