Software Piracy Level Still High

KIEV, Ukraine -- Computer software piracy levels remain high in Ukraine, which is ranked among the top 20 countries with the largest level of illegal software use, according to a study released this month.

Pirated copy of Microsoft Windows VISTA

Illegal software use in Ukraine remained largely flat last year, inching down year-on-year 1 percentage point to 84 percent. But Ukraine’s software piracy rate still stands at double the average level of abuse worldwide, according to the Global Software Piracy Study.

The study was prepared by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a US-based global IT and telecommunications advisor, and the Business Software Alliance, an international watchdog agency for legal software headquartered in Washington, DC.

Ukraine’s bedfellows in the list of countries with the poorest software piracy records include Armenia, Cameroon, Moldova, Pakistan, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Experts said piracy in Ukraine has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues for leading computer software producers such as Microsoft Corporation.

The level of software piracy has gradually decreased, falling from the 91 percent recorded by the study organizers in 2003-2004. Yet experts remain upbeat and expect the problem to decrease in response to government efforts to stamp out illegal software use and voluntary compliance by businesses eager to improve the transparency of their operations.

While only a slight improvement, Ukraine is on the right track, according to Oleksandr Kopych, a software market analyst at IDC.

“According to the study, Ukraine managed to continue the trend of reducing the level of software piracy,” he said.

Yevhen Sozansky, manager for software legalization at the Ukraine offices of Microsoft said piracy levels in Ukraine remain very high, but that society is beginning to adopt Western policies and standards for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).

“Respect for intellectual property in Ukraine continues to rise,” he said during a May 16 press conference.

Ukraine has made large strides in IPR in recent years.

In January 2006, the US government issued a special report on Ukraine that noted an improvement in the country’s IPR protection and reinstated the Generalized System of Preferences trade benefits for Ukraine.

Five years earlier, Ukraine had the ill fame of being the largest producer and supplier of pirated laser discs in Europe. In response to the brazen piracy, the Office of the US Trade Representative halted Ukraine’s privileges within the framework of the Generalized System of Preferences and later imposed sanctions worth $75 million on Ukrainian imports.

The sanctions were lifted at the end of August 2005, after Ukraine pushed through changes to its law regulating the licensing of laser discs in the country.

“Since the legislation passed, Ukraine has been actively inspecting plants licensed to manufacture optical discs, conducting raids against businesses involved in commercial distribution of IPR-infringing products, and imposing fines against infringers,” according to the US Trade Representative.

Microsoft has in recent years offered companies and the Ukrainian government, itself a large user of pirated software, large discounts on its licensed software in an effort to encourage compliance.

Source: Kyiv Post