BSA vows to pursue Singapore firm

The Business Software Alliance will spend what it takes to bring home its biggest prosecution in the Asia-Pacific region - even if that includes defending a $30 million lawsuit from the Singapore company it has accused of massive software counterfeiting. BSA staff from four countries were involved in a raid on the offices of SM Summit Holdings, a publicly listed company specialising in CD manufacture, which also has facilities in Malaysia and Australia.

The Business Software Alliance will spend what it takes to bring home its biggest prosecution in the Asia-Pacific region - even if that includes defending a $30 million lawsuit from the Singapore company it has accused of massive software counterfeiting.

BSA staff from four countries were involved in a raid on the offices of SM Summit Holdings, a publicly listed company specialising in CD manufacture, which also has facilities in Malaysia and Australia. The raid was led by BSA Asia-Pacific VP Ron Eckstrom, who claims it turned up proof that Summit has been involved in high-volume counterfeiting.

"We found documents which clearly established the extent to which senior management was involved in the scheme, which involved the duplication of counterfeit software after hours," Eckstrom told Computerworld in Auckland, before he went back to court.

"The police [accompanying the raid] would not allow us to seize those documents, at which time I left the raid site and convinced a high court judge from his home at about midnight to execute a further search warrant directing the police to allow us to take these documents."

Summit's share price fell by about 60% when the BSA declared its intention to bring a copyright prosecution based on the documents. Eckstrom told Computerworld he expected that fall to be the basis of a $30 million defamation suit from Summit.

That may depend on how well Summit fares in court in its effort to have the BSA's case thrown out. As Computerworld went to press, the Summit's lawyers were about to conclude their case.

The result may not be a foregone conclusion, given that the Singapore government is thought to have been unhappy with the BSA's activities in Singapore, and that its attorney general resisted the judge's decision to execute the further warrant.

Eckstrom was reluctant to speculate on whether the Singapore government and judiciary might be at odds.

"It's hard to say that," he said. "It's just that this company is a very large and prior to the raid was a very respected and profitable Singapore company.

"We have had a very difficult time getting the government in Singapore to take criminal actions on our behalf. Their statements to us have always said there isn't a big problem. We have always maintained that there are major CD-Rom duplication houses in Singapore."

Describing the case as "largest and most significant case we have filed anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region", Ecktrom vowed that BSA members would "not [be] concerned about the costs of defending this case.

"Summit may be a very large company in Singapore, but it's dwarfed by the size of the companies which have brought the lawsuit against it. The companies involved are Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk, and there are other software companies considering the action as well."

Counterfeit software seized from a Queen Street retailer earlier this year is believed to have originated in Singapore.

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