|INTERFACE : We pay, they play !
|Already, we are at a technological disadvantage and expensive software will only exasperate our computer illiteracy.|
JORDAN (Star) - After a long campaign against software piracy in the Middle East, spanning a decade; the Business Software Alliance (BSA) was \'pleased\' to announce that the region witnessed a drop of around 6 percent in rates of copyright infringement, compared to a jump in the worldwide piracy rate from 37 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2001.
So, the Middle East is actually reversing the international trend of increased software piracy!
That is quite an astonishing fact. After all, it has always been assumed that software piracy flourishes in poor or under-developed countries, whose computer users cannot afford to purchase original software.
It seems America, Europe and South East Asia have suffered the most from increased piracy. For example, 25 percent of business software programs in the United States was pirated in 2001, a percentage point increase from the previous year.
How did our region manage to lower its piracy rates? The answer is one word: Control.
In the Middle East, the BSA and the authorities are fighting piracy in our \'small\' software markets, in which the \'offenders\' are easier to find and in which the business centers-or areas-are limited.
At 41 percent, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) showed the lowest rate of software piracy in the region, followed by Saudi Arabia at 52 percent and Jordan at 67 percent
Even our worst \'offenders\'-Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman-are showing signs of coming under the control of authorities with a drop from more than 80 percent to around 75-77 percent!
In comparison, controlling software traffic in the United States is bound to be much more difficult. This is not a new discovery, as the founders of the BSA-the global software giants-planned to utilize the \'controlability\' of our markets all along to boost profits and make up for some of the lost sales in \'uncontrollable\', yet bigger markets.
The results are now obvious. Rampant piracy not only continues, but even grows, in the big markets while we are paying for our software.
It is, of course, the right thing to do, but we\'d like to see more serious enforcement worldwide; besides, we are the countries who can\'t afford to buy software.
Already, we are at a technological disadvantage and expensive software will only exasperate our computer illiteracy.
Maybe it\'s time software giants, like Microsoft, realized that cheaper software will stop piracy. Why would anyone want to buy an illegal copy of software without documentation or support services if the original was not expensive?
The reason is that it is more profitable for companies like Microsoft to charge $200 for a piece of software and sell it to only 35 percent of its potential users, than sell it for $50 to 75 percent of users.
Obviously, as long as one third of users buy the original copies of the software at the desired price, it doesn\'t matter if the remaining two thirds of users have illegal copies !
The only problem is that we, the poorer countries of the world, may end up being the law-abiding buyers who finance the mischief of others.
Zeid Nasser, Star Staff Writer