Internet connection may be further “regulated” against NGOs and ordinary folks

(The following message was posted to mailing list pertaining to the topic on the implication of intellectual property regime on collaboration and flow of information and knowledge in Asia.)

Software piracy has hopelessly been raised by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) as a major cause of the stunted growth in the Philippines as far as ‘packaged’ software services are concerned.

Based on the research done by the International Data Corp. (IDC), software piracy in the Philippines remained at 71% in 2005, despite or because of the 29 counts of raid conducted by the local police and the BSA last year. (Although the figure about raids is suspiciously low based on the testimonies told over the Internet.)

The research also showed that Philippines lost 76 million dollars thanks to software piracy.

So what does software piracy have to do with this week’s theme?

According to the

“… the BSA acknowledged that online software piracy poses an increasing problem, as more and more people are downloading packaged software via file-sharing programs like Limewire.

The global anti-piracy watchdog said that there are close to 1 billion Internet users worldwide, according to BSA, with China, India, and Russia expected to add more than 100 million users within four years.

… noted that the increasing number of people with access to broadband Internet is indirectly contributing to the increasing number of online piracy. In Asia Pacific, an estimated 30 million households had broadband Internet in 2005.”

So the Internet users, in general, are being implicitly blamed for the growth of software piracy in the world.

Internet governance advocates must be extra cautious of what their respective governments are going to do in response. One knee-jerk response could be that Internet connection would entail more expensive connection fees or require parties to secure permits from authorized agencies. It would be likened to a telephone service, in general.

In the Philippines, electronic service users are classified as either business or residential. In this case, NGOs or non-profit organizations, on the one hand, are still considered of business type and have to make do with astronomical fees required of the corporate world. On the other hand, ordinary households (even farmers living in a municipality with telephone infrastructure) who wish to get connected will have to shell out high amount of money each month.

Dong Calmada

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