China Vows Government Offices Will Use Legal Software

China is introducing programs to ensure the country's local governments, from provincial down to county and municipal levels, are all using legal software, a top Chinese official said during a meeting with visiting U.S. officials.

The U.S. Commerce Department released a summary on Monday of the meeting between the U.S. and Chinese government officials, including Vice Premier Wang Qishan who leads the country's intellectual property rights enforcement.

China continues to take measures to push all levels of Chinese government to use copyrighted software, Wang is reported to have said at the meeting. China's provincial governments will complete a program to move to legal software by mid-2012, while municipal and county governments will complete the program by 2013.

Details of the program were not mentioned in the summary. China's Commerce Department could not be reached for immediate comment. Wang is said to have told the meeting with U.S. officials that China would increase audits and inspections to ensure government officers were using legal software.

China has long been seen as a hotbed for pirated software, with about 78 percent of all software installed on China's PCs coming from unlicensed copies, according to a 2010 report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

In response, the country has repeatedly taken public measures to clampdown on the piracy. Last year, the Chinese government began inspecting its own central and local government computers to ensure all departments were using copyrighted software. The inspection led government agencies to purchase an extra US$58.3 million worth of operating system, office and anti-virus software.

Chinese officials are also reported to have said during the meeting with the U.S. officials that the country plans to promote the use of licensed software in businesses.

"These are encouraging commitments that have the potential to reduce software piracy," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman in a statement. "Now there is an opportunity for China to expand this campaign to the broader economy, starting with state-owned enterprises, where decisive action by government can have a major impact."

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