I recently appeared before the Kentucky legislature's Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary in Frankfort to discuss the impact that information technology piracy has on the Kentucky business climate. I was thrilled to hear that Rep. Brent Yonts and other lawmakers are looking at this issue because it can seem complicated.
However, for me and most small businesses, it's simple. The use of stolen IT by mostly foreign companies makes it hard for us to compete and it is simply not fair.
We launched our business in 2004, and we grew that business into one of the city's premier providers of commercial and residential IT services. We have grown our business multiple times over, and we are proof that hard work and customer care are essential ingredients to a successful business.
We help companies find the right technology solutions to achieve efficiency, provide higher return on investment and, of course, maximize profitability. In many cases we fashion ourselves as our clients' IT department. Our marketing goals are to always be on the cutting edge and to remain competitive in pricing.
IT has always been a visionary industry that consistently sets companies apart, paves the way for business models never before possible and creates new jobs across our state and country. But rampant theft across our industry is handicapping my business and my small-business clients who invest proportionately very heavily and strategically in their IT solutions.
Pirating companies never pay a cent for software and systems that allow their business to function: tools to develop products, manage inventory, keep books or power a Web site. They, in turn, use that stolen IT to artificially lower their prices and undercut those businesses that play by the rules.
It is not just a small advantage. Law-abiding companies simply can't go toe-to-toe with companies that steal software.
Frequently they are doing so overseas, where laws are weaker and there are fewer protections for manufacturers. Regardless of where the theft takes place, you better believe it makes its way back to our pockets.
Between 2000 and 2008, Kentucky lost more than 50,000 jobs, many to emerging markets where IT theft is everywhere and the rule of law means little. Reducing IT piracy now could translate into hundreds of additional jobs in Kentucky and millions of dollars in additional state revenue.
These numbers do not even address the monetary impact of righting distorted IT competition and unfair market advantages. Artificially lower expenditures, and, as a result, artificially lower prices, do nothing but hurt our industry and anyone who invests in IT — which today is virtually everyone at some level.
Until now, U.S. businesses have had no leverage to fight back against companies stealing their market share, profits and jobs. These companies are reaping the benefits of their unscrupulous business practices at the expense of the rest of us.
The Kentucky legislature has an opportunity to provide real, legal recourse for companies being crippled by competitors that steal IT. In doing so, we can also send a message to manufacturers, foreign and domestic, to stop stealing IT and using it to buy and sell goods in Kentucky.
I want to continue to do business in the Bluegrass State. But to do so we need an environment that protects and grows jobs here at home. I urge our legislature to work toward presenting a legislative package at the outset of the 2012 session to stop IT theft in Kentucky. I think I speak on behalf of the ambitious businesses that want to succeed here — fair and square.