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Adobe targets piracy in Asia

Company says it antipiracy efforts led to a 10 percent increase in its revenue in the region last year.

Adobe Systems has stepped up its efforts to curb piracy in Southeast Asia, including cracking down on businesses that misuse software licenses.

Raymond Lee, Adobe's group manager for Southeast Asia, said the company will be driving more Adobe-centric initiatives to halt the unauthorized duplication of its software. In the past, he said, the company relied primarily on the activities of the Business Software Alliance, or BSA, an antipiracy organization with members such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Symantec.

Beyond trying to stamp out the bootleg software market, Adobe will focus on what it sees as other forms of piracy, such as the sharing of single-user licenses within an organization.

The San Jose, Calif.-based software maker, which has more than 15,000 corporate customers in Southeast Asia, has begun identifying large enterprises that may have purchased fewer licenses than required. Then, each quarter it issues letters to 200 such organizations, asking to perform a review.

"These are commercial entities that generate income from the use of our software. It is only right that they pay us accordingly," Lee said.

From the 200 companies singled out for checks, some are able to produce proper audit statements. However, according to Adobe, the majority of them do not have enough licenses.

"Almost every single company we visit has issues with the deployment of Adobe licenses," said Conway Goh, Adobe's business development manager for software compliance.

The company's antipiracy efforts yielded an additional 10 percent for its 2003 revenue in Southeast Asia, Lee said. That figure is expected to double this year because of the company's heightened antipiracy measures. Adobe does not break down its sales in the region but reported Asia-Pacific revenue of $284 million in the company's last fiscal year.

But while such efforts, along with Adobe's introduction of mandatory software activation, may directly generate higher takings, Lee added that psychological tactics are just as important.

"We want our customers to know we are tracking their acquisition patterns," he said.

According to statistics from the BSA, the software piracy rate in Asia-Pacific stood at 55 percent in 2002, representing a revenue loss of more than $5.5 billion. Besides Adobe, software giants such as Microsoft are also fiercely combatting piracy. Microsoft recently announced a low-price version of Windows XP in Thailand and Malaysia, a move analysts say is designed to fend off the dual challenges of open-source software and widespread piracy.

Aloysius Choong of CNETAsia reported from Singapore.