China has spent over 1 billion Yuan ($155.9m) on the purchasing of licensed software as part of a three-year long national anti-piracy campaign to turn the tides on the use of pirated software across its government offices, according to Chinese newspaper Xinhua.
“The first two stages covered inspection and correction of improper use of software in national authorities and provincial governments,” said Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration during a press conference.
The purchase includes 158,823 operating system licenses and a further 506,693 licenses for office software, anti-virus products and other specialized software required by the government and provincial departments. Yan said that domestic and foreign software providers were given equal treatment with no preference given to any particular company during the procurement process, but did not specifically note any of the major software products purchased.
"Foreign software companies are encouraged to sell their products in China and are protected under Chinese law. We also like to see our own companies develop more quality software," Yan said.
Inspection and procurement of the software licenses required at city and county levels are expected to conclude by the end of next year. That said, a large proportion of the country is yet to complete compliance testing with only 159 cities and 594 counties out of China’s 500 cities and 2,800 counties inspected to date.
It won’t be plain sailing however, as officials realize there will be obstacles in the implementation of the final part of the project to establish official checks and accountability within the government. Complicating matters further will be the difficulties faced with monitoring software licenses following their installation.
Many officials also lack understanding of intellectual property rights, and this will need to be resolved if China is to become an innovative-driven country. Despite this, Yan is confident that the new measures will be a success and the country can implement a system to sustain its efforts by providing infrastructure for financial support, asset management for intangible goods, auditing and inspections.