Crime in South Africa

Crime in South Africa

A large number of counterfeit CD-ROM disks have been offered for sale and distribution in Johannesburg. The retail value of the software on these disks is purported to be over three million rand ($900,000).

The arrest was made after a member of the public's suspicion was aroused when he purchased five of the counterfeit CD-ROMs. He took the CD-ROMs to Microsoft SA, which confirmed that they were indeed counterfeit and in breach of its copyright.

Each CD-ROM disk contains 11 illegally copied software programs, six of which are Microsoft products, including Windows 95.

The combined value of the software products on a single CD is estimated at 10,000 rand, and Microsoft does not produce a legal version of this software compilation in SA or anywhere else in the world, which makes the CD-ROM disk readily identifiable.

Gordon Fraser, software theft manager at Microsoft SA, said: "It is gratifying to see the SA police protecting companies' intellectual property rights, and protecting consumers from unwittingly buying counterfeit goods.

"People must realise that software theft is illegal and offenders are liable for prosecution if caught. Software theft is an industry problem, and the effects are felt by users, distributors, resellers and producers of software alike. It negatively affects software prices, technical support, investment in research and development, customer satisfaction, job creation, and ultimately the economy as a whole," says Fraser.

The disk has a printed paper insert, featuring the Windows 95 flying Windows logo and a listing of the 11 products contained on the disk, but was offered for sale without a Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity.

According to the Business Software Alliance of SA, over 220 million rand ($67 million) was lost in 1994 through the sale of counterfeit software and the unauthorised copying of software in businesses and homes. The BSA estimates that nearly 70 per cent of desktop application software in SA is illegally copied or counterfeit. This compares to 35 per cent in the US, 45 per cent in Europe and Japan, about 37 per cent in Australia, and over 90 per cent in the rest of Africa and Asia.

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