AAA calls for tougher piracy penalties

The UAE courts’ tough sentences are the reason the country’s software piracy rate is falling, according to the head of the Arabian Antipiracy Alliance (AAA), but in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait more convicted felons need to be put behind bars to drive the message home.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  April 4, 2005

The UAE courts’ tough sentences are the reason the country’s software piracy rate is falling, according to the head of the Arabian Antipiracy Alliance (AAA), but in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait more convicted felons need to be put behind bars to drive the message home. Speaking exclusively to ITP.net, the AAA’s chief executive officer Scott Butler explained that, “In the UAE, courts are very supportive and increasingly stringent. With most of our cases, the pirates are sentenced to prison. This is the case not only for software cases, but those concerning movies and games too.” However, in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (the AAA’s other two main territories of operation), Butler’s organisation continues to fight an uphill battle. “Saudi and Kuwait are not the same,” he explained. “We’ve yet to see a prison penalty given over a copyright offence. There are lots of raids, sure, but the piracy rates don’t change much and this is because of the lack of severe penalties.” The AAA recently teamed up with Dubai Police to raid a Dubai computer store, with one store employee being detained and two PCs and ten software CDs seized. “This latest raid sends a strong message to companies and individuals selling or using pirated software,” said Butler, “that the UAE will act tough with violators of antipiracy laws.” The claim of organisations such as the AAA and its partner organisation the Business Software Alliance (BSA), both of which are funded by software vendors to protect their intellectual property, is that software piracy has a negative impact on business software firms, thus reducing the economic growth of countries. “The technology and IT industries are suffering losses running into millions of dollars,” claimed Butler, “forcing specialised software manufacturers to reduce investments in research and development, and severely impacting the growth of the sector.”As for end users, pirated software products not only come without warranty cover but, it is claimed, perform badly, which can in turn affect the integrity of data. The BSA has set-up three anti-piracy hotlines through which the public can report suspected users or sellers of counterfeited software and those selling PCs on which such programs are installed. In the UAE the number is 800 4828 and in Kuwait it is 2438033. Users in other Middle East countries should dial +9714 332 2307.

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