Can photos on the internet be used without permission?

Blogger wants to know if a company can use his photo without permission

  • Compiled by Dina Aboul Hosn
  • Published: 13:58 April 23, 2013

I am writing to you to seek your opinion on the matter of commercially using a photograph without seeking the owner’s permission first.
I am a blogger. I write a personal blog that covers topics including travel, photography and food. At the sidebar, I have specifically mentioned not to use my photographs without written permission.
However, I was shocked to discover last week that a particular famous Indian food outlet has displayed one of my pictures on their City Centre branch. When I approached them stating that this was my picture, they wouldn’t believe me, and instead said a lot of nonsense stuff. They also mentioned that there’s absolutely nothing wrong in taking pictures off the internet!
It was only when I threatened to take legal action that I received a phone call today from a graphics company, who told me that the guy who ‘took’ my picture no longer works for them. He also said that he doesn’t understand all the fuss that I am creating over one photograph.
I wanted to ask: do we have a copyright law here in the UAE where bloggers like myself can use to protect our photographs? Who do I approach for this purpose? I feel cheated because this restaurant is using the photograph that I took as if they own it. And I’d like them to know that it is NOT ok to just ‘take pictures off the internet’. How do I deal with this situation? Your response regarding this issue will be highly appreciated.

Law in the UAE protects intellectual property including blogs, provided such blogs shall be registered in the name of its owner in the concerned authority at the Ministry of Economics.

Therefore, if such blogs are registered, the law prohibits anyone to use the same without the owner’s permission. However, it is not prohibited to use the public figures’ pictures for non-commercial purposes.

Questions answered by Advocate Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaiba of Al Bahar Advocates and Legal Consultants.