Software piracy affecting Information Technology (IT) growth in Pakistan: BSA
KARACHI- Pakistan can win a large number of foreign contracts for the information technology (IT) professionals by checking the high software piracy rate, said Jawad Al Redha, Director, Business Software Alliance (BSA), Middle East.
“Software piracy is the main impediment to the growth of software sector in Pakistan and its widespread prevalence must be checked,Â” he said addressing the resellers at a seminar on Software Piracy. Quoting the latest BSA’s world-wide study, Jawad said, software piracy is prevalent everywhere and it created a huge $11.75 billion global loss for the software industry in the year 2000 alone.
But, the 83 per cent software piracy rate found in Pakistan is considered very high in the software industry, he said. BSA, the alliance formed by major software developers of the world, is often asked by many US and European countries about the piracy levels in Pakistan, but their enthusiasm for investment reduces considerably, when these figures are provided to them.
Jawad said, the harm caused by software piracy affects more than the software publishers. “It stifles new software innovation, depletes research and development funds, robs countries of tax revenue and eliminates jobs.”
The countries that have made attempts to reduce piracy rates, he pointed out, now enjoy a more vibrant IT industry. “Therefore, software piracy enforcement remains the quickest way for many countries to grow their IT industry.”
BSA is working with the government authorities to reduce the piracy rate ail over Pakistan, which will go a long way towards attracting foreign contracts for IT professionals and developing the nascent IT industry in the country, he said.
The legal software culture will also help in plugging the continuous brain drain, besides earning the foreign exchange through software exports. This will also encourage the Pakistani IT professionals working abroad to return to their motherland and take active part in realizing the government’s IT Policy, Jawad Al Redha added.
The software CDs that are sold by unauthorized dealers or the copies people make from their friend’s computers for their businesses all harm the computer industry, he said.
Jawad said the software developers spend many years developing computer programmes for public use and a portion of every rupee or dollar spent in purchasing original software is funnelled back into research and development to produce more advanced software. “But when counterfeit software is sold, the money goes directly .into the pockets of pirated software producers.”
Hard Disk Loading, or the practice of installing unauthorized copies of software onto new computers prior to sale, is largely prevalent in Pakistan, he noted. The new machines are normally preloaded with legal software through agreements between computer manufacturers and software publishers, but most of the suppliers install illegal software to sell their machines, he added.
Jawad said, an original computer programme is regarded by law as the intellectual property of the person or company that created it and unauthorised copying of such programmes is prohibited by copyright law. The copyright law protects software, just like it protects books, movies and songs from the pirates.
“A software license only gives an individual the right to use the software, but the intellectual property and other rights remain with the software publisher,” he added. If caught with pirated software, a company may be prosecuted under the provisions of the copyright law. The penalties under the Pakistan law include a fine of up to Rs. 200,000, seizure of products used for illegal copying, and a prison sentence of up to three years, Jawad said.
He said, if copyright laws were not enforced in the United States and other western countries, the software sector could not have flourished so much and people would not have benefitted from the latest software.
Source: The Nation