Hi-tech 'piracy guide' on offer to Net surfers
A list of software pirates operating in Hong Kong is available on the Internet.
Computer bosses have branded the openly-accessible World Wide Web pages a 'travel guide for thieves', and are seeking legal advice on removing them.
The South China Morning Post found two web sites listing a number of pirate outlets.
Computer buffs round the world can log on and find pictures of the Hong Kong malls named, and details of software at rock-bottom prices.
The pages also note the nearest MTR stops and even describe the toilet facilities.
Stephanie Mitchell, a vice-president of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), said: 'It's quite a tourist guide - a guidebook for thieves.
'It simply proves this is not business as it was a few years ago. This is blatant and commercial, and so open as to be scandalous.
'We're taking legal advice, but I'm not sure whether we can get them to remove the web pages.
'The Government has stepped up action against piracy, which we appreciate, but this shows the degree to which it has become institutionalised. It's a case of see the Peak, buy the software and get back on the plane.' BSA lawyer Robert Arnold said: 'It's difficult to do anything because they are not advertising. They're just disseminating information about the products.
'We do not know who put it up there. They are not offering the products for sale. But you could say they are inciting people to break the law.' He said lawyers also planned to look at whether people were using bulletin boards in Hong Kong to market bootleg software.
'The United States has taken action against people who have advertised pirated software on bulletin boards, but we haven't done that yet.
'Looking into the use of bulletin boards in Hong Kong is on our list. 'But we're having so much trouble trying to deal with pirated software sold on the streets that they have had to take a back seat.' Last week the US said it would be keeping an eye on Hong Kong after a last-minute decision to drop the territory from a list of piracy blackspots.
The US said it would review Hong Kong's performance in six months in the light of Government efforts to crack down on the piracy problem.
Director of Intellectual Property Stephen Selby said he was not aware of the World Wide Web pages.