Use of illegal software in HK dropped by 2 per cent

SINGAPORE – The use of pirated software on PCs in Hong Kong declined from 53 per cent in 2006 to 51 percent in 2007, in keeping with a global trend of falling piracy rates.

However, Hong Kong’s industry losses due to software piracy rose from US$180 million in 2006, to $224 million in 2007. These latest statistics are among the findings of the fifth annual ‘Global PC Software Piracy Study’ released last week by Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry.

The study covered 108 countries and was conducted independently by IDC, an IT market research and forecasting firm.

The study covered piracy of all packaged software that runs on PCs, including desktops, laptops, and ultra-portables. It did not include other types of software such as server or mainframe-based software.

“This report shows that while we are making progress here in Hong Kong we still have more work to do in the battle against software piracy,” said Jeffrey Hardee, vice-president and regional director of BSA (Asia). “Reducing piracy further would deliver significant benefits for local consumers, local software and services firms, small businesses, and the society at large,” he said.

Hardee said there was an “ongoing improvement in the software piracy situation in Hong Kong,” with the second phase of the “Genuine Business Software Campaign” launched in 2007. This was a creative initiative by the Hong Kong Government and BSA that aimed to address software piracy in the business environment through the offer of free onsite consultancy services on software asset management.

“While the fruits of the campaign have not yet been fully realized, we are seeing that legalization efforts and the general improvement of corporate governance by businesses have attributed to progress in Hong Kong,” said Hardee.

In Hong Kong, intellectual property rights are protected by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), the only department responsible for taking criminal sanctions against copyright and trade mark infringements in the territory.

In April 2001, the Copyright Ordinance was amended to fight against illegal recording in public entertainment venues and make it illegal to use pirated computer software, movie, musical recording and television drama in the course of business.

BSA says it is committed to continuing to work closely with the HKSAR Government to raise general awareness of the importance of copyright protection and to continue with its efforts to empower businesses with the tools they need to better manage their software assets.

The study also found that among the 108 countries studied, PC software piracy dropped in 67 countries, and increased in only eight. However, because the worldwide PC market grew fastest in high-piracy countries, the worldwide piracy rate increased by three percentage points to 38 percent in 2007.

According to the study, regional piracy rates in Asia Pacific increased four per cent year-on-year to 59 per cent with the highest-piracy countries being Bangladesh (92 percent), Sri Lanka (90 percent), Vietnam (85 percent), Indonesia (84 percent), and China (82 percent). Among the lowest-piracy countries were New Zealand (22 per cent), Japan (23 per cent), and Australia (28 per cent).

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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