Sri Lanka on track to reduce soft ware piracy

Act 36 of 2003 has been enacted. But soft ware pirates abound although there are laws that protect property rights. Sri lanka is now ranked 6th in the world for soft ware piracy. Behind Bangladesh, Quantum of piracy in that country is 92 %. Sri Lanka racing just behind is 90 % in violation of these property rights.

Enterprise Director Microsoft Sri Lanka, Channa de Silva, said piracy does exist, and in real terms causes substantial losses to government revenue in taxes and related income sources. Also advantageous to the retail trade if authentic soft ware is used is that there is always a call back clause used for guarantees and exposure to illegalities are minimized considering long term benefits to a vendor, and in turn end users.

The corporate sector who invariably use authentic ware are well serviced by the vendor, and usually machine corruption is low..

However when confronted, another source who averted identification, said although it was correct that piracy continued apace it should also be taken into consideration that PC users purchased a machine at costs that were affordable. What of the huge profits made by originators like IBM or even Microsoft in marketing their products to a relatively small markets like Sri Lanka. Channa de Silva’s response was that Sri Lanka was grouped with the Indian subcontinent and origin costs were applicable to that context and not on the pricing system applicable to Europe or America. Prices were comparatively low and affordable.

There were also spurious eco systems in place that encouraged regional piracy which in itself was quite enormous.

Most recent indicators were that globally, the soft ware industry was valued at approximately $175 billion. Considering its substantial financial influence it was now opportune, vendors, Associations, and Government bodies work in tandem rather than compartmentalize themselves which could negate any positive steps that would be taken.

In the Sri Lankan context although piracy is in expanded mode it was also incumbent that end users ensure their purchases are authentic. These views were expressed by the National Intellectual Property Office.

We also spoke to end users who said it was all well and good that this should be the norm, but they said, ‘try purchasing an authentic PC with ‘original’ soft ware, and the answer you would get is, ‘In your dreams at the price we could give’. Apart from a frivolous answer such as that cost would be so prohibitive that PC users would be few and far between.

Act 36 of 2003 was in place. But those accused of pirating were not convicted because invariably out-of – court settlements were now more the order of the day than actual prosecutions.

In real terms indicators were that scant attention to act 36 was now in vogue rather than face litigation.

Soft ware piracy is tantamount to theft and is now a criminal offence. That is the bottom line, Channa de Silva said.

However apart from these laws in place, further support was also enacted through the computer crimes act of 2007.

Prosecutions therefore have now been strengthened.

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