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Politics, Piracy and Punishment: Copyright Protection in the Arabian Gulf



In May of each year, two leading organizations monitoring the ongoing status of global standards of copyright protection issue their regular annual reports, namely the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the US-founded international software watchdog/lobby organization, the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Both reports encompass the Middle East region and the Arabian Gulf states specifically. This article examines the performance of the Arabian Gulf states, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, in developing and establishing their copyright protection regimes, in light of the these two reports. It does so in the context of the challenges faced by the Gulf states in the context of their membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and their compliance with the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The article discusses the USTR's, 2010 Special 301 Report and the BSA's Seventh Annual BSA/IDC Global Software Piracy Study for 2010 as two authoritative benchmarks of the Arab Gulf states' performance in regional copyright protection. It suggests that, notwithstanding the development and enforcement challenges, both reports deliver a positive report to the region and to most of the Gulf states.