By Michele Howe
Governments will play a crucial role in determining future software piracy rates in the region, analyst says.
National governments will play a crucial role in helping to cut software piracy rates in the Middle East, according to a regional software expert.
Although software piracy rates in the Middle East have declined, there is still more that could be done by government agencies to help bring down piracy levels further in the region, Thomas Vavra, research director, software at IDC said in an interview with ITP.net.
"If there are to be even greater declines in piracy in the region, it will pin on governments' willingness to co-operate not only with the providers but also to be more serious about enforcement," he said.
"You cannot over emphasise that the onus does sit with the national government on making this a priority and an issue," he added.
The Middle East Africa region has one of the highest piracy rates in the world, according to IDC's latest global software piracy study, despite the fact that the UAE counts as one of the 20 countries with the lowest piracy rates.
The UAE has a software piracy rate of 35% against a rate of 60% for the overall MEA region, and in comparison to 35% for the worldwide piracy rate.
Oman, Kuwait and Qatar are some of the highest rating countries in the Middle East for software piracy, all scoring over 58%.
The impact of software piracy - defined as the illegal copying, distribution and use of software - on the region's economy is far reaching, said Vavra, whose comments come amid a series of high-profile cases in the region, most recently in Oman.
"For every dollar spent on legal software, there will be several more spent on services around that software," he said. "If [software is] not being bought legally, there is not any opportunity for additional spending around that."
According to IDC, for every $1.00 in software sold, there is at least another $1.25 in services sold around the main product.
Losses from software piracy in the MEA region reached almost $2 billion in 2006, according to the research and analysis firm.
Although IDC does not give forecasts for software piracy, Vavra said he does expect the rate to continue to decline in the region.
The extent to which it does so will depend on raising levels of awareness, he commented.
"There is potential for rates to go down further [in the region]...what it hinges upon is bringing awareness to a higher level that this is not right," he said.