S Korea court impose strict penalties on software pirates

Country's high court rules that software pirates are to pay full cost to vendors and not just for the time the illegal copy was used.

South Korea is coming down harder on software pirates after a local court determined that transgressors will have to pay full cost to software vendors regardless of how long they have been using the illegal copies for.

Yonhap News Agency reported last Sunday the Seoul High Court delivered a ruling against two local midsize companies for using illegal software on their corporate computers in 2009. Some of the pirated software include Microsoft's Windows XP operating system and Office, and the companies had been using them for several months before getting caught, it added.

The High Court ordered the two companies to compensate Microsoft and six other software vendors the full value of the pirated software used , upholding a lower court's decision. This meant one company had to pay about 47 million won (US$41,800) while the other had to fork out 119 million won (US$104,625) in penalties, the report noted.

The two companies had earlier appealed the first decision, arguing that the amount of compensation should be according to the number of days violating the law rather than pay the full cost, which would include distribution costs too.

However, the Seoul High Court said if compensation is calculated based on the number of days of using the pirated software, the penalty may be too small an amount. "This may lead to illegal copying becoming widespread in society," it added.