Software piracy – A necessary evil for promotion?

26 11 2010

It is a matter of irony that the Indian software industry loses over $2 billion to piracy annually but many believe that software counterfeiting is beneficial for business and thus they accept it as a necessary evil. Recently many studies have indicated that software privacy is on a decline in India, which some see as a proof that piracy will wither away in improved economic conditions.

Software piracy - A necessary evil for promotion?

Software piracy poses a serious threat to PC security for users, loss of income for the manufactures and loss of revenue for the government by means of legitimate taxes. The huge difference in price of the original software versus the pirated software is the main reason for software counterfeiting.

A study by Business Software Alliance and IDC reveals that Indians used 65 percent pirated software in 2009, which is 3 percent lower than the previous year. Installations of unlicensed software on personal computers in India fell from 68 percent in 2008 to 65 percent in 2009. As per the study, India ranks 20 in global software piracy rankings. A Microsoft survey reveals that 86 percent of Indians are ready to pay more for genuine software. Reducing India’s software piracy rate is likely to create over $4.6 billion over the next four years.

Software counterfeiting should be well understood to evaluate its serious implications. According to Nasscom, software piracy involves the use, reproduction or distribution of software without having received the expressed permission of the author. Software privacy is mainly of 4 kinds such as user piracy, hard disk loading, software counterfeiting and internet piracy.

Indian Copyright Act of 1957 protects the copyright of computer software in India. It is not necessary that a software work has to be published to get the copyright protection. The copyright eligibility is that as soon as a piece of software is committed to a tangible medium, it automatically receives protection under Indian copyright law. As per the Indian laws, software piracy is punishable under both civil and criminal law.

On the other hand, many are of the opinion that software counterfeiting is not always damaging to brands but can actually be leveraged to a brand’s advantage. A good number of professionals in the software industry have acknowledged this fact including many CEOs like Bharat Goenka, Managing Director, Tally Solutions. For many beginners or new software manufactures, piracy is an easy way to gain access to new markets. The brand awareness will shoot up in such a way that there is a possibility that over time, the sales will migrate from pirated to original. As the brand grows in popularity, the manufacture will seek to find new innovative methods to protect and expand its products to be ahead of its imitators. It is a fact that one who buys a pirated version today due to his economic restraints, will go for the original when he can afford one.

The most frequently and commonly pirated software in 2010 are Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Nero 9, Windows Vista, Windows XP and window 7, Magic Video Converter, AVG Pro, Sony Vegas Pro and all antivirus like AVG, kaspersky, Qiuckheal, norton, netprotcter etc.

But overall, software piracy remains to be a serious threat to the industry. Adequate awareness programs should be carried out to make people understand the seriousness of intellectual property theft. The risks and dangers of using pirated software should be conveyed to the common public. Software piracy should not stand as a hurdle in India’s race to be a leader in information and technology space.

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