Unlicensed software ban shows resolve

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Government officials who allow the use of pirated software in their offices will face censure amid a drive to promote authorized software.

All central government departments should ban the use of unauthorized software by May, Wang Ziqiang, spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, said.

"Those who fail to meet the deadline will be criticized," he told China Daily.

A national conference was held on Monday in Beijing to help enforce the ban on unauthorized software in 147 central government departments, which demonstrated China's determination to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

Yan Xiaohong, vice-minister of the General Administration of Press and Publication, told the conference that 12 teams will start a national inspection tour early next month to supervise the use of licensed software.

He asked all government departments to report to the National Copyright Administration on the use of licensed software.

The State Council, or the Cabinet, has ordered all central government offices to use licensed software by the end of May and all local government offices to do the same by the end of October.

Between October 2010 and Feb 10 this year, central government offices spent 41 million yuan ($6.16 million) purchasing or updating 53,915 sets of licensed software, said Wang.

The purchase of domestic software outnumbered overseas software by two to one in that span, he said.

"It's absolutely the offices' own choice, and we haven't issued any advice (regarding buying domestic or overseas software) to them," he added.

Statistics from the Government Offices Administration suggested that the central government has spent 1.3 billion yuan on licensed software since 2001 when the State Council started to enforce the use of licensed software.

Meanwhile, many local governments have taken steps to ensure that they use licensed software.

Qingdao in Shandong province, as the pilot city, has spent nearly 77 million yuan on 15,278 licensed software products, according to figures from the local government.

Qingdao and Microsoft reached an agreement in December, which enables its departments to access the technology giant's licensed products over the next three years.

The State Intellectual Property Office said in November 2010 that other major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian and Ningbo, have already met the target set by the central government to eliminate the use of pirated software.

A Ministry of Finance notice issued last December said central government departments will get budgetary backing from the ministry for software purchasing.

Yan, however, acknowledged that some departments have limited knowledge of licensed software.

Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed that China's software industry revenue rose from 480 billion yuan in 2006 to 1.3 trillion yuan in 2010.

Applications for software copyright protection in China have almost quadrupled, from 21,500 in 2006 to 82,000 in 2010, the Copyright Protection Center said last month.

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