Jordanian Engineers: You’ve got to fight! For your Right! To Pirate (AutoCad)!!!?

Ok. Get this. On saturday, Al-Ghad published a lengthy news article (highlighted on the front page!) about a protest sit-in at the Engineering Associastion, by the owners of some engineering/architecture firms to protest the “pressures” being exercised by “companies” who “monopolize” engineering software in Jordan.

Apparently these engineering business owners want to retain the right to continue using pirated software in their offices, and are demanding that the government intervenes to postpone the implementation of intellectual property laws for another ten years, in accordance with measures taken in some unspecified “neighboring countries”.

This stuff is unbelievable! The whole story reflects our “funny Jordanian capitalism”, and shoddy journalism.

Let’s start with the “journalism” being practiced here: we never get to know how many company owners participated in this sit-in. And the evil “monopolistic” company is not mentioned by name, nor interviewed. There is only the point of view of the engineers and a quote from Mr Naser Huneidi the General Secretary of the Engineering Association who promised to “look into the issue”. And to hell with the point of view of the other side and with Journalism 101.

I am guessing that a number of engineering companies got letters from one (or more) of the AutoCad (and apparently other engineering software) distributers asking them to license the software they are using. The cost of software was described in the article as ranging from ten to twenty thousand JD’s. The engineering company owners say that this will ruin them, and that the software should be priced “in accordance to Jordanian living standards.”

So what do they do? A sit-in! And they get onto the front page of a major daily. And they want the good old government to bend the laws for them. This is amazing!

Let’s turn this around for a moment: Who wants to join me for a sit-in tomorrow to protest the fees of engineering companies? I would like to erect a commercial building and I think that the engineers and architects at the sit-in should provide the drawings and civil engineering calculations for us FOR FREE. For ten years!

OK. The cost of software is indeed high by Jordanian standards. But instead of crying mama at the Association and the government, has the idea of collectively negotiating with the software distribution company occurred to these business owners?

And what is this talk of monopolization? This is like saying that the authorized Toyota dealers in Jordan are monopolizing the market for Toyota cars. Twisted logic!
At a time of growth for the engineering and architectural sector, what kind of an economy is this where companies can’t buy original software?

I think this is pathetic. Businesses doing sit-ins instead of commercial negotiations.

By the way.. Here is a suggestion for these offices: have you heard of open source software or free software that can replace AutoCad? Just for example: ProjeCad or Intellicad? You can check out Caddie as well, which, by the way, is developed by a South African company (big hint to those who understand hints).

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15 Responses to “Jordanian Engineers: You’ve got to fight! For your Right! To Pirate (AutoCad)!!!?”

  1. eltapatio Says:

    you are right
    a few months ago, I needed to have Photoshop. instead of buying Adobe’s, I elected to get GIMP for free. and so these architect firms can do the same.

    as for journalism. Jordan’s dailies, and arab in general, are faraway from true professional journalism.

  2. Jad Says:

    Ahmad, you are right but you are missing one major point, People are used to use Microsoft Office NOT office applications so moving to open office is a task, same applies to those engineers they are used to use autoCAD not CAD applications.

    I had similar discussion with Firas who generally seems to be interested in Linux but yet he’s not willing to try any CAD alternative, another problem I experienced that people think of alternative as clone of their favourite software and it’s %100 identical but free. This will never happen at least for legal reasons.

  3. Walid Says:

    Jordan is a poor country and a Jordanian engineer should expect to take hope 300 to 600 Euro/month. To ask a Jordanian to pay US prices for AutoCAD is silly.

  4. Raed Says:

    good suggestions. but instead of giving lectures via your blog, why not contact those people and educate them about what is available.

  5. Massina Says:

    Well, speaking of shoddy journalism, your article wasn’t at all that good, either. I understand you’re not a professional journalist, and that one should expect more of Al-Ghad, but it was a typical Arabic news article.

    You neglected to mention that this wasn’t the sole purpose of the sit in, it was the cause célèbre, but there are many issues that is compromising the architectural businesses in Jordan, and feel that the Engineers Guild should actually do something about, instead of wasting their time on politics.

