The Evolution of Digital Piracy vis-à-vis UAE InstaBlock Initiative


Digital piracy has significantly evolved with technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviours, encompassing illegal downloading, streaming, and distribution of copyrighted content. From the early days of Napster’s music file-sharing to today’s sophisticated torrent websites and unauthorized streaming platforms, piracy has become a persistent challenge. In the UAE, robust legal frameworks, including Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 and its amendments, the Cybercrime Law, and telecommunications regulations, have been established to combat digital piracy and protect intellectual property rights. Recent initiatives, such as the UAE’s new intellectual property system, aim to enhance innovation and creativity, exemplified by the InstaBlock initiative for real-time enforcement of IP rights.

Evolution of Digital Piracy:

Digital piracy, encompassing activities such as illegal downloading, streaming, and distribution of copyrighted content, has evolved alongside advancements in technology and changes in consumer behaviour. The proliferation of high-speed internet access, peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and streaming platforms has made it increasingly convenient for individuals to access pirated content without proper authorization from copyright holders.

The evolution of digital piracy can be traced through several key stages:

1. Early Internet Era: In the early days of the internet, digital piracy primarily involved the unauthorized sharing of music files through platforms like Napster. This marked the beginning of widespread online copyright infringement, prompting legal battles between copyright holders and file-sharing services.

2. Expansion to Other Content Types: As internet infrastructure improved and online services diversified, digital piracy expanded to include movies, television shows, software, e-books, and other digital content. Torrent websites, streaming platforms, and online forums became popular hubs for accessing pirated materials.

3. Rise of Streaming Services: The advent of streaming services offered legitimate alternatives to piracy, providing convenient access to a vast library of content for a subscription fee. However, some users continue to resort to piracy due to factors such as cost, content availability, and regional restrictions.

4. Emergence of Piracy Enforcement Measures: In response to the growing threat of digital piracy, governments, industry organizations, and copyright holders have implemented various enforcement measures, including legal action against piracy websites, anti-piracy campaigns, and technological solutions to protect copyrighted content.

Legal Provisions in the UAE

The UAE has enacted legislation to combat digital piracy and protect intellectual property rights. Legal provisions relevant to addressing digital piracy include:

1.Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 on Copyrights and Related Rights[1]: This law provides the legal framework for the protection of copyright and related rights in the UAE. It grants copyright holders exclusive rights over their works and establishes penalties for copyright infringement, including fines and imprisonment. This law was later amended by Amended by Law No. 32 for the year 2006 Regarding Copyright & Related Rights and later in 2021.

2.Federal Decree-Law No. 38 of 2021 on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights[2]: This law amended the “Federal Law No. 7 of 2002 on Copyrights and Related Rights”. It grants copyright holders exclusive rights over their works and establishes penalties for copyright infringement, including fines and imprisonment.

3. Cybercrime Law: The UAE Cybercrime Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 2012) [3]criminalizes a wide range of cyber offenses, including unauthorized access to computer systems, data interception, and online piracy. The law imposes severe penalties for cybercrimes, reflecting the government’s commitment to combating digital piracy and safeguarding cyberspace.

4.Federal Decree-Law No. (34) of 2021 On Countering Rumours and Cybercrimes[4]: It repealed the earlier law Cybercrime Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 2012). This law on combatting rumours and cybercrimes. Federal Decree Law No. 34 of 2021 on Combatting Rumours and Cybercrimes took effect on 2 January 2022. The law provides a comprehensive legal framework to address the concerns relating to the misuse and abuse of online technologies.

5.Telecommunications Regulations: The UAE’s Telecommunications And Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) implements regulations governing internet service providers (ISPs) and telecommunications networks. These regulations may include provisions related to blocking access to websites hosting pirated content and enforcing copyright protection measures.

6.International Agreements: The UAE is a signatory to international agreements and treaties aimed at protecting intellectual property rights, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty. These agreements provide a framework for cooperation and mutual assistance in combating digital piracy on a global scale.

New Intellectual Property System and Reviews Role in Promoting Innovation and Creativity:

The UAE Ministry of Economy launched a comprehensive new intellectual property (IP) system on February 7, 2024. It consists of 11 interconnected projects aimed at improving the nation’s innovation and creativity environment. By creating a competitive atmosphere that helps innovators and creators transform their ideas into cutting-edge business prospects, these programs hope to advance creative national competences.[5]

Key Elements of the New IP System:

1. Innovation Hub: An online incubator platform offering technical guidance and assistance with patent registration, developed in collaboration with the Emirates Association for Talented.

2. Patent Hive Initiative: Aiming to increase patent registrations, with a target of 6,000 new patents by 2026, in partnership with academic and research institutions.

3. Emirati ‘Fahes’ (Examiner) Initiative: Enhancing the skills of Emirati talents in IP through training and awareness programs in collaboration with the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council (Nafis).

