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Qatar strikes back in software battle

BSA hosts anti-piracy roadshow in Qatar

The Business Software Alliance, the international body charged with promoting a safe and legal digital world has hailed Qatar's efforts to clamp down on piracy after recently completing a successful in-country roadshow. The tour included a comprehensive evaluation of the strategy the country is currently employing to combat software piracy.

Vendor giant Microsoft, a major investor in the Business Software Alliance, say Qatar has proved it is serious about cutting down underground computer piracy.

"Qatar has been a very active partner in the fight against piracy," said Jawad Al Redha, intellectual property rights manager at Microsoft Gulf. "I commend the country's authorities for its spirited efforts in bringing down the rate of software piracy through several highly targeted initiatives such as public awareness campaigns, regular raids against counterfeit traders and suitable government policies.

"The increase in losses to piracy has been largely due to the unprecedented growth of the country's IT market as PC and internet penetration rates have sharply increased. This means that we have to intensify our efforts to keep pace with the expanding market," said Redha.

Though in recent years Qatar has increased its efforts to combat software thieves, it still has a long way to go. Statistics by the BSA in 2006 revealed that 58% of all software in the Sultanate was pirated. This was a decrease of two percent points on the year before. Microsoft has been leading the charge against software piracy in the Middle East with a series of recent high-profile strikes against intellectual right violators in the UAE.

"Qatar has performed considerably well in curtailing the spread of piracy across the country and our efforts have been instrumental in helping maintain the robust growth of the country's software industry," said Abdulla Ahmed Qayed, head of copyright and neighbouring rights at the Office-Commercial Affairs Department, Qatar's Ministry of Economy and Commerce.

"We were pleased to welcome our colleagues from the Business Software Alliance in the forum, which I believe will be extremely beneficial as we finalise our plan of action for 2008," he added.