issue of the piracy of intellectual property is once again at the
forefront with the opening of COMDEX Saudi Arabia 2001. In a circular
given to all companies participating in the trade show, the Ministry
of Information emphasized several key points.
Companies must be
able to prove that all goods for sale are originals and all software
loaded into computers is licensed. No direct selling is allowed at the
professional show. For computers sold at Shopper@COMDEX invoices must
be itemized to include the names of all installed software and their
Obidallah M. Al-Obaidallah, director of Copyright Department at the
Ministry of Information, inspectors will be at COMDEX during all hours
of operation. If any violation of the ministry’s regulations is
found the offending stand will be closed immediately for the duration
of the show. At last year’s COMDEX two stands were closed by
“We are stepping
up our activities because we feel that the business community is well
aware that selling pirated goods is unacceptable,” said Al-Obaidallah.
“We also are increasing our public education campaigns. We are
taking stands at trade shows, advertising our policies in the media
and distributing informative brochures on the subject. We are asking
businesses to give us detailed reports on the software in use in their
operations and to rectify situations where licensing is lacking. We
are pleased to announce that all government schools are using only
licensed software products.”
The ministry has
also taken to destroying pirated software at locations in city centers
rather than in the desert in an effort to shock the local population
into becoming aware of the magnitude of the problem. Last year over
two million pieces of pirated software was seized at the Kingdom’s
borders. Most of it was coming from China or Southeast Asia. Al-Obaidallah
said that the ministry has the authority to seize any form of copied
intellectual property. In fact, at COMDEX their inspectors will even
be patrolling the parking lots outside the shows looking for
individuals selling pirated goods from the trunks of cars.
stated that while the software piracy issue in the Kingdom is serious,
he does not believe that it is as bad as some international
organizations are claiming.
“Studies done by
the International Intellectual Property Alliance gave the Kingdom a
piracy rate of 64% last year,” he said.
“However, our own
research shows a significantly lower figure. We will be releasing our
numbers shortly. We are not refuting the IIPA numbers by this move.
What we are saying is that our market research does not agree with
theirs and so we need their cooperation to compare data and see where
the discrepancies are. Then we must jointly go out and investigate
those areas,” said Al-Obaidallah.
“It is only in
this manner that we will get a clear picture of the pirated software
market on which all parties can agree,” he added