Ministry Steps Up Clampdown On Copyright Piracy

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has intensified efforts to check the growing market of pirated CDs, DVDs, computer games and IT software, and launched raids to confiscate goods and detain those involved in the business.

The raids and detainments were carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Information, which has urged people to respect the Kingdom’s copyright and intellectual property laws, a senior ministry official said yesterday.

“The Ministry of Culture and Information seized more than 38,000 pirated CDs from illegal street vendors last week as part of its comprehensive anti-piracy crackdown throughout the streets of Riyadh,” said the official.

The raids were conducted with the help of Riyadh police. Authorities also destroyed over 600,000 pirated CDs that were seized at Riyadh airport recently.

The ministry has urged people entering the Kingdom to abide by intellectual property laws. Saudi nationals who violate the laws could face fines of up to SR500,000 and 12 months in prison in addition to being forced to pay compensation to victims.

Scott Butler, CEO of the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance, said the raids last week initially covered the fashionable Olaya area. Raids also took place in south Riyadh’s Haraj bin Gassem market. Authorities questioned street vendors to determine the sources of counterfeit products.

The vendors were also asked to sign commitments not to repeat violations. A number of vehicles used for storage were seized. Street vendors selling counterfeit products were seen fleeing as police advanced.

Butler commended Abdul Rahman Al-Hazzaa, undersecretary at the ministry, for supporting efforts to fight piracy and copyright crimes.

He said the initiative was launched on the orders of Al-Hazzaa and Saudi officials were able to dramatically reduce the number of street vendors selling counterfeit goods in a short time.

The campaign has generated significant awareness among members of the public that the Saudi government is taking a strong stand against the sale of pirated material.

The counterfeit industry in Saudi Arabia currently stands at around $4 billion a year.

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