FIA’s Countrywide Campaign against Piracy Software

By Rida Zaheer

A long awaited campaign against stealers of intellectual property has been launched by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The countrywide crackdown on corporate users of unlicensed computer software would defiantly curb the menace of piracy and also attract foreign financiers to invest in the speedy growing IT field. It is an established fact that manufacturing companies in Brazil, Russia and India that choose to use illegal software steal more than $1.5 billion from their in-market competitors that choose to play fair by using genuine software. Similarly, in Pakistan the theft of intellectual property was on peak since most of the companies found involve in preparing pirated CDs.

Anyhow, acting on a complaint, the FIA this week raided a large pharmaceutical company with offices in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Mr. Muhammad Majid Bashir, a leading expert on IPR’s representing Microsoft along with his team provided legal assistance. The target company has been accused of using pirated software, in other words, unlicensed software. The production, sale, copy, purchase or usage of unlicensed software is an offence, punishable under Section 66 of Chapter XIV of the Copyright Ordinance 1962 and can lead to criminal prosecution for violation of law. The raid resulted in the confiscation of computers loaded with unlicensed software by a large company of this nature reflects the scale to which the issue of software piracy has penetrated the country.

The raid was the part of a campaign by the FIA to improve the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the country, particularly where corporate companies are using unlicensed software.

“Corporate end-user raids such as these will send a strong message to commercial companies that the government is taking strict measures against violator of intellectual property rights. We plan to continue these raids until we achieve our goal of creating not only awareness of IPRs but also instilling a culture of respect for those IPRa “said Inam Ghani, Director FIA, ” FIA has taken the lead in the fight against piracy in the country and we have unequivocal support from the Government of Pakistan to eradicate the threat and usage of pirated and counterfeit software.” He further stated.

Pakistan remains a haven for software piracy. According to study conducted by the IDC for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the leading global organization that is the voice of the global commercial software industry and its hardware partners before government and in the international marketplace, released in May 2010, the rate of software piracy in Pakistan was 84% during the past year. As a result, the country is amongst those with one of the highest piracy rates in the world. This has adversely affected the competitive image of the country among IT investors.

Kama, Ahamed, Country Manager Microsoft Pakistan remarked, “Software Piracy is a significant threat locally and we as a nation need to take concrete steps to curb it. It is unacceptable when profitable commercial organizations, indulge in software piracy with complete disregard to the law, often in a manner which gives them an unfair cost advantage over Pakistan companies with licensed software. Promoting a culture that respects IPR, in software and other 8industries will promote greater foreign investment in our economy and also provide an incentive to local entrepreneurs to explore new ideas.”

According to s survey by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), conducted for BSA, the country’s IT competitiveness ranking has declined to 62nd in the world, which is behind other regional countries like India and Sri lanka. Most importantly the unchecked trade of pirated software in the country is exposing unsuspecting software users to the hazards of malware, viruses and other online scams.

FIA aims to collaborate closely with the IT sector business and media to highlights the current challenges faced in combating the IPR violation in the country and devise and implement strategies through which the IT competitiveness of Pakistan can be improved. In short government has made a genuine effort through FIA while imitating the crackdown against thieves of intellectual property which will not only raise the country image but also attract investors to invest their capitals in Pakistan. Government should also take steps to protec the work of Pakistani world youngest IT expert ” Arfa Karim (late).

The writer is a student of Mass Communication

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