BSA insures companies against illegal risks

Business Software Alliance signs an agreement that protects companies of the CommerceNet Singapore network against software non-compliance risks.

SINGAPORE--The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and nonprofit organization CommerceNet Singapore (CNSG) have joined forces to help companies mitigate the risks of software copyright infringement.

Under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed Wednesday, BSA will certify all members of CNSG's network of TrustSg companies under its SAM (software asset management) Advantage Program. TrustSg is a nationwide initiative by the National Trust Council to boost consumer confidence in e-commerce transactions in Singapore.

TrustSg companies will also enjoy one year protection from BSA-initiated enforcement action for software non-compliance, said Roland Chan, BSA's director of marketing for Asia, at the signing ceremony held here.

The SAM Advantage program is a joint initiative by BSA and Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which was launched in April this year.

"The SAM Advantage Program is aimed at helping businesses get a peace of mind and ensure that they are protected from the risks of software non-compliance," Chan said.

Members of CNSG need not worry about copyright violation, be it through an unintentional oversight in the use of software in their business, or indiscriminate software downloading by employees.

Certified companies reported for infringement of software through the BSA anti-piracy hotline or the BSA Web site, would be given up to 14 days to rectify discrepancies and show that they are license-compliant. Non-certified companies, however, would have to face the risk of action against them, without warning at any time, Chan added.

To join the program, CNSG's TrustSg accredited companies simply need to submit their acceptance of the terms and conditions of the program in writing to CNSG, as well as ensure they continue to maintain the TrustSg code of practice, according to Ramesh Vakkiprath, operations manager at CNSG.

Singapore-based companies keen to enroll in BSA's SAM Advantage Program, but which are not part of CNSG's TrustSg accredited network, may do so by Jul. 15. Similarly, these companies will receive a BSA SAM Advantage Program certificate and one year protection from BSA-initiated enforcement action from the date of acceptance, upon "successful" enrolment into the program, according to BSA.

"Trust and the need to eliminate fraud are of critical importance in business transactions; so too is the need to adopt good business practices that respect intellectual property rights," Wong said.

According to Chan, BSA also has similar programs in other countries in the region, including Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. However, China is missing from the list.

Even though BSA has not introduced the program in China, Chan said, it has been running SAM seminars in China to raise the awareness of software compliance.

According to the latest software piracy report conducted by research house IDC and backed by BSA, the average piracy rate in Asia-Pacific expanded slightly to 55 percent in 2006, compared to 54 percent in the previous year. Estimated revenue losses due to piracy spiked by 44 percent, amounting to US$11.6 billion in 2006, compared to US$8.1 billion the year before.

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