Importers of satellite TV decoders to face strict action

Authorities are stepping up their action to prevent the import and sale of satellite television decoders that allow illegal viewing of pay TV and channels of 'inappropriate' content in the UAE.

The Ministry of Economy has issued letters instructing officials at all ports of entry in the seven emirates to confiscate decoders imported illegally into the UAE.

These decoders are programmed to decrypt pay channels on TV without authorisation from the service providers and broadcasters. Other GCC states will soon adopt similar measures to curb the entry of illegal decoders into their markets.

A senior Ministry of Economy official said: "We will not show any leniency to violators of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Traders and users of pirated and illegally imported decoders should face the consequences of their actions. We also call upon the general public to report to the MoE any cases of piracy that they are aware of."

He added the public needs to be aware that use of decoder boxes to view channels with content that is against the religious, cultural and moral values of the country, is against the law.

"With regard to the illegal import of satellite TV decoders, we would like to warn all parties involved in the illegal trade and distribution of decoder boxes who view pay TV channels without proper authorisation from providers that they will face stringent enforcement of the copyright law.

"Our main goal is to create a conducive environment for foreign investors and safeguard the integrity of local businesses through strict enforcement of an effective IPR regime, thus making UAE a model for IPR protection in the Middle East," the official said.

Dubai police has already orchestrated several raids on dealers involved in the sale of such illegal decoder boxes. They were charged with copyright violation involving heavy fines, imprisonment and deportation.

Commenting the MoE's efforts to curb piracy, Scott Butler, CEO of Arabian Anti-piracy Alliance (AAA), said: "The stringent enforcement of copyright laws by the authorities and their effective partnership with the Ministry of Interior, and customs and enforcement authorities, has greatly contributed towards successful raids and appropriate legal action against offenders. We appreciate the efforts of the UAE authorities, including the MoE, municipal bodies and the police force, for their sustained battle to curb the menace of copyright piracy, especially decoder boxes.

"AAA is working closely with various authorities in the UAE that are involved with IPR protection, to raise awareness and facilitate criminal action against the guilty. AAA and pay TV members strongly condemn the exploitation of the rights of the pay TV industry, which spends millions of dirhams to gain rights. However, pirates and hackers deprive the rights holders of their market share by illegally decrypting pay TV channels, copying CDs and DVDs, and distributing the contents illegally."

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