Saudi watchdog issues $1m fines over copyright violations

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(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A watchdog in charge of protecting intellectual property rights in Saudi Arabia has revealed that it issued fines totalling SR4 million ($1 million) last year.

The General Administration of Copyright at the Ministry of Culture and Information also said it ordered SR2 million in compensation claims to copyright holders in the Gulf kingdom.

Penalties for violators also included temporary shutdown of business operations for periods ranging from 14 days to 60 days, which added up to 3,562 shutdown days in total.

Rafiq bin Ibrahim Aqeeli, director general of the General Administration of Copyright, stressed the need to "activate the system forprotecting copyright and impose harsher penalties for companies, business establishments and services committing copyright violations".

He added that during 2013, the administration had made "great progress" in its effort to reduce the infringement of copyright.

Its inspectors conducted more than 2,500 inspections of premises that included distributors of computer hardware and software, stores, corporate headquarters, commercial establishments and service providers.

During these tours, more than 7,590 violations were identified, of which 667 were related to copyright violations

The administration confiscated more than 1,000 computers loaded with programmes and materials that infringed copyright and seized over two million discs related to programmes, games and movies, as well as more than 300 electronic units.

Aqeeli said: "Last year the offences varied between copies of books and intellectual works, audio-visual materials and computer programmes, while other infringements included the use by corporate facilities of computer software without permits, receiving satellite feed via individual subscriptions, and violations by newspapers using images without the consent of the copyright owners."

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