NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Software piracy threatens to halt the creation of new jobs and impede economic growth as it continues to deny the government and private ICT players enormous amounts of revenue.
Statistics released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry conducted in 110 countries show that software piracy globally rose to 41 percent in 2008, up three percent over the previous year’s.
This translates into a total package loss of $53 billion.
Microsoft East and Southern Africa Anti-Piracy Manager Andrew Waititu said on Wednesday, exponential growth in ICT in emerging markets such as Kenya, was creating computers and computer software.
Mr Waititu said this demand for software creates ideal opportunities for unscrupulous vendors to capitalise on vulnerable customers.
“What these people don’t know is that they are actually losing out by using this fake software that ends up not working as intended,” he said.
Mr Waititu said there were two types of the piracy; the first one being copying of the software for personal use (less harmful) and the more dire one high quality counterfeit “where someone produces something similar to the genuine product for sale with the same company name.”
A lot of the products, Mr Waititu revealed, were making their way into the country from the Far East and Eastern Europe as the primary avenues, with a few points being uncovered in Kenya.
Microsoft has elicited government enforcement action through raids as an option to discourage the vice with a number of culprits arrested and arraigned in court, in cases where piracy has been noted.
“We must fight piracy in all its forms to protect and preserve the hard work by software developers who put in lengthy and strenuous efforts to develop the products.”
Mr Waititu revealed Microsoft was conducting these intensive campaigns in conjunction with industry regulators to ensure adherence with the laws governing software piracy in the respective countries.
Kenya Copyright Board Executive Director Marisella Ouma said consistent enforcement efforts to put pirates operating in Kenya out of business were paying off and the board was making slow but steady progress in the fight against piracy.
He however noted there was much work still to be done.
“It is vital businesses and consumers in Kenya remain vigilant and work with law enforcement to protect Intellectual Property Rights and its contribution to our economic success, he said.