[Fsf-friends] Indian journalist wins Arab IPR media award

Frederick Noronha (FN) fred@antispam.org
Thu Dec 29 04:55:31 IST 2005

Maybe an issue to mull over: do journalists who write about software
"piracy" pay for the proprietorial software they use? As a Free Software
user, I do neither of these, and think the debate is being very badly
skewed in the interest of big business. This is also reflective of the
wider crisis afflicting journalism. -FN

Indian journalist wins Arab IPR media award
Press Trust of India
Dubai, December 28, 2005  
A Dubai-based Indian journalist has won the prestigious Arab IPR Media
Award 2005 for his reportage on anti-piracy drive in the Arab world.
Isaac John of Khaleej Times won the award for his "insightful reportage
about the challenges and opportunities in forging an effective
anti-piracy drive in the Arab world".
The award was constituted by Business Software Alliance (BSA), a global
organisation dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world,
Co-Chairman of BSA (Middle East) Jawad Al Redha said.
John -- a veteran of 25 years in Gulf media -- has won three Pan-Arab
awards in a row in 2005, a rare distinction for an Indian journalist in
this region.


Challenges ahead for anti-piracy drive
By Issac John 

17 August 2005 

DUBAI - THE headway made by the UAE in combating piracy in computer
software, film and music could be more remarkable if the Emirates
succeeds in overcoming a major hurdle — a lack of consumer awareness and
concern about this illegal activity besides non-cooperation from the

Industry analysts and software experts believe that the next logical
step for the UAE — which now has a low piracy rate of 34 per cent as
against the global average of 35 per cent — is to foster a generation of
consumers committed to, and convinced of the long-term social, ethical
and economic impact for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. 

Having overcome the first phase challenge of effective regulatory
measures, the country's enforcement authorities now need to realise the
importance of drumming up wider public support to their anti-piracy
drive. This can be achieved only through sustained campaigns not only in
business workplaces but also in schools and universities and other
educational premises. 

"It is time that the UAE, which has sent a positive signals to its Gulf
neighbours by the way it handled piracy, should seek to develop a
culture proactive to fool-proof intellectual property protection
measures. To realise this goal, enforcement of tougher rules is not only
the answer but also the creation of awareness, right from an early age,
about the negative aspects of IPR violations." 

"What is needed for our modern age techno- savvy society is a
combination of stricter law enforcement and increased enlightenment. To
combat IPR violations, effective legislation and its enforcement are
vital, but no less significant is the support and cooperation both the
authorities and the industries that are prone to copyrights infringement
can win from the public," said a leading anti-piracy campaigner.

"Therefore, to create a healthy and vibrant software industry and a
strong environment for innovation, what is imperative is not only an
effective and speedy implementation of policies and laws but also a
sustained awareness campaign to win consumer hearts," he said. 

Most analysts maintain that in tandem with the strict implementation of
regulatory measures, software industry should come up with improved copy
protection technologies.

"With CD burning and on-line file-sharing now becoming more rampant and
undetectable in the UAE than organised sales in pirated software and
CDs, effective copy protection technology is the immediate answer to the
menace. In the long-term, it is only a well-orchestrated educational
drive that could succeed and sustain."

Stressing the need to introduce more copy-protected CD formats that
limit the number of burns in curbing piracy, the analyst said CD burning
is a growing problem that is really undermining the sale of software,
films and music CDs in the UAE too. A random market survey by Khaleej
Times underscored this growing trend.

Market watchers said with the UAE's impressive PC penetration and
sophistication rate, this type of privacy is almost on par with the US
where burned CDs accounted for 29 per cent of all recorded music
obtained by fans in 2004, compared to 16 per cent attributed to
downloads from on-line file-sharing networks.

In the UAE, while there is no organised or massive scale CD burning
operations, an investigation by this paper found out that several
production units catering to specific customer requirements — software,
film or music CDs — are operational in certain residential areas, making
them hard to be detected by anti-piracy squads.

Nevertheless, the once-rampant sale of pirated CDs at parking places and
street corners is now a rare sight the following the vigil kept by
enforcement authorities. Subsequently, the UAE has been removed from the
Special 301 Watch List by the United States Trade Representative.

