Just imagine how many times have you gifted or shared
your favorite software programs with your friends? You may be obliged
and get compliments for this but are you aware of the fact that by doing
so you are committing a serious crime?
Just imagine how many times have you borrowed the
office software from your employer to continue work at home neglected to
delete it after use? You may not be caring for it but it is yet another
one of corporate crimes and you are offending your country's laws by
You may be feeling at ease by downloading various
programs from a bulletin board system or commercial on-line service with
out holding a valid license for the purpose but it may get you in
trouble. You may end up paying fine for this illegal downloading if
caught and taken to task by the legitimate producer of that program.
Each and every one of us knows that all the above
mentioned practices are quite rampant in Pakistan, unfortunately so,
like almost every other country of the world. With computer usage
increasing at such a great pace, software has become essential to run
every thing, from PCs to office networks, Internet and every thing in
between. As the computer software are so easy to copy, one rarely
bothers to get it legally, i.e. for a price. "Software Piracy"
exists at widespread levels, in almost every business concern,
educational institution, home and even government office.
According to the experts of the sector, software
piracy is the main impediment to the growth of IT industry in Pakistan
and its spread must be checked immediately. A report of the Business
Software Alliance (BSA), an umbrella organization of the major global
software producers estimates that 83 per cent of software used in
Pakistan is illegal and unlicensed. This is not only proving to be a big
blow to our IT industry but also resulting in huge revenue loss to
national exchequer. The phenomenon is not restricted to Pakistan only.
It is causing an annual estimated loss of $ 12 billion to global
software industry. Even the countries like USA and Japan are not spared.
WHAT IS SOFTWARE PIRACY?
Copyright laws of various countries bind, both
individuals as well as corporations that usually a certain software
should be installed on one computer and a back-up copy to be made for
archival purposes only. Many individuals and corporations, however,
disregard the importance of software as valuable intellectual property;
inadvertently, or purposely, they copy, share, or otherwise illegally
use programs throughout an organization. There are even businesses that
profit from the sale of pirated software.
Thus any attempt of unauthorized copying,
distribution, or use of personal computer software comes under the term
"software piracy". Unlike products from other industries, each
copy of software a computer user makes is identical to the original and
functions exactly the same. Regardless of the country, industry, or
platform, more computer software is used than is bought.
SOFTWARE PIRACY OCCURS WHEN:
Any individual user shares his favorite program with
business user buys a new program and installs it on several computers in
computer seller, consultant or systems integrator installs its software
on a client's computer
business disregards the license agreements for networked software
professional software thief duplicates the diskettes, packaging, and
manuals from a software package and then sells the illegal copies
Many of the computer users keep themselves engaged in
the acts of piracy without realizing the fact that it is as an offence
as the theft of any other good. It may be of serious consequences for
individuals and organizations in a number of ways.
It may result in the loss of any company's reputation
as a law-abiding organization and image. Your money and time is always
in danger, not only in case of being caught and taken to task but also
in the case when any fault develops in the software your are using or
any harmful virus coming through it. And last but not the least, many
countries' laws sentence such offenders to different periods of time.
In Pakistan, which is fifth largest market of pirated
software, computer software is covered under 1992 Copyright Ordinance
(amended Copyright Act of 1962). Under this law, it is crime to make
copies of the computer software without authorization of original
copyright owner. Any person or organization using or selling pirated
software may be caught and panelized up to Rs. 2,00,000, such goods are
liable to seizure and the offenders can be sentenced up to three years
It may be noted here that in the past couple of
years, there has been an aggressive campaign in the country to check the
spread of software piracy. The campaign is being led by Business
Software Alliance that represents major software producers in a number
of countries. It is aimed at enhancing the legal software usage in
Pakistan. This enforcement has been instrumental in bringing down the
level of software piracy in Pakistan and has encourage legality as a
number of individuals and organizations have been taken to task and
fines up to millions of rupees imposed on them. Yet this has not been
highly successful, as piracy remains rampant in the country and a lot
more is needed to do away with it.
WHY USE LEGAL SOFTWARE?
In this age of free market economy, only those
countries can attain the fast pace of development whose citizens show
respect for intellectual property rights. It is an unfortunate fact that
here in Pakistan we find little care for intellectual property rights.
This is severely hindering the growth of Information Technology in
Pakistan. How can we expect any technological giant to invest in
Pakistan when its business interests are not safeguarded?
In these times when computer software is need of
every organization and house, the practice of piracy is playing havoc
with our economy. How can we hope for a technological turn around when
only one company, Microsoft, loses $ 20 million annually here? Apart
from discouraging investment, it causes huge revenue losses to the
country, which is direly in need of both. Hence it becomes our legal,
moral and corporate responsibility to use and promote the usage of
Though the pirated software costs nothing and
licensed one sells for a certain price, there are a number of
characteristics that prove the latter more advantageous for the users in
the longer run. Some of the benefits attached with the use of legalized
software, as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) itself states, are as
you load illegal software, you risk introducing viruses which can spread
through your network and cost countless hours in restoring lost data.
software provides you with back-up and support. No such certainty exists
with illegal software.
you register as a licensed user of a legal software package, you can
expect to be notified of any upgrades and offered discounts on their
purchase. Upgrades on illegal software may be expensive, and there is no
guarantee of its compatibility.
illegal software you cannot be sure that it will perform reliably. If
there is a problem, you cannot go to the publisher for help because you
are effectively using stolen software.
purchasing legal software you receive a range of documentation including
loading instructions and user guidelines. Illegal software does not
offer the same level of support.
legal software you can expect to receive back-up in the form of
publisher product support lines and high quality training through the
dealer network. With illegal software you have to stand alone.
It would be pertinent to note here that the producers
are offering large discounts on the prices of software. In some cases,
discounts for educational sector are as higher as 90 per cent. So the
pricing is no more a genuine issue. The real issue is mindset. It is
time to realize that every innovative mind has the legitimate right to
profit from its innovation and we must pay for what we are using. It is
time to keep the national interest in mind, not meager personal gains.