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     FrontPage Edition: Sat 5 Nov 2005

Survey shows some companies infringing software copyright law


IPOS Survey Shows That Some Companies In Singapore Are Still Not Compliant with Copyright Laws On Software Usage
Since the introduction of new copyright laws with effect from 1 January 2005 that make wilful copyright infringement in software usage for business advantage a criminal offence, compliance by companies in Singapore has generally improved.
However, a recent survey highlighted that for small medium enterprises, nearly a third of them are still not fully compliant in the proper usage of software products in their business environment. This could be as a result of the use of illegal software or under-licensing the use of software products.
This was a major finding in the survey commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. The survey also found that among those who were non-compliant, a significant number were smaller companies, averaging ten workstations or less. 47.3% of this group were non-compliant.
According to 2003 statistics released by the Department of Statistics, there were a total of 119, 954 companies in Singapore with ten staff or less. Commenting on the survey, Ms Liew Woon Yin, Director-General, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore said:
¡°This clearly points to the fact that smaller companies are still facing problems becoming compliant. It suggests that more needs to be done to educate this group on the implications of copyright infringement as well as the benefits that compliancy will bring to their own business. More also needs to be done to assist these group of companies.¡±
In respond, the industry has banded together to help these companies become compliant, with the launch of the second Software Licensing Programme.
The Software Licensing Programme is a private-sector driven initiative supported by IPOS, in which companies could obtain legitimate software at a discount, as a step to becoming compliant. The first Software Licensing Programme was introduced last year to help companies prepare themselves for the copyright law which took effect in January.
IPOS hopes that companies who have not been able to benefit from the first Software Licensing Programme last year, will be able to do so this time. ¡°We are committed to help businesses comply with the copyright law. Besides drawing support from industry, we will continue to conduct awareness talks and seminars to equip businesses with information on proper software usage,¡± said Ms Liew.
"One reason provided by the respondents for not being compliant is the relative high cost of software. We are therefore heartened when the industry approached us to propose launching another Software Licensing Programme. Be it whether to use open source or proprietary software, our businesses should take effort to comply with copyright law and procure according to their needs. We hope that it is not just the larger companies, but more of the smaller enterprises, who will come forward to take this opportunity to become compliant,¡± added Ms Liew.
Representatives from the IP Taskforce, a consultative body comprising business associations and statutory bodies, too, welcomed the move.
Said Mr Albert Teo, Vice-President (Membership) from the Association of Small Medium Enterprises: ¡°It is a proactive step that will enable many of our members to become software compliant. We recognise that many of them still need help in dealing with some of the issues surrounding software compliancy, awareness and cost being two of them.¡±
Mr Patrick Koh, Chief Operating Officer, Singapore infocomm Technology Federation: ¡°Singapore being a small market, companies here need to be able to target the international community. To do so, we need to demonstrate that our companies embrace strong IP practices. The Software Licensing Programme is certainly a step to help companies achieve this.¡±
The Software Licensing Programme II will feature discounts up to 60% on a wide range of softwares from Adobe, Autodesk, Borland, Computer Associates, Microsoft, Novell, SIACAD, Sun Microsystems and Symantec (Please refer to Annex A).
The promotion will commence on 1 November and ends on 23 December with the exception of Computer Associates¡¯ and Sun Microsystems¡¯ promotions, which will be ongoing till March 2006. The Software Licensing Programme II is supported by IPOS and the IP Taskforce.
Other Key Findings
The survey was conducted by Intercedent Asia with 100 small medium enterprises representing a broad range of businesses, covering professional services, logistics, transport and travel services, manufacturing, infocomm and media and other services.
The following is a summary of other key findings:
- Nearly three quarters of respondents said that they were aware of the new copyright law which came into effect in January

- All the larger companies (51-150 workstations) surveyed were fully compliant while about a third of all mid-sized or smaller companies indicated they were moving towards compliance

- Just under half of respondents (49%)) were aware of police raids related to alleged use of illegal software. Only 39.2% were aware of the specific police raid which took place on 15th September.


Source: Media Release 31 Oct 2005


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