BSA Launches a Campaign Targeting Design and Engineering Firms in SEA to Help Them Avoid the Risks of Unlicensed Software

With billions of dollars budgeted for Southeast Asian national infrastructure projects, The Software Alliance, also known as BSA, has announced the launch of a campaign urging engineering and design firms to commit to only using licenced software in the development of roads, bridges, ports, and communications infrastructure planned for the coming years as governments seek strategies to boost national competitiveness.

The campaign is a follow-up to the BSA's successful regional ‘Legalize and Protect’ initiative, which was launched in 2019.

“BSA wants to help the ASEAN region’s leading design and engineering firms to make the transition away from the risks of unlicensed software to fully licensed software that can actually unlock the potential of the region’s leading designers,” said Mr. Tarun Sawney, Senior Director, BSA. 

Almost every week, a private sector engineering, architecture, or design firm in Southeast Asia is fined and penalised for using unlicensed software. As a result, the BSA campaign aims to educate business leaders about the dangers of unlicensed software and the advantages of using legal design software.

In collaboration with the software company Autodesk, Inc., BSA intends to reach out to over 20,000 engineering, design and manufacturing firms, and even animation studios in the region, to raise awareness and equip such businesses with the best practices of using licenced software. To date, BSA has already implemented an outreach of free consultations and advisory services on conducting audits for firms in SEA countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

BSA is also working with government agencies throughout the region to support the campaign and encourage the private sector to use only licenced software. This includes Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics, the Philippines' Optical Media Board, and Thailand's Royal Thai Police, Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECD).

Although some may feel that purchasing software from legitimate sources can be prohibitively expensive, the use of software without proper licences in the course of conducting business will only put organisations at a greater risk of cyber threats.

In his speech, the Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Seri Haji Hasnol Zam Zam bin Haji Ahmad, said that malware infections are tightly linked to the use of unlicensed software and organisations face a one-in-three chance of encountering malware when they obtain or install an unlicensed software package or buy a computer with unlicensed software on it.

Datuk Seri added that “investing in licensed software is good for an organisation’s security, corporate reputation, productivity and bottom line; all of which are even more important under the current circumstances.” Companies in Malaysia were given 90 days under the campaign to voluntarily legalise their software assets. “Those that continue to use unlicensed software at the end of the campaign period will be deemed as in violation of the Copyright Act 1987 and subject to strict enforcement action by the relevant agencies,” he said.

According to BSA, there are still over 100,000 design and engineering firms in Southeast Asia that use unlicensed software.

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