Working from home has not slowed use of unlicensed software, particularly high-end software used in the engineering, design, and animation industries across the ASEAN region.
BSA | The Software Alliance reports that firms in Southeast Asia continue to flout software intellectual property laws, and recent cases show that firms are using technology to allow workers to access unlicensed software at the office – but while working at home due to the pandemic.
This week, Economic and Cyber Crime police officers in Thailand reported raiding an animation studio in Bangkok that was creating entertainment content for a global streaming platform. The raid was the result of a tip from an employee who reported the company to BSA. While officers executed a search warrant for violation of software copyright law, they witnessed workers at home remotely utilizing computers in the office to complete design work. The workers used remote access and remote-control computer software to access the hacked versions of unlicensed software. The company had 20 computers in the office, 15 of which contained unlicensed Autodesk Maya programs, being used for movie and animation special effects. Total value of the unlicensed software was nearly $200,000 USD.
According to BSA, similar cases of remote “Ghost Piracy” are also believed to be taking place among design, creative, animation and engineering professionals in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, among other countries. BSA executives in Southeast Asia say that they are organizing discussions with governments in the ASEAN region to address potential cases of ghost piracy, along with general compliance with software intellectual property law and cyber-crime.
“To the detriment of cyber security and rule of law, we believe companies found ways to access illegal software even during remote work,” said BSA Senior Director Tarun Sawney. “As an organization, we are actively working with governments in the region to ensure greater levels of software compliance. Unlicensed software is neither secure nor stable – and should not be used by business. No creator can create quality design using illegal software, and especially when these designs are for the roads, bridges, rail lines and infrastructure in Southeast Asia, companies are taking great risk when they fail to provide their creators will legal software.”
In 2020 and 2021, BSA enforcement programs focused upon protection of software intellectual property rights slowed due to the pandemic.
However, BSA reports that in 2022, the organization will again ramp up collaborations with ASEAN region governments to inform business leaders about their obligations to use licensed software – and to enforce the laws and penalize those companies who continue to use unlicensed software.
Business leaders are criminally liable for illegal software use.
Mr. Sawney said that engineering and construction firms are among the companies most frequently reported for use of unlicensed software – and should be of interest to government agencies who procure their services for infrastructure and national development projects.
“Governments in Southeast Asia want the firms building national infrastructure to use the safest, most productive and most secure software available – and it’s a fact that unlicensed software is a major risk,” said Mr. Sawney. “There should be no tolerance for firms using any illegal software in national development. These are substantial businesses winning lucrative contracts. Shortcuts using cracked software should never be accepted nor allowed.”
BSA provides information and resources to business leaders seeking information about proactive management of software assets.