AMMAN — The National Library Department (NLD) is developing a strategy to reduce the software piracy rate to below 50 per cent over the next three years, according to NLD Director General Mohammad Abbadi.

“The strategy, which will be implemented over a three-year period starting 2013, entails intensifying our raids on violators and raising awareness about the dangers of software piracy and its impact on the economy,” Abbadi told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

“It is unfortunate that software piracy rose in 2011 compared to 2010, but we will do our best to make it below 50 per cent,” he said.

Software piracy in Jordan rose by 1 per cent in 2011, but the rate was still among the lowest in the region, according to a study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The Kingdom registered a 58 per cent software piracy rate in 2011, compared to 57 per cent in 2010 and 2009, according to the ninth annual BSA Global Software Piracy Study.

An awareness campaign will be launched as part of the strategy that entails sending SMSs to traders of software, CDs and DVDs informing them about penalties they face if they sell pirated material, Abbadi said.

Awareness campaigns will also be conducted in private schools and universities as of next year, and at public schools and universities at a later stage, he added.

Noting that the software piracy rate in 2012 is expected to drop compared to last year, Abbadi said the number of vendors referred to court and the volume of pirated software confiscated during 2012 was higher than last year.

“Since the beginning of this year, we referred more than 450 cases of intellectual property rights violations to court. We also confiscated more than 150,000 pirated items, including DVDs and CDs,” he added.

In 2011, the NLD confiscated about 60,000 pirated items, according to Abbadi.

“Over the past 10 months, we conducted major raids and confiscated large quantities of pirated items from several shops,” he noted.

Vendors and citizens, however, were in favour of pirated items.

“No one wants to buy original DVDs for JD20 or more… I sell good quality movies for JD1 and JD2,” an employee at a kiosk that sells pirated items in downtown Amman told The Jordan Times over the phone on Tuesday.

Hala Mohammad, a university student, agreed.

“As long as DVDs and CDs of movies and songs are sold for JD1 or a bit more, I will continue to buy them… It is not feasible to buy an original DVD as it will cost more than JD15,” Mohammad said in a phone interview.

Software industry losses in Jordan have been increasing every year, amounting to $31 million in 2011 compared with $28 million in 2010, $26 million in 2009 and $22 million in 2008, the BSA report indicated.

The Jordanian Copyright Law stipulates that it is a crime to download software, music or movies that are protected under the legislation.

Offenders face a prison sentence of between three months and three years and a fine ranging from JD1,000 to JD6,000.

The lowest piracy rate in the region was registered in the UAE (37 per cent), followed by Qatar (50 per cent), Saudi Arabia (51 per cent) and Bahrain (54 per cent), according to the BSA report.