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UAE authorities warn violators of Intellectual Property Rights

Five PCs and 43 CDs containing pirated software are seized in a raid on Abu Dhabi computer stores.

The UAE authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to press forward with the fight against the illegal use of software products by distributors, retailers and end-users. Intensifying its campaign against piracy, the UAE Ministry of Information, in co-ordination with the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA), recently raided four computer stores in Abu Dhabi and seized five PCs operating on pirated Windows XP, Office XP 2003 and Norton Anti-Virus, and 43 illegally copied CDs.

The authorities also arrested three persons and charged them with violation of Intellectual Property Rights and UAE's copyright and publishing laws. "We are highly appreciative of the series of raids carried out by the UAE Ministry of Information and the Police Departments to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and restrict the illegal use of software products," says Scott Butler, CEO of the AAA.

The AAA works in close association with the Ministry of Information and other government departments in the UAE to fight the threat of software piracy and crack down on the violators of Intellectual Property Rights. "The raids reflect the seriousness of the authorities in dealing with this problem, and send out a clear message to all parties involved in the distribution and use of pirated software that no leniency will be shown towards violators of IPR. This will create a positive environment for the country's IT industry, and help boost the national economy," Butler continues.

These coordinated efforts have fostered an increased awareness among retailers and end-users such as companies and individuals about the negative effects of using pirated software - reduced overall productivity, data loss, reduced IT investments and the inability to avail the support services and updates that legal software offers.

"The UAE occupies a leading position among regional states which have achieved a high percentage of success in bringing down piracy rate. This has been confirmed by independent international studies such as the recently-unveiled annual report of Business Software Alliance (BSA), which shows the piracy rate in UAE to be just 34 per cent - the lowest in the region," Butler says, calling upon countries elsewhere in the Gulf to follow the example set by UAE, in order to establish a healthy economic environment that will help attract more IT investment to the region.

The Intellectual Property Rights and the UAE copyrights and publishing laws prohibit individuals or companies from using illegally copied programs and software for their IT applications. All individuals and companies are obliged to keep evidence of the authenticity of their software in order to avoid legal liabilities.

"Software manufacturers are suffering huge losses as a result of piracy. This forces them to cut down on recruitment and reduce their budgets for research and development. Besides, it persuades them to refrain from distributing their products in countries that record high levels of piracy. On the other hand, these companies are giving priority to countries steadfastly committed to protecting Intellectual Property Rights and restricting software piracy, and the UAE leads this list," Butler concludes.

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