Piracy fears hit building sector

Software piracy is rife in the region’s construction industry, specialist software firms are claiming. They say they are not seeing enough licences being sold locally to match the scale of development.

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By  Jane Plunkett Published  March 6, 2005

Software piracy is rife in the region’s construction industry, specialist software firms are claiming. They say they are not seeing enough licences being sold locally to match the scale of development. While the overall spending on GCC construction topped a staggering US$44 billion last year, design software firms that spoke to IT Weekly said they were losing millions of dollars in revenue because of piracy issues in the region. “You have some of the biggest international consultants attached to these projects through their local partners. But we are not seeing enough software licences being issued from here parallel to this sort of heightened activity,” said Ahmad Al Jassim, country sales manager, Autodesk Middle East, which specialises in design software. Constructive Technologies is another company that has faced problems with piracy in the region. According to Andrew Woolnough, Constructive Technologies’ managing director, piracy is common place in the region, with copying widespread in firms. When approaching companies to sell software, the price tag is seen as a deterrent, he said. “They all assume the software should be free,” he claimed. One IT manager at a construction and engineering firm, who declined to be named, said that he had been surprised by the level of piracy he had encountered during his time in Dubai. Many IT managers in the industry have a very relaxed attitude towards piracy: “they don’t even realise they are doing anything wrong,” the IT manager said. As for Autodesk, which spends millions of dollars each year on research and development, the open violation of its intellectual property is an issue of grave concern, an issue that Al Jassim wants stopped. “Along with the Business Software Alliance, which tackles piracy issues, we will launch raids against offenders,” he claimed. “The UAE government has been active in protecting the rights of copyright owners. Several raids have already been conducted and deterrent penalties have been imposed. These raids against software pirates will continue, to encourage the purchase of original software,” he added. A spokesman for the Business Software Alliance said he was unable to comment as IT Weekly went to press. Autodesk has warned that purchasers of counterfeit or copied software face unnecessary risks, such as viruses, corrupt disks, or otherwise defective software; as well as receiving inadequately copied documentation. They also don’t receive the technical product support that is readily available to registered users, nor will they be able to get upgrades. Constructive Technologies has also taken steps to clamp down on unauthorised usage of its software. To prevent users from exploiting its free trial period offer, Constructive Technologies has now updated the software protection mechanism that controls the licensing. It has also changed the way it logs and tracks who downloads its software so that it can validate an e-mail address before sending out an e-mail which contains a link to the download. According to the most recent figures on software piracy rates from the BSA, the UAE has one of the lowest rates of software piracy in the region, with just 34% of software in the country believed to be pirated.

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