Users of unlicensed computer software warned of raids

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/02 August) — A government anti-piracy team warned it will conduct raids on businesses, internet cafes, schools and even religious institutions here that are using pirated or unlicensed computer software.

The Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (Papt) announced they will conduct the raids and inspections starting 8am of August 22.

“Businesses should audit and legalize their software in a certain period, or else face the risk of being raided by the team if they have not done so,” Papt warned in an emailed statement Monday.

“Local businesses, including schools and hospitals, prepare your software inventory and proof of software licenses. This will save time during Papt inspections,” the statement continued.

“Your next visitor might be a Papt officer,” their full-page public notice in local dailies that has been running for weeks now reads.

“Time is running out for businesses in (the cities of) Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, General Santos and Davao! Your areas are next,” the Papt ad warned.

In an interview, Senior Supt. Noel Armilla, Regional Investigation and Intelligence Division (RIID 10) division chief said they are ready to assist the Papt should it request for additional personnel for the impending anti-piracy raids here.

“We will need the proper mandate to cooperate. The request should be coursed through the office of the PNP 10 regional director,” said Armilla.

Four years ago, Armilla had joined anti-piracy raids such as the ones that Papt has scheduled later this month.

In D. V. Soria, a thriving bazaar of pirated DVD movies, computer game applications and software are owned and operated mostly by local Maranao traders.

Ironically, Police Station 1 is sitting on top of this—literally—as its office is on the second floor of the pirated DVD bazaar.

With the impending raids, Mohamad Sidic Gondarangin, chair of Oro Jemaah Muslim Association, has made an appeal to the Maranao traders involved in software and movie piracy to consider finding other business ventures.

“They should look for other business. If they continue to do this, then we cannot help them because what they are doing is against the law,” Gondarangin said in a phone interview Tuesday.

According to the Business Software Alliance’s Internation Data Corporation (IDC) study on global software piracy, in 2008 alone, software piracy in the Philippines stood at 69 per cent. Revenue losses caused by software piracy soared from US$147 million in 2007 to US$202 million in 2008.

Composed of the National Bureau of Investigation, Optical Media Board and the Philippine National Police, the Papt has launched series of raids on firms using pirated software in their workplaces.

This special government anti-piracy policing unit, formed in August 2005, is tasked to map out several major business centers around the country as software piracy-free zone.

It has since received 1,144 software piracy reports and conducted 139 raids against corporations, computer stores as well as internet cafes. It has also seized around Php400 million worth of computers and software.

In a statement posted on PAPT’s official website, (www.papt.org.ph), NBI director Nestor Mantaring said the campaign this year will concentrate on key areas where their team frequently receives reports of software piracy.

“We believe that a more focused and targeted operation will bring about maximum results in both our awareness-generation and enforcement campaigns,” he said in the statement.

He added that for this year’s campaign, the BSA is offering cash rewards of up to P1 million for “software piracy informants.”

Just the other month, Papt-Visayas cracked down on schools, banks and hospitals for reportedly using pirated computer software.

On June 8, in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo, Papt-Visayas “found not just internet cafes but rural banks, schools particularly universities, and hospitals were still using unlicensed software.”

The raids in the Visayas were also preceded with a 20-day countdown to action announced through ads in local dailies.

“We warn the companies that refuse to have their software inspected that they will face legal sanctions unless they show proof that they are using licensed software,” OMB chair Ronnie Ricketts said in a separate emailed statement Tuesday. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)

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