Ministries and municipal and provincial People’s Committees in Vietnam are set to develop a 2008 budget to pay for PC software to intensify efforts to comply with WTO intellectual property commitments.
A draft of a governmental directive compiled by the Ministry of Culture and Information calls on the Ministry of Planning and Investment and Ministry of Finance to develop a budget for software in each state agency at the central and local level following a roadmap.
According to the directive, heads of each agency will be responsible for dealing with pirated software on existing PCs by the end of 2008 by setting a plan for payment within the year. The directive has been lodged for motions from other ministries and is expected to be passed by the government later this year.
Vu Manh Chu, director of the Ministry of Culture and Information’s Copyright Department, said the directive would satisfy concerns relating to Intellectual Property rights after Vietnam enters the WTO, an issue that initially complicated the country’s bid.
“State agencies and non-government organisations are among serious pirates and have a number of PCs illegally using software,” said Chu.
Dang Duc Mai, general director of the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Financial Informatics and Statistics, said that the ministry is still in negotiations with Microsoft to buy perpetual licensing rights for Microsoft Office 2003 for 15,000 users for three years. The ministry would be the first state agency committed to buying perpetual licensing rights in Vietnam with the largest number of licensing rights for users.
“The ministry has its own budget for buying software copyright, including for Microsoft Office 2003 and Oracle. However, the budget value has yet to be calculated finally,” said Mai.
The Ministry of Post and Telematics is also concluding negotiations with Microsoft for software use among state agencies.
The Business Software Alliance has reported that Vietnam has the highest rate of software piracy in the world, at 90 per cent in 2005, down from a high of 92 per cent in 2004. A study by the IDC (International Data Company) estimates that Vietnam would create 4,000 jobs, contribute $1 billion to its GDP and generate $726 million in revenues through local vendors and $43 million in taxes if the piracy rate were to drop just 10 per cent over the next four years. By 2009, the software industry is expected to grow 169 per cent over 2004.
Tarun Sawney, Business Software Alliance’s anti-piracy-Asia director, said the software industry in Vietnam was not growing due to risk and a low rate of investment returns.
“For instance, no bank will give loans to such software companies based on their business plan,” said Sawney.
The ministries of Science and Technology, Culture and Information, Justice, Public Security, and the People’s Supreme Court will issue inter-minister circulars to clarify the Criminal Law on intellectual property right crimes. The Ministry of Culture and Information will also institute administrative fines for organisations that break the law. The fine for copying software will be triple the old level, or nearly VND100 million ($6,250). Other violations will be fined one to five times the value of pirated material.