Last year, Latvian State Police and various copyright protection organisations continued combating the use of illegal software in Latvian companies. Inspections revealed many cases of illegal software use and criminal processes were launched in 27 cases.
Over the course of twelve months, State Police carried out inspections of software used in Riga and other cities. The total amount of compensations submitted last year was EUR 322,541. Peaceful resolution was agreed upon in 23 cases. The total size of compensations paid in those cases was EUR 85,500. In addition to paying compensations, businessmen caught using illegal software have also legalized their software.
Using unlicensed software carried financial, legal, business and security risks. If during an inspection Economy Police suspects the company uses illegal software, the inspected company may have computer hard drives confiscated for a period of time, which makes business activities more complicated. Administrative penalties are applied for smaller violations. Criminal processes are launched in the event of serious violations. A person can be criminally prosecuted for using unlicensed software.
Business Software Alliance’s representative in Latvia Ingrida Veiksa explains that the law in Latvia provides administrative and criminal liability for breaching copyrights and using unlicensed software. If the breach of copyrights is insignificant and the damage does not exceed EUR 1,800, a fine is applied (up to EUR 700 to private persons and up to EUR 7,000 to legal persons) and hard drives containing illegal software are confiscated. If the damage is more serious, criminal liability as applied and the person guilty of breaching copyrights can expect a prison sentence for up to two years, a fine or community service. If the breach of copyrights is committed by a group of people following a prior agreement, the prison sentence can reach four years. If the damage done by the copyright breach exceeds EUR 18,000, the person guilty of committing the crime can expect a prison sentence up to six years. On top of that, the person can be applied with a prohibition to engage in business activities and be put under police monitoring.
«Economy Police continued actively combating the use of illegal software in Latvia in 2015. State Revenue Service also began the year with nearly one hundred inspections in regards to use of licensed software. Over the course of the year, BSA had consulted SRS inspectors multiple times during inspections. We have noticed significant progress in knowledge and attitude of users in regards to licensed software. This positive result was achieved thanks to seminars and lectures organized to educate residents,» – says BSA board member Sanita Meijere.
Many businessmen caught using unlicensed software have admitted their guilt and have since changed their attitude towards using illegal software.
For example, by choosing an unreliable IT service provider, Starpsienu centrs allowed the installation of illegal software on company computers. Only after Economy Police carried out an inspection did the company find out it was using unlicensed software all this time. Unfortunately, the damage to reputation was already done. «This situation proved once more that it is highly important to work with trustworthy partners with experience, knowledge and respectable reputation,» – said Juris Rubenis, member of the board of Starpsienu centrs.
Dato computer service company employee Marcis Misevics, who was caught by Economy Police installing illegal software on a client’s computer, admits: «Now I see how many control procurements are carried out in our country. I do not recommend doing this to anyone, especially if they wish to make an extra euro or two. Breaching other people’s rights causes significant damage, especially to reputation. The most precious loss is time.»