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January 19, 2022, 3:27 am

How to calculate damage caused by software piracy?

(15:08:10 PM 27/12/2013)
(Tinmoitruong.vn) - International organizations regularly announce the figures about the damage caused by the use of unlicensed software. However, it’s still unclear how reliable the figures are.


Ha Than, first left, announces the $50 million loss for Lac Viet software illegal use.

Ha Than, CEO of Lac Viet, announced at a recent press conference on the lawsuit against Gold John Dong Nai Vietnam International Company Ltd, a Taiwanese invested enterprise--for its software piracy, that Lac Viet has lost $50 million as its Lac Viet dictionary, one of its software product very popularly used in Vietnam, has been used without license.


According to Than, there are some 18 million computers, mobile devices and smart phones in Vietnam. Lac Viet dictionary made debut in 1995, which means it has been available for 18 years in the market. A subscriber has to use $5 for one year use of Lac Viet dictionary. And according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the software piracy rate in Vietnam has been always high at 99 percent.


Even if noting that the piracy rate is 90 percent (lower than the rate announced by BSA), and there are 10 million computers (instead of 18 million as estimated), the total loss Lac Viet has incurred in the last 18 years would be $50 million.


However, analysts look at the figure with dubious eyes. Lac Viet was marketed in 1995, when the number of computers and mobile devices was far below 18 million.


At that time, Lac Viet was not used so widely. It took Lac Viet many years to popularize the software. In many cases, Lac Viet dictionary software has been used as the gift.


Meanwhile, in recent years, with the tablet and smart phone boom, people have many other choices than Lac Viet. There are a lot of free dictionary versions on Google Play or Apple App Store for people to download.


Therefore, analysts have every reason to think that the $50 million is an unrealistic figure. The calculator, when calculating the damage, missed a lot of the factors on the social development, the popularity of mobile devices and intellectual standards of people which might affect the results.


In fact, analysts say, the figures about the software piracy rates and the damage caused by the use of unlicensed software announced so far in Vietnam, are just “for reference.” In many cases, they prove to be unconvincing.


In May 2010, BSA and IDC both announced the software piracy rate in Vietnam in 2009 at 85 percent, the same as that in 2007. The figure then raised big doubts among the public, while local press posed the questions about the calculation methods and the criteria applied by BSA and IDC, which have never been shown.


BSA, one year later, announced the piracy rate at 83 percent for 2010.


A government official said that the figures released by foreign institutions and associations sometimes are unreliable. However, the figures released by BSA, an US institution, have been used by the US Government to impose its trade policies on other countries.


Vietnam has been taking drastic measures to reduce the software piracy rate. However, it, a developing country, cannot fulfill this task overnight. Vu Ngoc Hoan, Head of the Copyright of Vietnam, noted that software firms recently have been following a reasonable way to help reduce the unlicensed software use by seeking the solutions to reduce the products’ prices, thus allowing it more easily accessible for users.

Lao Dong

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