Software piracy rate hits record low: BSA


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The software piracy rate in Taiwan dropped to the lowest-ever level of 40 percent in 2007, but financial losses associated with software counterfeit reached the highest figure ever of US$220 million due to expansion of the local software market, the worldwide guardian of software protection Business Software Alliance (BSA) said yesterday.

“The improvement in Taiwan’s protection of software intellectual property rights (IPR) is largely due to the government’s consistent efforts to clamp down on unlawful software replication,” said Sung Hong-ti, co-chair of the Taiwan Committee of BSA Member Company Representative, one of the 67 branch offices of the BSA around the globe.

After remaining at 43 percent for five consecutive years between 2001 and 2005, the software piracy rate (SPR) in Taiwan dropped two percentage points to 41 percent in 2006, before dropping another point in 2007, Sung said.

She cited two government actions — the establishment of a special police force for software IPR protection and the introduction of stiff penalties of up to NT$1 million in fines — as the key factors in the reduction of counterfeit computer software.

In 2007, Taiwan’s IPR police found and confiscated over NT$900 million worth of counterfeit software, Sung said.

“In addition, the intellectual property court, which is set to be launched in July, could also help to resolve IPR issues and to encourage legal purchase of software,” she added.

In Asia, Taiwan’s SPR ranking last year — 23rd in the world — lagged behind Japan and Singapore, which stood at 23 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

Taiwan was placed on the Priority Watch List — a list of countries that do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement — in the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) “Special 301” report for four consecutive years at the beginning of the decade.

But the U.S. revised Taiwan’s classification in 2004, moving it to the less ominous Watch List. The USTR plans this year to initiate an out-of-cycle review to monitor progress on “selected outstanding issues” to assess whether to completely remove Taiwan from the list.

Sung said she’s optimistic about Taiwan’s possible improvement in IPR protection, adding that her committee will continue to urge the government to step up legal actions against the piracy.

According to the BSA report, 67 out of a total of 108 countries surveyed showed a decline in SPR, with only eight countries showing an escalation.

However, due to the poor performance of emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), the world piracy rate increased by 3 percent in 2007 to 38 percent, which accounted for losses of US$48.2 billion.

China topped the BRIC countries with 82 percent SPR in 2007.