Friday, August 17, 2012

Thailand to clamp down on software piracy as Asean 2015 nears

The Economic Crime Division expects Thailand's software piracy rate to be reduced from 72 per cent to 70 per cent this year, a development that would enhance the country's competiveness ahead of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) coming into effect in 2015.

Police Colonel Chainarong Charoenchainao, deputy commander of the ECD, said the software piracy rate in Thailand last year stood at 72 per cent, with unlicensed business worth about 26 billion baht (US$823 million) .

Most of the activity among individuals concerned the illegal downloading of software onto desktop PCs, he said. Some 1,434 cases were acted upon by the division, mainly involving people aged from 18 to 44.

Moreover, in the first half of this year, the ECD in cooperation with partner agencies raided 91 business organisations around the country and found illegal software valued at 174 million baht.

Sixty-nine per cent of the raided businesses were Thai companies, while Thai and international holding companies accounted for another 18 per cent and foreign businesses for 3 per cent.

Of the 91 businesses found to be using illegal software, 45 per cent were in manufacturing, 24 per cent in construction, 12 per cent in design and 7 per cent in food.

"Thailand is the second-ranked Asia-Pacific country in terms of the pace of reduction in software privacy, with the rate having fallen from 78 per cent in 2008 to 72 per cent last year. Hong Kong holds the top spot for the fastest drop, from 51 per cent into 43 per cent," said Chainarong.

He added that the ECD expected that this year the country would be able to cut the piracy rate to 70 per cent, as efforts had been stepped up in areas such as providing training courses for business and creating more awareness of the need to use legal software in the business and education sectors.

The division targets making arrests in 2,000 businesses using unlicensed software this year, he said.

Further progress in this area would also create added value for the Kingdom when it comes to attracting international businesses to invest in Thailand, and help prepare local companies for the upcoming challenges both within the AEC and globally, said the agency chief.

The ECD also has a goal to get Thailand removed from the US Special 301 Report, which has classified the country on a Priority Watch List (PWL) since 2008.

Kullanee Issadisai, deputy director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, yesterday said the agency would cooperate with the police and the private sector to reduce software piracy.

The IPD will also undertake activities such as a draft amendment of anti-camcording rules, the development of infrastructure to protect intellectual property, law revision, the provision of education and creation of wider awareness of the need to use licensed software, all hopefully enabling Thailand to be released from PWL status in the future, Kullanee said.

Somporn Maneeratanakul, president of the Association of Thai Software Industry, said the use of unlicensed software had affected local software development since innovators lacked the budget to develop new programs to support the market.

The association will cooperate in the holding of seminars to promote legal software and awareness among the business sector of the vital need to reduce unlicensed software use so that the country's competitiveness can be increased and its potential enhanced as the AEC single market approaches, he said.

Chainarong added that the overall software piracy rate in Asia-Pacific last year stood at 60 per cent, with a value of 653 billion baht. The global rate was 42 per cent, which was worth 1.973 billion baht.

The ECD's goal is to reduce the Thai piracy rate to 50 per cent within the next five years.-Asia News Network (August 16, 2012)

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