4. InnovLAB Initiative: Strengthening innovation incubators and assessing their effectiveness in partnership with the Minister of State for Government Development and the Future.

5. InstaBlock Initiative: An immediate service for addressing livestream copyright infringements, in collaboration with the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority.

6. IP SPORT Initiative: Increasing registered trademarks in the sports sector, in partnership with the General Authority of Sports (GAS).

7. One Day TM Initiative: Expediting trademark registration to within a single business day, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.

8. IP Platform Initiative: A digital platform connecting data from various government departments responsible for IP enforcement.

9. ‘Hayyakom’ Initiative: Enhancing the UAE’s appeal to global companies through the INTA Meeting.

10. IP SCHOOL Initiative: Developing a comprehensive portfolio of IP training programs endorsed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

11. Virtual Character ‘Aisha’: Raising awareness on IP rights through public engagement and social media platforms.

The InstaBlock Initiative:

The InstaBlock[6] initiative is a significant component of the new IP system, focusing on the swift enforcement of intellectual property rights. This service is dedicated to addressing complaints regarding livestream copyright infringements and operates in collaboration with the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority.

Key Elements of InstaBlock:

1. Real-Time Response: InstaBlock employs advanced technology to monitor and address copyright infringements as they occur, ensuring immediate action is taken against violators.

2. Collaboration with ISPs: The initiative works closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to implement effective blocking measures, ensuring rapid compliance with legal requirements.

3. Automated Blocking Mechanism: Utilizing an automated system to detect and block infringing livestreams, InstaBlock enhances the efficiency and speed of enforcement actions.

4. Legal Compliance: InstaBlock operates under the UAE’s legal framework, ensuring that all actions are in accordance with national laws and regulations governing intellectual property rights.

Impacts and Objectives of InstaBlock:

1. Deterrence: InstaBlock seeks to prevent copyright infringement and to foster respect for intellectual property rights by swiftly restricting access to unauthorized livestreams.

2. Content Creator Protection: By guaranteeing that their works are not illegally distributed, the program protects content creators’ creative and financial interests.

3. Support for Innovation: InstaBlock’s protection of intellectual property fosters an atmosphere that is conducive to creativity and innovation, which is in line with the UAE’s overarching objectives of rising in the Global Innovation Index and developing into a major hub for the new economy worldwide.

In order to stand strong in fight against digital piracy, the UAE should consistently improve its legal frameworks to tackle developing trends and technology, guaranteeing that laws stay efficient in countering new kinds of infringement. Allocating resources to implement cutting-edge technology solutions for monitoring and detecting piracy will enhance the capacity to promptly identify and prevent the distribution of unlicensed content. Enhancing international collaboration will enable a cohesive global strategy, facilitating the exchange of optimal methods and resources. Public awareness plays a crucial role in educating the consumers about the significance of intellectual property rights and the repercussions of piracy, while also encouraging ethical consumption of digital content. By offering legal aid and tools to content producers, as well as establishing venues for reporting copyright violations, we can safeguard their economic and creative interests. It is important to establish regular assessment and feedback systems in order to evaluate the performance of initiatives such as InstaBlock. This will enable constant improvement based on input from stakeholders. Implementing incentives, such as tax benefits or recognition programs, for ISPs and other stakeholders to adhere to anti-piracy measures can foster greater support and involvement in these initiatives. These extensive efforts will establish a conducive atmosphere for innovation and creativity, in line with the UAE’s goal of becoming a worldwide centre for the emerging economy.


The InstaBlock initiative, with its real-time response to livestream copyright infringements, highlights the UAE’s innovative approach to combating digital piracy. By collaborating with internet service providers and employing automated blocking mechanisms, InstaBlock not only deters potential infringers but also safeguards the interests of content creators. This initiative, along with the broader IP system, plays a crucial role in fostering a conducive environment for innovation and creativity, reinforcing the UAE’s vision of becoming a global hub for the new economy and enhancing its position in the Global Innovation Index.

[1] WIPO Lex (World Intellectual Property Organization), UAE: Federal Decree-Law No. (7) of 2002 on Countering Rumours and Cybercrimes (2021), available at: visited June 10, 2024).

[2] United Arab Emirates. Legislation. Federal Law No. 38 of 2021 on Copyrights and Related Rights, (last visited June 10, 2024).

[3] Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 Amending Some Provisions of the Federal Law No. 6 of 2007 Concerning the Establishment of the Insurance Authority and Organization of its Operations, UAE Central Bank Rulebook, (Last accessed 10th June, 2024)

[4] Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 on Combatting Rumors and Cybercrimes,, (Last accessed 10th June, 2024)

[5] Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Economy Launches Its New Intellectual Property System and Reviews Its Role in Promoting Innovation & Creativity in the UAE (Feb. 7, 2024),

[6] ibid

Author:- Vidhi Agrawal (Associate) & Pranav kushwaha (Legal Intern)
Aumirah Insights

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