Saudi Arabia has been placed on a “Priority Watch List” for the second year running, in a report published by the United States, mostly due to extensive piracy carried out through its beoutQ channel system in the kingdom.
The report, published on Thursday by the US Trade Representative (USTR), identifies Saudi Arabia as one of only 10 countries that fail to protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) around the world. Other countries include China, India and Indonesia.
The USTR has also ordered an “Out-of-Cycle Review” into Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
The review is a USTR tool which allows the government to increase its efforts to try and solve the identified IP issues.
“The United States continues to remain concerned about reportedly high levels of online piracy in Saudi Arabia, particularly through illicit streaming devices [ISDs], which right holders report are widely available and generally unregulated in Saudi Arabia,” the report said.
“The United States encourages Saudi Arabia to increase IP enforcement actions and IP awareness campaigns particularly targeted at reducing online piracy and to combat the perception spurred by beoutQ’s activity that pirating copyrighted material is permissible.”
Qatar-based sport network beIN Media Group, which holds exclusive rights to broadcast international tournaments to the MENA region, has long claimed beoutQ is stealing its signal and broadcasting it as its own.
Last year, FIFA, football’s world governing body, said it will take legal action against beoutQ for illegally broadcasting World Cup matches in the Middle East.
The US government report follows only a few months after the European Commission also published a significant report in which it singled out Saudi Arabia for “causing considerable harm to EU businesses” following the unprecedented theft of European sport programmes by Saudi-based beoutQ and Arabsat1.