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French Version

THE CRACKDOWN on piracy in Jordan is reaching new heights...

THE CRACKDOWN on piracy in Jordan is reaching new heights, with a number of ‘smaller’ businesses already being visited by representatives of the Business Software Association (BSA), which is the industry watchdog for software copyright protection.

Over the past couple of years, BSA have been ‘raiding’ Jordanian businesses in search of copyright infringement, usually based on a tip that illegal software was being used.

Last year, a major local bank suffered from such a raid and ended up paying tens of thousands of Dinars for copyright infringement.

Now the hunt for small and medium size businesses has begun. A few months ago, the BSA began to conduct surprise visits to local advertising agencies and design houses. A couple of these agencies have already succumbed to huge penalties.

Despite an increase across the world in software theft the Middle East is recording a decline. Countries like UAE, Kuwait and Jordan are leading the way in the region through more aggressive legislation, enforcement and general awareness.

BSA reports showed that losses to software publishers in the region went down from US$ 284 million in 1999 to US$ 240 million in 2000.

The overall piracy percentage rate in the Middle East decreased to 57 percent in 2000, from 63 percent in 1999 and from 83 percent over the past six years.

Still, there’s a lot of work to do for the BSA and they’re not sparing any time in Jordan.

Basically, what happens when you’re being ‘raided’ is that the BSA (or Microsoft) sends in its technical people to your office, with a search warrant. They examine the software on your computers, then tell you how much it would cost you to ‘legalize’ the applications.

Legalizing your operations is completed by paying a licensing fee for all the software in your office, and receiving a certificate stating that you’ve paid thousands of dinars—a colleague of mine is paying JD 7,000 for software on the 11 computers in his office. So, you could say that it’s a very expensive piece of paper, and that’s only for Microsoft software! If you consider the Corel and Adobe applications used in design offices, then you’re looking at a somewhat ‘steep’ bill to be paid by a lot of struggling local businesses.

Looking at some of the international piracy figures published by the BSA yields interesting results, and should give you an idea on the extent of the ‘raids’ the BSA has to organize all over the world.

Quoting the BSA report, published earlier this year, “The top ten offenders worldwide in terms of piracy are: Vietnam (97 percent), China (94 percent) Indonesia (89 percent) Ukraine/Other CIS (89 percent) Russia (88 percent) Lebanon (83 percent) Pakistan (83 percent) Bolivia (81 percent) Qatar (81 percent) and Bahrain (80 percent).” So you could call that the ‘black-list’ of all software businesses. It is quite amazing that a country like China, with a population of over one billion, is on the same list as Qatar or Bahrain! It’s because the percentage basis is used to judge a country, not absolute numbers. If we were to look at only the hard numbers, China would be number one on the scale and the rest of those countries would be on another.

Well, at least, Jordan isn’t on that list. If the BSA continue their relentless drive to ‘clean-up’ Jordanian businesses, then you can expect our country to stay out of ‘the top ten offenders’. It seems the message is clear: Clean up your act, or pay the price!

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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