Banking and finance sector firm raided for software piracy

Saturday, 30 June 2012 02:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Police reaffirmed its focused determination to protect intellectual property (IP) rights, when it carried out yet another copyright enforcement raid.

This time, the Colombo Crimes Division raided an established corporate entity in the banking and financial sector suspected of using pirated and unlicensed software. The raid took place in Colombo last week, with the inspection and identification of suspected pirated software taking over five hours. Thereafter, the Police took the computers installed with pirated software into custody and will be produced in Court as evidence.

Given the country’s aim of building a vibrant IT industry and becoming a strong off-shoring destination for global companies, the focus of the Police is on taking action on an ongoing basis against companies that persist in using pirated and unlicensed software. Many of these companies are, by now, clearly aware that copyright infringement is a criminal offence and yet continue to disregard the law.

The law governing Intellectual Property rights under the Intellectual Property Rights Act No. 36 of 2003 is comprehensive and specifies that computer programs are protected work and original intellectual creations. Any person who wilfully infringes any of the rights protected under the act shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, after trials before a Magistrate, to a fine not exceeding Rs. 500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.

Section 187 of the Act goes on to state that where an offence under this act has been committed by a body corporate, every person who at the time of the commission was a director general, manager, secretary or holding similar office shall be deemed guilty of that offence, unless they prove that the offence was committed without their knowledge.

BSA Committee in Sri Lanka Consultant Shalini Ratwatte said: “Companies need to audit the software they have installed and ascertain its legality by identifying the gaps between licenses that they have purchased versus the number of copies that they have installed. A software audit is one of the most cost effective ways of managing software assets and reducing the risk of piracy in an organisation. The BSA website has free software audit tools to assist organisations in carrying out internal software audits. In addition, businesses should always insist on original software and maintain records, invoices and documentation on file at all times.”

Sudath Perera Associates acted as the lawyers for the aggrieved party.