Software piracy rampant in Serbia, trade group says

BELGRADE (Reuters) – More than three-quarters of all software in circulation in Serbia has been copied illegally, giving the country one of the highest rates of software piracy in Europe, a trade group said yesterday. «Serbia is the leading country in Central and Eastern Europe, with a 78 percent piracy rate,» said Dragomir Kojic of the Business Software Alliance, which brings together companies such as Microsoft and Adobe. «Croatia has around 58 percent, Slovenia 51 percent and new European Union members Bulgaria and Romania 71 and 74 percent,respectively.» A pirated version of the latest Microsoft Office program can be bought from a Belgrade street vendor for 200 dinars (-2.50). A licensed software store sells it for -500, a fortune for Serbs on an average monthly salary of -350. «Every fifth computer bought in Serbia has illegal software already installed,» said Misha Ognjanovic from Microsoft Serbia. Serbia has been battling piracy for years – with little success. In the 1990s, when Serbia was punished with sanctions for its role in the Yugoslav wars, pirated movies and music CDs were the only window to the West for isolated Serbs.