Piracy 'one of Middle East's key IT problems'

GITEX: But security technology expert says Dubai is leading region's fightback.

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By  Tom Arnold Published  October 22, 2008

Piracy is one of the key challenges facing the Middle East computer software market, several leading international firms within the industry have said.

Sarah Whipp, vice president of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at IT security firm McAfee, said copying software and selling on the blackmarket and grey imports - where buyers purchase a product for one price and then sell on for another price in another country - were some of the problems.

“We are finding that with high growth economies there is a higher piracy rate,” said Whipp, speaking on the sidelines of Gitex technology exhibition in Dubai.

“We check with our licenses and work with companies in the industry to try and combat it as ultimately counterfitters are making money and driving up prices for others who are buying legitimate software.”

But Whipp said piracy rates were declining in the Middle East due to better legislation by governments and improved protection of products by software firms.

Speaking about the software industry in general, Andrew Lindstrom, regional manager for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) and the Mediterranean at software developer Adobe, said: “One of the key challenges is around piracy and compliance in the Middle East and there are a lot of problems around technology and usage rights, for example where you can buy one product and install it three times.”

In terms of copyright legislation, the UAE was ahead of other countries in the region, with Egypt lagging behind because of less vigorous regulation, according to Samir Kirouani, senior sales engineer, Middle East and Africa for Trend Micro, a software developer specialsing in internet security.

“Dubai was one of the first countries to regulate piracy and that’s why we set up an office here,” he said.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Business Software Alliance and global market research firm IDC, losses attributed to piracy rose to $94 million, up from $62 million last year.

Overall software piracy in the Middle East rose to $2.45 billion, up 24 percent year-on-year.

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