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First ever jailing of illegal software end user a milestone in anti-piracy battle

Posted by Chris Luijten on April 17, 2020

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First ever jailing of illegal software end user a milestone in anti-piracy battle

In what is seen as a major breakthrough in the battle against software piracy, the Indian criminal court has, for the first time, jailed an end user of cracked commercial software, without bail, pending investigation. If convicted, the defendant, Managing Director of VM Informatics (VMI) in New Delhi, faces up to three years in prison. The case marks a unique milestone in the fight against software counterfeiting and illegal use.
Following a raid by anti-piracy investigators and police on the offices of VMI in July 2011, ITCA client Tekla Corporation made a criminal complaint against the company alleging wide-scale software licensing fraud.

Tekla specialises in highly sophisticated modeling software for the construction, infrastructure and energy industries. VMI was found to be unlawfully using Tekla software with a licensed value of over $176,000.

The High Court of Delhi issued an injunction against VMI preventing further unauthorised use of Tekla software. VMI chose to ignore the injunction and a second police raid on their offices revealed new computers each containing multiple illegal copies of Tekla software. The total licensed value of the infringed software discovered in both raids now stands at over $500,000.

VMI’s Managing Director was arrested on 12th December, 2011 will remain in jail at least until 19th December as his application for bail was postponed for hearing by the Indian court which has also brought contempt proceedings against him for breaching its earlier injunction. Under Indian law the maximum penalty for contempt of court is a year in prison, while serious breaches of Indian copyright law are punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

Separately, VMI and its Managing Director face a civil claim for $500,000 for illegal use of unlicensed software.

In emerging markets, such as India, software piracy is a serious and growing problem. Infringers will typically purchase a single license and then proceed to illegally use multiple copies of cracked software. The decision to bring both criminal and civil charges against VMI and its Managing Director was taken following repeated attempts to resolve VMI’s illegal use of Tekla’s software.

Commenting:

Chris Luijten, CEO of the IT Compliance Association said:

“The problem of software piracy remains widespread and serious, particularly in emerging markets like India. Those who chose to knowingly use or sell illegal software should heed our warning – we shall continue to relentlessly bring the full force of the civil and criminal law to bear upon any transgressors.”

Andre Corniere, director of steel segment at Tekla added:

“Piracy weakens the competitiveness of our licensed customers as pirates seek unfair advantage of competition. Tekla is committed to ensuring the protection of its software users' rights, Tekla's rights, and the rights of other software suppliers. That’s why we are active in tracking down pirates and other parties involved in making or distributing illegal copies of Tekla software.