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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

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Raids against corporate software pirates continue

As part of the country’s goal in promoting a more vibrant IT industry and the country as a strong offshoring destination for foreign direct investments, efforts are ongoing to improve the levels of awareness and adherence to intellectual property rights.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), in partnership with various stakeholders, continues to raise awareness unabated. Yet another company was visited by the CID as part of a routine process of checking for software license compliance within the business sector. Behind the scenes, BSA has been busy in providing advice to the business sector, from vendors to corporate end-users, on the intellectual property laws and what it means to be compliant.

Shalini Ratwatte, Consultant to the BSA Sri Lanka Committee, said, “In light of the government’s efforts in promoting greater respect for intellectual property rights, I advise all businesses to conduct a software audit in order to ascertain the legality of its software. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense. Having said that, the BSA welcomes the support over the past few years from businesses who has been heeding its advice in legalizing their software usage. Sri Lanka has seen good momentum in the reduction of its software piracy rate in recent years, and this is certainly paving the way for more ICT related investments and partnerships to blossom within the country.”

Hardware vendors who have been selling computers with pirated and unlicensed software have also been warned.

The law in Sri Lanka also contains provisions that criminalize acts that provide unfair cost advantage against legitimate resellers who operate on the right side of the law. Ratwatte added, “If you, as a vendor, sell counterfeit/pirated software to (consumers and corporate) customers, you will be putting your customers at risk of being charged under the Intellectual Property Act, and face possible civil action by the copyright owner.

Sellers of “high end” counterfeit/pirated software usually mix counterfeit with parallel imported (grey market) software. If you are a consumer and you purchase from unauthorized channels or other sources, there is a strong possibility that you end up purchasing “high end” counterfeit/pirated software.”

The BSA promotes policies that foster technology innovation, investment in the IT industry and, most importantly, a world where computer infrastructures and networks can be trusted.

It is understood that piracy is an act where legitimate businesses are denied rightful revenues, and IT professionals are denied good jobs in the industry. There is strong evidence to suggest a very close correlation between piracy reduction and the growth of a country’s IT eco-system. This is why Governments and stakeholders all over the world, pay particular attention to promoting intellectual property rights when pursuing their own aspirations for ICT growth.

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