by Farah Gomaa
Saudi appeals against World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found the nation to have actively supported beoutQ TV piracy and blocked beIN Sports IP rights.
On July 29, Saudi Arabia’s government appealed against a WTO verdict that the kingdom’s television broadcaster, beoutQ, pirated copyrighted content.
The WTO also accused Riyadh of attempts to prevent the Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports from obtaining intellectual property rights in Saudi Arabia by banning its license and confiscating equipment after the blockade.
Saudi’s initial reaction to the WTO report some weeks ago stated that the nation felt ‘fully vindicated’ and was ‘pleased with the outcome’. However, their recent appeal indicates that Saudi is yet to accept the verdict.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Doha stated in a press release after the appeal: “Today’s development tells a different story, demonstrating that Saudi Arabia fully understands that it lost the case. If Saudi Arabia had been ‘vindicated’ and was genuinely ‘pleased with the outcome’, there would be nothing for it to appeal.”
The press release added that the Qatari government is still confident about their claims and that “any appeal by Saudi Arabia will fail,” affirming that they were given the opportunity to fix their mistakes and “come in line with its treaty obligations”. However, the Saudi authorities have “shunned this opportunity.”
This verdict has led to a delay in Saudi’s plan to buy-out UK Premier League club Newcastle United, with football personalities and politicians in the UK objecting to the takeover on the grounds that Saudi Arabia does not respect sporting agreements or copyrights. The Premier League is proceeding to further investigate the links between the Saudi government and its public investment funds.
The WTO panel has gathered evidence from all parties and will now give Saudi a chance to resolve the mistakes and take responsibility for their unlawful actions. Separately, beIN is seeking billions of dollars in compensation from Saudi Arabia because of the losses the network has incurred as a result of beoutQ’s copyright theft and the illegal actions taken by Saudi officials.