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Software Piracy in Pakistan

Posted on Nov 05, 2006


Lawvision : The Law Portal (Pak Based) For Lawyers, Judges, Law Students, Litigants, Departments and for general Public 

Building a case for ICT Software Freedom

Filed under:

Censorship, Software, FOSS, Human Rights, Internet Governance, Intellectual Property, Software Piracy, Freedom of Expression, Access to ICTs, Civil Society Participation, FOSSFP, FSF, ICT for Development, ICT Policy, Laws & Regulation, National ICT Strategies.

At this point in time amidst the harsh implications that Pakistani citizens will shortly be facing after 20th May 2006 when the Anti-Software piracy crackdown is enforced by Business Software Alliance BSA (Middleeast) in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Organization and Federal Investigation Authorities of Pakistan, this article is an effort to mobilize regional and international community support through media and the FOSS advocates for FOSSFP so that FOSSFP may continue to massively educate and protect the citizens of Pakistan from the implications of Software Piracy by educating them on Free and Open Source Software as an alternative to pirated software. For regular updates on software piracy and the ICT Software Freedom Movement in Pakistan, kindly visit my blog titled “Copyrights & Copylefts – In Search of ICT Software Freedom!” at http://fossmullah.wordpress.com

1) What are the copyright act amendments, addition of Software?
The government has rewritten and amended legislation in the areas of copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Copyright law in Pakistan was governed by the Copyright Ordinance 1962. Significant changes were made in it through the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1992 and the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2000 whereby Copyright protection originally available to literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, cinematographic and architectural works, books, photographs, newspapers, engravings, lectures, records (defined as “any disc, tape, wire, perforated roll or other device in which sounds are embodied so as to be capable of being reproduced there from, other than a sound track associated with a cinematographic work”) and sculptures was extended to include computer software, periodicals, video films and all forms of audio-visual works.
As Pakistan is a signatory to Trade Related Intellectual property Rights, Agreement (TRIPs) under WTO, it was necessary to upgrade the national intellectual property infrastructure inline to the global trends. Accordingly the existing legislation on Intellectual Property i.e. Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks have been upgraded and the revised laws have been promulgated as follows,
- The Patents ordinance 2000
- The Registered Designs Ordinance 2000
- The Registered Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Ordinance, 2000
- The Copyrights Ordinance, 1962 (As amended vide Copyrights Ordinance 2000)
- The Trade Marks Ordinance 2001

2) Relevant web links to the government notification?
Pakistan Software Export Board PSEB:
- http://www.pseb.org.pk/page.php?page_id=135  
Intellectual Property Rights Organization of Pakistan IPO:
- http://www.ipo.gov.pk/introduction.php  
All Pakistan Software House Association P@SHA:
- http://www.pasha.org.pk/html_files/policies_antipiracy.htm
Business Software Alliance BSA:
- http://www.bsa.org/middleeast/policy/upload/Pakistan-law.bmp
- http://bsa.org/globalstudy/upload/2005-Global-Study-English.pdf

3) Identifiable interests that were lobbying in favor of the amendment?
The amendment is definitely not one sided, there are a number of actors here
1. Business Software Alliance Members that are all multinational companies
2. Government actors who want to direct economic and monetary gains from foreign investments
3. The Pakistani IT Industry, want to protect their IPR and exploit a local software industry
4. Entrepreneurs who know nothing about the innovative and knowledge benefits of Free and Open Source Software.

4) What will be the impact of this change in the copyright rules on the software industry in Pakistan?
There are three segments of the IT Industry.

Segment 1: There is segment of the software industry that comes under documented software industry/economy. This segment is the lot of rich and high revenue generating firms in Pakistan that are using licensed software for production as well as producing products and solutions for foreign clients keeping licensing and software code protection in view, these can be classified as members of the proprietary software industry who have the money to buy software licenses and produce licensed products. These companies will benefit the most from the Anti-Software Piracy regime. Another major beneficiary will be the software developers and hi-tech innovators/entrepreneurs who rely on developing software products on proprietary software platforms as resellers or development partners or inventors, earlier; they would invest in very expensive software development activity but would not benefit from local market sales as their work would immediately be pirated and made available as part of a series of pirated software CDs locally as well as globally. The Anti-Software Piracy campaign would stop this and help the nation in generating revenue from huge within the country software sales. This is the Pro-Proprietary Software Industry. Figures about this segment can be viewed at Pakistani ITeS Industry Statistics: http://www.pseb.org.pk/page.php?page_id=77

