13 December 2011, Manila, Philippines–Two member agencies of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team, the Optical Media Board (OMB) and the Intellectual Property Office Philippines (IPOPHL) have joined forces to conduct software inspections in business establishments across Metro Manila to root out businesses suspected of using, distributing or selling pirated software.
“After our recent inspection sweeps in the Visayas and Mindanao, the PAPT is going back to Luzon particularly the Metro Manila area which still has the greatest concentration of companies involved in software piracy. For the first time since its entry into the PAPT recently, IPOPHL is joining us in our enforcement efforts, making the PAPT an even more formidable force,” Atty. Cyrus Valenzuela, Executive Director of the Optical Media Board (OMB), announced.
“We already have plenty of leads provided to us by various tipsters, and we will be going mainly after those companies that have been reported to us. But we will also inspect other companies at random, so that no business can remain complacent. So all businesses in the Metro Manila area better make sure they are compliant with software license policies, or face the consequences if they are found to be negligent in this regard,” Valenzuela warned.
The OMB executive director recounted that the PAPT was formed in 2005 in order to have an integrated and coordinated effort by the government to counteract the negative effects of software piracy on the local IT industry and the economy. The original members were the NBI, PNP and OMB. Earlier this year, IPOPHL was inducted into the PAPT, giving the PAPT legal backing as well as deputized agents who can accompany the OMB in their regular enforcement activities.
Software piracy in the Philippines currently stands at a high 69%, based on the latest software piracy rates study around the world undertaken by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). This has cost the country billions of pesos in actual and potential losses for the economy, thousands of jobs lost, and deprived the government of millions of pesos in unearned tax revenues which could have been used for infrastructure projects to help lower the level of poverty.
“We cannot allow this malicious practice to persist especially since we are in a developing nation in terms of IT competence. Software pirates think only of what is convenient and not of what is ethical and fair. We have to correct this mindset by making it clear to these people that software counterfeiting is against the law and is pulling our country deeper into poverty,” the OMB official explained.
Meanwhile, Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, Director General of the Intellectual Property Office Philippines, pointed out that the utilization of unlicensed software in any business transaction is a violation of the copyright provisions of RA 8293 also known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
“Software piracy is a crime punishable by up to nine years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1.5 million under the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. We would advise businesses to always have proper documentation proving license ownership for all software in use and for distribution. This can save valuable time during an inspection and ensure that their business will continue uninterrupted,” Blancaflor advised.
For more information on PAPT campaigns and details on the PAPT countdown, call the PAPT Secretariat at (02) 692-9516 or visit www.papt.org.ph.