Piracy stifling Asian software industry, say experts

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Entrepreneur Binod Hariharan has big plans for his southern Indian firm, which develops astrology-based computer software to help users find a suitable spouse or plot their career paths. Similarly ambitious is Somporn Maneeratanakul, managing director of Thai Software Enterprises, and Nguyen Minh Duc, director of BKIS Security, a Vietnamese company that makes anti-virus programmes.

But their dreams of making it big overseas are in danger of being hijacked in the dangerous waters of the global software industry by pirates who make and sell illegal copies of their products right in their home markets.

While global giants such as Microsoft and computer security firm McAfee are prominent targets of copyright thieves, what is less known is that start-up Asian software companies are notable victims, industry players said.

And unlike the cash-rich industry big boys, these fledgling Asian companies are finding it harder to cope with losses resulting from copyright violations.

Industry group Business Software Alliance (BSA) said in a report released in May that software piracy losses reached 51.4 billion dollars in 2009, of which 16.5 billion dollars was incurred in the Asia-Pacific region.

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