November 16, 2004 (STAR) TXT IN D CITY By Patrick R. Garcia (BIDSHOT WIRELESS SERVICES) - The Internet has provided us such unlimited reach for communications and information gathering. It re-mains a border-less and mostly unrestricted space, thus leaving it vulnerable to various forms of abuse. One such abuse is the proliferation of Internet software piracy which is defined as the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted software programs via the Internet. This is similar to the pirated DVDs and VCDs being hawked at places like the Virra Mall but its venue is the Internet instead. How does the actual piracy occur? Internet piracy occurs in many ways but the most popular are through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks like Kazaa or Morpheus, an e-mail attachment or spam, postings on auction sites or via file transfer protocol (FTP).

The temptation to procure pirated software is truly compelling. You may find a posting at a local auction site for a set of Microsoft XP installer discs going for P100 while the original is sold at your local computer store for P7,000! What a bargain you might say; I say, forget it! Despite the savings, please understand the repercussions of such an illegal purchase. The unauthorized purchase of that disc is equivalent to theft and if caught, one may be subjected to criminal penalties. Pirated software from the Internet may also contain malicious or unwanted software such as spyware which may gather information on your computer without your knowledge and pass it on to others. Unauthorized downloading from P2P networks also poses security risks, including computer viruses and bugs. But the bigger picture of it all is Internet piracy affects million of jobs that may have gone to our jobless Filipino brothers. If there is no value and respect for intellectual property, then what is the purpose of companies spending millions of dollars for research and development that goes toward the creation of better technology? In fact, in 2003, it is estimated that the Philippine software industry lost more than P3 billion in revenues with our 72 percent piracy rate. Imagine the job creation and positive economic benefit we just threw out of the window.

The Business Software Alliance or BSA has embarked on an educational campaign in Asia against Internet piracy called Right Click with the Philippines hosting its maiden launch. I would like to share a short brief of the campaign with all of you taken from the luncheon press-conference held last Nov. 9 at the Makati Shangri-La.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world, launched the Right Click campaign in partnership with the Philippine In-ternet Services Org-anization (PISO), a group of Internet service providers; Bidshot.com, the leading Philippine online auction site; and Chikka.com, creator of the pop-ular Chikka Txt Messenger.

Right Click in the Philippines is the first BSA anti-Internet piracy educational campaign to be launched in Asia. It aims to provide a positive approach to using the Internet safely and teaches the importance of respect for digital copyrighted works.

"As the number of Internet communities continues to grow, it is critical to build up awareness on the dangers of Internet software piracy," said Tarun Sawney, BSA director for anti-piracy in Asia.

"The Right Click campaign aims to address this by educating computer users, especially young people and students, on the proper usage of the Internet. Internet piracy is the fastest-growing form of piracy. Downloading of copyrighted works has become convenient for a lot of people. Internet users need to be educated about the dangers attached to pirated software online. Pirated software from the Internet may come with unwanted or malicious software such as spyware or may include bugs and computer viruses," added Sawney.

According to the first BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study, there were 700 million Internet users worldwide by the end of 2003. The number is expected to reach more than a billion by 2007. Of these, 70 million are broadband households and, in three years’ time, there will be an additional 100 million. Online piracy has been facilitated by increased transmission speeds as these enable users to send and download larger files, such as software programs, more quickly.

Of the total population of Internet users, the BSA most especially wants to reach out to young people and students who are already discovering the significance of the Internet. "There is a need to start educating the youth at such an early age so that they will develop a strong sense of responsibility in using the Internet. Educational resources are increasingly made available so as to encourage this learning process," said Sawney.

In order to support this campaign, the BSA developed a fact sheet containing relevant information on Internet piracy. It contains such data as types of Internet piracy and tips for safe online shopping. More information and resources on the Right Click campaign may also be found in the BSA Philippines website at www.bsa.org/philippines.

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Patrick R. Garcia is managing director of Bidshot Wireless Services. For comments or suggestions, type TXTCITY <message> and send to 2920 or e-mail txtcity@yahoo.com.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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