Pirated software still treasured among Vietnamese businesses

By Vien Thong   December 6, 2019 | 11:00 pm PT
Pirated software still treasured among Vietnamese businesses
By 2018, up to 75 percent of software used in Vietnam was unlicensed. Photo by Reuters.
An anti-piracy drive in Vietnam has found local enterprises lack the self-awareness to comply with intellectual property law.

Two months since launching the campaign among 10,000 Vietnamese companies, Software Alliance, also known as BSA, which represents some of the world's largest software makers, said eradicating illegal software across Vietnam is a slow process, especially compared to regional peers.

In similar initiatives, companies in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand acquired licensed software for roughly 6,000 local computers while the figure in Vietnam remained at just 200, BSA confirmed.

It highlighted a corporation in Indonesia that had legalized software for almost 1,000 in-house computers.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of companies in Vietnam have utilized illegal software, with very few CEOs taking charge of the situation, said Tarun Sawney, BSA senior director for Asia-Pacific.

"We consider putting public and state data at risk of being hacked as irresponsible. It needs to be stopped," he added.

BSA launched its "Eradicating Illegal Software" campaign across Vietnam in October, in conjunction with local authorities to ensure companies use software in compliance with intellectual property regulations.

The organization provided company CEOs a free "risk estimation tool" to determine the penalties they may face for non-compliance.

As part of the campaign, BSA targets companies that have purchased past software licenses but without renewing them, or those operating across industries requiring specific software but not included on BSA’s clients list.

So far, Vietnamese companies in 33 out of 63 localities have reported software registration, with the unlicensed software ratio in HCMC some 30 percent higher than Hanoi.

The national ratio peaked at 75 percent last year, a slight decrease from 78 percent in 2015 and up from 74 percent in 2017. The average Asia-Pacific ratio came in at 57 percent, according to BSA statistics.

"Vietnamese CEOs should accept legal software as best practice in ensuring cybersecurity, compliance with the law and reputation. Greater efforts are needed from both the government and businesses to fully incorporate copyrighted and legalized software," said Sawney.

Software Alliance, formerly named Business Software Alliance, is a Washington-based trade group that supports policies promoting technological innovation and growth across the global digital economy.

Its members include big names like Adobe, Autodesk, Apple, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Cisco and Symantec. It operates in over 60 countries.

Since January 1, 2018 copyright infringement has been a criminal offense in Vietnam. Corporations found to have broken this law could face a maximum fine of VND3 billion ($129,130) and business suspension of up to two years.

In 2018, the Ministry of Information and Communications handled 50 cases of unlicensed software use. In the first nine months of this year, it investigated another 85.

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