Economic crime police keep up pressure on corporate software copyright violators

Economy March 15, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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The Economic Crime Division of the Royal Thai Police continues to enforce violations of corporate software piracy, with raids on 10 companies in the manufacturing, construction and service industries so far this year.

"Companies using unlicensed software are taking risks with their IT security and risks with their status in trade supply chains," ECD deputy commander and spokesperson Chainarong Charoenchainao said yesterday.

"They are also harming copyright holders. It is our duty and responsibility to respond to complaints of software piracy by investigating companies accused of using unlicensed software, and raiding those companies for which there is evidence of illegal use," he said.

Manufacturing companies continue to attract the most reports of software copyright violations. This includes using unlicensed business software, server software, design software and language-translation software.

The ECD conducts investigations after receiving complaints and evidence of piracy filed by copyright owners.

Among the most significant software copyright violators of 2014 thus far is a machine-parts manufacturing company in Chon Buri using unlicensed software throughout the company on a total of 49 computers.

Police found almost no genuine software on the premises. Instead, the company was using unlicensed software by Autodesk, Microsoft, Siemens PLM and Thai Software Enterprise.

"For many companies, we see software piracy as often an oversight by management," said Chainarong.

"It is the responsibility of the IT staff and company directors to know their obligations. This is critical at a time when there is a requirement for manufacturing companies in export countries to show they are part of a transparent supply chain. We encourage Thai companies to be proactive in making sure they are not using unlicensed software and have a good practice of managing software licences and compliance," he added.

Other companies with significant software intellectual-property infringement in the first two months of the year include a manufacturer of metal parts in Chon Buri, a machine distributor in Pathum Thani, an auto-parts company in Nakhon Pathom, and construction companies in Nonthaburi and Bangkok.

The average annual revenue reported for the companies raided for software piracy so far this year is Bt230 million per business.

In addition to the legal risks associated with software piracy, there are also security risks, putting sensitive data in danger.

International law-enforcement authorities, including the FBI in the United States, have issued warnings about crime rings exploiting security loopholes in unlicensed software.

With Thailand remaining on the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s "Priority Watch List" for intellectual property rights violations, the ECD seeks to increase the pace of raids.

Last year, the agency nearly doubled its raids of companies using unlicensed software from 179 in 2012 to nearly 300.

The ECD has also indicates that this year will see an increase in enforcement activity of up to 30 per cent from the results posted in 2013.

Under the Copyright Act BE 2537, infringement of a copyrighted computer program carries a punishment of imprisonment and/or a fine.