In recent years, the computer software piracy rate in Vietnam has substantially lessened, from 92 percent in 2004 to 85 percent in 2009, according to IDC, an information technology market research firm. Audit results in recent years have also indicated a clear improvement in compliance to copyright laws among the business community.

However, the use of pirated software among individual users is rampant, and the overall piracy rate is aggravated due to a fast increase in PC sales. IDC's survey in 2009 showed computer sales increased 41 percent that year, and most of these PCs were readily installed with unlicensed software.

In 2010, inspectors of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in collaboration with the police conducted 111 inspections on software copyrights, and found a stunning violation rate of 98 percent.

Experts say that it is a key reason behind the sustained high rate of software piracy in Vietnam.

At the press briefing yesterday to launch a campaign calling on software retailers to respect copyrights, Vu Manh Chu, head of the Vietnam Copyright Office, noted that quite many computer shops were installing pirated software for their customers, which would constitute infringements of copyright regulations.

Dao Anh Tuan, consultant of the Business Software Alliance, said that this year campaign also focused on end-users as a change in their awareness would contribute to the whole industry and benefit the whole economy.

A recent study conducted by IDC anticipates that if computer software piracy drops 10 percentage points in four years, the software industry will gain $623 million in additional sales.

Ha Than, chief executive officer of Lac Viet Company, told a similar event in Hanoi on Tuesday that his company lost huge revenue due to piracy.

"In 2009, Lac Viet dictionary software alone generated more than 10 billion dong in sales through license agreements with telephone and computer manufacturers. However, in our estimates, Lac Viet still lost an estimated 58 billion dong to piracy last year," Than said.

Similarly, Nguyen Tu Quang, CEO of BKIS, said that for five million users of the company's security solutions, only 20 percent had secured the copyright of BKIS's products.

This year's campaign is being launched by the Vietnam Copyright Office, the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Business Software Alliance.

This campaign will kick off in Hanoi and HCM City first, targeting end-users by convincing computer shop owners not to sell and install unlicensed software on computers before selling them to customers.

The Saigon Times Daily - May 17, 2011