Thailand still ranks among worst offenders
Two children examine a computer at a campaign organised by the Business Software Alliance at Siam Discovery shopping centre to discourage software piracy. Software piracy in Thailand dropped one percent last year.
Varunee Ratchatapattanakul, consultant at the Business Software Alliance, disclosed that IDC’s seventh annual global software piracy study found that despite the global economic recession, installations of unlicensed software on personal computers in Thailand in 2009 fell by one percent, continuing a decline which has been seen since 2006.
Further to the government’s anti-piracy efforts, vendor legalisation programs to implement new business revenue and distribution channels, adopting cloud computing and offering "Software as a Service" or bundled software with bandwidth service, may also help to the reduce piracy rate.
However, the commercial value of pirated software in Thailand last year increased to $694 million (22.4 billion baht), a rise of $85 million (2.75 billion baht) from the 2008 figure, which places the Kingdom at number 15 in the rankings of the countries with the highest commercial value of pirate software.
The higher value lost in Thailand comes from PC shipments, which rose by 16 percent in 2009 to over 2.4 million units and the software installed base rising to over 11 million units.
According to IDC, consumers had undue influence on the country piracy rate, as they accounted for 68 percent of PC shipments and 60 percent of the installed base. While More than half the software deployed in the country went to the consumer installed base, typically a high piracy segment.
A further cost to the industry comes from businesses having to recover from security incidents as a result of installing viruses and Trojans which are often packaged with illegal software. Often the cost of such recovery will exceed whatever was saved by a business avoiding buying licensed software.
At the global level, the piracy rate rose from 41 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2009, due to the exponential growth in PC software deployments in emerging economies, especially China, India and Brazil.
However, the global value of pirated software decreased by three percent over 2008, reached $51.4 billion (1.6 trillion baht), while the United States, Japan and Luxembourg remained the three countries with the the lowest piracy rates, at 20, 21, and 21 percent, respectively. The countries with the highest piracy rates are Georgia, Zimbabwe and Moldova, all with rates higher than 90 percent.
"This study makes it clear that efforts to reduce software theft in Thailand are making a difference and the result will input to The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for evaluating Thailand’s place in the priority watch list," Varunee said.
However, there is a long way to go in comparison to the Asia-Pacific rate, where Thailand ranks eighth.
It has been proposed to push the Copyright Act Amendment, which employs the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Copyright Treaty to create an effective legislative environment for copyright protection, especially the use of Digital Rights Management and anti-circumvention issues.
Moreover, skills training and a dedicated digital intellectual property rights unit are also important factors in attempts to investigate and prosecute intellectual property theft.
If there is change of government, the BSA will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders and expects Thailand still strengthen its copyright laws, especially in software.