Rewarding The Piracy Informants

dollarThe Business Software Alliance (BSA), a US-based non-profit organization promoting the use of licensed software, said it has rewarded more than one million (P1M) pesos to eight (8) informants who gave tips to authorities on companies using pirated software. The amount was given to informants in the past twelve (12) months bringing up the total rewards to four million (P4M) pesos in the past seven (7) years of software anti-piracy campaigns. A BSA hotline that anyone can call to relay piracy information was established in support of the Philippine government’s enforcement initiatives to address software copyright violations. The anti-piracy program operates under strict rules of confidentiality that protect the hotline callers as mandated under US data and privacy laws.

According to the same news release, BSA had so far gotten three  (3) convictions among the companies caught infringing the copyright law. It said that because of our current justice system, some cases are still on appeal while at least one (1) individual who has been convicted opted to go on probation. Most of those convicted are first-time offenders. Using pirated software is copyright infringement and a violation of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. If convicted, software pirates could face a one to three-year jail sentence and a fine of up to P1.5M.

Atty. Bien Marquez, BSA consultant for the Philippines, urged lawmakers to look at implementing tougher laws against copyright infringement, noting that the Intellectual Property Rights Code was passed more than a decade ago.  He said various business groups are in talks with the Supreme Court and the Intellectual Property Office to come up with special rules on intellectual property cases. Increasing the penalties and the imprisonment aspect are recommended.

A BSA study recently showed that the software piracy rate in the Philippines remains unchanged at sixty-nine (69%) percent as of 2008. Last year, losses in the software industry due to piracy in the Philippines reached $202M. Atty. Marquez said the failure to reduce software piracy rate in the Philippines highlights the need for more intensified educational and enforcement efforts of the government and private sector. He cited an 2008 study, which stated that reducing piracy by 10 points over four years could generate 600,000 new jobs, and a stronger economy for everyone. That projection has been confirmed by actual experience in China and Russia, the study said.

Assuming that the 69-percent piracy rate is also true among the Internet cafe owners, can you imagine the damage it is doing to the industry as well as the nation’s economy? The need to educate the cafe owners on the need to use licensed does not apply anymore. There are already many web forums tackling  the issue and campaigns to legalize their software were already done in the past. It’s about time that stricter implementation of the Intellectual Property Code be done.

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