California has a long history of encouraging development of new and innovative ideas. Many of these have led to new jobs and increased wages that help California grow. Unfortunately, today we see lost sales, market share and jobs when companies turn a blind eye to software piracy or are actually using stolen software to gain an edge. Either way we lose.
Companies surviving in today’s economic downturn are doing all that they can to stay afloat, bring in revenue and keep their employees at work. When other companies use stolen software and information technology (I.T.) another hurdle for success is thrown in front of law-abiding companies, ultimately harming jobs and the economy.
I.T. piracy is an ever-growing and global issue and it is the duty and responsibility of American companies to oversee their supply chains and ensure the products they sell in the United States are legally produced.
But why should California care? Well, the issue of piracy is one that not only hurts our businesses, but our residents as well.
According to a study by the Business Software Alliance conducted last year, roughly 42 percent of the software used worldwide was stolen- with an estimated commercial value of almost $60 billion.
Moreover, California alone has lost almost 400,000 manufacturing and I.T. jobs to developing countries, where piracy rates are as high as 80 percent. Businesses that play by the rules simply can’t compete with this and it’s time we took a stand.
I witness first hand what happens when piracy raises its ugly head. My company, AIMS Technology Solutions, Inc. has been creating and implementing computer solutions for a variety of businesses since 1992. We have struggled with the consequences of the use of stolen I.T., which is one of the reasons I don’t sell my software to countries overseas. Until we find a solution to I.T. theft, I cannot be assured that the first copy of software I sell overseas won’t be my last copy.
This is an issue that no single entity can tackle alone. We all have a stake in ensuring that businesses are able to compete on a level playing field. Currently, no effective remedy, under California or federal laws, exists for companies suffering a competitive injury from unfair practices, such as software piracy. Companies and stakeholders need to come together and with the help of our government, work toward a solid solution in order to get results and see changes put into place that will protect our I.T., profits and ultimately our jobs in America.
Recently, the State of Washington passed a law that cracks down on the use of stolen I.T. The law requires large companies to work to ensure that their supply chains are not using pirated software.
The law simply allows a law-abiding manufacture to sue a competitor who uses over $20,000 worth of stolen I.T. in their business operation. It also permits the state attorney general to sue on behalf of injured manufactures. This kind of law would help rectify this situation and give California businesses or the attorney general the authority of stop these unfair practices. It would also provide many safeguards to ensure against unintended consequences that would disrupt the supply chain and cause Californians to see an increase in jobs lost.
I.T. and software companies provide vital services and jobs for Californians yet are struggling to compete with these illegal cost-cutting practices. For almost 20 years, AIMS Technology Solutions, Inc., has provided small and mid-sized companies with a range of customizable software and I.T. products to help them expand and prosper. However, as with other California I.T. companies, we are in jeopardy. We must act now to protect our companies and our economy.
Shahin Kohan is the Chief Operating Officer of AIMS Technology Solutions Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, California.