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In Israel, cracking down on software piracy is only a sometime thing. The Business Software Alliance estimates that nearly half of all software in Israel is pirated. The country is on the U.S. Trade Representative’s priority “watch list” of IP offenders. So when a Haifa judge handed down a ruling against a local engineering firm in August it was viewed as an important precedent. After two and a half years in court, the judge ordered B.A.B. Engineering Planning & Development Ltd. and its chief executive to pay the equivalent of $45,000, including lawyers’ fees, to Microsoft Corporation and Autodesk Inc. “This is the first written judgment [in Israel] against an end user,” says Eran Soroker, name partner at Tel Aviv’s Soroker Agmon Advocates & Patent Attorneys, BSA’s counsel. The suit began with a tip. Following an undercover investigation, the Haifa District Court granted a search and seizure order. The engineering company had only two licenses for 25 computers. It decided not to settle, a move that has cost it many times the price of buying legal software. The company declined to comment on the case. “Until now we’ve settled out of court with violators, but this judgment will give us a much stronger position against them in the future by setting a price tag for infringement,” says Soroker. In the past year BSA has stepped up its efforts to stop the use of illegal software in Israel. It has launched a multimillion dollar media campaign aimed at raising awareness to the issue. The Israeli police have also set up an IP department. But a senior police official says that terrorism and security issues are draining resources from piracy efforts.

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