Artem Loginov on the pirate software problem in Russia

19 February 2013
The volume of the pirate software in Russia amounted to 63% in 2012 and compared with the other countries was rather high. This figure was announced by the Microsoft, citing figures from the IDC. The software developers warn users of the risks they may face using such programs, and attempt to prevent the spread of the "dangerous" software. Representatives of antivirus companies strongly recommend using only licensed software and updating it on time to prevent the illegal use of the system and user data.

Tuesday, Igor Slabykh, head of the anti-piracy department of the Adobe Systems in Russia and the CIS, explained the reporters the company’s opinion on the situation with the pirate software. Despite the impressive proportion of unlicensed software in Russia, the legal experts of the Adobe Systems were involved as experts in only 895 criminal cases opened last year. According to the company, the number of cases compared to 2011 decreased by 16% / 1073 proceedings / as a whole – by 33%. Undoubtedly, there is a tendency to reduce, however, according to Mr. Slabykh, that is connected with the increased threshold of criminal responsibility for the use of illegal software from 50 thousand to 100 thousand roubles.

More than half (i.e. 56%) - of the mentioned cases have been opened against unlicensed software installers. The cases opened against the sellers of such software make about 26% of the total amount of cases. Cases against the end consumers that use pirate software for business aims accounted for 16% of the total. The latter figure has remained stable since 2010. "We are definitely satisfied with this, - said Igor Slabykh. – However, we want more cases to be opened against the end users."

Major products of the Adobe System are the graphic editor Adobe Photoshop, the Adobe Flash multimedia platform and software package PDF Adobe Reader. Most of the breaches were exercised by design studios / 12% /, as well as by advertising agencies / 11% /. Photographic studios / 7% in 2012 and 18% in 2011 / according to this data show a decrease in breaches. "For a while photographic studios attracted the attention of the law enforcement agencies. Moreover, there were some promotion events on the issue of legalization of the software exercised by our company”, said Igor Slabykh. - These measures gave such a result." The proportion of cases in the field of printing amounts to 4%. According to Mr. Slabykh, there are 2 versions of such a small amount of cases: whether this sphere is not enough examined by the law enforcement agencies or printing studio actively use licensed software. In addition, for such companies the company executed a lot of promotion events on buying software at a special price. "We understand that this was our most successful campaign”, underlined Mr. Slabykh.

All developers represented on the market combat piracy. For example, the Microsoft regularly monitors computer stores using the "Mystery Shopper" program. The purpose is to protect their honest customers from unfair competition. As for individuals, using "pirate" programs, the company is committed to inform them on the high risks that entail use of unlicensed software. "In 92% of cases, finding, downloading and using pirated software from the Internet are dangerous for your PC and personal information," say the representatives of the “Microsoft”.

When working with unlicensed software the user, of course, loses all warranties from the developer. According to Sergei Novikov, head of the Russian Research Center "Kaspersky Lab", this is the main problem of using unlicensed software. "This includes technical support in case of emergency situations and the inability to install the updates, including the responsibility for security" said Novikov. Programs may contain errors that developers find later and correct by the release of "patches." They are installed automatically during the upgrade. However, when the user works with a "pirate" software he or she is unable to upgrade it, and over the time the number of unpatched vulnerabilities in the program is growing. "There exists a class of malicious programs-exploits that use the unpatched vulnerabilities to break into the victim's computer," emphasizes Novikov.

Artem Baranov, senior virus analyst of the ESET also notes that "often the cybercriminals add malicious code to the pirate versions of software, operating systems, or computer games, and actively distribute them to file-sharing sites / torrent-sites, FTP-networks, etc. /." "Therefore, giving key recommendations to ensure the security of your computer, we always talk about the need for the use of licensed software products and their timely updates", sums Novikov.

"As a rule, users and decision-makers who decide on the use of pirated software copies are not guided by the price of legally purchased copies," said the lawyer of the “S&K Vertical”, Attorneys at Law, Artem Loginov, a member of the Russian Association of Lawyers. According to him, raising the threshold for criminal liability for the use of illegal software to 100 thousand rubles will have the least effect on the entrepreneur, who is trying to get the maximum benefit at the least cost, regardless of the risks. But in general, according to Mr. Loginov, "Increasing the threshold of major damage by the art. 146 of the Russian Criminal Code may have a negative impact on the use of valid software in a small business." According to him, " by raising the threshold of liability the state have said to the small business the following:" Use unlicensed software at your own risk, seeing over you a sword of Damocles represented by administrative and civil sanctions. And after that, when your business will grow as much that you will need something worthy, and you will not do that according to the law, you will be asked by a polite investigator some questions to answer".

As a result, despite the high rate of proliferation of unlicensed software in Russia, there is a decrease in the number of criminal cases in this area. It is associated with the increase of the fine, maximum amount of which is currently 100 thousand rubles. These provisions will mostly affect small businesses as for large and medium-sized ones it is unprofitable to deal with the pirate software.

Marina Bochkareva, Polina Ivanitskaya


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