Whitehouse Battles Copyright and Trademark-Infringement in Software Piracy on a Global Scale

June 30th, 2010

Last year the Business Software Alliance (BSA) released its annual report on software piracy for 2009 which calculated that the commercial value of unlicensed software that founds its way into global markets last year totaled $51.4 billion. This figure represents a global rise in software piracy from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009.

copyright infringement and trademark infringementThe BSA traces the stimulus for this increase in software piracy to be largely due to the exponential growth in the PC and software markets in fast growing / high piracy markets such as Brazil, China and India.

The BSA’s study can be found here on their Website. To combat this growing threat to copyright and trademark owners in the software industry, the Whitehouse has committed itself to fighting these criminal violations of trademark and copyright-infringement. Right now the Obama administration is taking steps in an effort to protect intellectual property owners from copyright and trademark infringement. The Obama administration is working across agencies and nations to stem the flow of civil and criminal violations which in 2009 cost the worldwide technology industry $51 billion in software piracy alone.

The Whitehouse and the Obama administration very recently supported Vice President Joe Biden and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano in their release of the Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement. The Plan promises to increase communication between law enforcement agencies and those people directly affected by copyright and trademark-infringement. This will tighten connections between law enforcement and industry leaders, the general public, and international partners and organizations in a concerted attempt to stem the increasing prevalence of software piracy on a global scale.

The Plan also has a goal to dedicate agency resources to improving data collection to enforce infringement laws and to track down intellectual property violations.

InformationWeek reports that the U.S. Secret Service has a direct role and responsibility for investigating violations of laws relating to counterfeiting that affect intellectual property, including issues like access-device fraud, identity theft, computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on our nation’s financial, banking, and critical infrastructure.

The InformationWeek article also noted that;

The Secret Service is one of the agencies whose resources are being deployed as part of the administration’s new agency-wide effort, according to the DHS. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection also will be key to the plan. The federal government already has in place an ICE-run center called the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center that unites multiple government agencies in the effort. Since the beginning of the year, IP-protection work by the ICE has yielded 166 criminal arrests, 56 indictments, 34 convictions, and 1,078 seizures valued at more than $358 million, according to the DHS.”

In spite of all of this, the software piracy rate may have already peaked. The BSA noted within their annual report that in 2009, software piracy in emerging markets dropped by slightly more than one percent. The BSA goes on to postulate that if that pace is sustained next year, it is possible that global piracy will have peaked in 2009.