A senior copyright official announced on Tuesday that China has completed the second phase of a national anti-piracy campaign on the software used by government agencies.
The first two stages covered inspection and correction of improper use of software in national authorities and provincial governments, said Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, at a press conference.
According to Yan, more than 1 billion yuan (156.9 million U.S. dollars) was spent on 158,823 operating system licenses, 506,693 copies of office software, plus anti-virus and other special-purpose software during the campaign, which finished at the end of June.
Yan highlighted that foreign software providers received equal treatment during the procurement with no preference given to domestic companies.
It turned out that Chinese and foreign companies took similar shares in the project.
With regards to operation systems, foreign companies have a notable larger market share, while Chinese domestic firms took about two-thirds of the office applications but still earned less than their foreign counterparts due to lower pricing, explained Yan.
Centralized procurement of general software was also adopted in the drive, which has enabled government agencies to get licenses at a 30 to 50-percent discount, said Li Baorong, deputy head of the Government Offices Administration of the State Council.
Inspection and license procurements at city and county levels are scheduled to conclude at the end of 2013.
To date, 159 cities and 594 counties of China's 500 cities and 2,800 counties have gone through the compliance inspection process and undergone corrective procedures, said Yan.
Yan also noted other obstacles in implementing the remaining part of the project in terms of insufficient institutional build-up.
Many local government officials are not aware of the importance of intellectual property rights (IPRs), while it is difficult to monitor software licenses after installation, said Yan.
However, the copyright chief remained confident about the campaign's success, and the country's potential to come up with a sustainable mechanism for anti-piracy work, including financial support, assets management for intangible goods, auditing and inspections.
The anti-piracy campaign means a lot to the environment of IPRs protection and brought a huge market opportunity for both domestic and foreign companies, said Yan, adding that enhancing IPRs protection is a decision made not only to fulfil international obligations but also suits China's transformation into a innovation-driven country.
Yan also reiterated that foreign software companies are encouraged to sell their products in China and are protected under Chinese law.
The gross income of China's software sector topped 1.8 trillion yuan in 2011, accounting about 15 percent of the global market.