ByÂ Emeka Aginam, Asst. Online Editor
Latest reports from theÂ Business Software Alliance (BSA) hasÂ revealed that software piracyÂ on personal computers (PC) in Nigeria has risenÂ toÂ 1% from 2007 to 2008.
Half of the 110 countries studied, according to BSA,Â saw piracy rates drop while only 15% increased.
The report also revealed that industry losses due to software piracy in Nigeria rose to USD132 million in 2008.
In sub_Saharan Africa for instance, according to BSA, the highest_piracy countries were Zimbabwe 92% Cameroon 83% and Nigeria 83%. Among the lowest_piracy countries were Reunion- 40%, Mauritius- 57% and Senegal-79%.
The sixth annual global PC software piracy study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry covering 110 countries was conducted independently by IDC, the information technology (IT) industryâ€™s leading global market research and forecasting firm.
â€œThis report demonstrates the amount of work that we still need to do in Nigeria to further reduce software piracy,â€ Dale Waterman, Vice_Chair, BSA Middle East and Africa Committee said.
â€œIn these uncertain economic times it is vital that companies do not cut corners by using unlicenced software as this would increase the detrimental impact on those businesses, consumers as well as the local and global economy.â€ he added.
The Director General of The Nigeria Copyright CommissionÂ Adebambo Adewopo has earlier raised alarm on the economic implication of the ugly trend noted thatÂ , â€œtackling piracy and ensuring Intellectual Property rights are protected is top priority for us. The growing presence of extremely sophisticated counterfeit software in our market indicates the existence of organized crime syndicates, perhaps from outside Nigeria threatening to undermine our ICT economy through their activities. It is more crucial than ever that we remain vigilant and committed to tackling these criminals.
â€œSoftware piracy affects much more than just industry revenues. An IDC study released in January 2008 found that reducing software piracy could generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and billions of dollars in economic growth across the most vulnerable regions, while increasing tax revenues to support local programs and servicesâ€ he said.
Similarly, speaking further on the implications for Nigerian economy,Â Intellectual Property Manager for Microsoft Nigeria , Mr. Serge Ntamack warned on the effect saying that something has to be done to reverse the ugly trend.
â€œPiracy is so endemic in our environment, affecting every industry that is built on intellectual property assets. This includes the music, movie, software and book publication industries. Each of these industries has the potential to contribute millions of dollars to the economy if the threat of piracy is addressed decisively.â€
â€œIn the face of the current economic challenges, the government and all other stakeholders must work together to create an enabling environment for people to apply their creativity to developing new sources of revenue that will mitigate our current dependence on oil. The local software industry can only grow in an environment less fraught with piracy.â€
BSA advocates a five_point â€˜blueprintâ€™ for reducing software piracy and reaping the economic benefits:
â€¢Â Â Â Increase public education and awareness of the value of intellectual property and the risks of using unlicensed software;
â€¢Â Â Â Update national copyright laws to implement World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) obligations in order to enable better and more effective enforcement against digital and online piracy;
â€¢Â Â Â Create strong enforcement mechanisms as required by the WTO Trade_Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), including tough anti_piracy laws;
â€¢Â Â Â Dedicate significant government resources to the problem, including national IP enforcement units, cross_border cooperation, and training for local officers and judiciary officials; and
â€¢Â Â Â Lead by example by implementing software management policies and requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software.
On its part, Microsoft has been proactive in tackling piracy on three fronts including IPR awareness, driving a government lobby to implement stricter IPR laws and addressing the channel issues to ensure availability.