Using Unlicensed Software: A Threat to Businesses

11:21:48 AM | 8/19/2014

Not just facing the risk of litigation, businesses using unlicensed software also find themselves at very high risk of data theft and unsanctioned access to their information by hackers. Despite having been profusely warned, many companies, including wholly foreign-owned enterprises, continue to ignore these risks.
Deliberate transgression
As informed by the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, a series of audits and spot checks have recently been executed nationwide to examine how companies comply with computer software ownership laws. It is worth noting that apart from domestic companies and computer dealers, some wholly foreign-owned businesses who know the law better than anyone else are also among the wrong-doers.
In a latest audit for example launched by the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in cooperation with the Hi-tech Crime Police (C50), General Anti-crime Police Department, Ministry of Public Security, at a Korean wholly owned company based in Hanoi, the interagency taskforce discovered a large number of unlicensed software installed in 36 computers used for business purposes by the company. The illegally used software mostly consists of Autodesk’s design applications such as AutoCAD and Microsoft’s popular office software.
The inspectors informed that the inspected company specialized in engineering software production for export. Needless to say, as it takes outsourced jobs for export products, this company is apparently well familiar with applicable laws, and nevertheless it deliberately ignores the law for instant profit.
As noted by Mr. Dao Anh Tuan on behalf of BSA | The Software Alliance in Vietnam, the cost of computer software only takes up 5-6% of individual companies’ expenditures. Tuan believes that such cost is not that large compared to the cost incurred to deal with any problems or risks of using unlicensed software.
Legal and information security risks
Also in accordance with Mr. Dao Anh Tuan, licensed software is highly beneficial to businesses by relieving them of the worry for legal risks and the risk of being penalized through inspecting activities of law enforcing agencies. Moreover, users also receive needed technical support, including software patches, problem solving, error-free software, absence of spyware. This is particularly important given the increasing development of hi-tech crimes and malware.
In a recently published Global Software Survey, corporate IT managers all over the world said that they were well aware of the risks posed by unlicensed software, as 64% of the users cited illicit access to owners’ information was among the greatest risks, while 59% pointed to data theft.
Not only facing the threat of data theft and confidentiality – some of the most valuable assets a company may have – use of unlicensed software also places companies at risk of having their reputation destroyed and paying compensation if legal actions are taken against them. Following the first software piracy lawsuit early this year, penalizing computer software ownership violations has been more encouraged by the Vietnam government.
Mr. Vu Xuan Thanh, Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, Tourism said that any intellectual property disputes should be solved at court as assets are involved. Thanh personally encourages companies to take legal proceedings, believing that this is the most effective and vigorous way to see to these problems, and is also the way to be.
In accord with the above viewpoint, Mr. Vu Ngoc Hoan, acting head of the Copyright Office of Vietnam, said that in parallel to law education, strong actions are needed. Hoan also encourages copyright owners to refer any infringements of their products to the civil court to seek resolution and recovery of losses caused by the perpetrators.
The inspectors informed that in parallel with public communication and education, enforcement will be strengthened and taken to higher levels to ensure businesses comply with the law from now untill the end of the year.
Apparently, use of licensed software by companies no longer serves as a means of compliance as it used to be, but has become a real need for the very interest, existence and development of businesses.
Nam Pham