RIYADH: FAHAD AL-DIABI
Published — Friday 8 February 2013
Last update 8 February 2013 2:21 pm
The Ministry of Culture and Information has banned 35 businessmen from traveling outside the country for violating copyrights laws and failing to pay fines imposed by the ministry.
The ministry's latest report said that three companies imported computers with pirated software for government departments. The companies violated the terms of their agreement which stipulates that the software must be registered under the name of the particular department. The companies were fined between SR 80,000 and SR 150,000, which they never paid.
The report said 464 decisions were taken against an unspecified number of companies. The report said 250 companies were temporarily closed for 60 days. The copyright violations committee at the ministry ordered 150 companies to compensate those affected by the violations with payments totaling SR 1.2 million, according to the report.
The ministry also blocked 65 websites in 2012 for pirating copyrighted materials and received 870 complaints on copyright violations.
The ministry follows five stages against violators starting with a warning letter, fine, closure of the establishment and finally detention for not more than six months.
The committee will also start naming and shaming violating companies.
The ministry stressed in the report that government departments must use original software on their machines to protect their networks from being hacked.
The action taken by the ministry comes as the United States prepares to issue its “Special 301” watch list to name countries that do not protect intellectual property rights. The list is issued on April 30 every year.