October 3, 2008

UAE Steps Up Campaign Against Pirated Webcasts

Excerpt from report in English by Dubai newspaper Gulf News website on 3 October; subheading as published

Dubai: The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) has announced that it has stepped up efforts to stop websites that offer pirated television broadcasts and against the illegal import of satellite decoder boxes.

According to a press release from the MoE, its latest anti- piracy initiative, which began during the Euro 2008 football championship in June, immediately led to the identification and disruption of 10 Korean-based internet addresses, which where broadcasting the copyrighted games.

"We received information that illegal operators were broadcasting Euro 2008 matches and other programmes unsubscribed over the internet, and promptly coordinated with enforcement authorities to conduct a raid. We were able to identify 10 foreign internet links and immediately ordered the disruption of connections to these addresses," a Ministry official said.

The press release did not say whether the raids occurred in South Korea or in the UAE.

Television shows are often broadcast legally over the internet. The BBC and several networks in the US offer their shows in this format, often in an effort to increase viewership.


"It allows people to the opportunity to watch when they want," said Dan Healy, CEO of Real Opinions, a Dubai-based company that researches Internet issues.

"This is a legitimate use of the technology to expand viewership."

The television networks see revenue from selling product placements and advertisements embedded into the videos. These videos aren't available globally, however. Many websites restrict viewership to geographical areas. Hulu.com, a website that offer legal full-length television shows from major US networks, limits its viewership to people in the US.

However, some websites offer videos illegally, often in violation of copyright laws, for a premium. The issue is not regional, but a growing problem globally, Healy said. While he did not condone the conduct, he said the illegal internet broadcasts would appeal to individuals in the UAE who could not find the programmes they wanted broadcast locally, or did not want to purchase long-term services just to watch weekend-long events.

"If the local market would offer different options and content, then people wouldn't be proactive in searching out these programmes on the internet," he said.

The MoE is also cracking down on a second type of illegal television that comes into the country via satellite. It is targeting illegally-imported boxes that decode satellite signals. These signals are not broadcast directly to the UAE, but are meant for countries in other parts of the world, sometimes as far away as sub-Saharan Africa. [passage omitted]

Originally published by Gulf News website, Dubai, in English 3 Oct 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Media. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.