Wednesday, December 16, 2009

IT experts call for crackdown on copyright piracy; Daily Star (Lebanon), 12/16/09

Dana Halawi, Daily Star (Lebanon); IT experts call for crackdown on copyright piracy:

"Information Technology (IT) experts gathered on Tuesday at Ramada Hotel in Beirut to tackle challenges facing Lebanon’s IT industry due to lack of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection. “One of the main challenges facing this sector in Lebanon is the absence of effective entities tailored to the protection of IPR. This includes the challenge of issuing laws by the Lebanese government that are compatible with the international agreements signed by Lebanon for its accession to the World Trade Organization,” said Microsoft’s anti-piracy manager for North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Pakistan Aly Harakeh.

Respecting intellectual property rights is one of the basic conditions of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). Lebanon is a signatory to several international agreements relating to intellectual property rights and started the process for accession to the WTO in 1999, but could not join because of its failure to properly implement the basic required conditions. The country’s accession application is still ongoing, according to the WTO website...

Sectors dependant on intellectual innovations are crucial to the Lebanese economy. Lebanon is on the top of Arab countries when it comes to intellectual innovations and arts, and these sectors can contribute a lot more to our economy than the core industries such as agriculture and manufacturing.

According to a report issued by the Institute of Finance, the industries in Lebanon which copyright applies to contribute 4.74 percent to GDP and 4.54 percent to employment. However, the report said, the core industries contribute 2.53 percent to GDP and 2.11 percent to employment.

The study said that the industries which copyright laws apply to generated $555.52 million of value added, generated from nine sectors including press and literature, music, theatrical productions, opera, motion pictures and video, radio and television, photography, software and databases, visual and graphic arts, advertising and copyright collecting societies.

A report issued by the Business Software Alliance said that the piracy rates in Lebanon reached 74 percent in 2008, while losses incurred from piracy activities reached $49 million in the same year."

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