The Armenian authorities are still not doing enough to combat widespread software piracy despite growing use of licensed computer programs in the country, according to local representatives of an international information technology (IT) association.
In its most recent global survey, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) representing the worldwide IT industry estimated that 88 percent of software used in Armenia last year was pirated or not fully licensed. The BSA reported a 93 percent piracy rate in 2007. The number of computers used by state and private institutions as well as individuals has increased significantly since then.
Acting as a legal representative of Microsoft, the BSA has helped to lower the piracy rate by exposing local firms using unlicensed copies of software produced by the U.S. IT giant. In the words of Narine Mkrtchian, a BSA official in Yerevan, all of them except the Brabion Flora Service, a flower retailer with a dozen office computers, have agreed to compensate Microsoft for the copyright infringement so far.
Earlier this year, the BSA filed a lawsuit against Brabion, demanding 2.4 million drams ($6,000) in compensatory damages. The first court hearing on the case took place last month.
Mkrtchian said on Tuesday that top executives of private firms caught pirating rightly complain that Armenian government agencies and other state-funded organizations themselves routinely use unlicensed products for their computers.
“Eighty percent of programs used in our government agencies are pirated,” Mkrtchian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Many directors of private firms caught pirating say that the government should start the legalization process from itself and serve as an example for the private sector.”
Andranik Khachikian, deputy director of the government’s Intellectual Property Agency, questioned the 80 percent rate cited by the BSA representative. “It’s not true that the state is taking a strict approach only to the private sector,” he said.
Khachikian also said that Microsoft and other software developers themselves are too “passive” in fighting against piracy. “They should come up with evidence and appeal to relevant bodies,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).