The Asian economic crisis could aggravate the global software piracy problem if governments don?t take action, warned the British Software Alliance (BSA).
Software vendors lost an enormous $4 billion to piracy in Asia in 1996, with up to 99 per cent of software in use in some countries being illegal (see Newswire 4 December).
This is particularly worrying for suppliers, since - economic crisis apart - the Asian market is the one with most growth potential.
But as the economic crisis worsens the cost of imported software is increasing for pressurised companies, making piracy even more tempting.
Martin Smith, from Novell?s anti-piracy department, said: "We have technical investigators who monitor for piracy but Novell still loses an estimated $500 million every year from software theft. The rate in Asia is very high compared to America."
A BSA spokeswoman commented: "We will continue working with foreign governments regarding the enforcement of software law but we?re a bit more challenged to ensure it?s a front burner in Asia."
During a recent visit to Singapore Robert Holleyman, BSA president, warned that things could get worse unless Asian governments increase their vigilance because "illegal trading affects the economy as a whole".
He argued: "Software piracy costs tens of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue and, while other issues tend to take precedence, copyright infringers assume a ?safety zone'."
"It is critical that governments and local law enforcement agencies act with vigilance to ensure that all laws are respected during tough economic times," he added.
Smith added: "The main problem is with resellers copying products numerous times, charging the full price and either pocketing the money or reducing the overall price for competitive reasons. The end user is always the victim."
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