Ministry gets tougher on software copyrights

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VietNamNet Bridge ‘ In an effort to reduce software copyright violations, the Ministry of Information and Communications has required relevant agencies and departments to report on the use of licensed and open-source software.

Agencies have been ordered to compile data on the total number of computers in use in the country and the numbers using licensed or open-source software, as well as estimate future demand for software.

Viet Nam signed a software licensing agreement with Microsoft in 2007 in an effort to reduce the number of copyright software violations. In 2008, the ministry also placed a priority on encouraging the use of open-source software in State agencies.

Vu Xuan Thanh, chief inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has also been on a mission to unearth software copyright violations and said that respect for software copyrights among major enterprises last year had shown obvious improvement. Out of 27 software audits, a few companies were found without any illegally installed software and some others had very little pirated software.

Piracy was most prevalent in small- and medium-sized firms, and Thanh called for tougher enforcement as well as efforts to educate and raise the awareness of users.

In early June, auditors uncovered hundreds of pirated programmes installed on the computers of two companies in HCM City and Binh Duong Province, VIMEDIMEX Pharmaceuticals and Tran Duc Joint Stock Co.

Representatives from both companies acknowledged that the unlicensed installations were infringing and a violation of the Law on Intellectual Property. The firms were ordered to uninstall all unlicensed software and contact the respective software owners to negotiate lawful licences for use. The US, New Zealand, and Luxembourg have the lowest rate of software copyright violations, at around 20 per cent, while the highest violation rates belong to Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia and Zimbabwe, with over 90 per cent, according to Business Software Alliance statistics. The average rate of software copyright violations in countries in the Asia-Pacific region is 61 per cent.

The rate of software copyright violations in Viet Nam decreased last year, and 2009 was also the first year in which the country fell off the global list of the top ten countries with the most software copyright violations.


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