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UAE clamps down on satellite piracy

The manager of a “famous” bar in a five star Dubai hotel faces jail after a police raid found that it was illegally showing the Super Sports channel from South African broadcaster Multichoice.

The manager of a “famous” bar in a five star Dubai hotel faces jail after a police raid found that it was illegally showing the Super Sports channel from South African broadcaster Multichoice.

The unnamed British man, who has been released from custody pending trial, has been criminally charged with violating UAE copyright law.

While the Johannesburg based TV company has exclusive rights for broadcasting its 20 channels across the African continent, it has no such agreement with any Gulf state, even though the satellite’s “footprint” covers the entire region.

Satellite piracy is prevalent throughout the region, but the UAE authorities are regarded as being one of the toughest enforces of the law in the Gulf, and have been active in stamping out the practice.

The raid was launched after Multichoice made a complaint to Dubai police through the Arabian Anti Piracy Alliance (AAA), its representative in the Middle East.

A man was jailed for a year after being caught selling Multichoice decoder cards in Sharjah, and a sports bar was raided for showing illegal Pay TV last year.

“These raids leave no room to doubt that the UAE government treats copyright infringement as a serious criminal activity,” said Scott Butler, CEO at the AAA.

“Multichoice’s copyrighted material used to be flagrantly abused within the Middle East, however the continuous actions by the UAE government, has helped change the landscape," said Butler.

But despite his claims, Super Sports is still widely shown in many of Dubai’s bars and pubs.

Butler added: “With copyright infringement precedents being set, it is clear that the UAE government is actively addressing the concerns of the rights holders and investors. They realise the importance of enforcing intellectual property rights, safeguarding the investor’s interest and the resulting economic benefits.”

UAE copyright law states that copyright-protected material is not allowed to be exploited through communication to the public in the country without written authorisation from the rights holders.

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