Theft of Software on PCs Jumped in 2010 to About $59 Billion: BSA

By Ed Silverstein May 12, 2011

Theft of software jumped some 14 percent worldwide last year to set a record of close to $59 billion, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) reports. And many users of pirated software do not realize what they are doing is wrong, says the BSA.

Pushing the numbers up are emerging economies where shipments of personal computers are increasing, the alliance adds.

The total has basically doubled since 2003, according to the BSA study.

The BSA also notes that many users of PCs do not realize they are using unlicensed copies of software.

“There's an awareness gap where many people don't even understand that they're stealing software,” BSA Vice President Matt Reid told the AFP.

“The software industry is being robbed blind,” BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman adds in a recent statement carried on TechZone360. “Nearly $59 billion worth of products were stolen last year — and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the world’s fastest-growing markets. The irony is people everywhere value intellectual property rights, but in many cases they don’t understand they are getting their software illegally.”

The most frequent kind of piracy is purchasing a single license and then installing the software on “multiple computers,” the BSA said. Some 60 percent of those surveyed said this was legal for home use and some 47 percent of those surveyed said it was legal for work use – in conflict with legal requirements.

“Software piracy is an urgent problem for the whole economy, not just the software industry, because software is an essential tool of production,” Holleyman said. “Businesses of all sorts rely on software to run their operations. Properly licensed companies are being unfairly undercut when their competitors avoid overhead costs by stealing software tools.”

In addition, the BSA said that the number of personal computers shipped to emerging economies in 2010 was over half of the global total. But paid software licenses in emerging economies were lower than 20 percent of worldwide sales, the BSA adds.

Last year, the PC software piracy rate worldwide was 42 percent – which is the second-highest rate in the eight years the study has been undertaken, according to the BSA.

Some 59 percent surveyed as part of the study say IP rights benefit local economies and 61 percent of those surveyed say IP rights create jobs.

Also, eight out of 10 PC users surveyed said legal software is more secure and reliable than pirated versions.

“The software industry is doing everything it can to promote legal software use,” Holleyman said. “We need governments to step up their efforts on this issue by supporting public education efforts, enacting and enforcing strong intellectual property laws, and leading by example.”

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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