Qatar is taking effective steps to combat software piracy although the problem is not as serious here as it is in some other countries.
The authorities here have seized large stocks of pirated computer software and CDs as well as DVDs — mostly of the latest Hollywood and Hindi movies — in the past six months and the market value of these materials is estimated at over $500,000.
The pirated software confiscated by the authorities includes computer programs as well as video games, with the market value of all the seized materials officially estimated at over $549,000, or QR2m.
Licensed dealers of these programs and video games alone lose something like QR5m a year due to the illegal sale of pirated versions, say market sources.
Most pirated materials enter the country illegally and their main source is South East Asia, it is believed.
Officials say Qatar is not a thriving market for pirated CDs and DVDs as well as for illegal computer software. Nevertheless software piracy and sale of pirated material does take place in the country, though on a small scale.
On occasions, even CDs and DVDs of Hollywood and Hindi movies that have not yet been released are available in the local market on the sly. An outlet can make up to QR2,000 a day selling pirated software, specially CDs and DVDs of popular movies, claim market sources.
The recently-established Intellectual Property Rights Protection Bureau conducts frequent surprise raids on outlets as well as individual operators and seizes illegal software.
Pirated CDs and DVDs of popular movies, original copies of which can cost up to QR150, are on offer for as little as QR10.
Most operators pursuing the illegal activity are individuals who can be seen vending the pirated CDs and DVDs of movies and songs on roadsides during weekends.
But there are outlets as well that indulge in such illegal activities and they mostly reportedly keep the pirated stuff along with the original so that officials find it hard to sort them out during surprise raids.
TV decoders that can help people access a paid TV channel are also available and have been confiscated by officials during various raids conducted by the Intellectual Property Right Protection Bureau.
Qatar’s intellectual property protection law stipulates a jail term of up to a year, a fine running up to QR100,000 as well as deportation of the offenders.
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