Over 33% percent of all computers sold on the Slovak market operate under illegal systems, revealed an internation anti-piracy outfit at a press conference in Bratislava on February 15. Microsoft, the international giant of the software industry, used the conference to warn that it has decided to get tough on piracy in Slovakia.
Representatives of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a Microsoft company that fights piracy internationally, told journalists that police raids have thus far exposed illegal piracy operations in both Bratislava and Detva.
According to Roman Sládek, president of the BSA, tolerance for piracy no longer exists. "Piracy is robbery," he said. "This is not simply a case of gentlemen misbehaving. Pirates are thieves."
Sladek said that if European countries were able to lower their software piracy rates to the US level of 27%, then $23 billion dollars would be saved. As the man responsible for lowering the rate in Slovakia, Sládek said that his task is difficult because, "the punishment given to pirates in Slovakia is very light compared to that in western countries."
Juraj Belvončík, marketing manager for Microsoft Slovakia, added further reasons for the difficult situation in Slovakia. "People pirate because it is profitable and they don't care about whose money they are taking. In Slovakia," he said, "acts such as piracy are not uncommon among the people. But they should realise that piracy damages the state economy, reduces VAT revenues and eliminates possible jobs."
He also warned that buyers are as responsible, and punishable, as sellers. An information circular stated that anyone caught buying illegal forms of software may face up to five years in prison.
Tibor Tarábek, general manager of Microsoft Slovakia, urged consumers to buy legal software because doing so "allows you to enjoy the benefits of the controlled environment of legal computer software purchasing." Tarabek said that buyers can easily distinguish between legal and illegal software because " Microsoft products must have the certificate of authenticity on the front page of the manual or on the CD cover."
Belvončík appealed to the Slovak government for aid in fighting piracy, and warned of the consequences for not doing so. "It is in the government's interest to create anti-piracy policies," he said. "The rules of the European Union require this. It is one of the pre-conditions for entrance to the EU," seconded Sládek.
He concluded by saying that the current anti-piracy campaign will not be the last. "Microsoft would like to run intensive anti-piracy campaigns in the future," he said. "We must change the fact that more than 33% of the computers sold in Slovakia have illegal operation systems."