Analysts believe that it is imperative that government authorities and
the software industries should marshal their efforts to educate the
public that IPR protection is key to continued R&D to ensure innovations
and growth in UAE's digital economy. Concerted efforts should also be
taken to ensure all businesses understand the potential implications of
lax security and the importance of creating a safe and legal working
environment, they said. 

Experts also maintain that business establishments should be made aware
of the pitfalls of pirated software. "Piracy stifles innovation. The
cost of combating software piracy, plus lost revenues, could be spent on
research and development to benefit users. When you buy legal software,
you are contributing to the businesses that can improve your software in
the future, as well as to the worldwide economy. When your organisation
complies, you have the assurance that you are protecting your company
from the legal fees, financial penalties, and bad press that accompany
piracy lawsuits."  

The public should be made aware of the fact that pirated software may
come cheap but can carry viruses or may not function at all.

"Unlicensed users do not receive quality documentation and are not
entitled to receive technical support or product upgrades, patches, or
updates. Organisational productivity also suffers when employees use
pirated products. Pirated software often leads to version control
problems that prevent employees from efficiently sharing files, while
driving up IT support costs," the expert warned.

Piracy comes in many forms including licensed user duplication for
unlicensed users and illegal Internet distribution. When someone copies
software without buying the appropriate number of licenses, it is
copyright infringement. Other forms of software piracy can occur when an
individual copying a software for a friend or when a business
under-reports the number of computers using a software.

Warning against the pitfalls of obtaining pirated versions through
illegal Internet distribution, experts said there is no guarantee that
such software is secure or will work properly when installed.

Estimates reveal that as much as 90 per cent of software sold over
Internet auction sites is either bootlegged or gray market."

With an estimated 35 per cent piracy rate globally, the economic effects
of this menace are significant. In 2004, piracy cost the global economy
some $33 billion, up from the previous year's $29 billion. Losses in the
Middle East area and Africa are around $1.3 billion.

According to global technology research leader IDC, the world spent more
than $59 billion on commercial packaged PC software in 2004, up from $51
billion in 2003. But the total software installed was valued at $90, up
from $80 billion.

While the UAE, like its AGCC neighbours is giving keen care to adhering
to TRIPS (the WTO's agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights), it need to take more efforts in educating the public
on its implications.

As a front-runner in digital readiness in the Middle East, the UAE had a
head start in embracing the Internet age, as well as mobile phone
technology. In recent years, it made the protection of intellectual
property a priority, and in the process, the country has blazed a trail
as a regional role-model in safeguarding IPR.

"Just as the UAE government has done to educate the local business
community of the e-commerce and encouraged understanding of the Internet
and its capabilities through various programmes, authorities should
mount a consistent campaign to educate the public on the ill-effects of

The country's copyright, trademark and patent laws, passed in 2002 were
in harmony with international standards and exceed UAE's TRIPs
obligations. The current copyright law, enacted in July 2002 grants
protection to authors of creative works and expands the categories of
protected works, to include computer programs, software, databases, and
other digital works. Since then the UAE has come a long way with its
piracy rates dropping to less than those of France, Greece, Ireland,
Italy, Spain Portugal and Canada.

Most experts however, agree that suggestions or advice cannot completely
thwart fraud. "A pirate will tell you anything it takes in order to sell
you the illegal software. The best way to avoid pirated products is to
purchase from authorized, reputable resellers.  It is not uncommon for
pirates to engage not only in the sale of illegal software but also in
credit card fraud and identity theft. Counterfeit software may also have
viruses or Trojan Horses."

They advise that buying legal software saves money in many ways. "In
addition, in most cases, all registered licensees receive information
about productivity-enhancing updates, upgrades, and special offers.
Organisations that manage their software licenses effectively
standardise employees on common platforms; get rid of obsolete, unused
assets; and manage more efficiently, resulting in fewer IT support
calls, lower administration costs, and higher user satisfaction."

Frederick 'FN' Noronha  | http://del.icio.us/fredericknoronha
Saligao, Goa, India     | fred at bytesforall.org
Independent Journalist  | +91(832)2409490 Cell 9822122436

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