By Fredrick Obura
Kenya Copyright Board has embarked on an intensive campaign to put software piracy out of business through a series of sustained raids on suspected resellers of counterfeit software.
The enforcement campaign aims to reduce losses to the ICT sector, which is responsible for the generation of thousands of new jobs, and millions of shillings in economic growth, while increasing tax revenues to support other programmes and services.
Recently the board inspectors, backed by the police, carried out raids on computer shops in Nairobi where they netted a suspect involved in a multi million counterfeit software syndicate.
‘‘We have resolved to deal firmly with those infringing and engaging in software piracy" said Executive Director, Kenya Copyright Board Marisella Ouma.
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The board said it was sending out a strong message about the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, warning resellers who are engaged in the distribution of counterfeit software that their days were numbered.
Ouma urged software resellers to operate within the law by selling licensed and genuine products.
"The Board remains ready and willing to support software copyright owners by intensifying enforcement efforts to reduce piracy in our country and ensure legitimate businesses reap fruits of their labour as per the Kenya Copyright Board mandate.’’
Lawrence Kinyanjui, the anti-piracy manager for Microsoft, West East and Central Africa-WECA, backed the action saying piracy was harmful not only to Microsoft’s customers but it also affected legitimate partner ecosystem.
"Software piracy is a serious problem that has a huge impact on people in Kenya and the region," he said.
"Unsuspecting consumers are at risk of downloading or purchasing counterfeit software that can expose victims to spyware, malware and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of data, and system failures."
He called for a closer working relationship between law enforcement agencies, consumers, and manufacturers to tame the multibillion vice.
He said software counterfeiting strains a country’s ability to protect IP and generate jobs, harms local IT service firms, saps government tax revenues and increases the risk of cybercrime and security problems.