Challenging software piracy
How much is Qatar losing in opportunity cost due to software piracy?
The lack of adherence to intellectual property (IPR) laws in Qatar’s information Technology sector might be costing the nation a lot of money. The current ICT sector which is valued at US$2.1 billion (QR7.6 billion) according to Commercialbank capital economic research, could be significantly higher.
At a recent press conference the Ministry of Justice announced that it is stepping up efforts to protect IPR and reduce software piracy in the country. Abdulla Ahmad Qayed, Intellectual Property Centre Director from the Qatar Ministry of Justice said, “Resellers and end-users in Qatar need to realise that high levels of software piracy and counterfeiting activitiy seriously harm a country’s innovation and ability to continuously produce intellectual property, which eventually reduces overall economic activity.”
According to data from the Intellectual Property Protection Centre of the Ministry of Justice, a total of 416 arrests have been made with regards to software piracy between 2000 and 2010. A report by the Business Software Alliance, a leading advocate of anti-software piracy, shows figures have declined marginally from 54 percent in 2007 to 50 percent in 2011.
Adobe Systems, an international software company has been partnering with numerous ministries in the region to strengthen anti-piracy initiatives. Naser Samaenah, head of anti-piracy and license compliance for the MENA region said at the press conference with the Ministry of Justice, “given the impact of software piracy on the economy, there is still much that needs to be done through the combined efforts of the government, software industry, resellers and end users.”
Studies have shown that significant reduction in software piracy can generate millions of Qatari riyals worth of additional revenue for the government, explained Samaenah. And that is to say nothing of the loss in opportunity cost from piracy, in the potential lost jobs to investment opportunites in the IT industry.
Software companies like Adobe face numerous challenges. The lack of awareness in understanding the negative consequences of software piracy and the widespread social acceptance are some of the biggest they have to counter.