THE Business Software Alliance (BSA) said it hopes to make half of the 10,000 companies it has identified as users of illegal software convert to licensed products by 2020.

BSA has partnered with the Optical Media Board (OMB) to launch a “Clean Up to the Countdown” campaign to reduce illegal software use by the end of the year.

Between March and September, BSA claimed a conversation rate of 22% of the 6,220 companies the alliance is currently engaged with. The 2020 target signifies a more than doubling of the conversion rate.

In a news conference Monday, BSA Senior Director Tarun Sawney said that the use of unlicensed software puts businesses at risk of malware and viruses.

“If you used unlicensed software, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be a victim of a malware attack,” he said.

Mr. Sawney said the BSA identified the at-risk companies by doing a profile check. Each business sector such as design or manufacturing needs to use certain types of business software to operate, but the software companies sometimes have no record of licensed software use from those businesses.

“We are able to build a picture through our software companies and through the nature of businesses — comparing the data that software companies have [with] businesses and saying ‘well, given the nature of the product that you make you probably need this particular software’ — but we have no record of the relationship,” he said.

“The chances are, they might not be using licensed software.”

BSA said it contacts the business sector to offer guidance and advice in addressing illegal software use in the workplace, while the OMB enforces Philippine law.

Software piracy violates the IP code of the Philippines (Republic Act 8293) and the Optical Media Act (RA 9239), and could result in imprisonment, monetary penalties, or business closure.

Optical Media Board Chairman and CEO Anselmo B. Adriano said that based on their cooperation with BSA, OMB has been able to inspect and file at least 40 cases of software violations. Several of these companies are Internet cafes, and includes two large construction companies.

The BSA sees its target to reach out to 10,000 companies as ambitious.

“We’re being ambitious. We’ve done a lot of research — there are thousands of companies in the Philippines. We will mine as much data as we can to try and identify as many companies as we can that we believe would benefit from being approached and information of the advantages of using (licensed) software,” Mr. Sawney said.

BSA is only targeting private companies. But Mr. Adriano said that government agencies could initiate self-audits.

He said that in a recent meeting of the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), of which OMB is part, the members proposed an initiative to conduct a self-audit on government agencies’ software use.

Mr. Adriano said that OMB also recently met with the Government Procurement Policy Board to ensure that government procurement of hardware would necessarily include software.

BSA is a Washington, DC-based trade group representing software companies worldwide. — Jenina P. Ibañez