A copyright agreement between global software giant Microsoft and the government is moving closer to completion, following a rush to legalise software usage and fight piracy before the country enters the WTO.
A Ministry of Post and Telematics (MPT) official said the ministry has been involved in negotiations with Microsoft for the past five months in an attempt to determine prices and limits for use of Microsoft products among all state agencies.
“We are coming to the final negotiation rounds and expect to finish up later this year,” the official said.
The statement follows the signing of a software copyright agreement between the country’s second largest state-owned commercial bank in terms of total assets, Vietcombank, Microsoft, and the country’s leading IT company, FPT.
Last week’s deal between FPT and Microsoft enables the IT company to secure licensing rights to Microsoft’s station and server software for its system of 4,500 PCs during the 2006-2009 period. FPT staff with notebooks also have the right to use these products.
The two companies have agreed to review the deal and add software licensing to FPT’s new PCs in three years time. The deal is the third one signed between the two sides, with the first signed in 2001, the second in 2005, but the latest is the largest in terms of scale.
The Ministry of Post and Telematics, meanwhile, has no concerns about FPT and Microsoft because the company is a joint stock entity and it is a local partner of Microsoft.
“The first agreement between Microsoft with a state agency in Vietnam, the Ministry of Finance, is regarded as a memorandum of understanding – it is not a deal,” said a ministry official.
Under the MoU, the Ministry of Finance has committed to purchasing perpetual licensing rights of Microsoft Office 2003 for 15,000 users over a three year period.
“We are waiting for the Vietnamese government to decide on what is the next [move] for the government of Vietnam,” said Chris Atkinson, Microsoft’s president in Southeast Asia.
By signing these agreements, clients clearly want to take a lead position in intellectual property protection in Vietnam, said Atkinson.
He said the piracy rate in Vietnam is around 90 per cent, making it the number one piracy market in the world, however, the company is optimistic with the progress it is making in copyright agreements leading up to the APEC summit.
He added that with the signing of the agreements Vietnam stood a very good chance of not being considered the country with the highest software piracy rate in the world.
“We look forward to signing many agreements with companies who wish to respect intellectual property and adopt [copyrights] as an investment standards, ” Atkinson said.
Vietcombank is the first of its kind among non-IT businesses to sign an enterprise agreement with FPT Information Systems, Microsoft’s authorised dealer in Vietnam, and Microsoft, to secure licensing rights to Microsoft Office 2003 for 4,000 users. The bank also enjoys updates of any new Microsoft Office version that the world’s leading software company will launch on the market within the next three years.