Police crackdown on software piracy nets 150 firms

pix-4A stepped up police crackdown on businesses using pirated software has resulted in the prosecution of over 150 companies so far this year, a senior police officer said last week, in another example of the broad-based government campaign to address issues long neglected by previous administrations.

As with many countries in the region, Thailand has been facing a challenge of software piracy and violation of intellectual property. While media attention frequently focuses on piracy related to international goods, such as Hollywood movies, Thai artists and developers have also been campaigning against piracy because their works have also been stolen.

In announcing the crackdown and prosecutions, Police General Piyaphan Pingmuang of the Economic Crimes Suppression Division warned companies using illegal software that aside from risking arrest, their crimes are making their own intellectual property more vulnerable to theft by hackers.

“Some business organizations were raided by the police recently, and are consequently facing legal action. They were in the manufacturing sector, the main target of cyber criminals,” Piyaphan said.

“The managements of these businesses apparently weren’t aware they were in danger of having important business information stolen by cyber criminals due to their use of illegal software,” he said.

Pirated software often has gaps in security that enable hackers to penetrate computer systems. Piyaphan said many businesses continue to use such software despite being alerted to the risks. The Division’s website and Facebook page frequently post warnings about such dangers.

Police usually find out a company is using pirated software through tip offs. The Division’s website and social media pages have channels though which people can alert the police to intellectual property theft. Those who provide information leading to prosecutions can receive rewards of up to $6,900.

In addition to the software arrests, the Department of Special Investigations seized over 20,000 counterfeit smartphone accessories and other electronic equipment from a Bangkok warehouse last week.

Thailand is on the Intellectual Property Watch List of the United States. The Kingdom’s placement on the Watch List nine years ago was controversial, however, as the situation had been improving, according to some observers.

The move by the U.S. was prompted by the Thai government of that time deciding to issue compulsory licenses to produce generic versions of a few high-priced pharmaceuticals as allowed under World Trade Organization rules. Pharmaceutical companies complained that their intellectual property was being stolen and Thailand was placed on the Watch List despite gains against other types of counterfeiters. Some prominent Americans, including former President Bill Clinton, said Thailand’s actions in issuing compulsory licenses were legal and the Kingdom did the right thing in order to take care of its citizens in need.



Thailand Focus September 28, 2015
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