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A Malaysian trade minister has risked the ire of the software industry by suggesting the country would turn a blind eye to the use of pirated software in schools.

While stressing that the authorities in Malaysia take a firm line against piracy in the commercial sector, Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told the >Sunday Star newspaper that it would be far more lenient with schools and charities.

He even suggested use of pirated software may promote computer literacy.

"We are concerned over the rampant sale and use of pirated computer software in the country and will continue to conduct raids to curb it," the Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs told the paper.

"But for educational purposes and to encourage computer usage, we may consider allowing schools and social organisations to use pirated software," he added.

Digging himself a bigger hole, Yassin went on to say that a raid by Malaysian authorities and the BSA two years ago reduced use of pirated software in the country from 70 per cent to 60 per cent. This, he reckons, puts Malaysia ahead of the US in its fight against software piracy.

We suspect many countries hold similar views, but Yassin was bloody stupid spelling it out in public. The US never needs much prompting to threaten trade sanctions when it feels the rights of US copyright holders are threatened.

Worst still, Minister Yassin may receive an invite to a re-education session from the piracy watchdog aimed at showing him the error of his ways. Let's hope open source activists get to him first.

If he pops up on TV in a couple of weeks talking about the links between software piracy and drug trafficking/terrorism groups then you know what's happened. ®

Related story

Pirated software up for grabs
Software piracy in developing countries is not all bad - for the developers as well as the users, as this article on Nehru place in New Delhi a "paradise for pirated software" points out.

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