Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another piracy crackdown in Jordan

Since the early nineties, we’ve had a copyright law which has gone through various amendments and ‘refinements’, but hasn’t been consistently enforced.

It seems there have always been social and economic reasons why authorities have not cracked down fully on piracy. Think for a moment about the price of a typical software package, then think of the young people who cannot get it and the resulting lack of knowledge.

This could be tackled by either making software accessible legally to young people in schools, universities, libraries and so on, or by just providing price cuts to enable them to gain the knowledge.

Some of these ideas have been applied, but in a relatively poor country like Jordan, where the average household income could never be enough to buy an original copy of Windows Vista and put food on the table, piracy and illegal software trade will proliferate.

Authorities also seem to be dealing with the problem in ‘bursts’. Every once in a while we hear about a ‘new crackdown’ or the closure of shops or the ‘surprise visits to companies’ across the country.

Such an increase in law enforcement activity was witnessed during February this year, and as you would expect the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents software publisher’s interests, was full of praise towards local Authorities.

Let’s first clarify one major point. Piracy is illegal, and should be punishable by law, and the members of the BSA are within their rights to protect intellectual property they own; which they invested their time and money in creating. Surely, none of us would accept to see a song we wrote, a movie we produced, or software we created being sold on the pavement downtown for JD 2.

The problem is that the retail price of the original version of that video game, for example, is JD 60.

Do the math, and you’ll figure out why it’s impossible to completely prevent piracy. What if that original video game cost JD 10 or even JD 15, then the majority of gamers would save up to buy an original copy and will happily become ‘legal’ users.

The harsh reality is that it will never happen, as global corporations like Microsoft, Adobe, Electronic Arts and others are all making so much money at current prices, in spite of rampant piracy even in their own countries. We’d like to see a complete crackdown on piracy in the US and Europe, but it’s not happening there either.

It would appear that these publishers price their software taking into account that only one fourth of copies in use will be original, therefore legal users have to generate all the profits. We salute those legal users who fuel the needs of the remaining masses!

Somebody has to address this imbalance and rather than just enforcing the law, there’s a need to enforce more reasonable pricing in all fields of intellectual property including software, movies, music and books.

So, the National Library has cracked down on another local vendor, and imposed a fine or prison sentence.

Will this be the last time? No. Will every vendor be caught? No. Will the BSA ever cease to exist when we have a perfect world of cheap original software? Double No. Any solutions on the horizon? You answer that one.


At 3:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post!
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