BSA grabs pirates in Sharjah clampdown

The UAE authorities claim to be stepping up their efforts to protect the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of software companies. The Sharjah Police this month seized three PCs running pirated versions of the Windows OS, Norton Anti-Virus software, and over 500 CDs from two companies in the emirate.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  July 3, 2005

The UAE authorities claim to be stepping up their efforts to protect the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of software companies. The Sharjah Police this month seized three PCs running pirated versions of the Windows OS, Norton Anti-Virus software, and over 500 CDs from two companies in the emirate. Four people were detained in connection with the case, which was conducted in coordination with the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA). According to Scott Butler, the CEO of the AAA, his organisation applauds the UAE authorities for their continued battle to “curb the menace” of software piracy. “The stringent actions being taken by the local authorities against manufacturers and users of pirated software will serve to reassure global companies who have set up facilities in the UAE to manage their Middle East operations,” he claimed. “This serves to boost the confidence of international businesses in the UAE's ability to effectively keep piracy under check, and will help attract further investment to the country.” The AAA now hopes that other Arab countries will start tackling the piracy issue as seriously as the UAE. Back in May, the AAA’s sister organisation – the Business Software Alliance (BSA), claimed that the level of software piracy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region fell slightly last year, but still accounted for US$1.2 billion of lost revenue. According to the BSA's research, the UAE registered the lowest piracy rate in the region - 34% - which the BSA asserted was lower than several ‘developed’ countries. However, Butler also recently told ITP.net that whilst catching piracy offenders was key, in some Gulf countries there was also change needed in terms of their sentencing. He 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. Saudi and Kuwait are not the same,” he explained. “We’ve yet to see a prison penalty given over a copyright offence.” The BSA, like its partner organisation the Arabian Antipiracy Alliance, is funded by software vendors to help protect their intellectual property. The BSA has set-up anti-piracy hotlines through which the public can report piracy. In the UAE the number is 800 4828, in Kuwait it is 243 8033, and in other countries across the region it’s +9714 332 2307.

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