Broadcast Piracy Protection Under Qatari Law

November 29, 2022

By: Ribal Fattal, Senior Associate

Aciel Kafu, Paralegal

The much anticipated FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM (“World Cup”) officially commenced on November 20, 2022, with Qatar hosting the quadrennial football tournament. As a global event, the World Cup’s success relies heavily on television broadcasts of team matches, the rights for which broadcasters pay a considerable premium. This article sheds light on the protections afforded broadcasters against broadcast piracy under Law No. 7 of 2002 (“Copyright Law”), Law No. 14 of 2014 (“Cybercrime Law”), and Law No. 10 of 2021 (“FIFA Enabling Law”).

The Copyright Law

The Copyright Law defines the term “broadcasting” as “the communication of a work, a performance or a sound recording to the public by wireless transmission, including transmission by satellite”. Additionally, the Copyright Law defines an audio-visual work as “work that consists of a series of interrelated images that give the impression of movement and is accompanied by sound, and is able to be seen or heard”, such as a television broadcast.

Article 42 of the Copyright Law provides that broadcasting entities have the exclusive right to carry out or to authorise any of the following acts with respect to audio-visual works:

  • Rebroadcasting of their broadcasts;
  • Communication of such to the public;
  • Fixation (recording) of its broadcasts; and
  • Reproduction of a fixation (recording) of its broadcast.

According to Article 48 of the Copyright Law, any person who publishes a work he does not own without certified written authorisation from the author of the work, his inheritors, or his representatives, including broadcasts, will be subject to sanctions including imprisonment for a term of at least six months but up to one year, and a fine of not less than QR 30,000 up to QR 100,000, without prejudice to more severe sanctions provided under any other law.

Further, Article 51(4) of the Copyright Law prohibits the distribution of works, performances, sound recordings or broadcasts, or importing such works for distribution, transmission or communication to the public, or providing them to the public without authorisation, knowing that electronic data relating to copyright protections were removed or modified without authorisation. Any person violating this provision will be punished with imprisonment of not less than six months but up to one year.

The Cybercrime Law

Article 3 of the Cybercrime Law provides that a sentence of not more than three years in prison and a fine of not more than QR 500,000 shall be imposed on any person who (i) intentionally and illegally accesses in any way a website, an information system, an information network or an information technology technique or a part thereof, (ii) exceeds their authorised access, or (iii) knowingly continues access without authorisation. The punishment mentioned in the preceding paragraph will be doubled if such access results in capturing, transferring, copying, publishing or republishing electronic data or information stored in an information system, or inflicts damage on users or data beneficiaries.

Furthermore, pursuant to Article 13 of the Cybercrime Law, a sentence of not more than three years and a fine of not more than QR 500,000 will be imposed on any person who uses an information network or information technology technique to violate, or assists in the violation of, copyright and neighbouring rights, patents, trade secrets, trademarks, commercial data, trade names, geographic indications, industrial designs or integrated circuit designs which are protected under the law in any way whatsoever.

The FIFA Enabling Law

Under Article 15(6) of the FIFA Enabling Law, FIFA shall have the commercial rights related to the competition including, but not limited to, the use of IP rights covering the tournament activities through photos and audio broadcasting or any other method, or using any technology, including melodies and lyrics and other protected related rights. Article 16 provides that without FIFA’s authorisation, FIFA IP rights may not be used, registered, produced, reproduced, imitated, or modified including importation, exportation, sale, resale, exposure for sale, product distribution, or IP Rights viewing.

In addition, under the FIFA Enabling Law the term ‘Public Event Broadcasting’ means any broadcast for the purpose of viewing and watching an event at any public place. Article 18(4) prohibits as an act of unfair competition Public Event Broadcasting without FIFA’s authorisation.

Article 38 of the FIFA Enabling Law provides that any person violating the provisions of Articles 16 and 18 of the law will be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding QR 500,000, or either penalty.

Nevertheless, Article 40 grants the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee, or his delegate, the right to enter into a settlement prior to, or during the prosecution of, criminal action or before the issuance of a final judgment, against payment by the offender of the sum assigned to each offence as indicated in the table annexed to the FIFA Enabling Law. Settlement shall result in non-prosecution or abatement of the criminal action, as the case may be.

As per the table annexed to the FIFA Enabling Law, the violation of Public Event Broadcasting without FIFA’s authorisation could be settled for an amount of QR 1,000 if the offender is an individual and QR 10,000 if the offender is a judicial person (i.e. an entity).

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