Thursday, February 1, 2007; 9:45 AM
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Pirated Microsoft Corp software helped Romania to build a vibrant technology industry, Romanian President Traian Basescu told the company's co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday.
Basescu was meeting the software giant's chairman in Bucharest to celebrate the opening of a Microsoft global technical center in the Romanian capital.
"Piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania," Basescu said during a joint news conference with Gates.
"It helped Romanians improve their creative capacity in the IT industry, which has become famous around the world ... Ten years ago, it was an investment in Romania's friendship with Microsoft and with Bill Gates."
Gates made no comment.
Former communist Romania, which has just joined the European Union, introduced anti-piracy legislation 10 years ago but copyright infringements are still rampant.
Experts say some 70 percent of software used in Romania is pirated, and salesmen still visit office buildings in central Bucharest to sell pirated CDs and DVDs.
Foreign investors say Romania's IT sector is one of most promising industries in the fast-growing economy thanks to high level of technical education in Romania, low wages and the country's thriving underworld of computers hackers.