Middle East is winning the war on Piracy

The Business Software Alliance today released its latest global figures, showing that software piracy in the Middle East has slipped to 57%, putting the region ahead of Asia and Eastern Europe in terms of combatting the problem.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  May 21, 2001

The BSA today released its latest global figures for software piracy, indicating an overall decline in Middle East software theft. Despite a slight increase in the worldwide figures, losses to the software industry caused by pirated software slipped from $240 million in 2000, from $284 in the previous year, or a 6% decline in piracy rates to 57%.

Oman showed the greatest progress against piracy, with rates down to 78%, from 88% last year, with the UAE recording the lowest level of piracy at 44%. Egypt and Saudi Arabia also reported low rates at 56% and 59% respectively, but Kuwait, Qatar and Lebanon all ranked within the ten worst countries in the world, with rates of over 80%.

Overall, the Middle East was ranked as the third worst territory in the world for software piracy as surveyed by International Planning Research Corporation (IPR).

“This overall improvement is a big motivation for us,” said Jawad Al-Redha, regional director of the BSA. “The UAE is still the leading county in the region, thanks to the UAE government’s consistence in fighting software piracy. The benefits of this policy are showing year by year, and we are convinced that copyright protection has played a major role in establishing the UAE as the IT hub of the Middle East.”

Al-Redha said that concerns remain over the state of the markets in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Lebanon, where more work is needed to control software piracy. Al-Redha pointed out the damage done to local software developers, who were also targeted by pirates, which was causing many of them to give up development.

He also said that while moves to control piracy in some countries were proving successful, the problem posed by software pirates selling over the Internet was getting worse.

“Today there are over two million sites selling illegal software, it is a new trend and a new challenge for government,” he said. “They are unregulated, under legislated and difficult to police, but the value of illegal software distributed over Internet sites is huge.

“We closed some sites and warned some more one year ago, when there were about 840,000, but they are increasing in number,” Al-Redha commented. “Laws need to be amended to cover this issue in future, we need to co-operate globally on how to work against it.”

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