The Ministry of Culture and Information launches the second phase of the Intellectual Property Rights National Awareness Campaign. Photo shows Rafeeq Al Okaili, General Manager of the General Directorate of Copyright, with other officials during a press briefing.
RIYADH – The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, represented by the General Directorate of Copyright, launched an awareness campaign about the copyright protection system and the importance of respecting intellectual property rights in accordance with ethics and moral standards upheld by Saudi Arabia. In an effort to encourage general society to respect intellectual property rights, the campaign was launched with three television video clips under the slogan "Copying is Stealing… Don’t Do It".
During a press briefing with a number of online journalists, Rafeeq Al Okaili, General Manager of the General Directorate of Copyright, has pointed that the acts of copying any intellectual property, be they software, games or books have greatly harmed the intellectual property right holders ranging from authors, publishers and produces.
Al Okaili added that it has negatively impacted the reputation of the Kingdom causing embarrassment when dealing with organizations and international federations concerned with protecting intellectual property. He added that those who engage in the acts of copying or those who benefit from these acts are foreign labor that exploit the rights of others and sells them without making any efforts.
He reassured that the General Directorate of Copyright has launched the campaign in an effort to raise the awareness on the Copyright Law and hoped this will reduce piracy - especially as the campaign will show that such an act goes against the law, moral and religious beliefs of the country.
Religious scholars have issued fatwas that prohibit the sale and use of material that infringes the copyright law. Al Okaili also said the move represents the second phase of the ministry’s campaign which was launched November 2011 with three video broadcasted on all Saudi television channels.
The General Directorate of Copyright started the second phase of the campaign by publishing advertisements in local newspapers to warning the sellers and users of the computer software from selling or using illegal material as it will harm the reputation of their companies and the ones that purchase from them.
Under the patronage of his Excellency the Minister of Culture & Information, the Directorate has also prepared a detailed booklet about the copyright law and the execution framework. The booklet further covers such subjects like penalties, ministry efforts, judgments issued, fatwas, users’ responsibilities and risks of using illegal software.
The General Directorate of Copyright especially prepared this booklet in order to educate Saudi business owners who are often unaware of the abuse taking place inside their organizations.
He pointed that many of the foreign labor have formed gangs that are becoming more organized crime teams solely producing counterfeit licenses.
On the executive level, the ministry’s inspectors have visited hundreds of companies during the past year and they have caught 470 companies with violation of copyrights law. The Violation Review Committee has issued 364 judgments against violating companies that include fines, buying licenses to correct their position and damage to the rights holders that ranged from SR50,000 to SR300,000 and reached SR450,000 in one case.
And in an unprecedented step in the Kingdom, the Violation Review Committee issued 4 defamation judgments against 4 violators, 2 in Abha and 2 in Riyadh. The defamation announcement is expected to be published soon in 2 local newspapers paid in full by the violators. It has also been announced that the first imprisonment judgment was issued last week and the second one is expected in the coming few weeks.
Business owners have also been warned that the usage of copyrighted and illegal software will place them at the risk of severe punishments such as fines, damage to rights holders, defamation and imprisonment of the owner and the violator. It has also been pointed out that the wrong doing of the workers in the establishment does not serve as an excuse and will not be considered when looking at the case or issuing the judgment. – SG