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Ministry steps up drive against copyright violations
Jeddah, 17th Apr 2001

    The 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 prices.

According to 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 ministry inspectors.

“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.        

Al-Obaidallah 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

Source: Arab News©

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17 April 2001 04:32:09 PM

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