MUAR: Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry enforcement officers raided two businesses in Tangkak and Muar on July 24 and 25 and seized four computers and nine copies of suspected pirated software worth a total of RM63,000.

Muar branch chief Nor Azmi Lamisza said the raids on the furniture maker in Tangkak and the property developer in Muar were initiated based on tip-offs from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) on the alleged use of pirated software in the two companiesí daily business operations.

He said statements were recorded from the owners of the two businesses, and that investigations will continue under Section 41(1) (d) of the Copyright Act 1987.

Nor Azmi said the Muar branch of the ministry will continue in its commitment to ensure intellectual property rights of copyright owners are protected.

"We take a very serious view against companies conducting their business operations using unlicensed or pirated software.

"Let the raids conducted last week serve as a reminder to businesses that they are constantly under scrutiny," Nor Azmi said at a press conference at his office here today.

He said that such an unethical practice is a clear violation of the Copyright Act 1987 which stipulates that if a business is found to have used or is in possession of illegal copies of software, the organisation and its senior management may face criminal prosecution.

Those convicted under the offence can be fined between RM2,000 and RM20,000 for each copy infringement, a prison sentence of up to five years, or both.

Nor Azmi said although such cases are not widespread in the district, the ministry's branch will intensify efforts to curb the use of unlicensed or pirated software.

He said between January and June this year, the succeeded in putting a stop to 78 cases of software piracy valued at RM137,142.50, with a total of RM10,900 in compounds issued.

Last year, there were 113 cases involving items valued at RM35,324.74, with compound fines of RM35,700 being issued.

He said the Muar branch also received 75 complaints compared to 160 last year.