Software Piracy in Sri Lanka

In a previous post, I talked a bit about piracy and copyright violations in Sri Lanka and I mentioned it’s a widespread problem here. But here’s the thing. I can’t say that I entirely blame Sri Lankans for the problems if you understand it in context.

According to the CIA Word Factbook, Sri Lanka’s GDP per capita (2007 estimate) is $4,100 US. Well, that’s significantly higher than it was when I moved here – then, it was listed as $850. But if you compare that $4,100 to the US GDP per capita, you get $45,800 US, or 11 times the GDP per capita of Sri Lanka. Back when I moved here, it was something like 35 times, but inflation has been hitting hard here.

Keeping that in mind, consider the following…

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition currently sells for $185.49 US. Adjusting for the differences in GDP, to Sri Lankans, that’s the equivalent of $2040 to someone in the US. Five years ago, the relative price would have been $6492 US. If you had to pay that much for an OS, would you? Could you afford to?

The vast majority of all software sold here is also pirated. Very cheap, comes with keys which may or may not work, depending on whether those keys have been blocked with the software company because the key’s been used on 2000 computers, and also frequently comes with malware.

For that matter, if you take your computer in to a shop to get it repaired, it frequently comes back with an additional 50 or so free programs, installed by the repair people. “Good programs for you! For free!” Never mind that you didn’t want them, they’re accompanied by viruses, adware, and spyware.

It’s really annoying. 😀

But legal software can be had here. Theoretically. It’s just that there are problems.

Let’s take Microsoft, for example. They have a presence in Sri Lanka, but for marketing purposes only as far as I can tell. When contacted, they will say that, yes, Microsoft software is for sale here, but they then refuse to release information on who those vendors are who sell their software. Uh…

And software can be purchased online for immediate download, but then you have to deal with the slow download speeds, even with ADSL. But that’s not the worst part. SLT, Sri Lanka Telecom and our ISP (Internet Service Provider), has, in the past, reset our connection every half hour to hour whenever Fahim’s been in the middle of downloading files. Downloadus interruptus. I suspect that SLT does this to stop the downloading and free up their bandwidth. Never mind that we paid for unlimited bandwidth.

And of course we could order the software on CD/DVD, but that has its own sets of problems. There’s shipping and handling, of course, but there’s also the cost of getting things through customs – import taxes, handling fees, and bribes that will double or triple the cost of the original product. If you actually get the CD/DVD. Because if it’s original, legal and everything, chances are high that it’ll be confiscated because the prevailing government wisdom is that the only reason someone would bring in legal software is to pirate it. And if it’s pirated, then it’s illegal. Either way… (When we shipped my stuff here from Canada, all my CDs/DVDs were confiscated. With zero notice to me.)

So if a person in Sri Lanka wanted to use only legal non-pirated software, how do they do it? Through subterfuge…

I’m not, by any means, justifying software or any other kind of piracy. I’m just… Providing food for thought.

Author: LMAshton
Howdy! I'm a beginner artist, hobbyist photographer, kitchen witch, wanderer by nature, and hermit introvert. This is my blog feed. You can find my fediverse posts at

1 thought on “Software Piracy in Sri Lanka

  1. Oh, I’m rolling around laughing– when I first read your post, I read “CIA’s World Factbook” as “CIA’s World Facebook.” I was sitting here, stunned, thinking, “CIA has its own facebook??” Haha!

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