Piracy: NCC hits end users
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
Officials from the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) yesterday raided the head office premises of a well-known Estate Management Firm, Jide Taiwo & Co in Victoria Island, Lagos. The raid, which followed a tip off and undercover surveillance by the NCC, resulted in the seizure of suspected high quality counterfeit Microsoft software.
The usual clampdowns have been on channel distributors, but NCC is now focusing on end-users as well.
In the raid which lasted about 45 minutes, different Microsoft software suspected to be counterfeit was discovered. This included copies of the Microsoft Operating Systems Windows XP and Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010.
Jide Taiwo & Co could also not provide the client access license for its Microsoft Windows 2003.
Some of the physical items taken away from the premises included media for Microsoft Office 2010, keys for Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Windows 7. All these items have been sent to Microsoft's Ireland office for confirmation. An investigation into the matter is currently ongoing.
“Counterfeit software is a cankerworm that is eating through the fabric of societies all over the world. Its prevalence has a lot to do with the sophisticated and organised syndicates of pirates, but also can be traced to the demand for them,” said Augustine Amodu, Deputy Director of Enforcement at NCC.
“Consumers of pirated software must also realise that they will be punished for contravening the law and putting people’s livelihoods as well as the economy of the country as a whole at risk. To win this fight against copyright infringements, it must be a joint effort of regulators as well as consumers.”
As of 2011, PC software piracy rates in Nigeria stood at 82%, with around USD250 million lost to local businesses. Local Nigerian businesses have had difficulty competing with counterfeiters, who price their goods at below-market levels.
“This enforcement action helps in getting consumers to understand the risk they are exposed to when they engage in the illegality of purchasing counterfeit software or mis-licensing software as a whole. It also helps to protect genuine business whose true purpose is to add value to the customer.” says Amodu.
Software piracy in organisations is often difficult to trace as the end users already have the software loaded on their systems, however, there is technology that makes detection possible and regulatory and enforcement authorities now rely on that to broaden their reach to the demand market. Counterfeit software also includes fake hologrammed CDs and fake Certificate of Authenticity labels that look like the real thing and which are sold as complete software packages.
“End users should be careful when purchasing software as the promises made saying there is no difference between the genuine and counterfeit are not true. Consumers looking for a bargain should know that the price you could pay in data loss or identity theft by using counterfeit software that is vulnerable to computer viruses, malware and hackers far outweighs the gains you have made from the difference in pricing.,” warned Ugochi Agoreyo, Anti-Piracy Manager for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa. “Many times, it’s just not worth the losses.”