The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is hard on the heels of a syndicate that has been involved in a large scale operation of selling pirated computer software, believed to be one of the largest software related rackets in Asia.
A special team of sleuths of the Anti-Piracy and Counterfeit unit of the CID recently carried out a series of raids on an international group of companies, Korean SPA Packaging (Pvt) Ltd in Panadura and Retec (Pvt) Ltd in Kalutara, suspected of infringing the intellectual property rights of the US-based Business Software Alliance (BSA) members - Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft. CID sleuths seized 33 computers of these two companies and also found pirated unlicensed software of Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft, a senior CID official said. The use of pirated, unlicensed software in businesses is a criminal offence under the Intellectual Property Act No 36 of 2003, he said.
Two cases have been filed at the Panadura and Kalutara Magistrate’s Courts respectively against the two companies for violating the Act,, said the counsel of Microsoft, Sudath Perera. He said that the IT manager of the firm Korean SPA, P. Pradeep was produced before the Panadura courts and released on bail with strict conditions including two surety bonds of Rs. 1 million each and Rs. 50,000 cash bail. His passport was impounded.
The case will be taken up for hearing on December 24. Sudath Perera Associates is appearing for IT companies Adobe and Microsoft. The island’s intellectual property laws had been strengthened under a Computer Crimes Act, which came into operation recently. New offences have been created, having provision to increase penalties for those violating intellectual property in software, he said.
Separately in a press release, BSA’ local office said the establishment of the Anti-Piracy and Counterfeit unit at the CID is vital for building investor confidence and supporting the growth of legitimate local business.
“The laws of Sri Lanka must be respected and the CID is taking action against companies using pirated and unlicensed software in their business as they are not only infringing the rights of copyright owners, but may be indirectly rewarding illegal vendors or even organized crime net works,” the statement quoted CID Director M K D Wijaya Amarasinghe, as saying.