Segment 2: The second segment of the industry is the undocumented and low income/revenue generating companies that are neither complying to procuring licenses for their software production environments nor are producing valid software licenses/standards compliant software products. These companies are very small software houses comprising of 3-10 developers and as a whole constitute well over 50% of the actual software industry and produce revenues of well over US$145 million a year and the government has no track of them. These companies work mainly through e-lancing and renta-coder like websites or through personal contacts abroad. Though this segment is not documented but they still contribute economically to the nation and create that interest portion that motivates foreigners to recognize Pakistani software development talent. Still most of the small developers will filter out who cannot afford licensed versions of proprietary software like Microsoft XP, MS Office, MS Visual Studio, MS SQL Server, Oracle Database and Developer Tools. These developers/software companies have been using pirated software platforms to develop pirated MIS applications for end users further drowning the end users into software piracy. The total rate of piracy in Pakistan as identified by BSA and IIPA is 82% as of 2005.

Segment 3: The third segment of the industry is the user segment. The users are mainly users of the unlicensed versions of MS Windows XP Operating System, MS Office Tools, end user MIS applications built on pirated software development platforms, Corel Draw, 3DS Max, Adobe Products etc. They don’t have any knowledge or literacy of licensed software. This constitutes most of the software users in Pakistan and in some cases, includes the government departments and academic institutions, for example, the constituent college of the University of the Punjab (Pakistan’s largest and oldest public sector university) Punjab University College of IT is running 700 desktops on pirated operating systems, application development platforms including Visual Studio.net and Oracle DB/Developer. So this the actual portion of the 82% of software piracy in the region.

Another segment is emerging as part of the Open ICT Software Ecosystem, that is, the Free and Open Source Software User community. This segment has no issues whether there are Anti-Software Piracy campaigns or not. The proprietary software industry calls me the FOSS Mullah of the Free Software movement: due to the fact that I announce that we have our copyrights too, but these are different, they are meant to protect the freedom of the software and not block sharing. This pinches the opposition a lot. According to FOSSFP partners, supporters, mailing lists and volunteer community members, the Free and Open Source Software community marks well above 15,000 users, developers, administrators, professionals throughout the nation. 7,000 alone are with FOSSFP http://www.fossfp.org, 3,500 are on http://www.linuxpakistan.net, some are at http://www.osrc.org.pk etc. These users are adopting the Ubutnu-Linux OS as their preferred desktop as compared to Windows, Open Office as compared to MS Office and FireFox and Thunderbird instead of MS Internet Explorer and MS Outlook. The FOSS movement is changing the way people perceive software not only in Pakistan but around the globe.

Views of the Free & Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan about this amendment?
FOSSFP feels that the amendment to a large extent supports the economic interest of the Government where Pakistan needs to rebuild the confidence of foreign investors in areas related to knowledge product development and capitalization but problems arise where Pakistan is trying to act like a 100% literacy rate country. The real picture is very different; Civil Society organizations have had no role in the copyright amendments and no representation on the policy board of the Intellectual Property Organization, Government of Pakistan. IPO policy board is comprised of MNC business men only and there is no input from civil society making the organization a 100% business oriented venture taking steps to fulfill an economic agenda instead of a socio-economic one.

Where FOSSFP is struggling to create mass awareness on Software Piracy, its implications and guiding the citizens of Pakistan towards Free and Open Source Software, the Government or BSA are going to carryout an activity that may deprive Pakistanis to their basic human right to use and benefit from Software ICT Freedom. In a country where the population is well over 160 million, 47% literacy rate with a very small fraction (5-7%) of the population capable of understanding English language, ICT is still alien to a large amount of the population. This figure of IT usage within the country would be between something like 10% only of the total population in the country and I may be wrong, the amount would go further down according to the stats presented here at the Internet World Stats website:

That as of 2006 Pakistan has a domestic Population of 163,985,373, Internet users in the year 2000 were only 133,900 and now the figure has risen to 7,500,000 Internet users as of Dec./05 with a 4.6% penetration rate, the GNI p.c.US$ 600 (’04) according to the World Bank and if a Pakistani citizen buys the complete licenses for an Operating Systems Software and Business Office Tools to run his computer, he will only be left with US$45 GNI, so that definitely doesn’t seem like an encouragement to use ICTs or share ICT Software Freedom that proprietary software has never carried.

FOSSFP demands ICT Software Freedom:
- FOSSFP demands representation of Civil Society actors on the IPO policy board.
- FOSSFP demands that Creative Commons licensing be introduced and recognized throughout Pakistan.
- FOSSFP demands that the government carries out a 2 year long nationwide Anti-Software Piracy and Free & Open Source Software Literacy Campaign in collaboration with FOSSFP as an alternative to software piracy.
- FOSSFP demands that the government provides FOSSFP financial and physical resources to manage the literacy campaign nationwide.
- FOSSFP demands the government to recognize copyleft freedom regimes as opposed or parallel to copyrights.

