Software Practitioners Worry as Pirates Eat Ideas, Profits

SoftwareLOCAL IT services are not improving in the country because of the high piracy rate. The local software companies have to compete with their pirated products and the pirated products of global competitors, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.

The threat of piracy- the illegal copying of software for distribution within the organization, other groups, or for duplication and resale; has proved real, that only a handful software companies exist in the country.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that the problem has taken a dangerous dimension in the IT services sector where employees of some companies developing software steal the source codes and move to either new companies to duplicate such software thereby denying the original owner of benefits.

Emmanuel Amos, chief executive officer, Programos Software Limited- a major player in the capital market space, said that there is nothing as criminal as software piracy where somebody will be tapping into what does not belong to him and use its value to his benefit.

He said that this nefarious activity can occur in two scenarios, one is where the person steals the source code without leaving any copy for the company while the second is where the original owners still have a copy of the source code.

This according to him causes problems for the end user of the software as they will be experiencing glitches.

Amos said that his company has experienced this problem several times just like many other indigenous software developers in the country.

He said that the only option left to address this problem is through the law court but lamented that there is no law in the country that address the case except common law.

Amos urged ICT stakeholders to collaborate with legal experts to see how the necessary elaws to address these problems could be enacted.

James Agada, chief technology officer, Computer Warehouse Group, who acknowledged the devastating effect of software piracy on locally developed programmes, explained that it is technically impossible to protect ones source code from theft by employees, but said that protection could be either to register it and get patent right to it as your trade secret, “in this case it will be protected by law’.

The second form of protection he said, is to make it redundant, “by making it redundant means that you have to continuously invest in it such as bringing out version 1, version 2 and more, in this case the criminal will find it difficult to match this because of huge cost involved,” he added.



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