This article outlines some general legal rules for capturing pictures, including copyrighted works or trademarks for commercial or non-private purposes. Because most lawsuits are made against users of photographic material, this is just as important for companies that u

se pictures in their advertising, company brochures, catalogues, and so on as it is for photographers. Even though most nations have similar laws regarding photography, there are significant national variations. This article is not a substitute for legal counsel from a competent local lawyers in Dubai.

Is it necessary to obtain permission to photograph copyrighted works?

Photographs in advertising, fashion, and interior design usually include creative work, such as a painting on the background wall. On the other hand, many photographers are unaware that incorporating such a work in a photograph for non-private use without permission from the copyright owner may be considered an unauthorized copy of the work. As a result, it may expose the photographer or publisher of the image to legal action for copyright infringement in that work in some instances. When does it become necessary to obtain permission to photograph copyrighted objects? The answer is a little more complex than you may think. It relies on various factors, including the subject or item to be shot and the intended application of the image.

What is protected by Copyright?

It’s important to remember what types of objects are covered by Copyright. The majority of photographers are aware that copyright protection applies to literary, artistic, and photographic works. However, how many people know that the same safeguards apply to maps, globes, charts, advertising, and labels? And that “pieces of applied art” like jewelry, wallpaper, carpets, furniture, toys, and textiles? If any rights need to be cleared, it’s all too simple to include such items in a photograph without thinking about it.

In addition, even if an item is protected by Copyright, no permission is necessary to photograph it if the copyright protection period has already lapsed.

The amount of labour that shows in the picture also influences whether or not permission is necessary. In most cases, prior approval is required to copy a significant portion of the work. However, there are no universal rules, and there never will be. Frequently, the quality of what is utilized is more critical than the quantity.

EXAMPLE: René Magritte’s artwork “The Son of Man,” for instance, portrays a man whose face is covered by an apple. Even if a photographer reproduces the face with the apple, permission is still necessary since it is an essential or identifiable component of Magritte’s work, even if it is only a minor portion of the overall picture. It is decided on a case-by-case basis what constitutes a considerable part. If in doubt, always seek permission from the copyright owner ahead of time.


Some major legal exceptions to copyright attempt to achieve a fair balance between safeguarding the copyright holder’s rights on the one hand and the larger public interest on the other. These exclusions frequently allow photographers to copyrighted works without obtaining permission. These exclusions frequently allow photographers to copyrighted works without obtaining consent. They are established in common law notions like fair use or fair dealing and limits and exceptions expressly specified in national copyright legislation. They differ from nation to country, and each case is determined by its own set of facts and circumstances. However, there are several common exceptions to this rule.

However, in simple words, the following are frequent exclusions to copyright protection:

  1. Buildings:

Architectural works are protected by Copyright to some extent, although in most countries, if placed in – or visible from – a public area, an establishment may be freely photographed. Without authorization, the photograph may also be published and disseminated. 

However, in the UAE, military installations, government organizations, and political structures cannot be photographed for security reasons. As a result, it is against the UAE’s photography laws to capture footage of restricted areas. For example, government entities include the Dubai Civil Defence, the Dubai Finance Department, the Dubai Chamber, the Dubai Government’s Legal Affairs Department, the Dubai Courts, the Dubai Public Prosecution, and the US Embassy & Consulate. 

  • Photography in Public Areas:

In several countries, photographing some artistic works in a public area, such as a park, Public beaches does not require permission. Without infringing on Copyright, these photographs may be published and even marketed. In the UAE, Photographers do not need a licence to publish personal photos or photos taken in public places, as long as no one in the public place appears in the pictures, and no photo is taken in areas where a ‘No Photography’ sign is posted. Such as some governmental and semi-governmental departments and archaeological sites. However, it is always advisable to take permission from the concerned authorities before taking any photograph in public areas.

  • Photos to accompany news reports:

 Copyrighted works may be photographed to convey the news, but the creator and title of the piece must typically be identified. A photograph of a piece that won a prize in an art competition, for example, can be used in a news story announcing the competition’s results.

  • Photographs along with a review or criticism:

Copyrighted content may be used to illustrate criticisms or reviews in most countries, for example, by publishing pictures of cartoons in a book that examines or analyses those cartoons. The artist’s name and work must be mentioned once more.

  • Photos are used for advertising the sale of a work:

Photographing a piece of art only to promote its sales, such as in an auction or sale catalogue, typically does not require prior permission.


Permission from the copyright owner of the work is necessary to reproduce a copyrighted work in a picture. It’s also possible that authorization from the work’s owner is needed. As a result, getting permission(s) might be challenging at times. The artist’s gallery or agency might be able to help. Artists’ copyright authorization is granted by several collective management organizations on their behalf.

The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the subject. This article cannot be used in place of legal counsel. experts deal with cases relating to the infringement of Copyright and also provide Copyright Enforcement services. If you need more clarification on how Copyright Law relating to photographs applies to specific facts and circumstances, please don’t hesitate to contact HHS Lawyers & Legal Consultant.