People watching a world cup football game in a cafe in Beirut.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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The World Cup is packing bars and restaurants across Beirut with fans seven nights a week, but some owners say they are having difficulty taking advantage of the uptick in customers.This is because SAMA, the company that has exclusive rights to distribute the World Cup in Lebanon, is charging what some bar and restaurant owners say are inordinately high licensing fees for the right to show matches. Although SAMA and BeIN struck a much-publicized deal with the Lebanese government to broadcast the World Cup for free on state-owned Tele Liban, the deal does not extend to business owners who want to play matches for their customers.Bar and restaurant owners around Beirut say SAMA is threatening them with big fines and lawsuits if they show games without a license. Maoula said that when a pub or restaurant shows the World Cup without a license, SAMA seeks legal protection under Law 75, Lebanon's 1999 copyright law.Walid Nasser, an attorney and one of the drafters of the copyright law, said that SAMA has the right to enforce its exclusive distribution rights on any business that airs the World Cup in Lebanon.
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