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Though software copyright violation is pervasive in Vietnam, local courts have received surprisingly few complaints

For the past 28 years, local courts processed only 20 software copyright cases, Copyright Office of Vietnam Director Vu Manh Chu told a Protecting Software Copyright seminar Friday.

The seminar, organized by the Copyright Office, the Supreme Court and the Business Software Alliance (BSA), was designed to provide local judges with the knowledge and skills needed to better arbitrate business software copyright infringement cases.

The BSA, a trade group established in 1988, represents a number of the world’s largest software makers such as IBM and Apple Co.

Chu said though software copyright violation was a global problem, it was “particularly serious” in Vietnam.

According to the BSA’s latest figures 88 percent of Vietnamese software users violate copyright laws, while the figure for the whole Asia Pacific region is 55 percent.

President of the Supreme Court’s Judiciary Staff Trainning Center Nguyen Van Thong said district and provincial courts had received 320 copyright infringement cases from 2000 to 2007 but only a handful of them were related to software copyright.

He said the small number of lawsuits did not reflect what was truly happening and courts were yet to pay due attention to software copyright violations.

According to Chu, lax enforcement, ignorance and disrespect for copyright laws were major reasons violations were so common in Vietnam.

BSA Asia’s Anti-Piracy Director Tarun Sawney said a large number of local businesses were not aware of the importance of investing in software technology.

And the few who were didn’t bother to buy copyrighted software as pirated programs were so much cheaper, according to Sawney.

He said it was one thing for students to take advantage of cheap, or free, pirated software.

But for businesses who know software providers have to make a return on their products, it was unacceptable.

Others at the seminar suggested reducing copyrighted software prices was one way to drive cheap pirated products out of business.

On the bright side, Chu told the seminar in Da Nang, Vietnam was planning to allow law enforcement agencies to press criminal charges against software copyright violators.

The maximum fine for software copyright violators had also been increased to VND500 million ($31,250), he said.

Sawney said two businesses had recently been sued for violating software copyright, one of them was an electronics company based in Japan.

Source: Thanh Nien – 20 April 2008
 
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