Dozens of Firms Snared in Round-Up

May 20--A total of 50 businesses were raided by police from the Economic Crime Division (ECD) in the first quarter for using pirated and unlicensed software, with hundreds of cases nationwide still under investigation.

Pol. Col. Chainarong Charoenchainao, deputy commander and spokesman of the ECD, said while most users of pirated software were caught in Greater Bangkok, hundreds of investigations are ongoing in the Northeast and the South as part of greater enforcement action in those regions this year.

He also said quite a few raided companies were units of foreign firms, for example, in Samut Prakan a Thai-Japanese auto-parts maker with 140 million baht in revenue last year was caught using unlicensed programs from Siemens PLM Software.

"Numerous other businesses with international partners were raided for software piracy in the first quarter, businesses with shareholders from Switzerland, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Korea," Pol. Col. Chainarong said. "But most of the raided businesses had full Thai ownership."

Despite a price of roughly 300 baht, a dictionary program made by Thai Software Enterprises is among the most frequently pirated products in Thailand.

"The fact that so many large manufacturers are found to be using pirated and unlicensed software is a concern for the reputation of Thailand's supply chain," Pol. Col. Chainarong said.

"We urge all manufacturers to check their software assets carefully and ensure they are compliant with Thai laws. Illegal software use is quickly becoming a trade issue for manufacturing businesses that export to the US or do business with global businesses or buyers. Most reports of piracy and unlicensed software use that we receive are regarding the manufacturing sector. Directors should conduct due diligence into their software use."

Police have received reports of nearly 3,000 cases of alleged unlicensed software usage and piracy by businesses. Most are large organisations, but several hundred are small or medium-sized enterprises.

Police anticipate conducting 300 or more raids this year.

Copyright 2014 - Bangkok Post, Thailand

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