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China to Purge Pirated Software

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China will strictly enforce the ban of unauthorized software in government offices in 2011, authorities have said.

Central government offices have until the end of May, while local offices have until the end of October, to ensure all software installed in their offices is licensed, State Intellectual Property Office spokesman Wang Ziqiang told a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.

Software will be classified among fixed assets in future government procurements, a Ministry of Finance notice said in late 2010. This will ensure exclusive use of authorized software over the long term, because offices under the State Council conduct annual checks of fixed assets, Wang said.

The State Council's Government Offices Administration will soon adopt additional relevant regulations, he added.

All central government offices and departments had spent more than 36 million yuan ($5.4 million) on 47,716 authorized software products as of Dec 31, 2010, Government Offices Administration figures showed.

Many local governments have taken steps to ensure the software they use is licensed. Shandong province's Qingdao, as the pilot city for the policy's application, has spent nearly 77 million yuan on 15,278 licensed software products, most of which are made by Microsoft Corp, the figures showed.

The State Intellectual Property Office suggested in November 2010 that large economically successful cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian, Qingdao and Ningbo, complete the process ahead of schedule.

The government will spot-check offices' software before the deadlines. Inspections of central government offices will take place in January and February, while those of local government offices will take place in May and June, Wang said.

China has been rife with piracy for years.

Many people consider pirated software use to be the norm, and this attitude needs to change, Chinese Academy of Sciences Internet economics expert Lu Benfu told China Daily.

Contributing to piracy's prevalence are the high prices of many software products, which are too exorbitant for domestic consumers, Lu said.

Domestic research and development of software could bring down prices and reduce piracy in the country, Lu added.

"We can develop world-class office and antivirus software, but nearly all the computer operating systems use Microsoft products," Wang said.

Chen Ying, deputy director of the Ministry of Industrialization and Information Technology's software services department, said China will further encourage the software industry's development.

(China Daily January 7, 2011)

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