Firm Found Using Illegal Software In Railway Project, BSA Calls For Stricter Enforcement

The Software Alliance (BSA) is calling on authorities in Malaysia to take action on software copyright protections as a matter of public safety, following the discovery of illegitimate software use in the design and engineering of a railway project in Malaysia.

Recently, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN) announced that it had raided 15 companies in the first half of 2023 and found a total of 152 unlicensed software units with a combined infringement value of more than RM3.7 million. Among those organisations found to be in violation of copyright laws included engineering and design firms
engaged in critical infrastructure projects, real estate, and construction.

BSA said it hopes to continue to work with the KPDN in 2024, to bring more companies to justice, and is targeting approximately 50 other engineering and design companies suspected of using unlicensed software. The organisation is also arranging for a helpline for Malaysian engineering and design firms to educate them on the proper processes required to
manage software assets and ensure legal compliance.

BSA Senior Director, Tarun Sawney said, “The safety and integrity of infrastructure projects are at stake when businesses use unlicensed software.” It’s critical that business leaders in engineering firms ensure that their software is properly licensed, and therefore receiving security updates. At the same time, we urge the government to continue, and even increase,
enforcement efforts against engineering firms using unlicensed software. Malaysian taxpayers deserve the use of legal, licensed software in public works projects that serve society.”

This call comes as several authorities across Southeast Asia discovered a significant number of cases of unlicensed software by engineering and design firms engaged in critical infrastructure projects, in recent months. Cases such as these are red flags for government officials and business leaders in the public works and infrastructure sectors. BSA executives note the ongoing and increasing risk of unlicensed software usage in major national infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia.

Additionally, the engineering firms found using unlicensed design software are well established, profitable firms with the capacity and resources to use properly licensed, secure, updated software. “These firms have won government contracts, which are funded by taxpayer money. Yet the firms fail to take care of the basics, such as using legal, licensed software. We believe there are many more examples of engineering firms that are intentionally using unlicensed software,” said Sawney.

KPDN’s raids revealed an engineering consultancy firm involved in vital public works projects such as national rail construction was using with illegal software. The company reported an annual revenue of nearly US$1.5 million and has assets in excess of US$1.7 million. Some programs that were being used without official license include AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and V-Ray.

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