FOSSFP’s Appeal:
FOSSFP is sending out an appeal to global Civil Society and organizations in the FOSS Community to take action and buy time from the Government of Pakistan to educate the citizens of Pakistan about Software Piracy and its alternatives as provided by FOSS and Ubuntu-Linux.

Background Information on the situation of Software Piracy in the Pakistan:

FOSSFP is a non-profit, charitable ICT foundation assisting the enhancement of the abilities and capacity of individuals, groups, institutions, organizations, societies, and government in Pakistan by using Free/Open Source Software Solutions (FOSS) for their sustained economic and social development with a special focus on Women and Youth Empowerment through the use of ICTs. FOSSFP is a licensing body for developing, advocating and protecting intellectual capital in the region by devising National Free and Open Source Software Licensing and Software Engineering Standards in order to establish standardized FOSS licensing and engineering practices in the region. FOSSFP is facilitating the evolution of an Open ICT Ecosystem in the region by shaping its activities around enabling ICTs by using Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) technologies and applications for capacity building, promotion, advocacy and localization for humanitarian socio-economic development.

FOSSFP has its presence in the region of Pakistan through its FOSS community volunteers in the four provinces since February 2004 with its headquarters in Lahore. After completing its in-house research on evolving a firm foundation and philosophy for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) adoption, FOSSFP directed its research on identifying and formulating an Open ICT Ecosystem for Pakistan. This included identifying the key reasons why FOSS would emerge as an alternative to the proprietary software Ecosystem in the region. Key outcomes of the preliminary research were that Pakistan was plagued with Software Piracy and this percentage was increasing at an alarming stage in government, academic, commercial and home users. Since Pakistan is a signatory of WTO/TRIPS, Pakistan has to comply with protecting intellectual copyrights for its sustainable socio-economic development with increased pressure from the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Secondly, the same is an unethical plague that affects future generations because the country lacked knowledge in issues related to licensing regimes, proprietary and Free/Open Source software alternatives. FOSSFP established its vision and mission to help Pakistanis revitalize their ethical perceptions on the usage and adoption of ICT software and provide them open alternatives to gain freedom from the software piracy trap.

Nationwide Public Free & Open Source Software & Anti-Software Piracy Awareness Campaigns
The organization made public appearance in April 2005 soon after which FOSSFP launched its largest public FOSS awareness/mass adoption campaign FOSSAC’2005 1st National Free and Open Source Software Awareness Campaign in collaboration with:
1. United Nations Development Programme – International Open Source Network UNDP-APDIP-IOSN
2. Ubuntu Foundation, Shuttleworth Foundation, South Africa  
3. Canonical Ltd, United Kingdom
4. Open Source Resource Centre, Pakistan Software Export Board, Ministry of Information Technology & Telecom, Government of Pakistan
5. Punjab Information Technology Board, Government of the Punjab
6. Department of Education, Government of the Punjab
7. Department of Law, Government of the Punjab
8. Punjab University College of Information Technology, University of the Punjab

FOSSFP-FOSSAC’2005 Outcomes & Benefits
Over 7,000 Professionals from various Public and Private Sector Organizations, students, and general public have received awareness about the benefits of Free and Open Source Software.
Organizations and individuals have been persuaded to use Free &Open Source Software for their sustainable development.
Over 4,800 professionals, students, and general public have received free short term training to begin using Free & Open Source Software.
Over 506 public and private sector organizations were introduced to Software Piracy, Free and Open Source Software and Open Alternatives to Software Piracy.
Campaign Participants received 5,000 free CDs containing Ubuntu-Linux Free & Open Source Software operating system.
The participants received awareness about issues regarding Intellectual Copyright Law and pirated software in Pakistan.
Government, academia, public and private sector organizations, industry, NGO’s, and others gathered under one roof to achieve the national goal regarding Free and Open Source Software Technologies awareness, promotion, adoption and usage.

