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Singapore software pirates try new tack

Software and video pirates are abandoning traditional hiding places in cars and are now using trucks and vans to smuggle their fake wares into Singapore.

SINGAPORE--Software and video pirates are abandoning traditional hiding places in cars and are now using trucks and vans to smuggle their fake wares into Singapore.

This may be to feed the gap in supply created by the government's rigorous battle against piracy, which has resulted in the country recently being taken off the U.S. watch list of nations with insufficient protection of intellectual property rights.

"On the retail end, the situation has improved quite a bit," Christopher Ng, general manager of Electronic Arts' Asia-Pacific region, told The Straits Times. "There are no longer a lot of shopping centers selling pirated software as blatantly as before."

Earlier this month, two vehicles were caught trying to smuggle in counterfeit goods.

On June 9, a truck trying to enter the country was found with 32,000 video CDs, a value of $88,000. Three days later, customs officials nabbed another truck as it was ferrying in 68,000 video and software CDs worth $220,000.

Before this, just 15,000 discs had been confiscated this year.

Although pirated software and entertainment is becoming more difficult for consumers to find, the demand for original material is not picking up.

"On the consumer side," Ng said, "there is not much improvement. The supply chain has not really been broken up because people still go across the causeway to get the items."

CNET Singapore's Susan Tsang reported from Singapore.