Chinese officials on Monday assured U.S. Commerce and Trade representatives that the Asian nation is taking the necessary steps to ensure that local government agencies use only licensed and legitimate software. Speaking at the 22nd Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan pledged that the provincial software legalization program for every provincial entity will be wrapped up by the middle of 2012, and that the same steps will be taken at the municipal and county level by the following year.
In addition, China has vowed to allocate additional resources toward audit and inspection programs for software used by government agencies, the results of which will be published and made available for public viewing. China has also asked its county and municipal governments to bring its software under the umbrella of a state asset management system, which should help further ensure that software licenses are current.
The commitments represent another step forward in China's efforts to crack down on software piracy, which resulted in more than $7.5 billion in revenue losses for vendors in 2009. In fact, nearly 80 percent of all software downloaded on Chinese users' PCs in 2010 was pirated, according to PC world, citing the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
While tackling software piracy outside of local government walls will be difficult, Qishan said that the state will undertake enterprise software management pilot projects and work to encourage the use of legitimate software among Chinese companies.
Robert Holleyman II, president and CEO of the global advocacy group BSA, told the New York Times that the organization is happy to see China take its "software legalization to the next level" but will hold off on celebrating a victory until it sees results. Holleyman pointed to earlier software legalization pledges that China made on the central government level that have seemingly yet to bear fruit.
He told the Times that no sufficient technical evidence of reduced software privacy at that level has been produced and that no correlated spike in software sales has been observed. “We believe that’s a promise that is unfulfilled,” Holleyman told the paper.
“We don’t want to see that repeated at provincial and municipal levels too.” China and the U.S. also used the meeting to announce several cooperative initiatives, including increased efforts to crack down on online counterfeiting and bad faith trademark filings.