Rami Olwan

All About CyberLaw, Copyright and Developing Countries

Government helps tame software piracy rate in UAE

Software piracy rates will remain low in the UAE this year as customers continue to buy legal products as the market matures, according to a new report.

In 2008 the UAE had a software piracy rate of 36 per cent compared with a range of 51 to 62 per cent in other Gulf countries, says the study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) trade association and research firm IDC. But due to the country’s well-developed software market, piracy losses are still very high in cash terms – $170 million (Dh625m) in 2008.

The situation in the UAE is comparable with Singapore, where the piracy rate is also 36 per cent, Taiwan (39 per cent), the Czech Republic (39 per cent), South Africa (35 per cent), and Canada (32 per cent). But the UAE still lags behind developed economies such as the United States, Japan, parts of Western Europe and Australia where piracy rates are below 30 per cent, says IDC.

Piracy generally affects PC software products such as computer games, productivity applications, utilities and operating systems.

Suresh Balasubramanian, Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy at Adobe Systems, which makes software such as Photoshop, said government influence and consumer awareness of intellectual property rights affected the scope and level of software piracy.

“In countries where governments take an active role in developing and passing laws that enforce strict rules around copyright and other intellectual property matters, we tend to see lower instances of piracy,” he said.

“A second component is awareness and education. In countries where businesses and the government spend time educating consumers on the benefits of copyright law and intellectual property rights, we see reduced levels of piracy. Governments also have an opportunity to be role models in showcasing their own use of legal software,” he said.

Over the past few years the UAE Government has put a lot of effort into anti-piracy campaigns and activities. The BSA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and the Abu Dhabi and Ajman authorities, conducted raids on IT resellers who were installing illegal versions of Microsoft products. And arrests for software piracy in the country have risen by 107 per cent year-on-year.

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