Responding to a recent Mirror Business story titled ‘US sends warning signals to Lankan exporters on software piracy’, an IT industry source on the condition of anonymity said in 2012 the piracy rate in Sri Lanka was at 84 percent, citing a study carried out by International Data Corporation (IDC), the premier global provider of market intelligence on information technology.
“This study covers software by a broad set of companies, not limiting itself to the big firms such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP etc,” he noted.
Asked why the ratio is high in the country, he said though laws were in place since 2003, the laws do not make it mandatory for Sri Lankans to use genuine software.
In 2003, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Act was passed as a comprehensive IPR law bringing Sri Lanka in compliance with the relevant treaties from a regulatory perspective.
According to Sri Lanka’s IT industry stakeholders, creating awareness on dangers of pirated software and the security risks particularly among the SMEs may trigger a shift toward genuine software.
“Since the inception of the law in our country, the National IPR Office has conducted many training programs over the years. Various other Associations, such as the Business Software Alliance, have conducted awareness programs,” an IT sector stakeholder said.
When queried whether the Lankan SMEs appreciate the outweighing benefits of the investment on genuine software, when the same task could be performed on a pirated copy, he said, “Cost is always relative to benefits. Cloud based software is another interesting proposition as the software can be obtained on a monthly subscription which is often a good approach for such companies”.
Speaking on the way forward for the Lankan businesses and in particular to the exporters in the view of the new anti-competitive regulations in the United States (US) which scrutinize exporters for software legality, he urged exporters to study the regulatory environments that they plan to do business to avoid disruption and safeguard their business by verifying use of fully licensed software.
“We are proud of our exporters and obviously do not want them to run into issues over lack of awareness of such new regulations. While many companies in Sri Lanka are in the process of correcting license deficiencies, clearly there are still both local and foreign companies who may want to assess their software assets, either through the completion of a Software Asset Management review through audit or by seeking support from their vendor, to ensure they have all the licenses they require,” he said. Meanwhile Sri Lankan businesses that are operating with legal IT will now have an advantage over illegal counterparts in the Asian region, when competing for opportunities in US.