Mon, 10 Feb 2003

Vendors and users unaware of new law against piracy

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

It seems very difficult for the government to set up a task force to enforce the law on intellectual property rights, even in the area of computer software alone, since piracy is so commonplace that there is no public perception of it being a serious offense.

There is no doubt that the country's 1.32 million population of computer literate are unaware or ignorant of the law which will come into effect in less than five months, on July 1.

A number of vendors and buyers in the buzzing Harco Glodok Plaza electronic market in West Jakarta, one of the largest computer centers in the capital, admitted on Saturday they continued to take advantage of pirated software.

The software are reproduced in the millions, and offer a vast range of programs, from word processing, to design, to spreadsheets and accounting, to children's educational tools, and of course, to games.

"We haven't yet been informed about the enforcement of the new law; besides, we don't think piracy is a serious offense," said one the vendors, who runs a shop on the second floor.

The vendor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jakarta Post that almost all of the computer software in her shop were copies.

"There is perhaps only one original software available in this shop," she said, referring to a transtool, a language translator program.

She said she was not the only vendor in the city's biggest electronic market who traded pirated versions of computer software, mainly because they were cheap.

The pirated computer software business is booming in the country. Business Software Alliances (BSA) reported in June last year that pirated software accounted for 88 percent of Indonesia's software market, inflicting losses worth US$79 million to software producers.

BSA data also showed that Indonesia ranked third in software piracy after China and Vietnam.

Director General of Intellectual Property Rights at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Abdul Bari Azed, revealed that in 2002, the government lost Rp 290 billion in tax revenues because of piracy.

It is believed that government offices also utilize pirated software.

In preparation for the enactment of the intellectual property rights law, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is establishing a task force whose first job is to inform the general public about Law No. 19/2002, which carries severe penalties for those who use, trade or simply facilitate the trade of pirated software.

The law says that deliberately broadcasting, displaying, circulating and selling materials without copyright is subject to a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 500 million (US$56,300). The new law also imposes the same punishment for the unauthorized copying of computer software for commercial purposes.

Warno, a computer technician at Glodok Harco Plaza, insisted that people bought pirated software because of their cheap price and high accessibility.

"You can get a statistics software for only Rp 15,000, far than the original price of around $100," he said.

Another computer technician, Sony, said that an original Microsoft Windows 2000 program was priced at US$180, compared to the Rp 10,000 pirated version, which was of the same quality as the original.

Sony, who works for a computer software outlet in Yogyakarta, said that as in Jakarta, pirated software was a profitable business in the sultanate town, long known as a college town.

"If you ask students and lecturers in the city about what kind of software they use, the answer will be, 'the pirated version'," he said by telephone.

The general disregard of intellectual property rights is so common here that people feel no guilt in using or trading pirated goods.

Budi Santoso, who uses a computer regularly, believed that the use of pirated software did not matter if it was only for domestic purposes.

"I always come here to look for pirated software for my computer at home," he said, while browsing pirated computer software in Glodok.