Ministry starts harsh penalties against software piracy

The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has found a case of breach of computer software copyrights and decided punitive measures based on a new decree which rules a top fine level up to VND500 million (over US$29,000).

The inspectors found the case in the southern province of Binh Duong on August 14, and an announcement issued on August 17 said a penalty against the violating company would be based on the new decree, shortly known as Decree 47, which include penalties on administrative infringements pertaining to copyrights and related interests.

The statement said this is the first time harsher punitive measures under Decree 47 are applied.

On Aug. 14, the inspectors, in cooperation with provincial officials, raided Rochdale Spear Co. Ltd. a foreign-invested manufacturer of furniture and craft in the province’s Thuan An District.

Examining 45 computers, the inspection team found various illegal software programs pre-installed and used for business-related purposes at the company. The illegal programs include LacViet dictionary, Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2003 and Symantec Antivirus.

Rodger McKay, the company’s finance manager, on behalf of the company, signed the inspection report in admission that their copying, installing and use of the aforementioned computer software without prior owners’ permission was violation of the law.

The company also said it has started buying licenses of the software to replace the illegal software programs.

The next day, the inspecting mission visited computer businesses on Bui Thi Xuan Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, to deliver on-site warnings on intellectual property right anti-piracy associated with computer software.

Mr. Vu Xuan Thanh, chief inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said, “It’s time for businesses to review their compliance with computer software copyright to avoid conflicts with the law and show respect to others’ properties.”

Beginning in 2004, the Vietnamese government’s fight against computer software piracy has lasted for five years. Decree 47, which includes a maximum fine level of up to VND500 million, is now in effect.

By Quang Tri

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