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IT firms in piracy roadblock

CAMBODIA’S software firms have found methods to sell their products despite high incidence of piracy, but experts say that illegal copying remains a roadblock to the high-tech sector’s development.

Speaking at a two-day BarCamp forum for information technology enthusiasts held in Phnom Penh last weekend, Ly Youhourt, project manager at software company Nokor-IT, said the first step to boosting the industry was the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

“The market is still not mature. But if you don’t pay [to buy software], it won’t have any work,” he said, and emphasised that it was often a challenge to convince Cambodians to purchase licensed software.

A study previously provided by Microsoft representatives estimated that approximate 95 percent of software in Cambodia is pirated.

But companies are fighting back by creating new barriers to the practice.

Nokor-IT sells nearly all of its products to businesses.

Its software requires servicing to function properly – an option that would not be available to those who would pirate its programs, according to Ly Youhourt.

“Even if you hack, you will need our services,” he said.

Domestic firm Yoolk, the developer behind Cambodia’s Yellow Pages, hosts software on its own servers, which makes it difficult to illegally copy code.

“Piracy for us is not really an issue at the moment,” said official Darren Jensen.

Ly Phlong, director at software firm Blue IT, said that although piracy did not much impact his bottom line, the copying of entire programs inhibited the development of the software industry in the Kingdom.

Many Cambodian students graduated from IT courses thinking they could develop their own products and sell thousands of copies, he said.

Ly Phlong said that although this might be true in other countries, it was not in Cambodia, as domestic customers preferred pirated versions costing a dollar or two over paying for full licensing fees.

Instead, Ly Phlong urged young IT graduates to adopt a more comprehensive business model when setting up shop in Cambodia.

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