What do pirated software and t-shirt have in common? More than you might think.

The Information and Communications Technology Business Association of Cambodia is drawing attention to an important issue for garment exporters to consider: their shipments to the USA might be blocked and they could be fined if they are using pirated software.

A number of American states have passed what are known as Unfair Competition Acts that can be used to block the importation of manufactured goods that have made in factories using pirated software. The rationale behind the law is that by not paying licensing fees for the software, these factories can undercut factories in the US that have to pay for their software. The laws are thus meant to protect US industry from this type of unfair competition.

The ICT Business Association recently sent a letter informing the over 300 garment factories in Cambodia of the issue. Pily Wong, President of the association said in a statement:

Garment is one of the largest industry in Cambodia and software piracy rate is very high in the country. Thus, we see a potential risk that the US garment customers stop ordering from the Kingdom in order to avoid short supply because US customs are confiscating and destroying all the products coming from Cambodia. Cambodia is maybe not enforcing IPR in the country, but US Authorities are definitely very active and one day or another, some factories from Cambodia will get hit. Cambodia is exporting billions worth of products to USA every year and over a million jobs in the Kingdom are at stake, we need the garment factories to be compliant in order to protect their business and their workers. Hopefully GMAC will follow up and play a more active role in informing their members about official regulations which may affect their operations and in providing them good advices about compliance.

A factory in China, and another one in India, have already been hit with a lawsuit in California. More suits are likely to follow, and it is possible that a Cambodian exporter is next in line. By conducting an audit of their IT systems and seeking legal advice, factories can ensure they’re in compliance with these laws and ensure access to the US market.

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