Int'l study on software piracy in Vietnam incomplete: experts

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Vietnamese experts Friday rejected a recent study on the country's computer software copyright violations by two international organizations, saying it was incorrect and unconvincing. 


The study by Business Software Alliance (BSA) and International Data Corporation (IDC) had several shortcomings, the Vietnam Association for Information Processing (VAIP) told a conference on Friday.


Released last month, the study said Vietnam's software copyright violation rate last year was 85 percent, which was the same as in 2007 and 2008.


BSA and IDC have only surveyed operating systems and proprietary software like anti-virus and commercial software, while Vietnam is seeing a strong tendency to go for open-source software as it allows users to study, change and improve it under a license, VAIP said.


For example, Sacombank last year installed open-source software on 4,000 of its computers, the association noted.


VAIP general secretary Nguyen Long said it was also a major shortcoming of the report that the authors didn't take into consideration the fact that PC users are allowed to choose free or commercial versions of certain software like the locally common anti-virus Bkav.


Apparently, they have also not taken note of software and education tool packages given to students for free by Microsoft with sponsorship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Long added.


Bui Huu Cu, chairman of Hanoi IT Business Club, meanwhile, said most imported PCs are set up with Microsoft or LINUX software before being put on the market.


Those assembled here are also provided with copyrighted software, as assemblers often sign contracts with software providers at preferential prices, Cu said.


While admitting software piracy is still common in Vietnam, experts said BSA and IDC should credit efforts made by the Vietnamese government and companies in reducing the rate of copyright violations over the past years.


They said so far many government agencies in sectors like banking and finance have had 100 percent of their PCs set up with copyrighted software.


The Ministry of Information and Communications in 2008 also signed a three-year-agreement with Microsoft to buy its office software for central and local management agencies.


Cu stressed positive changes in Vietnam's attitude towards protecting software copyrights as seen in more frequent investigations of companies and organizations recently.


Although Vietnam is yet to conduct a study on software piracy comparable to that of BSA and IDC, VAIP said their analysis showed that copyright violation rate last year had decreased strongly, at around 75 percent compared to 85 percent the year before.


The study was also confusing with many ambiguous details that need to be explained properly, but it was a pity that the BSA representatives in Vietnam refused VAIP's invitation to study the issue saying they were too busy, experts said.


Le Ngoc Quang, director of IT and communications training and service center under Vietnam National Institute of Software and Digital Content Industry, said BSA was likely to use its study to exert "commercial pressure," because most of its members are commercial software providers like Adobe, AVG, and Kaspersky.

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