The UAE Ministry of Economy, Dubai Police and Sharjah Police, in collaboration with the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA), have recently conducted successful raids against book piracy in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Three major illegal book traders were arrested during the raids and subsequently charged with violation of the copyright law. Some shops were also closed down as a result of the raid, while others were fined.
Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Alshihhi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy, said: “This raid manifests the extent and coverage of our campaign against all forms of piracy and delivers a clear message that we will not tolerate such illegal activities in our country. The success of our anti-book piracy efforts will help strengthen the image of the UAE as a safe business destination and an attractive market for the international publishing industry."
Alshihhi reaffirmed the Ministry of Economy's commitment to remove all obstacles and challenges posed by illegal book traders by enforcing the full extent of the law, which he said will help maintain the competitiveness of the national economy and reinforce the country's position on the global investment map. He also cited the achievements of the Ministry in its anti-piracy campaign, including its collaboration with the economic departments of all the emirates in conducting large-scale raids against suspected illegal traders, which have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of offenders.
Alshihhi said, "In line with the Ministry of Economy's anti-piracy efforts, the national awareness campaign about intellectual property rights was recently implemented as part of other major initiatives under the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Economy 2009. These initiatives have been put in place in accordance with the strategy of the Federal Government to prevent unfair trade practices and protect consumer rights."
The campaign reflects the Ministry's strong interest to generate public awareness about the importance of protecting intellectual property rights. Considered as a first-of-its-kind initiative in the region that targets all segments of society through various audio-visual media, the campaign has been launched in both Arabic and English with the aim of familiarising target audiences with the concept of intellectual property and its elements such as copyright, trademarks and patents, and industrial designs.
Also, the campaign aims to reinforce federal laws that concern intellectual property rights in the UAE and to promote international conventions and treaties relating to the protection of intellectual property, which will contribute in cultivating creativity and productivity in the publishing and IT-related industries.
Emma House, International Director, The Publishers Association - UK, said: “It is vitally important to combat book piracy in all its forms and we are delighted by the authorities’ commitment to enforcing the UAE’s copyright laws. Copyright protection is essential to preserve creativity, the future of the content industry, and continued innovation. The global knowledge economy is dependent on publishing, and authors need to earn a living through legitimate sales of their works. Piracy undermines authors' livelihood, placing the future of high quality content under threat. Publishers add further value in bringing that content to market and if they cannot be rewarded for their role, they too will cease to exist.”
Ola Khudair, Deputy CEO, AAA, said: “We strongly believe that this move will encourage international publishers to continue reaching out to the Arab World with high-quality literary work, while also giving confidence to Arab writers and publishers in particular to invest more time and effort in making their creative work available to the public.”
Alshihhi also emphasized the need for the private sector and trademark owners to actively participate in efforts to protect intellectual property rights by implementing relevant internal policies, exchanging information with concerned authorities and reporting any fraud or acts that violate intellectual rights. Exchanging experiences and information with other stakeholders of the industry has been urged to generate better ways to protect intellectual property rights and reduce the instances of fraud, counterfeiting and piracy.
He also revealed that the Ministry of Economy considers it important to strengthen cooperation and coordination with various local and international authorities, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), International Publishers Association, Arabian Anti-piracy Alliance and Microsoft Gulf, to protect intellectual property rights through the exchange of information and experiences. Such partnerships are crucial to quickly mobilise efforts to prevent all forms of piracy and help ensure a sustained economic growth.
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