The recent arrest of a 26-year-old man for his suspected involvement in the distribution and sale of pirated software believed to be worth more than US$20,000 (S$24,700) in Singapore has rekindled the perennial issue with software piracy.
Microsoft has urged prudence in consumers and small businesses in the unintentional purchase and use of counterfeit software disguised as cheaper parallel imported goods.
It is understood that the man had advertised the counterfeit Microsoft software as discounted goods through a local online store.
The Intellectual Property Rights Branch had seized 50 high-end counterfeit copies of Microsoft Windows 7 Pro and Office 2010 and another 35 high-end counterfeit copies of Office Pro 2010, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Pro and Windows 7 Ultimate, believed to be imported from China by the man.
The existence of piracy in Singapore despite strict copyright laws stresses the need for vigilance as consumers may be caught off guard when counterfeiters jumble fake with genuine products.
Tarun Sawney, senior director for anti-piracy of The Software Alliance Asia Pacific, said the Asia Pacific region accounted for a third of the total commercial value of unlicensed software, according to their latest global software piracy study.
"Although Singapore has one of the lowest software piracy rates in the world, it is still important for both consumers and businesses to be vigilant in view of the security and malware risk counterfeit software potentially brings," he said.
The value of the global economic and social impacts of software piracy is estimated to reach US$1.7 trillion by 2015 while jeopardising 2.5 million jobs each year, according to a study conducted by Frontier Economics in 2010.
Jonathan Selvasegaram, corporate attorney of Microsoft, stressed the gravity of software piracy as it exposes unsuspecting users to hefty losses from identity theft, data loss and system failures through the deluge of spyware, malware and viruses.
"The risk is very real in our region and has dangerous repercussions for both consumers and businesses alike," he said. "Using genuine software safeguards users' private information, guarantees solid performance, and provides technical support and latest software updates to ensure greater productivity and security."
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