Published on Wednesday, December 8, 1999
Piracy erodes hi-tech dream
Copyright theft remains serious and could threaten plans
to make the SAR a technology hub, an alliance of
software publishers warned yesterday.
While the Business Software Alliance expects the piracy
rate to dip below last year's level, it expected the
percentage to remain high.
A study by the alliance found the piracy rate had
improved from 67 per cent in 1997 to 59 per cent last
year when a loss of US$88.6 million (HK$686 million) to
legitimate software publishers was recorded.
The vice-president of the alliance, Tom Robertson, said:
"Fifty-nine per cent is very inconsistent with the aim of
the Hong Kong Government to build a technology
"Fifty-nine per cent simply cannot sustain a strong
development of a software industry."
The alliance's Hong Kong chairman, Howard Digby,
added: "If Hong Kong is to become a regional centre for
technology, an environment must be built in which
intellectual property is respected."
Mr Robertson said improved anti-piracy efforts were
needed to reduce the piracy rate to a level similar to that
in the United States, where a rate of 25 per cent was
recorded last year.
Vietnam topped last year's Asia-Pacific list with a piracy
rate of 97 per cent, followed by China's 95 per cent.
Japan had the lowest rate in the region with 31 per cent.
Commissioner of Customs and Excise John Tsang
Chun-wah has said piracy was under control, but Mr
Robertson said improvements had been made mainly in
the optical discs industry.
Mr Robertson said there was still a long way to go before
software piracy was brought under control, especially
illegitimate use of software by companies.
He said unauthorised software use in offices accounted
for half of the US$11 billion loss worldwide last year.
"Some companies know they're using illegal software but
they are doing it anyway," he said.
The alliance resolved software infringement claims
against 35 SAR companies during the past year with
settlements amounting to more than $7.6 million.
The total nearly matched last year's record high of 44