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August 13, 1997


Nasscom aims to reduce piracy to 25% by 2000

The National Association of Software and Service Companies has embarked on a vigorous awareness campaign aimed at curbing software piracy in the domestic market.

At a news conference in Calcutta, R R Jain, managing director of R S Software and an executive council member of Nasscom, said awareness creation alone could help contain the problem.

Besides interacting with end-users of software products and the hardware vendors on this score, Nasscom has also taken up the arduous task of conducting management seminars to disseminate related information.

The idea behind the exercise is to reduce software piracy in the products segment to about 25 per cent of the market by 2000, according to Jain.

In 1991 pirated software accounted for 89 per cent of the market. In 1993, the figure came down to 76 per cent, Jain said. It fell further to 60 per cent in 1996, thanks mainly to the initiative taken by Nasscom and the Business Software Alliance - an international organisation of software developers - to conduct a joint anti-piracy campaign in India.

Jain said the global software industry had lost $14 billion in 1996 to piracy. In India, the segment is losing about Rs 6 billion annually to piracy.

To cite an example, during 1996-97, sales of personal computers registered a growth of 13 per cent.

During the same period, however, software sales grew disproportionately by 55 per cent.

The awareness campaign has started yielding results though a lot more needs to be achieved. A piracy hotline that has been installed at Nasscom's Delhi office has received over 12,000 calls since 1993. Thirty-eight per cent of the calls received were information on alleged piracy cases while 32 per cent of the callers wanted to know where they could purchase genuine software from.

Nasscom has joined hands with the economic offences wing of the police department in various cities to curb piracy.

Recently, five raids were carried out in Calcutta after decoy customers were sent and a trap laid following specific information on the distribution of pirated software.

These raids were conducted on three Calcutta-based outlets - Microtech Services, Compu Point and Software Impex - and several pirated software products and packages were seized.

M H Verma, Calcutta's deputy commissioner of police (enforcement department) said that since software products are intellectual property no registration under the Copyright Act is required.

Offences of software piracy are cognisable and non-bailable. Punishment under Section 63B of the Indian Copyright Act could mean a fine up to Rs 200,000 or a jail term of up to three years or both.

The raids conducted here yielded pirated software products valued at Rs 3.15 million. The Calcutta police is being appropriately trained to tackle such issues, he said.

Arvind Agarwalla of Vedika Software said the marketing and distribution of pirated software is part of a multi-layered organised network where several people are involved. "We have just touched the tip of the iceberg and have a long way to go," he said.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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