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Software piracy: Malaysia and BSA join forces for clampdown
By Julian Matthews
July 9, 1999
The Malaysian government, working in tandem with industry watchdog Business Software Alliance is coming down hard on software piracy like never before.
By government estimates, from April to June, 4,629 raids had been conducted with seizures exceeding RM4 million (US$1.05 million). This figure is dramatic in light of the fact that only RM3 million (US$790,000) worth was seized for the whole of last year.
The nation-wide blitzkrieg is sending out real fear among corporate users and computer retailers, many of whom have been struggling to stay afloat in the past year.
The BSA issued a stern warning last month when it sued a Malacca manufacturing firm claiming RM300,000 (US$79,000) in damages, costs and aggravated damages for alleged copyright infringement.
Although only an estimated RM240,000 (US$63,000) worth of suspected infringing software had been seized from the premises of the firm, BSA was seeking additional punitive damages, suggesting it had adopted a more venomous legal stance.
Last month, BSA vice president and country manager Lee Tse Mei reportedly said the case was by no means its last. She said BSA had adopted the two-pronged approach of criminal and civil action to bolster its anti-piracy efforts.
Under the Malaysian Copyright Act 1987, companies found guilty can be fined up to RM10,000 (US$2,632) for each copy of illegal software seized and company staff can be jailed for up to five years.
Lee said a crucial tool aiding the BSA in its efforts was the set-up of a new toll-free hotline in April, and a cash reward system--RM10,000 (US$2,632) to information leading to a successful raid, and an additional RM5,000 to RM10,000 for assisting in the successful prosecution of offenders.
BSA and the enforcement division of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry began the piracy clampdown from April 9 after the launch of a month-long nationwide awareness campaign. The BSA also called on suspect companies directly to confirm whether they were using legal software so they could be removed of a 7,500-company blacklist. Those found infringing were raided or warned.
Following the campaign, another month-long grace period was allowed for companies to comply. This grace period ended in early June. But the frequency of the raids has prompted public outcry.
Julian Matthews is the Malaysian correspondent for CNET Malaysia. Email us your comments.
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