GEORGE TOWN: There will be more raids on companies using pirated and unlicensed software this year in Malaysia, says Business Software Alliance (BSA) senior director Roland Chan.
“So far, 23 raids against such companies have been conducted nationwide in collaboration with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry,” he told a press briefing.
Chan said up to end August, the raids had resulted in the seizure of 125 computers and 1,534 copies of pirated and unlicensed software with an estimated value of RM5mil.
Last year, a total 37 such raids were conducted nationwide.
“This year, some 675 companies in the country joined the BSA software audit programme, which exempts them from being subjected to BSA-initiated enforcement action for one year.
“The companies have informed us of the authenticity of the software that they are using,” Chan said adding that the piracy rate in Malaysia currently stood at 59%, which was the same as last year.
“Last year, the software industry in the country suffered about US$368mil in losses, compared with US$311mil in 2007. The 59% (piracy) rate is down from 85% in 1994,” he said.
Chan said between 2002 and 2008, more than 130 raids had been conducted, resulting in the seizure of 904 computers valued at about RM2.7mil and 73,927 copies of pirated and infringing software worth about RM133mil.
He said reduced piracy in the country also benefited local companies and workers, and not just foreign companies.
“Lowering PC piracy rates means more high-paying job opportunities for workers, a strengthened local IT industry, higher attraction for foreign investments and higher tax revenue to support local services,” he said.
Over last Wednesday and Thursday, pirated software and computers worth about RM900,000 were seized in raids on three Penang-based companies, including a Bursa Malaysia listed company.
Penang Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism enforcement head M. Gunaselan said the raids netted 25 computers worth RM75,000 and 252 copies of pirated software worth RM823,800.
“Three persons comprising a director and two senior managers were arrested in these raids. They were released on police bail after their statements were taken,” he added.
He said the ministry was warning companies against using pirated software and the management and senior staff should ensure that all software used in their companies was legitimate.
“The business, as well as its senior management, may face criminal prosecution and fined up to RM20,000 per infringing copy, a maximum five-year jail term, or both, if convicted under the Copyright Act 1987,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chan said the alliance was offering a reward of up to RM20,000 for information leading to the seizure of such pirated software used by Malaysian companies.