THE BOOMING ILLEGAL INTERNET CONNECTION BUSINESS AT COMPUTER VILLAGE.

Some telecommunications companies in the country are missing out on their income due to the activities of illegal software pirates. A major hub of these pirates is the Computer Village at Otigba, Ikeja, in Lagos. Welcome to the place where young men and some boys sell illegal Internet connections by bypassing the Internet service providers.

A young man, Taofik, said that selling illegal Internet connection was to enable consumers spend less than what service providers charge.

“All I need is for you to bring your laptop and any of the telecom operators modem. If you don’t have, we can buy it around here. Then I would add software that can allow you browse for two months, if you pay well,” said Mr. Taofik.

“I charge N4, 000 to install the connection for you, and it would bypass the service provider and they would not know or disconnect your Internet connection. It does not affect the modem; you can always pay to your service provider anytime after the software I put in for you stops,” added Mr. Taofik.

Adeola, who identified himself as Mr. Taofik’s brother and partner in the business, said that the selling point of their business is the rate and the duration of their service.

“Let me ask, which do you prefer? To pay N10, 000 for 30 days or to pay N4, 000 for up to 60 days. Now, you see the difference is clear and when you come back to re-connect after the two months, you can give us less amount, like N1, 000”, said Mr. Adeola.

Cheapness does not justify illegality

However, Jimson Olufuye, the president of Information Technology Association of Nigeria (ITAN), said in a telephone interview that cheap rates or long duration for illegal service does not justify the illegal business going on at the Computer Village.

“The fact that a rate is cheap or that the duration for the service is long does not justify an illegal business,” Mr. Olufuye said.

“It does not help the legitimate business owners because they have their business plan and have invested a lot of money into their business.

“ITAN opposes all forms of piracy, as that is a breach of intellectual property (IP) of the business owners and it affects their business growth and the economy, as it does not create room for other investors to come into that business,” he said.

In an email on a separate story, Serge Ntamack, IP manager for Microsoft Nigeria, had said, “The federal government needs to set a vision to enable a business-friendly environment, make IP a top policy priority, empower the agency in charge of IP laws, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), increase penalties for IP-related offences, enforce IP laws, be vocal at highest political level against piracy (awareness), commit government funds to fight all sort of piracy (books, music, film, cable TV, software), regulate the market, and close down piracy hot spots across the country.”

A report from Business Software Alliance/IDC Global Software Piracy Study this year revealed that Nigeria lost $156 million in 2009 to software piracy.

Mr. Olufuye explained that it is time for government and the copyright commission to act fast as piracy is growing very fast in Nigeria.

“This issue needs to be addressed faster than we have done before. The government and the copyright commission have to work harder,” he said.

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    Like

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