TV piracy is not a 'victimless crime', says OSN CEO


TV piracy is not a victimless crime, says OSN CEO

Dubai - David Butorac says many people still believe that intellectual property theft isn't theft at all.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2016, 4:14 PM

Companies and local authorities must continue work to change the public perception that intellectual property theft - ranging from pirated satellite channels to bootleg DVDs - is a victimless crime, according to David Butorac, CEO of OSN, the region's leading pay-TV network.
Speaking to Khaleej Times ahead of World Intellectual Property Day on April 26, Butorac noted that many people still believe that intellectual property theft isn't theft at all.
"Most people's perception is that if they steal the latest Hollywood movie, it's not a crime, and that Tom Cruise, for example, will make slightly less money," he said. "The real impact is on the ability of our industry in this region to create skills and employment. That's being slowed down by intellectual property abuse."
Among the various forms of intellectual property theft are using TV services without holding a proper subscription to the relevant service provider, sharing of connections by splitting cables, possessing or using black-market devices to override a service provider's encryption measures, and viewing pay TV via illegal means such as bringing decoders from abroad.
Among the largest culprits, he noted, are companies that provide illegal or unlicensed dish TV services as well as the unauthorised distribution of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) services. "Most consumers would never dream of stealing, whether it be an apple, a car or from a shop," he added. "They are perhaps unaware that they are dealing in stolen goods when dealing with these companies. It's theft. It's stealing something that has value to someone else."
Intellectual property theft, Butorac noted, leads to regional economic losses "in the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars."
"We don't want to perpetuate this myth that it isn't a crime. We will continue to fight that so that we can expand the investments that will make local skills and local employment possible by eradicating these practices," he noted.
According to Butorac, the UAE has taken a leadership position in the region with regards to the protection of intellectual property.
"They've managed to educate many aspects of the government, police, customs authority, TRA and the National Media Council, on the importance of cracking down on intellectual property crimes," he said. "The way that manifests itself is that the Department of Economic Development and police are raiding premises that are illegally distributing reception boxes and DVDs, and making individuals realise that the theft of intellectual property is a serious crime."
"We hope that other governments take a similar position," he added. "We are already getting great assistance from Saudi Arabia and the government of Bahrain, for example." According to OSN, the company has conducted 316 raids with the support of governments from across the GCC, Egypt and Jordan, resulting in fines, shop closures and confiscated equipment. Additionally, 86,487 illegal videos were removed from YouTube and Dailymotion, and over 2,272 advertisements of pirated boxes were removed from online markets. Additionally, 829 FTA (Free to Air) channel copyright infringements were detected and reported back to the satellite operators.
In the UAE, the efforts of OSN and the local authorities also led to a first-of-its-kind in the region court conviction against an illegal provider in Dubai. In the November case, the illegal dealer was sentenced to three months in jail and fined Dh50,000. The court also ordered his deportation at the end of his prison sentence.

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