Microsoft Opens its Office in Algeria “to Fight Piracy”
Software piracy in Algeria is a national pastime as it has soared to record levels of 90 percent and was the prime reason behind Microsoft's decision eight months ago to open an office in the country as part of the Business Software Alliance, Algeria Interface reported.
There are around a million computers in use in organizations and homes and the software business is estimated to be worth well over $130 million, said the news service, noting that black marketeering affects everything from games to TV channels.
Abdelkader Bouattou, a systems engineer who switched from the public to the private sector, runs Microsoft's Algerian office. He believes that the first step in the fight against piracy is to raise public awareness, it said.
"We send out emails and hold seminars to try to explain that everybody loses out," he says. "The state loses tax revenue and people lose out because fewer jobs are created."
Microsoft also plans to tackle retailers and major accounts, like Sonatrach, that use unlicensed software. It believes that since they can afford to buy it legally, they should not be using illicit copies.
The Algerian Justice Ministry is also in breach of its own comprehensive copyright legislation. "The legal provisions are in place," says Bouattou. "The problem is enforcing them."
Algeria's copyright watchdog, ONDA, is empowered to make spot checks in companies and retail outlets, it added.
But Amin, a software vendor whose shop is crammed with counterfeit goods at unbeatable prices, is not worried, "the ONDA don't even glance at the software, they're much more interested in imported music.” – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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