Anti-piracy drive targets design and engineering firms in PH, SE Asia

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The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization of some of the world’s biggest software companies, is waging a new anti-software piracy campaign in key markets in the Southeast Asia.

Photo from Freepik.com

In a virtual briefing, the BSA said it is looking at 20,000 companies — mostly involved in engineering and design — for its “Legalize and Protect” initiative which the industry body started in 2019. 

The BSA estimates that there are still more than 100,000 design and engineering companies using unlicensed software in Southeast Asia.

Tarun Sawney, senior director at BSA, said a surge in infrastructure spending in Southeast Asia means more and more companies will be using design and engineering software. 

Sawney said “billions of dollars” are being earmarked for national infrastructure projects, which means there is a need for BSA to call on engineering and design firms to commit to using only licensed software in the development of roads, bridges, ports, and communications infrastructure.

“It would be a tremendous sign of strength to have the next generation of infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia built with software that is fully enabled, highly productive, secure and licensed,” said Sawney. 

“BSA wants to help the region’s leading design and engineering firms to make the transition away from the risks of unlicensed software to fully licensed software that can actually unlock potential of the region’s leading designers.”

Speaking of numbers, Tawney said BSA plans to conduct the “outreach” project to 5,000 private sector engineering and design firms in the Philippines, 5,000 firms in Indonesia, 5,000 firms in Malaysia and 5,000 firms in Thailand.

Tawney noted that while the firms are primarily engineering and design firms, “there are also other companies on the list, including manufacturing companies and animation studios.” He also noted that the BSA is looking at 20,000 firms because “this is within its resources.”

The BSA outreach will include free consultations and advisory services on conducting audits for private sector enterprises that seek counsel on the software licensing process. The outreach has started in July 21 in the form of direct communications from BSA to the 20,000 firms.

For companies that would like to learn more about software licensing, BSA encourages executives to conduct internal audits to identify potential licensed gaps inside their companies.

BSA is also planning to collaborate with government agencies across the region to support the campaign and further encourage the private sector to exclusively use licensed software.  This includes the Optical Media Board (OMB) in the Philippines; the Ministry of Communication and Informatics in Indonesia; the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs in Malaysia, and the Royal Thai Police, Economic Crime Suppression Division in Thailand.

The BSA said nearly every week in Southeast Asia, “a private sector engineering, architecture or design firm is fined and penalized for using unlicensed software.” As such, the BSA campaign is designed to inform business leaders about the risks of unlicensed software and the benefits of using legal design software.

Cyrus Paul Valenzuela, chief of the legal division of OMB, meanwhile noted that 64% of businesses in the Philippines still use pirated software.

“Licensed software is our first line of defense against cyberattacks, and we need the private sector to prioritize use of licensed software and be proactive in ensuring that the habit of using unlicensed software is stopped,” Valenzuela said.

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