The Lebanese economy is losing over $40 million a year through piracy of international satellite TV channels alone, a report by market research company Statistics Lebanon revealed. This figure, which is equivalent to an entire annual budget of a single Lebanese ministry, is derived from losses in tax revenue, compounded by the deterioration of all sectors of the audiovisual market, including a 50 percent decline in cinema sales and the closure of more than 3,000 video rental stores.
Video and television piracy and violation of international intellectual property and copyright laws is draining the Lebanese economy and encouraging creative and intellectual talent to migrate abroad in a brain-drain, warned Showtime President and CEO Peter Einstein, speaking at the MIT Arab Alumni Association conference held in Beirut.
His remarks echoed those made by Business Software Alliance (BSA) Regional Director Jawad Al-Redha at the recent Arab Telecom and Internet Economy Conference in Beirut, who warned that persisting copyright infringements in the arts, music, video, television and computer software sectors continue to weaken regional economies by discrediting markets, discouraging investment and reducing job opportunities.
“There are enormous potential benefits to the Lebanese economy in terms of job creation, revenue generation and inward investment resulting from rigorous enforcement of international copyright laws,” claimed Einstein. “Strict copyright protection would send a signal to multinational companies that Lebanon is the place to do business in the Middle East.”
“Showtime, for example, chose Dubai as its regional headquarters and in four years has seen its number of employees in the Emirate rise from just six to more than 100 staff. Our operations in Lebanon should match that rapid growth yet without proper copyright protection there is little encouragement to invest. Meanwhile, Showtime operations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and, recently, Jordan, have also grown significantly.”
Einstein added: “Lebanon is the most entrepreneurial in the region and has the most educated workforce with particular talents in the IT, media, entertainment and music sectors, yet companies are choosing other cities in the Middle East for their regional headquarters. That investment and job creation should come to Lebanon but companies are being driven away by the relaxed attitude towards copyright infringement.”
“Piracy, the unlicensed usage, reproduction, sale or distribution of copyrighted material is a plague of the modern times. It is the largest single threat to the survival of creative enterprises,” Einstein concluded. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )