Adobe clamps down on piracy, software misuse

Adobe toughens up on enterprises that run afoul of software licensing agreements.

SINGAPORE--Adobe Systems has stepped up efforts to curb piracy in the region, including the misuse of software licenses in enterprises.

According to Raymond Lee, Adobe's group manager for Southeast Asia, the company will be driving more Adobe-centric initiatives to halt the unauthorized duplication of its software. In the past, he said, the company relied primarily on the activities of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an antipiracy organization that includes members like Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Symantec.

Beyond stamping out the bootleg software market, Adobe will focus on what it sees as other forms of piracy, such as the sharing of single-user licenses throughout an organization.

The San Jose, Calif.-based software maker, which has over 15,000 corporate customers in Southeast Asia, has begun identifying large enterprises that may have purchased fewer licenses than required. It then issues letters to 200 such organizations each quarter, asking to perform a review.

"These are commercial entities that generate income from the use of our software. It is only right that they pay us accordingly," said Lee.

From the 200 companies singled out for checks, some are able to produce proper audit statements. However, according to Adobe, the majority of them have undersubscribed to licenses.

"Almost every single company we visit has issues with the deployment of Adobe licenses," said Conway Goh, Adobe's business development manager for Software Compliance.

The company's antipiracy efforts yielded an additional 10 percent to its 2003 revenue in Southeast Asia, revealed Lee. This figure is expected to double this year due to the company's heightened antipiracy measures. Adobe does not break down its sales in the ASEAN region, but reported Asia-Pacific revenues of US$284 million in its last financial year.

But while such efforts, along with Adobe's introduction of mandatory software activation, may directly generate higher takings, Lee added that psychological tactics are just as important.

"We want our customers to know we are tracking their acquisition patterns," he said.

According to statistics from the BSA, software piracy rate in Asia-Pacific stood at 55 percent in 2002, representing a revenue loss of over US$5.5 billion. Besides Adobe, software giants such as Microsoft are also fiercely combating the issue. The Redmond, Wash.-based firm recently announced a low-priced version of Windows XP in Thailand and Malaysia, a move analysts say is designed to fend off the dual challenges of open-source software and widespread piracy.

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