BSA vows to sink Middle East pirates

Jawad Al Redha, co-chairman at the Middle East set-up of industry body the Business Software Alliance discusses the tricky issue of regional software piracy and sheds some light on the measures being taken to clamp down on it.

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By  Administrator Published  February 1, 2007

CME: How much do vendors suffer in lost revenue each year as a result of piracy in the Middle East?

Jawad Al Redha: IDC concluded that a decrease in worldwide piracy by 10% over four years would add more than 2.4 million new jobs and almost US$70 billion in tax revenues to local governments worldwide. Most of that new employment, and most of an additional US$400 billion in GDP, would be added to local economies. It also stated that the value of pirated software in emerging markets, which includes the Middle East, is double the worth of legitimate software.

CME: Which markets are experiencing the highest levels of piracy in the Middle East?

It’s a worldwide issue, there is no market in the world that is not affected by piracy but the variation is in the rate of piracy. The Middle East has got some high markets; the UAE has got the lowest rate in the region and there has been a lot of commitment shown by the government towards bringing the rate of piracy down even further. In other Middle Eastern countries, such as Pakistan and Lebanon, piracy is high. Of course, there has been a consistent drop overall each year. We’ve seen some big reductions and some small reductions, but overall we have seen positive signs in the majority of countries across the region.

CME: What role do resellers have to play in stopping software piracy in the Middle East?

JA: Resellers are the main ones selling to the corporate, other resellers and consumers. They should comply with the piracy laws of the country and at the same time they should restrict the rights of the licence holders and ensure that they only provide legal software. Nobody is benefiting from selling illegal products, in fact resellers can only benefit from selling legal software. Promoting sales in the legal environment helps the legal developers create more innovative software, and that is beneficial for everybody.

CME: How do you measure whether or not your anti-piracy campaigns are successful?

JA: We measure from our observations in the market. Sometimes participants want to extend the campaign and sometimes they want to know more about the campaign. It also depends on the number of attendees at the presentations and trainings and we’ve seen good signs. That’s why we are encouraging them to come to our roundtables, trainings, presentations, one-to-one meetings and one-to-many meetings. When we see a positive response from the market it encourages us. Around 90% of our work is focused towards education and we work with different agencies, governments, public sector and educational institutions to promote the legal software.

CME: Which type of business software is most vulnerable to being pirated and is that changing?

JA: All of our members at BSC are suffering from piracy, whether its Autodesk, Symantec, Adobe or Microsoft. So it’s not specific to a certain type of software, it’s a universal problem.

CME: What would be your advice to a reseller who knows that a customer has pirated software?

JA: Resellers should only promote, load and sell legal software. They should not allow any PC loaded with illegal software to be available in their shops because once it has been in their shop they are responsible for it. My advice to resellers is just to make sure that all of the software on their premises, and all that they are importing and loading for the customer is 100% legal.

CME: Two IT resellers were recently prosecuted in Bahrain for software piracy. Are you investigating other resellers that you suspect are involved in piracy?

JA: This is an example of continuous activity being run by governments in the region. These governments are very keen to implement IT regulations and are promoting these laws in their countries. They are very eager to make sure that all those resellers and even end-users are using legal software. They are continuously in the market, observing resellers and even corporations to make sure all the resellers are providing legal software and all of the corporates are using legal software. All of these raids that are being carried out by governments are resulting in cases which are being pursued by these governments.

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