POSTSCRIPT / December 18, 2008 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Insert a comma here: Millionaires don’t steal

CLARO Y RECTO: If memory serves — in the Sixties, a wealthy lady (meaning female) senator defending herself against corruption charges declared on the floor of the Senate that “Millionaires don’t steal!”

A male colleague, I think it was the venerable Claro M. Recto, said in interpellation that a big comma must be inserted to make her statement read correctly “Millionaires, don’t steal.”

That admonition, claro y recto as it is, should reverberate from the past to remind our lawmakers and other high officials that just because they are now wallowing in wealth does not mean that they are incapable of stealing.

Wealth is no defense in graft and corruption cases.

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NAKAHIHIYA!: The same admonition should be plastered on the foreheads of the top executives of a giant food and beverage conglomerate that has been reported using pirated computer software.

We might turn a blind eye when the poor, as in a Les Miserables scenario, filch a little food to feed themselves. But a giant multibillion-peso company pirating software is something else.

The authorities have called their attention to the alleged unauthorized use of software in its computer networks. It was actually just a nudge that, hey, you better use only licensed software and — considering your status — set a good example to the barangay.

Last I heard, goliath simply hunkered behind a wall of silence. Why? Millionaires don’t steal?

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WHISTLE-BLOWER: Software piracy violates the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. It is punishable by up to nine years imprisonment and a fine of up to P1.5 million.

Want to make a little money, or maybe even a tingling million? You can be a whistle-blower against big users of unlicensed or pirated software and other intellectual property.

You can file reports through the Business Software Alliance hotlines: (02) 895-6438 and 1-800-10-BSA-HTLN (1-800-10-272-4856, toll-free). Reports are handled in strict confidence.

A reward of up to P1 million awaits anyone providing information leading to a successful prosecution of establishments or persons using unlicensed software. Last year, successful action was taken against seven companies.

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PIRACY: Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software.

In some cases, the big user buys software with a license to install it in, say, 10 computers — but actually installs it in 100 or 200 devices.

When users “purchase” software — such as Microsoft’s Vista and XP operating systems or the MS Office bundle that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint — they do not buy the software itself but only a license to use it.

Other popular softwares being pirated with impunity are AutoCAD and the Adobe Suite that includes Photoshop. It is estimated that 35 percent of software in the world is pirated.

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CAMPAIGN: In 2005, the BSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team consisting of the National Bureau of Investigation, the Optical Media Board and the Philippine National Police to go after users and sellers of unlicensed software.

The PAPT has raided more that 100 establishments and seized some P250 million worth of computers and software. It can raid without warrants and cart away the computers.

Issuing EO 736, President Gloria Arroyo created the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights to step up the anti-piracy campaign. Software piracy in the Philippines has been reduced from 71 percent in 2006 to 69 percent last year.

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FACTORS: North America (including the United States) has at 21 percent the lowest violation rate. Western Europe is second with 33 percent, and the European Union is third with 35 percent.

The Philippines’ 69 percent is worse than the 59 percent of Asia/Pacific, the 68 percent of Central and Eastern Europe, the 65 percent of Latin America, and the 60 percent of the Middle East and Africa.

Factors contributing to regional differences in piracy are the political will in intellectual property protection, the availability of pirated software, and cultural variations.

Price also contributes to it. When popular software is too expensive, many users are tempted to install pirated copies.

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DEBT-FREE: Government-owned NBN-4 has paid off its outstanding debts inherited from three previous administrations, according to the network’s chair and president Rolly Reyes, who is concurrently Press Undersecretary.

Reyes attributed this to sound fiscal management, the optimum use of resources and the administrative skill of general manager Joey Isabelo. Reyes himself has had extensive broadcast experience, having held high posts in GMA Network and ABS-CBN.

After assuming office in February 2007, Reyes overhauled NBN’s structure to support the operational needs of a 24/7 news and information channel.

The administration has pumped in money to retool the network and make it the Information Channel. New transmitters and digital-ready studio and ENG equipment for Mega Manila and provincial stations will be installed by the first half of 2009.

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PROGRAMMING: Reyes is bullish about his network’s performance next year after reformatting 70 percent of its programming grid.

“We will have a fully enhanced and competitive program lineup by the second half of 2009 focusing on educational and public service shows,” he said.

He added that the coverage of last year’s 4th SEA Games installed his station as the undisputed leader in sports coverage.

In March 2009, NBN-4 will host a major environmental event participated in by 30 countries in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union.

NBN-4 has forged alliances with other government broadcast stations in Asia, primarily with the Korean Broadcasting System, NHK of Japan and CCTV of China.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 18, 2008)

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