Government Software Piracy In Argentina Prompts Lawsuit Threat

By BridgeNews After two years of haggling, software companies in Argentina may file lawsuits against the federal government, considered the nation's worst offender of piracy software laws, an industry official said. The Federal Police, Internal Revenue Service, Justice Ministry, and some 200 other government offices are using about 40,000 units of counterfeited software products valued at US$60 million, according to an industry group. The government has acknowledged using pirated software, but has not yet rectified the problem. "We signed an agreement with the government in 1998 to rectify the situation, but they've yet to implement it," says Jorge Cassino, president of the Buenos Aires-based Chamber of Software and Computer Services Companies (Cessi), which represents leading software makers in Argentina. "We're reaching the last straw, and we may take legal action." Earlier this month, the chamber sent a letter to Chrystian Colombo, the presidential cabinet chief who took office last week, urging him to comply with their petition for the government to replace illegal software with original copies. Software firms are offering heavy discounts to help the government carry this out. If Colombo fails to respond by Nov. 16, Cessi plans to take President Fernando de la Rúa's government to court. One of the biggest things at stake is future investment from software and technology manufacturers. While the government expects telecommunications sector deregulation in November will unleash a barrage of investment and new technology, that could be hindered by neglect of its own laws, Cassino says. At risk, for one, could be the proposed construction of a $40 million software plant by Motorola Inc., Cassino says. "It's vital that the government clear up this irregularity to show transparency and improve conditions that encourage investment in the sector," Cassino says.

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