The WTO dispute settlement panel had two days of meetings with a Qatari delegation, with the latter arguing that the Saudi government has failed to protect intellectual property rights consistent with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).
The pirate channel beoutQ has already been denounced by a French court along with FIFA, Africa’s equivalent to UEFA, the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) and South America’s football ruling body CONMEBOL.
beoutQ is widely available in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), distributed through the sale of beoutQ subscriptions and set-top decoder boxes at numerous retail outlets across Saudi Arabia.
The channel was set up as a part of a cultural and financial blockade on Qatar and state-backed beIN Media. However, since its launch in 2017, broadcasters from all around the world have seen their content pirated by the pirate channel.
Saudi Arabia has outright refuted any association with beoutQ, has prevented impacted rights holders from bringing their own enforcement action before Saudi Courts, and has publicly denounced beIN’s requests to investigate and prevent the pirate’s unauthorised broadcasts.
The Qatari delegation argued that none of these actions are compatible with Saudi Arabia’s obligations as a member in the WTO and that it is in direct violation of the TRIPS agreement.
During the WTO meetings, Qatar pointed out that there is simply no plausible connection between Saudi Arabia’s support for the beoutQ pirate and any security concern alleged by Saudi Arabia. Rather than protecting security interests, Saudi Arabia attempts to abuse the WTO’s national security defense for commercial reasons.
Following two days of meetings and additional written submissions, the panel is expected to issue a ruling in the coming months.
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