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Anti-piracy raids target Beirut

Lebanese authorities have carried out their first anti-piracy actions in several months, with a raid against a well-known business group in Beirut that netted a haul of over 200 illegal applications

Police in Lebanon have raided a well-known business and confiscated a number of PCs, as part of the BSA’s regional fight against piracy.
The raid, ordered by the Judge of Urgent Matters in Beirut, was the first anti-piracy action in Lebanon in some months. About 30 PCs were discovered by the raid, running about 200 illegal software applications.

“We thank the Lebanese authorities for this action” said Jawad Al-Redha, the BSA’s (Business Software Alliance) Regional Director. “ We believe that Lebanon has the potential of becoming a key player in the regional IT markets, and we hope that more will be done by the Lebanese authorities to protect software developers’ rights."

“Lebanon is an active center for software development in the Middle East, it is the home of many developers that we, in the Arab world are proud of and we can see it expand if the right conditions are provided. The Lebanese authorities understand the importance of nurturing this growing industry and protecting it against copying, the government is focusing on IT in its new policies and we are sure that more action will be undertaken in this regard.”

Copyright laws were only approved in Lebanon in 1999, although there has been some criticism that they have not been rigorously enforced, and that they have done little to restrain software piracy.

“We have a very good copyright law,” said Walid Nasser, the BSA’s legal representative in Lebanon, “it falls well within the guidelines of international regulations, but we urgently require proper implementation. Companies should understand that software is a business tool that they should pay for, like anything else in their office, it is only fair, and it is healthy for the entire economy.”

It was also announced today that the UAE has been placed back on the US ‘watchlist’ for failing to act against copyright infringement. The UAE was only removed from the list one year ago, mainly due to the efforts of the BSA and the authorities in cutting software piracy rates from about 86% in 1994 to 47% by 1999.

Now, according to the US Trade Representative, the UAE has been placed back on the list, owing to inadequate controls of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Al-Redha said that it was “unfortunate” that the US had decided to take this action, after all that had been achieved in combating software piracy.

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