Sony Computer blasts Australian government on piracy

Sony Computer Entertainment Australia chief Michael Ephraim has called for more commitment from the Australian government to help battle the software piracy problem in Australia and update legislation.

          Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) chief Michael Ephraim has called for more commitment from the Australian Government to help battle the software piracy problem in Australia and update legislation.

          "The Government needs to pull its head out of the sand," he says. "It has been totally ineffective in this area."

          Although the maximum penalties in Australia for piracy include a $A60,000 fine and five years' imprisonment, offenders often walk away with a minimal fine.

          "To date, no-one has been imprisoned and of the 17 criminal actions, the highest fine handed down has been $A17,000."

          SCEA has just settled a legal dispute with Paddy's Markets, teaming up with the operator to help stamp out software piracy in the markets.

          Earlier this year, Sony was granted leave to include Paddy's Markets as an additional respondent to a stall holder who was found selling illegal games in breach of court orders. SCEA and Sydney Market's -- the operators of Paddy's -- will now team up to eradicate illegal storeholders from the markets.

          "This is really an enhancement of what Paddy's has tried to do," Ephraim says. "When we identify someone, they can communicate to the storeholder that the activity is to cease, and if it continues, cancel the storeholder's rights."

          Additionally, temporary storeholders will not be allowed to sell computer games at the markets.

          "We have conducted surveillance on 50 markets on the Eastern Seaboard and more than 60 percent had stalls selling pirated games. We are now contacting other markets to see if they can help."

          Market operators who fail to act against pirates will face legal action.

          "It is illegal," Ephraim reiterates. "It is the same as allowing the trade of drugs, guns or pornography."

          Sony spends around $A1.2 million a year fighting piracy. Although the campaign pertains only to Sony's Playstation software, it may be extended to include PC CD-ROM titles. Ephraim also sits on the Australian Visual Software Distributor's Association (AVSDA) as chairman.

          "As chairman of the association, there is nothing more that I would like to do is to get the members involved," he says. "That is being discussed now and we have had indications that members want a consolidated movement, but it will require time to smooth out the details.

          "We will never stop it [piracy] but we can keep it contained."

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