China spends $157M on software licenses to combat piracy

Country steps up efforts to rid use of pirated software within national government and provincial bodies by procuring official software and correcting improper use of pirated ones, report notes.

China has spent more than 1 billion yuan (US$156.9 million) buying licensed software recently, as part of a national campaign to stem the use of pirated software across all its government offices.

Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the amount was spent on 158,823 operating system (OS) licenses, 506,693 copies of office software, as well as antivirus and other special-purpose software by the end of June.

Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, said in the report that the second phase of the anti-piracy campaign, which involved the inspection and correction of improper usage of software among national authorities and provincial governments, was also complete by then.

Inspection and procurement of software licenses at the city and county levels were scheduled to conclude by end-2013, he added. To date, 159 cities and 594 counties of China's 500 cities and 2,800 counties have gone through the compliance inspection process and undergone corrective procedures, Xinhua reported.

According to Yan, no preference was given to domestic software and foreign software providers received equal treatment during the procurement process.

However, the official pointed out there were obstacles in implementing the remaining part of the project, which is to establish official checks and accountability within the government. Many local government officials are not aware of the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights, and it is always difficult to monitor software licenses after installation, he explained.

But Yan was confident the anti-piracy campaign would be a success and the country would establish a system to sustain the effort, including providing financial support, assets management for intangible goods, auditing, and inspections.

He added the anti-piracy campaign has been significant in protecting IP rights, not only to fulfil international obligations but also to transform China into an innovation-driven country.

The campaign also brought a huge market opportunity for both local and foreign companies, and the official reiterated foreign software companies are encouraged to sell their products in China and are protected under Chinese law, Xinhua noted.