Half police software in Estonia not licensed

  • 2000-04-27
TALLINN (BNS) - Commissioned by the state to discover pirated software and punish its users, Estonian police nevertheless widely uses unlicensed software. Nearly 44 percent of the programs in their computers is pirated.

Police department statistics show that police institutions have 715 licenses for different software programs, but considering the number of work stations there should be 1,628.

The situation is the worst with Microsoft software. It appears from a survey taken at the end of last year that Microsoft Office is licensed to 465 work stations out of 1,290, Microsoft Word to 32 out of 48, and Microsoft Excel to eight work stations out of 48.

Police use database packages and data management systems at 159 work stations but hold licenses only for 127. Team Ware Office is in use at 83 work stations of which only 15 have the necessary license.

Andrus Voolaine, chief superintendent with the police department's development and information division, said the survey reflects the actual situation, but that the police department lacks the money to legalize the software.

"Police would need 3.17 million kroons ($190.4 million) this year to legalize Microsoft software but the state allocated precisely zero kroons in the 2000 budget for this purpose," Voolaine said. "Consequently, the police department is not going to legalize Microsoft software this year."

Legalization of various database packages poses fewer problems as the necessary 314,000 kroons is written into the budget.

Voolaine said police are going to need increasingly more funds for licensing as it wants to create more computerized work stations.

According to the data of Business Software Alliance's Estonian branch and Microsoft, the level of unlicensed software in Estonia had dropped from 86 percent in 1998 to 72 percent by January 2000.

Ahti Leppik, coordinator with BSA's Estonian committee, said the organization's activity largely depends on police initiative as the watchdog body itself has no right to check software users.

"At the same time, we have no information nor have we checked whether the police department itself uses legal software," Leppik told BNS. He said the state has in principle agreed with software producers that all government institutions will legalize their software by a certain date and that prior to that they will not be probed.

According to amendments to copyright laws effective this year, use of pirated software carries a fine of up to 500,000 kroons instead of the earlier 150,000-250,000 kroons.