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by Paul Kerstein

Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team to Curb Software Piracy

Sep 13, 20054 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The countdown to hunt users of pirated software has begun as thePilipinas Anti-Piracy Team gears up for its quest in cracking downpiracy. Local companies are expected to correct license misuse by Sept.15, after which the crackdown will officially begin.

The team, composed of members of the National Bureau of Investigation(NBI), the Optical Media Board (OMB), the Philippine National Police(PNP), and the Intellectual Property Coalition, started the 30-daycountdown on Aug. 17 in cooperation with the Business Software Alliance(BSA).

Shortly after the announcement of a countdown, calls to the anti-piracyhotline of the BSA doubled as numerous individuals reported companiesthat use unlicensed software.

The countdown will be followed by a nationwide crackdown phase whichwill involve a series of raids against software copyright violators.

The undertaking is part of the government’s effort in getting rid ofpiracy in the country. Eduardo Manzano, chairman of the OMB said thatthe project is an all-out campaign against software piracy. “We want toshow that the government is determined to make the country piracy-freeso that foreign investors will see the Philippines as an attractivedestination for their business, without any fear that their productswill be pirated.”

Software piracy exists in many forms including corporate end-userpiracy, hard disk loading, retail CD-ROM piracy, and Internet piracy.Based on a recent International Data Corp. (IDC) study commissioned bythe BSA, the most noticeable among these forms of piracy is the sale ofcounterfeit CD-ROMs in retail outlets.

However, software piracy has remained rampant among corporate-end usersparticularly when businesses install more copies of software than ithas licenses for it. “Software piracy has continued to be a big threatto the growth of the local information and communications sector. Ithas also been causing billions of lost revenues to our economy,” saidManzano.

Among the types of piracy, corporate end-user piracy is the mostdamaging to the BSA, according to Jeff Hardee, BSA vice president andregional director for Asia. “A lot of businesses continue to usesoftware without proper licenses. The BSA has been conducting seminarson software asset management (SAM) to help companies realize the valueof their IT investment. The adoption of a model SAM practice alsominimizes software license misuse.”

The IDC study also places the country’s piracy rate at 71 percent withlosses amounting to P3.7 billion in 2004. IP Coalition chairman JohnLesaca said that both the government and legitimate businesses continueto be adversely affected by piracy, particularly in lost income andrevenues. In the local movie industry alone, revenue losses amount toP16 billion, said Manzano. “Lost revenues in taxes due to piracy couldhave been used to fund basic services such as education, health, andinfrastructure,” Manzano added.

NBI director Reynaldo Wycoco urged companies to make sure that they areonly using licensed software. “We hope that businesses will heed ourcall. Legalize your unlicensed software now before the crackdownbegins. Do not put your company at risk by using unlicensed software.”The NBI will also involve their regional and local offices to make thenationwide campaign more successful.

The team is bent on eliminating piracy in the country. In a span of 18months, the team has closed three factories, raided Quiapo, andconfiscated 1,000,080 discs. Manzano explained that since 1999, therate of piracy in the country has gone down by 6 percent. “It’s still asmall figure, but we are definitely going to raise that figure up inthe coming months.”

The crackdown is not a matter to be taken lightly. PNP director ArturoLomibao also cautioned companies using unlicensed software. “Piracy isstealing and is against the law. Dishonest vendors who are caughtselling and using pirated software not only face risk of paying heftyfines but also imprisonment,” said Lomibao.

The BSA even raised the reward for reports of piracy cases fromP200,000 to P1 million. “We are proud to support this government-drivencampaign against the use of pirated and unlicensed software. We laudthe agencies leading this initiative for recognizing the need toreduce, and consequently eliminate piracy,” said Hardee.

By April B. Rojales – Computerworld Philippines