Kuwaiti judges take a soft line on pirates, warns AAA

Judges are undermining the efforts of the Kuwaiti authorities to tackle software piracy by not taking the problems seriously and issuing penalties that are not strong enough to deter offenders, the head of one of the region's leading anti-piracy bodies claimed this month.

  • E-Mail
By  Dylan Bowman Published  August 20, 2006

Judges are undermining the efforts of the Kuwaiti authorities to tackle software piracy by not taking the problems seriously and issuing penalties that are not strong enough to deter offenders, the head of one of the region's leading anti-piracy bodies claimed this month. The Arabian Anti-Piracy Association (AAA) has called on the country’s courts to adopt stricter copyright laws that stipulate minimum prison sentences for software pirates and to properly enforce those laws in order to bring down Kuwait's piracy rate, its CEO Scott Butler told IT Weekly. The country’s software piracy rate currently stands at 66% and cost the country an estimated US$65million in 2005, according to a recent IDC study. “It is the judges who are ruling in these cases and in our view honestly are not understanding the severe impact each pirate has. The judges are not taking it seriously enough, which can be seen in the resulting penalties,” Butler claimed. “They [software pirates] are getting a slap on the wrist and there is no deterrence. So the fantastic work of customs, the police, the municipality, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Information are not capitalised on by the courts because there are no deterrent penalties being issued,” Butler commented. In the last two months the Kuwaiti government has raided seven companies and confiscated eight computers loaded with illegal software. Butler said the AAA was yet to hear of anybody being sentenced to prison for copyright violation. “What we have advised the government on is the adoption of a new copyright law. Within the copyright law not only are high fines and imprisonment stipulated, but more importantly there is minimum mandatory sentencing,” he continued. The AAA has recommended imprisonment for large seizures and repeat offenders. It categorises any pirate caught with 5,000 units or higher to be a large seizure and anyone caught in violation of the copyright law twice as a repeat offender that should serve a prison sentence. “Really the only deterrent for pirates that are engaged in making money from other people’s copyrights is imprisonment, because any monitory fine is usually seen as the cost of doing business,” Butler said. “I would say 30 days, 60 days, a year; in most industrialised countries the sentence is at least a year. Any imprisonment would be an improvement in Kuwait,” he went on to say. According to the Business Software Alliance, Kuwait could double the size of its IT industry to US$830million, create 667 new jobs and add US$357million to the country's GDP if it was to reduce the piracy rate by just 10% over the course of the next three years.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code