Software piracy costs the information technology industry billions of dollars in losses each year. The cumulative impact of software theft is not typically mentioned among the many factors inhibiting economic growth globally.
Kenya is one of the biggest software vendors in the world. However according to a survey conducted by BSA Global Software Survey of 2014, software piracy rates remain high in Kenya with a 78% rate with a value of almost Kshs 12.8 billion shillings. The survey also points out that about 43% of the software installed on PCs around the world – standing at a value of 62.7 billion dollars (Kshs 6.2 trillion) – is not properly licensed.
The International Data Corporation in partnership with Microsoft and BSA has for the last 13 years been doing an in depth study of software issues. According to a study in 2013, there was an increase in software piracy globally amounting to 62.7 billion dollars which translates to a statistic where out of 10 computers used in Kenya, 8 are running on unlicensed software.
In the light of this, the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has announced a month-long amnesty for individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and corporations using non-genuine software, to allow them a chance to purchase or subscribe to genuine/licensed software ahead of a planned crackdown.
The Board is responsible for organizing legislation on copyright and related rights; conducting training programmes on copyright and related rights; enlightening and informing the public on matters related to copyright; licensing and supervising the activities of collective management societies; and maintaining an effective databank on authors and their works.
Making the announcement, Edward Sigei, Acting Executive Director of the Kenya Copyright Board said that the amnesty is a proactive effort by the Board to ensure compliance in the use of genuine software to mitigate associated loses and risks. “Software piracy is increasingly stifling economic growth in Kenya today. The rampant use of non-genuine software is denying the country an opportunity to derive gains from licensed software, which has shown greater return on investment elsewhere in the world,” said Mr. Sigei.
Speaking at the event, Microsoft’s Country Manager for Kenya Mr. Kunle Awosika said that using licensed software provides firms with an opportunity to reduce costs and improve productivity. He said: “Licensed software presents value added services that not only improve operational efficiency for a businesses, but also improves productivity, which in turn fuels economic growth of the country.”
Awosike also pointed out how using non-genuine software exposes enterprises to enormous risks including lawsuits, security threats and the reputational peril associated with a lawsuit or security breach/failure.
“Many people do not know that when using pirated software, one has 74% chance of falling victim to cybercrime,” Awosika explained.
During the one-month Amnesty, Microsoft has undertaken to drive consumer awareness campaigns around the purchase and use of genuine software through activities that will seek to empower users to acquire and use genuine software. One of the issues pointed out in the high rates of piracy in Kenya was lack of sufficient knowledge as to acquiring and using counterfeit software.
So what are some of the benefits of using genuine licensed software?
1. Technical support that you can count on: By acquiring genuine Microsoft software from an authorized partner, you can readily access Microsoft Solution Finder portal or the Microsoft shops around the country to gain access to the partner directory and technical support.
2. Get more for your money. You get to receive the latest product features, support and ongoing improvements to keep your PC performing at its best. A PC purchased with genuine Microsoft operating system pre-installed by the computer manufacturer is the most cost-effective way to acquire qualified Windows OS licenses.
3. Free antivirus and anti malware protection. Say goodbye to nasty viruses, spyware and other malicious threats. With genuine Windows software, you get access to Microsoft Security Essentials, a no cost anti-malware service that provides real-time protection to address the ongoing security needs of a genuine Windows-based PC.
4. The latest software offerings. When Windows 10 was launched in Kenya, customers who had the licensed software were able to automatically upgrade for free for one year to the latest version. With pirated software, you cannot get such privileges as the latest software updates are available only to genuine Microsoft software customers.
5. Reduced risk of cleaning and fixing systems, which can be costly and time-consuming. You are protected and get everything you paid for when you buy genuine Microsoft software. You will spend less effort and money supporting your PC and more time enjoying it.
6. Confidence in proven technology. When purchasing genuine Microsoft software, you are protected by the guarantee of quality software that millions of consumers around the world enjoy every day.
7. Personalized PC. Enjoy greater capabilities and easy integration with the widest variety of hardware, software and services including Office 365 that has greater productivity with access to your PC’s files from anywhere and robust security and reliability so you never have to worry about losing your data.
8. Purchasing from a reputable source. When you buy genuine Microsoft software from a reputable retailer, you can be confident that you’re protected by getting exactly what you paid for — genuine software published by Microsoft. Acquiring software from an unknown source does not guarantee that you are getting the genuine product.
9. Access to the most comprehensive software support. Genuine Microsoft software is published by Microsoft, properly licensed and fully supported by Microsoft or a trusted retailer. Using genuine software offers you confidence that you will receive the latest product features, updates, security enhancements and ongoing improvements.
10. Long-term value. Purchasing genuine Microsoft software from a trusted source is the best way to ensure that you are getting the most value from your software purchase. Problems that may arise from installing non-genuine software can be costly to fix in the long term.