    On the other hand, CAD software is really expensive, and it should be. Take science for example, if you want to use really precise apparatuses that won’t fail you, you have to shell out a lot of cash. AutoCAD is expensive because it works and doesn’t fail you, and that’s hard to do with nimble software such as CAD.

    Freeware CAD, to put it bluntly, is shite, and it mostly isn’t 100% compatible with AutoCAD files that are usually transferred between architectural offices. BTW, Intellicad isn’t for free. Not to mention the risks that come with using unreliable software.

    On all other issues though, I wholeheartedly agree. Architectural firms must seek help from CAD companies themselves, and negotiate licence contracts with them, and hopefully CAD companies can take this as a sign of good will and cooperate with architectural companies.

  6. Mariam Ayyash Says:

    mmm, monopoly… it feels like some companys are indeed taking the right to resell Autocad, and it seems like they are selling with higher prices…

    well what the hell, i suggest they continue using pirated software, wouldnt that be easier than a commercial negotiation or a … sit-in?

  7. dozz Says:

    thats the “engineering non-sense” we acquire at universities…
    see,what is putting up a program like ACAD next to their everyday glorious processing of stolen designs?!..

  8. Sid Vicious Says:

    you’re all missing the point here, they wanna use the software they gotta pay for it, pure and simple. Just cuz since they got into the business it was available for free doesnt mean it’s right. If some jordanian company developed a decent program like that would they be okay with engineers in say somalia using it for illegaly for free? I don’t think so…

  9. Randٍ Says:

    Sid, the answer is YES for a a couple of reasons. 1) making copies of ACAD in Somalia will never translate into lost revenues for Autodesk. Somalis are so dirt poor I doubt they can afford to pay for something like ACAD. 2) giant software developers were asked to come up with a pricing scheme that takes into consideration a country’s standards of living, but almost all refused or in some cases they came up with neutered versions of their software. It’s their right to refuse but the outcome is all the piracy that takes place in poor countries. In poor countries, only governments and profitable big businesses can afford to pay US prices for software packages like ACAD, and they should.

  10. J Says:

    JD10-20K for AutoCAD? Till very recently, I used to work for an educational institution abroad… cost us ~C$250 per license/per year (~JD125). Not sure how fair a similar deal like this would be in Jordan, even if only temporary.

    Software companies usually make deals to capture market share. If they don’t, people look for alternatives… be it pirating, or (if copyright laws are actually enforced) switching to similar competitively priced products. People will always find ways to go about their business in a profitable way.

  11. TG Says:

    Software is Like sex; it’s better When it’s Free!

  12. Sid Vicious Says:

    Rand, lost revenues or not thats not the point, so should car rentals give free cars to poor people because they can’t afford it ? The availability and/or tangibility of the service or product usually doesn’t make it possible for theft to occur, while in others like computer software and music, it’s easier. Does that make it okay ? Nope..

  13. Mariam Ayyash Says:

    well Sid, the issue is way too deeper than the point ur trying to make… i hear u, but pirated software would be something so political and social rather than ethical… to put it in as few words as possibe: i got a war to survive, with so many little battles, pirated software is a battle i choose not to fight, so i will seek pirated software because it is infinitely cheaper, and a great tool for other battles, its not gonna hurt u financially, but i will hurt u emotionally, and ethically it might be wrong, bottom line? i choose to lose that battle in order to win the bigger battles. in other words i dont want to fix that flaw in my community, not just yet.

    TG: that wont be the case if u catch a Virus :)

  14. Sid Vicious Says:

    Yeah, but when it becomes illegal they should just shut up, thank God for the years of free software they had and tough it out, not campaign against it, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.

  15. hacker Says:

    we just finished paying off our firm’s AutoCAD licenses in 2006 (bought in 2004).. i have worked with american and other foriegn firms and their profit per project (i.e their design fees) are 50-100% more than what we charge as jordanian companys.

    it just makes sense that there be a relative % scale. i mean each license goes for around 1000 euros without tax !! thats alot of money for a 20 person compant to pay for. our loocal fees do not coincide with these prices whether microsoft or AutoCAD and thats just not fair !!

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