Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NCC, Police win case against Computer Plus

•On software piracy

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Police have won the case against Computer Plus Limited over software piracy.

The case which took over five years to conclude due to pro-longed court process saw Computer Plus Ltd and its managing director, Felix Agbor, being found guilty on two counts charge of software piracy.

ITRealms Online recalls that in 2003, NCC got tip-off on a number of companies reputed in software piracy, including Computer Plus Ltd.

A press statement from Microsoft Nigeria endorsed by the Public Relations Manager, Mrs Ndidi Uwadoka quoted the Director-General of NCC, Mr. Adebambo Anthony Adewopo as saying that the tip-off was followed by a test-purchase carried out which confirmed that the company was pre-loading computers with unlicensed copies of Microsoft software.

“With this proof in hand, a warrant was issued, the reseller’s property was raided by the police and the managing director was charged,” he said.

According to Adewopo, after a lengthy court process, the defendants, Computer Plus and Felix Agbor, pleaded guilty on May 15, 2009 and were convicted and sentenced to a six-month prison term with the option of a fine. Noting that though Mr. Agbor, opted to pay the fine the criminal conviction will remain on Computer Plus and Mr. Agbor’s criminal record.

“The kind of software piracy that Computer Plus carried out is not uncommon,” he said, pointing out that in an effort to make their sales offerings more attractive and compelling, resellers sometimes illegally pre-load software onto a computer when it is being sold – either including it as “part of the package” or “at no extra cost”.

He equally said that while pre-loading software onto a computer for a customer is not an illegal act, every item of software loaded should always be legally licensed.
“In this case, the proof of license documents, like a genuine Certificate of Authenticity and hologram CD, were not provided during the test purchase and evidence gathered during the raid confirmed that Computer Plus was in fact dealing in pirated software,” he said.

Also speaking on the matter, Licensing and Compliance Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Serge Ntamack, said, piracy is not a victimless crime.

“On the contrary, many people and businesses suffer at the hands of these criminals. Honest resellers lose out on sales, businesses lose out on productivity, software companies lose out on revenue and governments lose out on tax revenue, which could be re-invested into the country,” he highlighted.

Stressing that this could not be over-emphasized, adding there is a need to respect copyrights and the laws that protect intellectual property.

“Piracy is a crime, just like theft, tax evasion and fraud. And criminals will be brought to book when they are caught,” Ntamack explained.

As said by him, people and businesses in Nigeria who utilise unlicensed software are putting themselves in a precarious position when it comes to their own security.

He cited an example, saying that unlicensed software users cannot get the latest security updates and patches, leaving their systems vulnerable to viruses and potential computer hackers.

“If anything goes wrong with their systems, they are left without any technical assistance to resolve the problem. The risks far outweigh the cost benefits of using pirated unlicensed software. It’s just not worth it,” he said.

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