BSA embarks on latest campaign to curb piracy

The Business Software Alliance has renewed its efforts to stamp down on software piracy in the Middle East by launching a campaign to educate users about the perils of buying illegal software. It has also called on authorities around the region to consider the introduction of courses on intellectual property rights and anti-software piracy measures in the school curriculum.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  January 22, 2007

The Business Software Alliance has renewed its efforts to stamp down on software piracy in the Middle East by launching a campaign to educate users about the perils of buying illegal software. It has also called on authorities around the region to consider the introduction of courses on intellectual property rights and anti-software piracy measures in the school curriculum. The BSA —set up to promote and protect the interests of the software industry — says its latest awareness campaign is designed to inform the public about the negative repercussions of using and trading in unlicensed software. It plans to hold a series of training programmes, seminars and conferences to influence consumer and businesses behaviour and to increase awareness about the advantages of using original software products. According to the BSA, the move comes in line with its goal of creating a secure and legal environment for the growth and development of the regional ICT market. “BSA remains at the forefront of the drive against pirated software,” stated Jawad Al Redha, co-chairman at BSA Middle East. “Our latest awareness campaign further underlines our commitment to partner with key players in the field of software development and the concerned authorities, in curbing the rates of software piracy in the region.” The BSA crusade comes at a time when the region is witnessing soaring adoption of ICT by home users, educational institutions and commercial organisations. Data from Madar Research reveals that the number of internet users in the Middle East grew by 55% to 26 million in 2006 as the size of the installed computer base expanded 29% year-on-year to 14 million PCs. However, BSA argues that high levels of software piracy offset the benefits associated with increased levels of ICT usage. “This intensive campaign will focus on spreading the message that buying illegal software not only breaks the law and hampers the region’s economic growth, but is also an unwise practice for the consumer,” promised Al Redha. “This is because pirated software fails to comply with international quality standards, and is defective, thus leading to loss of precious data or breakdown of hardware systems.” A joint study by the BSA and IDC last year revealed that for every two dollars’ worth of PC software purchased legitimately, one dollar’s worth was obtained illegally during 2005. This trend saw governments in the Middle East and Africa region suffer revenue losses of more than US$1.6 billion. Additionally, local software industries have been crippled by competition with pirated software. The BSA believes that tackling the problem requires a fundamental shift in the public’s attitude toward software piracy and comprehensive public education campaigns, launched jointly by the government. The current BSA campaign aims to safeguard copyright laws by motivating retailers and end-users to push genuine products. BSA has also urged educational institutions to introduce courses dealing with the problem of software piracy and make the study of intellectual property rights a part of educational curricula. This is seen as being particularly necessary in view of the rapid influx of new PC users in the consumer and small business sectors and the increased availability of pirated software over the internet, argues the BSA. “Ethics form the core element of a society’s moral fibre and schools play a crucial role in propagating the right values to coming generations,” said Al Redha. “It is therefore important for schools to introduce IT ethics into the curriculum and foster the development of creativity, respect for copyrights and nurture individuality of students. Government support by way of strict enforcement of IPR laws and focused awareness drives too are crucial for the success of anti-piracy measures,” he concluded.

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