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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
$1 amnesty for pirated software
Crushing counterfeit CDs in Indonesia
Indonesia has taken some steps to crush software piracy
Microsoft has reached a deal with Indonesia over the tens of thousands of pirated versions of Windows programs used in government departments.

Ministers said Microsoft had agreed an amnesty under which a token sum of one dollar will be paid for every computer found to be using illegal software.

In exchange, the government has promised to buy Microsoft merchandise legally in future.

Indonesia has one of the world's highest rates of pirated programs.

'Realistic' deal

The deal between Microsoft and the Indonesian government is said to affect up to 50,000 computers running illegal software.

Vietnam: 92%
Ukraine: 91%
China: 90%
Zimbabwe: 90%
Indonesia: 87%
Source: BSA
Press reports said the amnesty was proposed last month, when the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met Microsoft boss Bill Gates at the company's Seattle headquarters.

"Microsoft is being realistic," Indonesia's information minister, Sofyan Djalil, was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post newspaper.

"They can't force developing countries like us to solely use legal software since we can't afford it. They want us to gradually reduce our use of it."

Following the publication of the story, a Microsoft spokesman was quoted in the Seattle Times newspapers denying that the company had any amnesty-type government licensing programs in development or under consideration in Indonesia at this time.

Acute issue

Software piracy is a huge issue in Asia, where the rate at which people are going online is soaring.

Pirated Windows software
Pirated Windows software is widely available across Asia
During 2004, 44 million people began using the internet for the first time in the region.

A recent study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organisation representing leading manufacturers, found that just over half of the software on personal computers in the Asia was pirated in 2004.

It said the losses due to counterfeit programs amounted to almost US$8bn.

The problem is particularly acute in Indonesia. According to the BSA, it ranks among the world's top five pirating countries below Vietnam, Ukraine, China and Zimbabwe.

Counterfeit software makes up 87% of software on the market in Indonesia, according to BSA figures.

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