Anti-piracy campaign journal
05 May, 2011

Georgia is acknowledged as the most pirate-infested IT market globe over. To clean up the sector Georgian government takes in Business Software Alliance focused on intellectual property protection in the world. Some Georgian IT sector representatives fear this is an immature remedy that may affect Georgian IT sector development. Some assure it can only boost the sector development.
Georgia is the most pirated IT market with the 95% of illegal software product turnover, International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier global

provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets, said. To cut down the piracy level, Business Software Alliance (BSA) entered Georgia under presidential initiative. A special agreement was signed on April 28, 2011 with the BSA, and a special council focused on software piracy reduction has been created at the president’s office.
BSA accentuated on economic benefits of reduction the software piracy level. Based on the survey of the Global Market Research Organization implemented in 2008 piracy reduction by 10% globe over can create about 600 thousand new jobs and increase state incomes by USD 24 billion without enhancing tax burden. 80% of the economic benefit of such reforms comes on local economy, the survey assures.  Georgian IT sector pundits fear the activation of anti-piracy campaign is immature at the moment in Georgia as it will jack prices up and hamper the fledgling IT sector development.
Giorgi Gordeladze, a spokesperson of Saatec, a Tbilisi-based software development company oriented on export, thinks the anti-piracy activity will jack prices up by at least 30% that cannot affect big IT companies and organizations that sue their service but can create serious problems to petty IT companies and larger part of consumer – the population. 
“Legalization of the market will induce price hike to population as far as most IT distributor companies sell “empty” computers and lap tops and now installation of user programs will become expensive. Big companies face no risk for they are Microsoft partners but petty fry may fade away. Becoming piracy-free is positive if you are ready to it, but Georgian IT market is too weak to endure this pressure,” he said.
Irakli Kashibadze, Head of the Department of Communications, IT and Innovations, admits that certain risk really exists but it can be avoided if Microsoft, BSA and Georgian IT companies will concert their efforts and policy. “Microsoft has to take stock of specific Georgian market, its prospects and run due information campaign,” he told Georgian Journal. “Bigger part of users are simply unaware of the benefits of legal product, that if you use pirate version they frequently   break down and one has to install windows for example 3-4 times per year that actually cost more than to install one but licensed version once a year. Besides, Microsoft provides its licensed vendor companies by product under preferential prices like USD 3-5 per package of programs. Microsoft has to raise awareness at Georgian market and our companies have to establish partnership with it,” Kashibadze said.
But Microsoft license is quite expensive, Gordeladze said, his Saatec secured Microsoft partnership in 2008-2009 but Saatec’s British founders found that quiet expensive and dissolved the partnership.  Kashibadze thinks those who cannot afford partnership with big IT companies may just replace their product by alternative software product, or sell only technique.
Vano Tserstvadze, Head of IT insurance service with Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, expects only positive results of anti-piracy campaign but price-hike for population seems inevitable to him too.
“International IT sector development dynamics shows the higher the IT legalization coefficient the bigger the economic benefit in those countries and striving to become piracy-free is a positive move whatever the predicaments can accompany it. Yes prices may go up by USD 200 for installation  of Windows for example, but this can be replaced by alternative product like Linux. On the other hand it may encourage IT geeks to invent new products and the IT sector can be developed ultimately,” he said.     Jarji Maare, Head of iTex International, an export-oriented software company, questions this optimistic outcome and doubts whether or not the protection of IT copy rights in Georgia is really necessary at the moment.
“Georgian IT market is so insignificant that big IT giants do not take it into consideration,” he said. “Actually only Microsoft is represented in Georgia and our share in its sales stands under 1%. I can hardly believe that Microsoft is interested to exert its efforts to protect its copy rights here for this ridiculous portion,” he said.
According to Maare, the price-hike caused by anti-piracy campaign will only deal a blow on the underdeveloped IT sector of Georgia.  “It is an open secret that the IT personnel are self-educated in Georgia for there is no high school here that gives proper education. And all the software programs they get are pirated and thus free. When they become licensed they will be unavailable to bigger part of people concerned; so, how it can boost the IT sector?” He asked Georgian Journal.

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