Gulf states making progress in combat against software piracy
The UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar were among some of the countries in the Middle East that demonstrated positive results in combating software piracy during 2003, according to the new Global Software Piracy Study 2004 commissioned by Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The comprehensive study, conducted for the first time by the international research firm IDC, adopted a new methodology that took into account the entire global software market valued at US$ 51 billion, by including categories that were not covered in the previous surveys, such as operating systems, development software and consumer-oriented software.
According to the study, piracy rates in the UAE stood at 34 per cent, in Oman they were found to be at 65 per cent, in Kuwait 68 per cent, in Bahrain 64 per cent and in Qatar 63 per cent.
In the Middle East and Africa region as a whole, software piracy was in the region of 55 per cent. Total retail losses due to software piracy in the Middle East region stood quite high at US$ 898.9 million in 2003, according to the study. However, MEA fared better than some other regions, such as Eastern Europe where average piracy levels touched 70 per cent and retail losses amounted to over US$ 2.2 billion, and Latin America which showed piracy levels of 63 per cent and losses of US$ 1.2 billion.
Releasing the results of the regional findings of the study at a press conference in Dubai, Jawad Al-Redha, Co-Chairman, BSA Middle East, said: “This major Global Software Piracy Study, conducted for the first time by IDC, shows that, by and large, the GCC region continue to make good progress in the fight against piracy. The success in combating piracy in most GCC countries is a direct result of the collaboration between BSA, the governments and the trade in mounting a sustained campaign against software piracy.”
“The positive results achieved across the region should be viewed against the remarkable results shown in 2002 and the preceding years, as per an earlier study conducted by IPR based on a different methodology that took into account only packaged software applications,” said Al Redha. “According to the IPR study, between 1994 and 2002, the Middle East and Africa region recorded the most significant reduction in software piracy, with a drop of 31 points, from 80 per cent to 49 per cent.”
“The new study clearly shows that the UAE had the lowest piracy rate of 34 per cent, demonstrating the critical role governments can play in combating software piracy,” added Al Redha. “The UAE has certainly become a model for combating piracy and this has encouraged major IT players to increase their investments in the country. As a result, the UAE has consolidated its position as a major regional IT hub.”
“The passing of legislation protecting intellectual property rights has been a milestone in the history of combating software piracy in several regional countries. BSA has established strong relationships with different government authorities to orchestrate campaigns and stiff action against violators of intellectual property rights,” said Al Redha. “However, the battle against software piracy is full of challenges and calls for joint efforts involving not just governments and the trade, but also the community.”
Nasser Ali Khasawneh, a regional legal counsel for the BSA, said: “The fight against software piracy has reached a crucial stage with increased awareness about its negative impact on national economies. There are many success stories throughout the Middle East region, as a result of the successful collaboration between the private and public sectors. Throughout the region, several governments have introduced legislation that enhances the protection of intellectual property rights in software programs and applications.”
“This new piracy study provides a broader analysis of the problem of software piracy. The results confirm that software piracy continues to be a major challenge for economies worldwide. In the Middle East, a great deal has been done so far. The BSA looks forward to continuing to support all efforts aimed at creating greater awareness of the importance of intellectual property rights for the development of a thriving local software industry,” Khasawneh added.
“Software piracy has been around for a long time and it is unreasonable to expect it to be eliminated in a short while,” said Ali Harakeh, BSA spokesman in Eastern Mediterranean. “Raising awareness among the traders and end-users is a challenging task, as the price difference between pirated and copyrighted software is huge. Yet, we have seen the achievements of several countries in the region, thanks to political will and BSA’s aggressive anti-piracy programmes.”
“There is tremendous IT talent in countries like Jordan and Lebanon, but sadly legitimate industry growth is hampered by high prevalence of piracy,” added Harakeh. “At 65 per cent and 74 per cent respectively, Jordan and Lebanon are in the top bracket of piracy-ridden countries in the Middle East. However, governments in both countries have initiated serious steps to rectify the situation. BSA, on its part, is concentrating on high-piracy countries to bring about a transformation through awareness programmes and government-level initiatives.” (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)