‘Software Grace Period’ drives from April 20
KARACHI, April 18 2006: Pakistan may face serious threats from the United States and some European companies over the software piracy issue and non-implementation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). However, the federal government had taken various concrete steps to address IPR issue by implementing strict laws a couple of years ago.
In this regard, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry alliance of software publishers who share the common goal of eliminating software piracy internationally, is trying to bridge and co-operate between businesses in Pakistan over software piracy issue. The BSA recognises for whatever reasons some businesses may not have managed their software programmes properly, but ignoring the problem can lead to substantial financial exposure.
These views were expressed by BSA (Middle East) co-chairman Jawad Al Redha and Jawad A. Sarwana of Abraham & Sarwana Solicitors while addressing a press conference here on April 17, 2006. Software piracy is a serious issue in Pakistan, he said. The global software piracy figures depict that 82 percent software used in the country is illegal, which means that more than eight in ten businesses operate using unlicensed or illegal software.
In 2004, about $26 million of pirated software was selling to various countries in addition to meeting local demands. But these figures were brought down to roughly $6 to $8 million by taking serious steps and closure of many pirated factories in the country, he added. In fact, the software piracy is just another form of theft and has now become a global problem and needs to be addressed urgently.
In this connection, the BSA announced to launch a month-long ‘Software Grace Period’ to allow companies, organisations and individuals to install licensed software without facing penalties for the past infringement of copyright law. “Leading foreign software companies have agreed to provide their products on discounted rate designed for small, medium and large companies and businesses in Pakistan,” Jawad Al Redha said.
“Organisations and individuals that participate in the campaign and take the necessary steps to become fully licensed will be excused from penalties for software violations occurring prior to April 20, 2006,” he added. “This is an opportunity for businesses and computer users to acquire software licenses before they may become subject of BSA’s legal action,” he said, adding the grace period will start on April 20 and end on May 20, 2006.
During the month-long grace period businesses will receive information from BSA about participation in the truce campaign. An extensive print and electronic media campaign is being launched concurrently to raise awareness of BSA and the grace period, he said. Jawad Al Redha said businesses trying to determine whether their organisation is using unlicensed software can download free information from website: www.bsa.org or call the helpline (021-4534396 or 021-4537497) in Karachi.
The alliance believed it is imperative to respect intellectual property and copyright laws, software piracy, even if it could have serious negative effects on the information technology (IT) industry and ultimately dampen new software development, besides hurting the country’s economy. The violation of piracy laws also discourages local and big international software companies to invest in Pakistan, killing numerous jobs and creativity, he said.
The protection of intellectual property rights in the country would help in creating an IT-friendly atmosphere and attract more local and foreign investment in the software sector, Al Redha claimed. Over the last few years, most of the software investment has been made to countries where strong anti-piracy laws exist, Al Redha observed. The English language is widely used among Pakistani professionals, which removes the communication gap in doing business with other countries. “Pakistan can fully benefit from this comparative advantage to increase its software development share in the national and international markets,” he added.
Western and many of the developing countries have developed their software industry by enforcing strict anti-piracy laws, he added. According to the BSA Annual Global Software Piracy Study, world-wide losses due to software piracy totalled at $32 billion in 2004. The software is produced through efforts of a number of people including programmers, designers, artists, producers, distributors, retailers and other dedicated professionals. All of them have to suffer at the hands of pirates.
Source: B. Recorder