Accra, Ghana — 12 December 2011 Ghanaian law enforcement authorities raided the premises of Skynet Computers and Accessories, a computer reseller operating in Asylum Down, Accra after obtaining a search warrant from a Magistrate Court. The raid took place on 30 November 2011 and the matter has been handed to the Ghana Copyright Office for further investigation.
The raid points to the fact that many resellers are 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.
Says Seye Oloruntoba, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Anglophone West Africa: “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. 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. ”
39 pieces of suspected counterfeit Microsoft Windows software were recovered at Skynet Computers and Accessories’ premises. While the original source of the counterfeit software in still under investigation, it is understood that Skynet Computers and Accessories had recently supplied 400 pieces of Windows 7 Professional software to a local bank.
A recent global study conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) revealed that over 70% of PC users in Africa 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 Ghana are protected from unscrupulous suppliers,” added Oloruntoba. “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 Ghana Copyright Office. There must be severe consequences for those who sell pirated and counterfeit software in Ghana.”
It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between genuine and non-genuine software, unless consumers are discerning and know what to look out for. Oloruntoba suggests following these 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.
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.
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itg Communications for Microsoft Nigeria