China's intellectual property right (IPR) watchdog is doing all it can to promote the use of legitimate software, officials said yesterday in Beijing.
Licensed software is used in all government departments, and being installed in more and more computers used by enterprises and individuals, they told a press conference held by the State Council Information Office.
To root out pirated software in its offices, the central government alone has earmarked up to 150 million yuan (US$18.5 million) to foot the bill of licensed products. Local authorities have also allocated funds for purchase of authorized software, said the National Copyright Administration of China spokesman Wang Ziqiang.
The country's piracy rate hyped by some in the United States to be as high as 70 percent in government computers, and up to 94 percent in the entire software market is "groundless," he said.
Wang was asked to comment on a recent statement by US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, which claimed up to 70 percent of software in Chinese government computers was pirated.
Another report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an anti-piracy group largely comprising US software companies, alleged that between 88 and 94 percent of software used in China is unlicensed.
Wang explained government offices at various levels were required to check how many of their applications were pirated.
They then submitted their needs for licensed software to relevant government departments, which procured legal products for them from software providers.
"Now that the governments, not individual offices, are paying the bill, who would continue using pirated products at the risk of violating statutes and shouldering possible liabilities?" he said.
Gutierrez's statement, therefore, was not backed by facts and was groundless, he said.
In response to the BSA's allegation, Wang said: "I've found neither facts nor reasons to support the alliance's calculation of the piracy rate in China."
China's software industry output hit 390 billion yuan (US$48.1 billion) last year. If pirated software had been 11 to 12 times as much as that, it would have meant that the country's software market was worth 4,000 billion yuan (US$493.8 billion), or 25 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). "Could the software sector alone make up 25 percent of a country's GDP?" he asked.
Wang also said President Hu Jintao's meeting with Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates in Seattle on Tuesday was to give overseas investors and firms confidence in China's determination to crack down on intellectual property violations.
Piracy can be controlled with the consistent efforts of the Chinese government, Wang said.
To prevent use of pirated software, Wang's agency and the ministries of information industry and commerce mandated at the end of last month that all computers must have preloaded legal operating systems before they hit the market.
Now that authorized software is used in almost all machines in government departments, China is promoting legitimate products in enterprises, especially State-owned businesses, said Zhang Qin, deputy chief of the State Intellectual Property Office.
(China Daily April 20, 2006)