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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tide Begins to Turn in Battle With Piracy

For MTJean-Paul Seuren
While all of Russia's major corporations have been guilty of using unlicensed software, companies are increasingly cracking down on abuse, an anti-piracy lobby group said Wednesday.

"All big [companies] have illegal software," Jean-Paul Seuren, the Russia representative for Business Software Alliance, said in an interview. "They are not managing their software as an asset."

As much as 87 percent of the software used in Russia is pirated, Seuren said, but companies are beginning to go to great lengths to cut down on unauthorized software. "The direction is there," he said.

Major companies such as Gazprom, LUKoil and Russian Railways, or RZD, have yet to complete the switch to licensed software, Seuren said, citing authorized dealers and former employees. One aluminum firm, he said, has been using 1,500 pirated copies of a program.

Companies rejected the suggestion that they were using black-market wares. A Gazprom spokeswoman said the company used only licensed software, and a LUKoil spokesman said the oil major paid "tens of millions of dollars" to buy authorized products. All programs installed on employees' computers are first screened, he said.

RZD spokeswoman Natalya Akafyeva said the railways spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" on software, which it purchases through open tendering.

While oil company TNK-BP conceded that the use of pirated software may have been a problem at TNK in the past, spokesman Ivan Gogolev said it was no longer an issue.

Seuren said companies were doing more to tackle piracy and commended the Economic Development and Trade Ministry for its cooperation.

Microsoft -- one of the global IT giants backing the Business Software Alliance, which opened its Russia chapter in May -- said it had also noticed greater compliance with licensing.

"It is certainly lower in the corporate sector, and we register a further decline in the level of piracy," said Sergei Alpatov, license compliance manager for Microsoft in Russia. "But unfortunately, the situation is far from ideal."

Smaller companies also violate intellectual property laws, Seuren said.

Professional software is expensive and many companies still cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for a licensed version, Seuren said. At Gorbushkin Dvor, Moscow's giant electronics market, some software is still available for as little as $3, he said, though he acknowledged that the number of pirated products had dropped over the past half year.

In September, Microsoft said 60 percent of its pre-installed operating systems sold in Russia were pirated, a drop from 72 percent a year ago.

A study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance and published earlier this year found that 87 percent of software and hardware used in Russia was pirated. France was found to have 45 percent, Spain 43 percent and Britain 27 percent.