22 June 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Saudi IP office cracks down on infringing sites, post-WTO report

The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) will block 231 websites that violate IP, preventing them from being accessed in the Kingdom, following a World Trade Organization (WTO) report that criticised the country’s IP regime.

Yesterday, June 21, SAIP  said that the illicit sites were being used for downloading and watching movies and series, directly broadcasting sites of encrypted sports channels, downloading books in PDF format sites, and downloading and listening to music.

The investigation also found websites that are selling subscriptions for encrypted TV channels through software or illicit streaming devices.

Last week, the WTO  concluded that Saudi Arabia had blocked Qatari broadcaster  beIN Media from enforcing its IP and enabled pirate sports broadcasts.

The WTO’s much-awaited report noted that Saudi Arabia’s non-application of criminal sanctions to pirate broadcaster beoutQ could not be justified on national security grounds and that Saudi Arabia had not met its obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.

The report’s findings have thrown into question the proposed takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi-backed consortium, which is currently being evaluated by the English Premier League.

In a bid to alleviate concerns following the WTO report, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has reportedly written to sports bodies, acknowledging it has a "responsibility" to help fight broadcasting piracy and stating that it "understands the need to protect and respect IP rights".

In correspondence to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and seen by the  BBC, SAFF president Yasser Hassan Almisehal wrote: "With our sporting ambition comes a responsibility to help [fight] piracy and as a nation we already have the rigorous governance framework to do just that.

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More on this story

26 February 2020   The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has inaugurated 21 IP support centres across five regions in the country, in partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
17 June 2020   Saudi Arabia blocked Qatari broadcaster beIN Media from enforcing its IP and enabled pirate sports broadcasts, the World Trade Organization has said.
25 June 2020   Saudi Arabia has defended its IP system in the wake of the publication of a critical World Trade Organisation report on the beoutQ piracy service earlier this month.