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Philippine software industry loses $217-M in 2009 due to piracy

MANILA, Philippines - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) disclosed yesterday that the Philippine software industry lost $217 million last year due to software piracy.

In a press conference at the NBI headquarters in Manila, lawyer Bien Marquez of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said that in 2008 the software industry also lost $202 million.

Records from the International Data Corp., he said, also noted that from 2007 to 2009, the software piracy in the country was pegged at 69%. This means that for every 100 computers, 69 computers are using pirated software.

He said the information technology (IT) industry has suffered badly due to piracy.

During the past two months, operatives from the NBI Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD) raided 17 business establishments involved in software piracy in different operations in the country.

NBI Director Nestor Mantaring said 14 of these establishments were caught using computers allegedly loaded with different versions of pirated software.

There are Roland Mercado Design Associates/RMDA Architects Co.; Buruoj Architectural & Interior Design Services; Moanima Inc.; Mizuken Global Solutions, Inc.; Arlen P. De Guzman Design Associates Co.; Gateway Network Solutions, Inc., (both establishments located at Mile Long Bldg.); and DQA Environmental Design, all based in Makati; Avecs Corp. and/or Avecs Steelworks and Services, Inc., Microsourcing Phils., Inc., and Hilmarcs Construction Corp., all in Quezon City; and Tyger 828; X-Habit and Functionsmith Sales and Services and/or Functionsmith Inc., in Pasig City.

Mantaring said three Rizal branches of PC Republic enterprises, a computer store, were also raided for selling computers allegedly loaded with unlicensed software. They are Cainta branch in RDS Center Building, Imelda Avenue, Cainta, Rizal; Binangonan branch at Lot 1, National Road, Binangonan, and Junction Branch at San Buena Building, Junction, Cainta.

Confiscated during the raids were 136 computers (desktops and laptops) and eight CPUs loaded with unlicensed and pirated copies of different versions of software, multiple CD installers of various software programs all valued at P51 million.

Mantaring said the owners and operators of the said establishments were charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for violation of RA 8293 (Unauthorized Reproduction).

He said the NBI raids were part of the campaign of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), of which the NBI is a member along with the Optical Media Board and the Philippine National Police. It aims to map out several major business centers as software-piracy free zone.

The campaign has already started in Makati, where companies were given until March 25 to legalize their software or face the risks of PAPT raid or routine inspection. The use and sale of unlicensed and pirated software is a criminal offense and punishable by up to nine years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1.5 million.

While this year’s all-out campaign has been launched in some of the biggest business districts in Metro Manila, Mantaring pointed out the raids are not concentrated in limited areas.

Mantaring warned that the NBI together with the OMB and PNP will continue its relentless campaign against software copyright infringers in more areas in the coming weeks.

By: Sandy Araneta, The Philippine Star

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