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Consumers say counterfeit software is unsafe: poll

UAE region recently cracked down on pirated software shops

Consumers say counterfeit software is unsafe: poll
These high-quality pirated disks were seized from sellers during raids in the UAE.

According to the results of a Microsoft consumer survey, two out of three people believe that it is not safe to use counterfeited software.

Data loss and ID theft were given as the top concerns of respondents, in the survey of 38,000 people in 20 countries.

The results of the survey also showed strong support for both governments and industry to take strong action against software piracy.

 "Consumers everywhere are coming to us with complaints about counterfeit software," said Microsoft's Dale Waterman, corporate attorney for Anti-Piracy for the Middle East and Africa, who is based in Dubai. "They're asking what they can do to protect themselves. They want facts. And they want industry and government to stand up and take action. Our commitment is to do everything we can to help them."

According to Microsoft, the results of the survey indicate that 70% of those polled believe that genuine software is more secure and stable and easier to keep up-to-date than pirated copies. Recently several shops in the UAE selling software have come under fire for selling counterfeit products.

 "There have recently been raids by local authorities on three resellers in Dubai who were selling high quality counterfeit Microsoft software. Because the counterfeit is sourced from abroad, particularly China, we have also just participated in the Dubai Custom IPR Workshop, an annual workshop to update the enforcement task force about the latest techniques in combating software counterfeiting and help them tackle transnational organized IP crime," said Waterman.

According to Microsoft, Viju Thomas, a Dubai-based consumer this week submitted a copy of his software to Microsoft for examination after calling Microsoft on their Anti-Piracy Hotline.

"I purchased a copy of Windows XP from a shop in Dubai for AED 625. I installed it on my computer and now a message is telling me it is not genuine. It came with a hologram CD, a license and was shrink-wrapped as a complete package that looked just like the real thing. The package is counterfeit. I was deceived by this shop."

The software company says that 65% of poll respondents are calling upon the government and industry to help curb the problem of software piracy

"As part of efforts to promote awareness about the intellectual property rights in the UAE, Microsoft has been coordinating with concerned parties to organise various initiatives such as the round table in late November where several judges, public prosecutors, and representatives of other related authorities come together to discuss how to protect IPR taking into account the country-specific cases and the best practices they can follow. This also complements efforts to train enforcement teams for federal and local government agencies," said Dr Mahmoud Mohamed Al Kamali, general manager, UAE Institute of Training and Judicial Studies.    

Microsoft has recommended that users check whether their software passes the Windows validation test when they purchase new software.

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