The new Unfair Competition Law (UCL) has been enacted to step up the campaign against piracy in Saudi Arabia, according to the Kingdom’s Business Software Alliance (BSA) representative.
“The new law also promotes fair competition, encourages manufacturers to respect property rights in IT systems and eliminates the unfair competitive advantage obtained by manufacturers that use stolen IT in business operations,” Mohammed Al-Dabaan told Arab News exclusively. He made the announcement yesterday in the wake of the 6th Annual Government Officials Conference on Copyright Protection in Arab Countries, which wound up Monday at Riyadh’s King Fahd Cultural Center.
He said UCL eliminates the unfair competitive advantage gained by manufacturers who use stolen IT in their business operations. “Moreover, it encourages respect for property rights and fair competition through public awareness and safeguards responsible business practices across multiple manufacturing industries,” he said.
Stressing the benefits of combating IT theft, Al-Dabaan said the new law levels the competitive playing field for manufacturers, spurs innovation and promotes responsible business practices across multiple manufacturing industries.
He added IT theft exceeds $58 billion per year worldwide, which negatively affects economic growth, investment and incentives for innovation in most regions. Al Dabaan added reducing software and hardware theft by just 10 percentage points would bring in $142 billion in new global economic activity, $32 billion in new global tax revenues and 500,000 new high-tech global jobs.
Reducing IT theft, he added, is a benefit for local economies since it encourages companies to respect property rights and the rule of law.
IT has a tremendous potential to connect communities and addresses a crucial piece of the global economic puzzle as well as facilitates healthy and sustainable growth.
Al Dabaan said, however, that IT theft undermines all of this “because it costs jobs, short-changes customers, distorts markets and undermines legitimate competition.” The two-day conference on copyright protection attracted the participation of 200 delegates from nine Arab countries. They included government officials, journalists, businessmen, and students of law and media. “They had the opportunity to exchange experiences in fighting piracy in the Arab world while shedding light on the challenges faced by government authorities in their efforts to establish a legal information environment,”Al-Dabaan said.
The conference was also attended by representatives from Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, and various government agencies.
The conference consisted of five segments which discussed 12 working papers presented by intellectual property rights protection and judicial officials from the participating countries.
The Ministry of Culture and Information also revealed new measures that had been adopted to target companies and individuals who continue to be involved in the trade and use of pirated software, according to Rafeik Al-Okaily, director of copyright at the Ministry of Culture and Information. “These are being implemented in collaboration with the BSA as the Kingdom steps up its efforts to further reduce the economic impact of software piracy and gradually establish Saudi Arabia as a regional leader in the campaign against counterfeiting syndicates,” Al-Okaily said.
Dr. Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al Aqeel, assistant undersecretary for internal information at the Ministry of Culture and Information, said: “Hosting the 6th Annual Government Officials Conference on Copyright Protection in Arab Countries reflects the government’s genuine commitment to protect intellectual property rights. We would like to send a clear message about the government’s uncompromising commitment to root out piracy.” We believe, he added, that “our proactive efforts will serve as a strong deterrent against illegal activities and will also help embolden the community to support our campaign.”
Al-Dabaan lauded the ministry’s support. “The Ministry of Culture and Information has been an important driving force in the campaign against piracy. The measures it has undertaken demonstrate the government’s growing concern over the potential risks and danger of piracy, particularly its impact on the economy. We look forward to strengthening our alliance with the ministry as well as other public and private sectors to establish Saudi Arabia as a regional leader in the fight against piracy.”