12,600 firms put on watch list

PUTRAJAYA - More than 12,600 companies which failed to respond to the Government's request to submit audit reports of their computer software will be put on a watch list as potential piracy violators.

The Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry's director of enforcement Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said to date, a total of 12,605 companies had failed to respond to the requirement.

The audit reports are part of the ministry's Ops Tulen Semak exercise to address the rampant use of pirated and unlicensed software among businesses.

Since Feb 5, the Ops Tulen Semak secretariat has received 12,942 submissions from companies throughout the country declaring that they were using only licensed software in their business operations.

They included the 12,605 which made the declaration but did not submit audit reports.

"As the agency responsible for the protection of intellectual property rights, we have no other option but to put these companies on the watch list," he said.

Mohd Roslan said the ministry had conducted 30 software piracy-related enforcement raids so far this year.

He said the enforcement division seized 122 computers, peripherals and 530 copies of suspected pirated software with a combined value of RM4.7million (S$1.87million).

The single largest seizure was conducted against a land development and consultancy in Muar, Johor, in which the value of computers and suspected pirated software totalled about RM705, 000.

Among the most common software seized in the 30 raids included those used for photo editing, animation, anti-virus protection and word processing.

"Software piracy in the workplace is a serious issue that affects national productivity.

"If found guilty, the company and its senior management can be fined anywhere bet­­ween RM2,000 and RM20,000 for each illegal software copy under the Copyright Act 1987.

"Additionally, company directors and or senior management officials may also be imprisoned for up to five years," Mohd Roslan said.