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Oman authorities crack-down on corporate piracy

Oman's Ministry of National Heritage and Culture is raiding companies suspected of using illegal copies of software. Offendors face fines, embarrassment and even imprisonment.

Companies that ignore Oman’s strict copyright laws could find themselves raided and prosecuted by authorities. The sale of pirated software in Muscat is declining, but the act of sharing software among hundreds of users is still rife in the capital’s corporate sector.

The Ministry of National Heritage and Culture (MNHC) is spearheading the crack-down and has recently conducted a second set of raids on corporations suspected of using pirated software in Muscat.

According to the software industry’s anti-piracy watchdog, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the company owners could face the full force of the law in Oman, which includes seizures of computers, prison sentence for employees, penalties, as well as closure of premises.

In one raid, Oman’s MNHC representatives found illegal software loaded on 15 desktop computers (PCs) at a corporation’s premises. Illegal copies of Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 98, Windows Office 97, Adobe 5.0, Corel Draw 9.0, Autodesk AutoCad 12, AutoCad 14 and AutoCad 2000 were found.

The company faces penalties including a fine of OR 2000, seizure of computers and closure of premises. The officials of the company could even be sent to jail for illegal computer software copying.

The BSA says that turning a blind eye to internal piracy is no longer an option for corporations. “We applaud the tremendous progress made by Oman to bring down illegal use of computer software. Companies are urged to take immediate steps to ensure the legality of their software, to prevent considerable embarrassment and possible prosecution. It is not worth risking the reputation of a company, which is worth so much more than the cost of the software that is being used illegally,” said Ashok Sharma, Middle East director for the Business Software Alliance

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