The Authors' Take - Social Media Influencers Require Permits to Operate in the UAE

Social Media Influencers Require Permits to Operate in the UAE

The E-Media Regulations 2018 entered into force in the United Arab Emirates in June 2018 making it now a legal obligation for all websites and social media accounts run on a commercial basis to acquire a permit from the National Media Council before they can legally operate in the country.

The primary trigger for the need to acquire this new government permit is operating the website or social media account on a ‘commercial basis’. The regulations do not define what ‘commercial basis’ exactly means, but they explicitly stipulate that social media accounts that offer paid commercial advertisements are subject to these regulations.

Acquiring the new e-media permits is not a simple registration process, but an application process that requires applicants to hold ‘an appropriate academic qualification’ and ‘be of good character and reputation’. Furthermore, authorised websites must appoint a ‘responsible manager’ who is deemed liable for all content published on the website regardless of who actually wrote it. For social media accounts managed by individuals, the account owner is deemed to be the responsible manager for the account.

In addition to the criteria for applying for a permit, the E-Media Regulations 2018 also impose ‘instructions and controls’ on websites and social media accounts that include an obligation to abide by all instructions issued by the National Media Council, an obligation to abide by the standards of media content in general, and an obligation to maintain a record of all items published on the website for the last 12 months. This record must include the date and time in which each item was published, and the e-media permit holder must authorise the National Media Council to access this record at any time it wishes to do so.

Applying for a new e-media permit costs 15,000 Emirati Dirhams (approximately GBP 3,000), and a permit must be renewed on an annual basis for the same amount. The E-Media Regulations have entered into force in the UAE less than a month ago, and UAE authorities have made statements declaring that over 500 social media influencers and e-media companies have already acquired the new e-media permit.

The E-Media Regulations are fully in force and all those making money from web content in the UAE are under an immediate obligation to acquire the new government permit, pay the fees, and abide by all requirements stipulated in the regulations.

[This is an Authors' Take post, which provides readers with an insight into current IP scholarship, featuring preliminary comments and thoughts from authors of articles accepted for publication in forthcoming issues of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (OUP). An extended version of the present contribution will be included in our Fashion Law Special Issue, due for release as Issue 11/2018

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