Al Khobar authorities show 'zero tolerance" to piracy

A fire that ripped through the Shoula Market in Al Khobar earlier this year did nothing to quell the rampant software, music and video piracy that was centred there.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 15, 2000

A fire that ripped through the Shoula Market in Al Khobar earlier this year did nothing to quell the rampant software, music and video piracy that was centred there.

The pirates merely shifted their illegal trade to the nearby Gulf Center.

But where fire failed, the Saudi Arabian authorities are determined to succeed. The Ministry of Information has swooped on the new pirates’ lair and confiscated CDs worth hundreds of thousands of Riyals.

An official at the Ministry of Information later told Arab News reporters that the ministry would not allow sale of a single pirated CD in the region.

“We are constantly on a watch-out for violators and on getting a tip-off we immediately conduct raids,” he added.

Punitive Action

Shop owners selling pirated CDs had already received several warnings to stop their illegal operations. When the warnings failed, the shops were raided, goods confiscated and the premises shut down for an undetermined length of time.

The Ministry of Information also warned owners of shopping malls that they could face punitive action if they allowed pirates to operate within their walls.

This, said a ministry official, has been highly effective. “We had noticed that for a few days after a raid there would be a lull, then the business would flourish again. But the warning to the shopping mall management had an impact and it virtually ended the business,” the official said.

Arab News reports that the effectiveness of the clampdown has also doubled the price of pirated copies. Where CDs used to sell for between SR10 and S$15; prices are now up to SR20-25.

As well as targeting sellers of pirated CDs, the Ministry of Information has also reminded the public that buying these disks is a punishable crime in Saudi Arabia.

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