The White House last week ordered federal agencies to crack down on the use of pirated software in government computers, and directed the US senior trade official to urge foreign governments to do the same. The executive order, signed personally by President Clinton, orders federal agencies to only use authorized and paid for software, prepare an inventory of software on their computers and maintain adequate record-keeping systems. We are declaring war on software piracy, Vice President Al Gore said in a statement. The message is clear: Don’t copy that floppy. At home or abroad, intellectual property must be protected. The US Government, which spends more than $20bn a year on IT, is the world’s largest purchaser of computers and related equipment. But there are no good estimates, other than anecdotes, about how rampant piracy runs among government offices. In the US, the Software Publishers Association (SPA), a trade body, estimates piracy cost companies alone over $2.5bn in 1997, and more than $11bn worldwide. Mark Traphagen, SPA’s vice president for intellectual property and trade policy described the announcement as a significant step forward in combating software piracy at home and abroad. He also urged state governments to set a good example by implementing a comprehensive and verifiable software asset management program in their own agencies.