Latin America has (unfairly, in many cases) gained a reputation in the popular imagination as a “Wild West” kind of place with few rules or regulations. But in fact, the region is making great strides in applying commonly accepted rules of law, especially when it comes to intellectual property rights and software piracy. Roger Correa, Compliance Marketing Director of the international IT industry group Business Software Alliance, says Latin America has a “high degree” of appreciation for intellectual property.
“It’s higher than in some other global regions,” said Correa. “Although Latin America has a 64% software piracy rate, up slightly from 2010, there is still a high value placed on intellectual property.” Correa said protecting intellectual property rights is seen by the Latin American business and legal communities as being important to the local economy.
Ignorance is Not Bliss
One common obstacle to enforcing intellectual property and software piracy regulations in Latin America is that in many cases, violators are unaware they’re doing anything wrong, according to Correa. “Many companies and individuals don’t realize it’s illegal to do something like over deploy a software license,” he said. “You’re actually committing software piracy when you do that.”
Countries such as Costa Rica are significantly improving their efforts to combat intellectual property theft, and that Chile, which is traditionally the region’s biggest intellectual property offender, has been making recent improvements
Latin American Countries Step Up IP Enforcement
Correa cited Colombia and Brazil as two countries in the region with particularly strong protection in place against violations of the intellectual property rights of technology companies. “Brazil has one of the strongest laws against software piracy (in Latin America),” he said. “You could be liable for three times the value of software that is used illegally. If you’re talking about thousands of unlicensed copies, that could be a huge number.”
Correa also credited Colombia and Mexico for involving local tax authorities in antipiracy efforts. “Tax authorities are checking on use of software, which is reported as a tangible asset,” he explained.
In addition, Correa said smaller Latin American countries such as Costa Rica are significantly improving their efforts to combat intellectual property theft, and that Chile, which is traditionally the region’s biggest intellectual property offender, has been making recent improvements.
Governments Foster Tech Development
In general, Latin American governments are proponents of technology development within their borders, said Correa. “Governments are fostering the efforts of international software companies and pushing to develop local companies as well.” With the exception of Venezuela, Correa said governments in the region are generally positive toward IT companies doing business there, although each country has a different resource situation. “Things like human capital vary by country and affect how much support they can give.”
Correa also said the frequent turnover of governments in many Latin American countries can hamper cooperative efforts with technology businesses, although he added the political climate in many other nations, such as Canada, pose the same potential challenge.
The Future Looks Promising
In conclusion, Correa said despite some challenges, Latin America holds significant growth potential as a base of technology development. “The piracy problem is increasing due to the size of the market, and each local country has intrinsic issues,” he said. “But things are expected to get significantly better.”