Raiding A School For Software Piracy

On the same day that I posted an article about boosting the fight against software piracy, officials of the National Bureau of Investigation-Intellectual Property Rights Division (NBI-IPRD) conducted a raid at the Makati Campus of AMA Computer University (AMA) along the South Superhighway in Bangkal, Makati City. The authorities confiscated around thirty (30) computers  and the school will face charges of violating copyright infringement laws under the Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

The anti-software piracy raid was conducted on the strength of a search warrant issued by a court based on the complaints filed by Autodesk Systems, Inc. and Adobe Systems, Inc., through Federis and Associates Law Offices who alleged that the school uses pirated software in its computer laboratories. Autodesk is the owner of AutoCAD software while Adobe is the owner of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe CS2, Adobe Premier CS2, Adobe ReaderX, Adobe Premier Pro 2.0 and Macromedia Dreamweaver.

I chanced upon a DZMM radio interview of Atty. Angel Enrico Mira, corporate secretary of the AMA Education System, who denied that the school is using unauthorized software. He said that AMA has always been compliant with all the IP laws relating to computer software licenses and that the issues on the alleged ‘unauthorized software’ are without basis considering that these are software that can be downloaded through the internet by any student using the internet laboratory, operating similar to any internet café.

The lawyer of AMA added the raid was conducted in a “Gestapo-like manner” such that their students were threatened and for which reason they were forced to suspend classes. He also accused representatives of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) of coercion. He said that instead of listening to their reasons, the BSA representatives, certain Attys. Ponce and Poblador, coerced the school to purchase additional licenses from them amounting to around P100 million. Atty. Mira of AMA also said that the BSA representatives, in the presence of NBI agents, declared that our school has to pay NBI agents twenty (20%) of whatever amount they can agree as settlement.

No matter what the truth was, the raid of the school for alleged software piracy was apparently conducted in accordance with the Rule on Search and Seizure in Civil Actions for Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights which I discussed in my article about what must happen on a legal raid of an i-cafe. Compare how the complainant, AutoCAD and Adobe, secured the search warrant before the raid on AMA was conducted with how OMB conducts raids on i-cafés and you would surely make a second thought on whether OMB is doing it correctly.

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