Taking pictures and recordings at the movies carries a fine of up to Dh100,000 and a two-month jail sentence in Dubai

Have you ever recorded a movie at a theater or taken a picture of it? You can be subject to jail time and a hefty fine for this.

Many people still snap pictures and films during movies, even though there was a warning about breaking the nation’s copyright regulations before the film began.

“In the UAE, it is illegal to film or photograph a movie scene while watching a film in a cinema without the permission of the copyright holders of the movie contents,” said Alexander Kukuev, managing partner of Uppercase Legal Advisory.

The former Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 was superseded by the UAE Government’s new Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 covering Copyright & Neighboring Rights, which went into effect in January 2022.

“As for copyright infringement, Articles 39, 40 and 41 of the UAE Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 establish penalties which can include fines, imprisonment, and the seizure and destruction of infringing copies, as well as the acts that are considered copyright infringement, such as reproducing, distributing, and communicating a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner,” said Kukuev.


“In the UAE, it is illegal to film or photograph a movie scene while watching a film in a cinema without the permission of copyright holders. The offense is considered a copyright violation, and offenders may be subject to fines of up to Dh100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two months,” he said, quoting Article 30 of the law.

Furthermore, international conventions and agreements, such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, serve as the foundation for the UAE’s copyright laws. In 2004, the United Arab Emirates joined the convention.

In the United Arab Emirates, entry to movie theaters is likewise restricted based on age.

“UAE cinemas must strictly adhere to the age rating, which requires inspecting customers’ proof of age and identification documents. However, there is no liability for underage persons or their parents – the key consequence will be deprivation of opportunity to watch a film in the cinema,” he added.

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