Future objectives of FOSSFP-FOSSAC
To reduce the Digital Divide in the region through the adoption of Free and Open Source Software as an enabler of ICTs with a special focus on Academia, Public and Private Sectors, Women, Youth and People with Special Needs
To provide an effective solution to combat Software Piracy in the region by promoting the usage and adoption of Free and Open Source Software Technologies and Platforms as an alternative to Pirated Software
To provide Ubuntu-Linux FOSS training and certification to 100,000 people
To distribute 100,000 Ubuntu-Linux FOSS CDs free of charge
To encourage and support other academic institutions/universities to launch awareness campaigns for their local communities
To introduce FOSS in 1000 public/private organizations
To encourage media/press to promote FOSS awareness and adoption
To attract International Community and their support

Global Impact of FOSSFP-FOSSAC
From 2002-2005, Pakistan was on the IIPA 301 Priority Watch List which could impose trade sanctions and embargoes from the United States and western world on Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan and FOSSFP’s Anti-Software Piracy/FOSS partnership helped in creating a positive image on the global community that Pakistan was taking affective and extensive measures to combat software piracy in the region and reduced the Software Piracy rate from 83% to 82%. As of February 13, 2006, IIPA submitted its recommendations on 68 countries to USTR in the 2006 Special 301 review of copyright piracy and market access problems removing Pakistan from top priority to the watch list.

IIPA’s 2006 Special Recommendations for PakistanAccording to the latest IIPA recommendations report Pakistan needs to take Actions against Business Software Piracy and Other Forms of Piracy. The rate of unauthorized use of business software in Pakistan is extremely high. Inspections should be run against those suspected to be engaged in this form of piracy, and prosecutions brought. In addition, while many prosecutions were brought against those engaging in hard disk loading of pirate software onto computers, the slow pace of court processes and lack of deterrent sentences has meant those engaging in this activity will not be deterred. Steps should be taken to reverse this trend.
In this regard the Government of Pakistan and the Business Software Alliance BSA have made significant raids on the various hardware assemblers in Lahore and Karachi registering legal offenses under the national copyright laws. This is increasing an opportunity for FOSS adoption in the region where most of the consumers will opt for FOSS as Pakistan is a low income country and purchasing expensive software licensing is not a practice.

United Nations and global FOSS community response to FOSSFP-FOSSAC
The United Nations, various foreign governments and the global FOSS community responded to FOSSFP initiatives in a positive manner inviting input from FOSSFP at various levels to incorporate FOSSFP best practices in to their ICT policies and strategies.


FOSS-Rising Feature Report - http://www.fossfp.org/documents/reports/fossac_feature_report.pdf  
FOSS-Rising Feature Report Pictures Section -  http://www.fossfp.org/documents/reports/fossac_feature_report_pictures.pdf
FOSSAC’2006 2nd National Free and Open Source Software Awareness Campaign - http://www.fossfp.org/fossac2006
Ministry of IT&T, Government of Pakistan presentation at Asia-OSS Symposium, Srilanka, 2005 - (View the last part of the slides)
International Intellectual Property Alliance, 2006 Special 301 Report, on Global Copyright Protection and Enforcement, Pakistan - http://www.iipa.com/rbc/2006/2006SPEC301PAKISTAN.pdf
IIPA’s press release on its 301 recommendations -http://www.iipa.com/pressreleases/IIPA 2006 Special 301 EMBARGOED Press Release.pdf
International Intellectual Property Alliance, 2006 Special 301 Report, on Global Copyright Protection and Enforcement, IIPA’s 2006 full Special 301 submission - http://www.iipa.com/special301_TOCs/2006_SPEC301_TOC.html
Government of Pakistan’s IPR Page: http://www.pseb.org.pk/page.php?page_id=135&PHPSESSID=60647814080647d415108a6d654af3d4
UNDP-IOSN invited FOSSFP to present its case study during the FOSSAP-II Consultations in Cambodia. FOSSFP FOSSAP-II Hybrid Educational Model Case Study for promoting FOSS
FOSSFP Hybrid Educational Model: http://www.fossfp.org/hybridmodel
UNDP sponsored FOSSFP to participate in the World Summit on Information Society Tunis 2005 and preside on panels targeted at FOSS advocacy and promotion. WSIS Newsroom:
UNDP Sharing the Future Project at WSIS: http://www.sharingthefuture.org
FOSSFP-WSIS Information Section: http://www.fossfp.org/wsis
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has signed a MoU with FOSSFP for promoting training on Free and Open Source Software in developing countries. Further partnership information at:
FOSSFA: Free Software and Open Source Foundation of Africa and FOSSFP have teamed up to form the first Global FOSS Movement and ICT4D Fund. FOSSFA sponsored FOSSFP to participate in IDLELO2 to share its best practices, the True Spirit of FOSS and work towards formulating the Global FOSS Movement and lobbying support from the global community.
The True Spirit of FOSS:
Draft Report of FOSSFA-IDLELO2:


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