SINGAPORE, 22 APRIL 2009 Small and medium enterprises (SME) in Singapore worried about running afoul of local intellectual property laws can now sign up for a voluntary audit of their organisation's software, and buy discounted software, with the launch of a new campaign.
The campaign, a brainchild of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), aims to help SMEs ensure that their software assets are licensed. The initiative is supported by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organisation which promotes legal software use. The BSA's members include IT vendors such as Adobe, Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Symantec.
Companies often don't know what software they have, said Jeffrey Hardee, vice president and regional direction, BSA. This initiative is aimed at giving them peace of mind to know they are backed up by licences.
Hardee added that companies should not view the cost of software as a liability, but consider the loss of potential downtime and reputation, should a firm be found guilty of flouting intellectual property law.
SMEs who register to be part of the initiative can have the software audit conducted between now and 21 June. Companies found to be using unlicensed products will be given 14 days to get themselves into the proper legal shape, before the BSA sues. Companies can purchase discounted software through to 30 June.
Firms found to have completed the procedure will also receive protection from BSA-initiated lawsuits through to 21 June next year, subject to terms and conditions.
Other bodies supporting this initiative include the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, CommerceNet Singapore, Designers Association Singapore, Singapore Business Federation, Singapore Institute of Architects and Singapore International Chamber of Commerce.
We are heartened to see the leading industry and trade associations and their members coming together to provide SMEs with the tools to ensure software compliance within their business environment, said Liew Woon Yin, director-general, IPOS.
A 2007 survey by the BSA found 37 per cent of companies in Singapore were using unlicensed software. A breakdown of the types of companies was not available, but Hardee said it would be safe to assume a large number would consist of SMEs, since larger public-listed companies had more to lose' if they failed compliance laws.
Companies seeking to know more about the programme can visit www.sam4biz.org.
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