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Software piracy on the rise in Botswana - Microsoft

Close to 80 percent of software installed in 2009 was pirated, in a country where such cases are continuously on the increase, a statement from Microsoft reads.
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Mmegi Online :: Software piracy on the rise in Botswana - Microsoft








In a bid to clamp down on the practice, Microsoft reports that the Botswana Police Service raided the premises of two computer resellers and one software technician in Gaborone during April earlier this year.  During the raids the police recovered copies of allegedly counterfeit software, including copies of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

At a court hearing in July, the managing director of Apple Box Computers, one of the resellers raided by the police in April, pled guilty to loading pirated Microsoft software onto the computers for sale to customers.  Apple Box Computers was fined P20 000 for intellectual property infringement.  The cases against the other reseller and software technician have not yet gone to trial.

"Counterfeit or pirated goods are a plague on Gaborone's local markets," said Chris Mbulawa, Assistant Commissioner, Botswana Police Service. "We must put a stop to the software pirates that trick uninformed consumers into parting with their hard-earned cash for illegal and, sometimes dangerous, goods."

In a country where an estimated 79 percent of PC software installed in 2009 was pirated, Microsoft works closely with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and supports investigations by the Botswana authorities into resellers suspected of offering unlicensed software to consumers and businesses in Botswana. 

Counterfeit software is also known to be vulnerable to computer viruses, malware and hackers, leaving consumers and businesses unprotected against data loss, privacy issues or identity theft. Meanwhile, local resellers have difficulty competing with pirated software that has been priced at below-market levels and are forced to cut jobs.

"The Botswana Police Service's raid has helped level the playing field for honest businesses like mine," said Abdul Arbi, general manager, Ultimate Solutions.  "I don't want to lose business to unscrupulous resellers who exploit customers' good faith with fake software."

"The trade in counterfeit software hurts

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our honest channel partners who are just trying to earn a living. Partners who must compete with pirates lose more than software revenue, they lose system sales and the opportunity to service those customers over the years," said Dale Waterman, Corporate Attorney for Anti-Piracy, Microsoft Middle East and Africa.

"Microsoft will continue to protect its partners and resellers by assisting the local authorities when they pursue resellers who persist in distributing counterfeit Microsoft software."

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that high quality counterfeit software is now being distributed throughout Africa.  It is being produced by sophisticated organised crime syndicates in China, and includes fake hologram CDs and fake Certificate of Authenticity labels that look like the real thing and which are sold as complete software packages. Customers who make the purchases in good faith believe that what they are purchasing is genuine when the product is in fact counterfeit.  Rather than line the pockets of criminal organisations, Microsoft argues that intellectual property rights should be protected to support local innovation and employment instead.

"If you're unclear about how damaging worldwide piracy crimes can be for Botswana, remember this number: $11 million US dollars," said Lawrence Kinyanjui, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft East & Southern Africa.

"According to last year's BSA/IDC piracy study, that is the total loss to the Botswana economy due to software piracy in 2009. This is about more than the impact on rights holders like Microsoft, but the entire IT ecosystem, and ultimately the massive contribution that legitimate sales and services make to the whole Botswana economy."

With the increasing sophistication of software pirates and cyber criminals, Microsoft warns Botswana consumers to avoid the threats to their online identity, as well as their wallets, by insisting on genuine software from their local retailers.

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