BSA to work with govt to address illegal software use

THE act of remotely accessing unlicensed software, described as “ghost piracy”, is said to be taking place among design, creative, animation and engineering professionals in Malaysia and other Asean countries, according to BSA (The Software Alliance).

The organisation said it is ramping up collaborations with governments in the region — organising discussions to address potential cases of ghost piracy, along with general compliance of software intellectual property law and cybercrime.

BSA said remote working during the pandemic has not put the brakes on the use of unlicensed software in Malaysia and across the region.

On the contrary, it found that businesses are using technology to allow employees to remotely access unlicensed software from the office while working from home.

Meanwhile, BSA highlighted earlier this month that the enforcement division of Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) conducted its ninth raid targeting ghost piracy, which includes raids conducted on an interior design firm and a design and builds company in Kedah. 

Raids were also conducted against companies in the manufacturing, precision engineering and construction industries. 

A total value of about RM657,975 in unlicensed software, including V-Ray, a 3D rendering software for computer graphics, were found installed during these raids.

Enforcement officers also discovered that a majority of the computers belonging to interns attached to these businesses were found to have unlicensed software.

BSA senior director Tarun Sawney said to the detriment of cybersecurity and rule of law, the organisation believes companies have found ways to access illegal software even during remote work.

He added that in Malaysia, the Copyright Act 1987 stipulates that only licensed and legal software can be used in a business environment and violation of the law would mean that the company and its management are liable to be fined anywhere between RM2,000 and RM20,000 for each illegal copy of software. 

Additionally, he said business leaders may also be imprisoned for up to five years.

“As an organisation, we are actively working with governments in the region to ensure greater levels of software compliance. 

“Unlicensed software is neither secure nor stable — and should not be used by businesses. 

“No creator can come up with quality design using illegal software and when these designs are for the roads, bridges, rail lines and infrastructure then companies are also taking a great risk,” he said in a statement today.

Sawney also noted that over the years, BSA has undertaken awareness-raising and enforcement programmes with MDTCA to promote the use of legal computer software, especially as Malaysia has an unlicensed software rate of 51%.

He said with the onset of the pandemic, BSA enforcement programmes focused on protection of software intellectual property rights slowed in 2020 and 2021.

With engineering and construction firms among the companies most frequently reported found flouting the law, Sawney said this should be of particular interest to government agencies that procure their services for infrastructure and national development projects.

“Governments in South-East Asia want the firms building a national infrastructure to use the safest, most productive and most secure software available — and it’s a fact that unlicensed software is a major risk.

“There should be no tolerance for firms using any illegal software in national development. These are substantial businesses winning lucrative contracts. 

“Shortcuts using cracked software should never be accepted nor allowed,” he added. — by S BIRRUNTHA / graphic by TMR

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