Help for companies over tougher piracy laws

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am

Directors and partners who face criminal prosecution from next year if found liable for software piracy in their companies are getting help from the government to prepare for the new rules.

A consultancy programme has been launched to advise businesses on software management and avoiding piracy in the workplace.

The Software Asset Management Consultancy Programme, with a HK$5 million subsidy from the government, will commission three contractors to provide free on-site advice to participating companies.

Stephen Selby, director of the Intellectual Property Department, which is one of the organisers, said he had 'a high degree of confidence' that the business sector would meet the requirements by the time the amended copyright law was enforced.

'The companies are now beginning to recognise the importance of copyright,' he said. 'The programme will serve to equip the operators with advanced techniques in software management and prepare them for the newly enacted ordinance.'

Under the Copyright Ordinance, any person knowingly in possession of infringing articles for trade or business may be subject to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 per infringing article and a term of imprisonment of up to four years. Amendments enacted in June introduced further liability against directors or partners whose organisations are involved in business end-user piracy.

In the first nine months of this year the Customs and Excise Department arrested 18 people in seven corporate piracy cases and seized 67 computers. There were 79 arrests in 20 cases in all of last year.

Business Software Alliance, a collaborator in the new programme, estimates the software industry lost US$180 million last year from piracy in the business sector. Further details can be found at