Anti-Piracy team heightens campaign against hard disk loading in computer retail stores: Two individuals arrested for loading pirated software onto computers sold to customers
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Above photo shows PAPT agents with the technician of Laptop Zone Wellcom during the entrapment operation against the said store in Virra Mall, San Juan City.

Above photo shows OMB agent escorting the arrested store personnel during the recent OMB buy bust operation against computer stores engaged in hard disk loading.

Manila, Philippines – Despite the onset of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), a government-led initiative to curb software piracy in the Philippines, continues to be relentless in going after software pirates. The PAPT intensified its drive particularly against computer retail stores that offer to load and install counterfeit and pirated business software to customers that purchase new computers.

Recently, three stores were raided by the PAPT in different malls in Metro Manila in separate buy bust operations. These were Discount PC in Quezon City, Gigahertz Computer Systems in Manila and Laptop Zone Wellcom in San Juan City. The stores were caught loading pirated and unlicensed copies of software in the computers as add-on service of the stores to attract more customers.

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Intellectual Property Rights Division (NBI-IPRD) raided Discount PC at the 2nd floor of Gilmore IT Center, Gilmore Ave. corner 1st St., New Manila, Quezon City. The same team then proceeded to Quiapo, Manila for the enforcement operation against Gigahertz Computer System at the 3rd Floor of a warehouse in #426 P. Casal St. The NBI raids resulted in the seizure of five (5) CPUs, eight (8) CD installers and a hard drive containing different counterfeit and pirated copies of various software. The total seizure amounted to almost P300,000.00.

“The holiday shopping rush is a good opportunity for businesses to earn more. However, as the competition becomes tight, some stores resort to illegal promotion schemes such as offering to load pirated software as add-on service to customers to gain undue advantage over their competitors,” said NBI-IPRD Chief Atty. Dante Bonoan.

Under the new leadership of Chairman Ronnie Ricketts and Executive Director Atty. Anthony Liongson, the Optical Media Board (OMB), another member of the PAPT, is also doing its own rounds of inspections against hard disk loading in computer stores. The OMB team conducted a buy bust operation against Laptop Zone Wellcom at the 3rd floor of Virra Mall Shopping Center in Greenhills, San Juan City. The team seized one (1) CPU, one (1) CD installer and a USB loaded with pirated software copies of software. The team also arrested two (2) store personnel for the violation of the Optical Media Act or RA 9239.

“It is the PAPT’s commitment to protect the law-abiding computer stores and consumers who are unwitting victims of the illegal activities of hard disk loaders taking advantage of the holiday season. We will continue to monitor and will be conducting more unannounced visits to retail stores to ensure that the provisions of the Optical Media Act and the IP Code of the Philippines are duly enforced,” said OMB Chair Ronnie Ricketts.

Aside from the intensified enforcement campaigns, the PAPT has also sent out reminder letters to computer retails stores, warning them to refrain from hard disk loading or the unauthorized installation of counterfeit and illegal copies of software onto computer hard disks.

The letter states: “With the recent increase in the demand for computers and computer accessories in time for the holidays, we, at the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team (PAPT), have received information through our website (www.papt.org.ph) that some stores offer to install pirated and illegal copies of software to attract more customers to buy computers from them. While these reports will be investigated into, as we continue to receive such information at an alarming rate, we would like to remind you to make sure that your store is not engaged in this misleading and unlawful promotion scheme known as hard disk loading.”

Signatory to the letters are Atty. Dante Bonoan, Chief of the NBI-IPRD, Atty. Anthony Liongson, Executive Director of the OMB, and PSSupt. Joel Orduña, Chief of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group - Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Division of the (PNP-CIDG-AFCCD).

Hard disk loading is a form of software piracy that is prevalent among many computer stores to make the purchase of computers more attractive to customers. Software piracy is a violation of the Intellectual Property (IP) Code of the Philippines and violators face the consequences of up to 9 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 1.5 million pesos.

“We would also like to remind consumers to be more cautious when they purchase computers and software to avoid being duped by stores that take advantage of their ignorance of the software licensing requirements,” Police SSupt. Orduña said.

The PAPT composed of the NBI, OMB and the PNP, has put together useful information on the IP laws of the Philippines in its website, www.papt.org.ph. The website also provides links to other reference materials that are contained in the websites of PAPT partner associations.

For more information on the PAPT, you may call the PAPT Secretariat at (02) 692-9516.

 


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