The Chinese government has put its money where its mouth is, spending around US$160 million (£102m) to replace pirated software in central and provincial government offices with the real thing.
The outlay comes as part of the second phase of a national plan to stamp out software piracy in the public sector, according to the China Daily.
Over a billion yuan was spent on 158,823 operating system licenses, 506,693 copies of office software plus anti-virus and other software.
Foreign software companies were apparently given equal consideration during the procurement process, while centralised procurement landed the government discounts of up to 50 per cent.
Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, told a press conference that attention now focuses onto city and county-level authorities, a process which will be completed by the end of 2013, the report said.
The news will put a smile on Microsoft’s face. The firm has had some success prosecuting large scale license offenders but will be pleased to see the government now leading by example, given that China was rated the world’s worst offender for software piracy by the Business Software Alliance.
Its most recent global report puts the piracy rate in the People’s Republic at 77 per cent, although the government’s estimates are far lower, at just 38 per cent.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that China now realises taking a tougher line on IP protection is vital if the country is to transform itself into an innovation-driven nation and encourage greater foreign investment.
Getting the public sector in line is the easy bit, however.
Gartner’s official Data and Intellectual Property Security and Privacy rating for the country is still "poor" and the analyst says there is still “a long way to go” before China can relax its anti-piracy efforts.
If there's one thing the Chinese government is good at, though, it's the 'stick' approach to enforcing new regulations. ®