Pirates raided in Oman

The Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture has demonstrated its desire to stamp down on software piracy in the Sultanate. The ministry raided the headquarters of a shopping centre and seized PCs and pirated software CDs.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  March 12, 2005

The Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture has demonstrated its desire to stamp down on software piracy in the Sultanate. The ministry raided the headquarters of a shopping centre and seized PCs and pirated software CDs. While end-users were raided this time around, the ministry has made it abundantly clear that all companies in the channel responsible for supplying the software are under its anti-piracy microscope. “The measures we have undertaken, are in line with our awareness campaigns that target distribution companies, software solution providers, businesses and end-users of the software, to make them fully aware of the consequences of using pirated software like low performance of PCs and loss of valuable data,” said Khalid Al Ghusaini, general manager organisations and cultural relations at the Ministry of Heritage and Culture in Oman. “The significance of our efforts have amplified as a result of the e-governance initiatives taken up by the Oman government and the increased use of IT in various business sectors,” he added. During the raid, the ministry recovered several pirated versions of Windows XP and Office XP as well as other pirated software CDs. The latest raid is part of the Ministry’s long-term plan to crackdown on piracy; protect intellectual property rights (IPR) of software developers and provide a safe e-commerce environment. The ministry is working in association with Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry body set up to represent leading software developers from around the world. Jawad Al Redha, co-chairman at BSA Middle East, added: “The government of Oman’s efforts totally complement BSA’s anti-piracy initiatives to spread awareness about the protection of IPR. This campaign has resulted in a considerable decrease in the use of pirated software and has been able to encourage software companies to invest in programmes that curb software piracy.” “We are looking forward to working closely with the Oman government, especially with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, to prevent IPR violations. Dealers are co-operating with BSA and are showing their commitment in this regard, by signing the Code of Ethics drafted by BSA to protect copyrighted software.” Battling software piracy remains a tough task across the Middle East region. Raids may go some way to deterring pirates, but it is difficult to accurately assess just how much progress is actually being made. In Saudi Arabia, software piracy remains commonplace despite the efforts of the BSA. One major software distributor operating in the Kingdom explained: “There is an effort being made by the BSA, but it is like trying to push water off a beach. The next wave just comes in. We still have people standing in the street selling counterfeit software. Every now and then there is a raid and these people disappear for a day or two but then they come back and it starts again.”

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