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Gov't Ban on Illegal Software Gains Pace

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China is seeking fresh approaches to enforce the ban on unauthorized software and to promote the installation of legitimate software, a senior official said on Monday.

The National Copyright Administration (NCA), the copyright industry's watchdog, plans to use Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong province, as a pilot city for the promotion of legitimate software, said the official with the NCA, who did not want to be named.

According to the NCA, by the end of December Qingdao had become the first city to provide its government agencies with legitimate software for their computers, 10 months ahead of the central government's deadline for eliminating pirated software from government departments. Wang Ziqiang, spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, told a news conference in Beijing on Jan 6 that central government departments must ensure by the end of May that all software installed in offices is licensed. Local government offices must do so before the end of October.

According to the Qingdao authority, the city and Microsoft reached an agreement in December after two months' negotiations, which enabled Qingdao government departments to access the software giant's licensed products over the next three years.

According to the agreement, the Qingdao government will pay 77 million yuan (US$11.7 million) for 15,278 Microsoft products.

Qingdao Mayor Xia Geng told China Daily on Monday that eliminating the pirated software will significantly promote the city's image and will create a sound environment for the city's economy.

Zhang Yan, deputy chief engineer of the city's E-government office, who is in charge of software purchases, noted that the office has built an electronic platform, providing officials with access to downloading or updating their computer software.

"The platform enables us to find out whether government employees installed pirated software in office computers," Zhang said.

Jiang Zhengxuan, director of the city's culture bureau, told China Daily that other cities, including Wuhan and Hangzhou, have inquired about the advanced platform and planned to emulate Qingdao's practices.

Zeng Liang, vice-president of Microsoft's Greater China, said the campaign to track down pirated software showed the city's respect for copyright protection and will trigger a positive impact on the local economy.

Central government departments had spent more than 36 million yuan on 47,716 legitimate software products by Dec 31, figures from the Government Offices Administration of the State Council showed.

Software will be classified as 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, the ministry said.

(China Daily January 18, 2011)

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