(MENAFN - Arab News) An IT company executive said Tuesday that the Ministry of Culture and Information has taken positive actions against piracy but more needs to be done.
"It appears that despite raids conducted by inspectors of the Ministry of Culture and Information and their efforts to raise awareness about intellectual property rights, local traders continue to deal in pirated products," Ayman Al-Takrori, deputy manager of Microsoft Arabia, told Arab News.
The ministry had been collaborating with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and Dubai-based Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) to crack down on illegal industry players. Al- Takrori said that "an industry captain praised recently the efforts of the Kingdom to combat software piracy but it appears that in their attempt to make money the easy way, some fake DVD traders keep violating local laws on anti-piracy despite stiff penalties imposed by the Kingdom."
He made the statement because violators are undeterred and continue with their illegal business practice. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia sentenced a piracy trader last year, quoting the country's Board of Grievances.
Al-Takrori said a Saudi court jailed the offender after a retail outlet and warehouse had been raided a total of seven times since 2006, resulting in the seizure of over 100,000 counterfeit products and several reproduction equipment.
He was detained for 10 days and fined SR150,000 as per recommendation of the Review Committee. The trader was caught by the Saudi government with the collaboration of the AAA, according to its CEO Scott Butler.
"After this, inspectors from the Ministry of Culture and Information raided shops of other illegal traders," he said.
The Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) also said earlier that "the Kingdom is determined to fight fraud and piracy."
Rafeik Al-Okaily, director of copyrights at the Ministry of Culture and Information, added that the Board of Grievances also penalized a Saudi businessman arrested for trading in pirated products in Riyadh's Shumaisy district.
Al-Takrori said that because of piracy, Saudi Arabia is losing a lot of money. "Piracy is costing the Saudi economy a lot, with studies indicating that a reduction in piracy rates could potentially have yielded up to 1 billion in the past two years," he said.
He added: "This clearly represents a huge incentive for the Saudi government to step up its efforts to break up pirate syndicates."
Earlier, the BSA also warned local companies against using pirated products. "If local firms use pirated software, for instance, in communicating with business partners in Louisiana and Washington states, they would be liable under the Unfair Competition Act (UCA)," Mohammed Al-Dhabaan, BSA representative in Saudi Arabia and spokesman, said.
He added: "The Saudi government wants to ensure local manufacturers and exporters to the US are aware of the potential impact of competing unfairly. Taking steps to legalize IT use in the Kingdom will enhance global reputation, safeguard local businesses, and build a competitive advantage for the local manufacturing ecosystem."