FRANCE PRESS: BULGARIA VOTES ITSELF A WAR CHEST TO DEAL WITH THE SOFTWARE PIRATES

Views on BG | June 26, 2001, Tuesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

Bulgaria, near the bottom of the class in Europe with respect to computer software piracy, yesterday approved credits worth 1.48 million euros to encourage its government services to stop the practice. The decision, aimed at helping government services purchase legitimate copies of Microsoft programs instead of illegally copied ones, was announced as a top Microsoft executive visited the country.

Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft's president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told reporters that Bulgaria still had a "very high piracy rate."

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), of which Microsoft is a leading member, 78 percent of all software used in Bulgaria was illicitly copied in 2000.

Although the figure has fallen regularly in the past four years, from a high of 98 percent in 1996, it remains extremely high, Courtois said.

He said the practice penalized not only companies like Microsoft, but also Bulgaria's own software industry, which could double its sales and employ far more people if piracy were stamped out.

Courtois, who met yesterday with President Petar Stoyanov, said he hoped Bulgaria's new government would make more efforts to stop piracy.

The BSA has estimated that piracy in Bulgaria cost the industry just over $10 million (11.7 million euros) in 2000 and $11.2 million in 1999.

The BSA lists Bulgaria as one of the worst offenders in eastern Europe, although Russia and Ukraine are said to have worse records, with respectively 88 and 89 percent of all software being pirated.

The body lists Vietnam as the worst offender worldwide, with 97 percent of all software pirated in 2000. It estimates that the world average piracy rate is 37 percent, and that piracy cost the industry a total of $11.75 billion in 2000.

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