by Ifreke Inyang
As the fight against piracy gathers momentum, consumers have been warned to stay off unscrupulous resellers. Just recently, the Nigerian Police raided the premises of IPS Plus Solution Limited, a computer reseller at Veterans Plaza, located in Yaba. This raid followed a consumer tip-off, an undercover test purchase and a subsequent petition to the local law enforcement authorities by Microsoft Corporation. On the 14th of September, the raid took place and the matter has been handed to the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) to continue with further investigation. IPS Plus Solution Limited apparently had offices in both Lagos and Abuja.
There have been similar raids carried out and this, is just one example of several in recent months. On every occasion, they have found resellers to be in possession of high quality counterfeit software that is packaged like genuine software – a trend resulting in many consumers, who believe they are purchasing software from a reliable source, unknowingly becoming victims to software piracy.
“We’ve noticed a rising number of what turn out to be ‘accidental pirates’ – people who unintentionally purchase counterfeit software from resellers and only later find out they have been duped,” Seye Oloruntoba, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Nigeria said. “In doing so, they expose themselves to a plethora of risks, which in the long-run can prove extremely costly for individuals, and often disastrous for businesses. Honest resellers, who sell only genuine software, are put at an unfair disadvantage, and ultimately the whole economy feels the effects.”
According to a recent survey conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), it was revealed that 82% of Nigerians acquire software illegally on a regular basis and confirmed that many consumers are unsure of what constitutes software piracy.
“We are actively working to ensure our customers and partners in Nigeria are protected from unscrupulous suppliers,” Oloruntoba explained. “This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. When they come to us for help, we make sure they receive the necessary support and we also alert local law enforcement authorities like the NCC. There must be severe consequences for those who sell pirated and counterfeit software in Nigeria.”
It is becoming very difficult to differentiate between the original and the counterfeit. Oloruntoba suggested the following tips to avoid being misled when purchasing software:
1. Before you purchase Windows software, ask resellers to confirm it will pass the Windows activation test. Activation and validation are the keys to genuine software.
2. Beware of the common gateways of digital counterfeiting: websites advertising ‘cheap software’; online auction sites with links to download sites offering counterfeit software; and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks or other file-sharing technologies.
3. Buy from a trusted source. Research online or local sellers extensively before making a purchase. Microsoft always recommends that Resellers source their software from a Microsoft Authorized Distributor, and that Consumers check that their suppliers sourced product supplied by a Microsoft Authorized Distributor. A current list of Microsoft Authorized Distributors is available at: http://www.microsoft.com/oem/authdist/default.mspx.
4. Compare the price. Counterfeit software is often sold at a much cheaper price, but can end up costing users hundreds or thousands of dollars.
5. Be suspicious of products that lack some form of proof of authenticity – such as a hologram, CD, DVD, recovery media, manuals and Microsoft Software License Terms (MSLT).
6. Be extremely careful when buying from software sellers in other countries as this complicates matters if the transaction goes awry.
7. Keep your anti-virus program up to date. This reduces your computer’s risk of exposure to viruses and malware when downloading software.
8. Say no to sellers offering backup copies or bundles of several programs.
For more information on how to protect yourself from counterfeit software, as well as tips and tricks for how to spot and avoid illegal software, please visit Microsoft’s anti-counterfeiting site http://www.howtotell.com.