Software Piracy Still Big in Asia

Software piracy remains a multibillion dollar industry in Asia, but some signs of improvement are surfacing in the 14 Asian countries being most closely surveyed, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).

Although its figures are not complete, IIPA estimates that 2003 losses from piracy of entertainment software will reach $1.19 billion in China, India, South Korea, and Taiwan. But piracy losses sharply decreased from the previous year in South Korea (down 35 percent) and Taiwan (down 56 percent).

China Singled Out

The largest software piracy losses occur in China, where entertainment software alone was pirated to the value of $568 million last year, according to IIPA. China's piracy rate remains at 96 percent--of all software sold, only 4 percent is legitimately licensed. China's efforts to combat piracy remain under a special U.S. trade monitoring procedure known as Section 306, IIPA representatives say.

Six more Asian countries--India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand--remain on IIPA's priority watch list for the high losses due to piracy and high rates of piracy. Malaysia is by itself in a watch list category, while Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, Singapore, and Vietnam are also mentioned as being monitored.

Additionally, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative recently criticized Korea, along with several other countries, as making insufficient efforts to crack down on piracy of music and film.

Business Count Pending

Losses due to entertainment software piracy is estimated to represent about just one-quarter of piracy losses, with the balance coming from piracy of business software, which totaled $2.67 billion in 2002. IIPA has not yet estimated the 2003 figure for business software losses, but only Taiwan and Singapore recorded piracy rates of under 50 percent in 2002.

The IIPA released the figures as part of its Special 301 recommendations. Special 301 is an annual review process under U.S. trade law which requires the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to identify countries that fail to stem piracy, opening such countries to possible U.S. trade sanctions.

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