Global Theft of Software for PCs Climbs 14%, Study Says
The global theft of software for PCs increased 14 percent in 2010 to a record-setting commercial value of $59 billion, according to a study released Thursday by the Business Software Alliance.
The alliance said emerging countries are the driving forces behind the piracy trend, as that’s where PC shipments are growing the most.
According to the study, the country of Georgia had the highest software piracy rate in 2010 among more than 100 countries – 93 percent. It was followed by Zimbabwe (91 percent) and Yemen, Bangladesh and Moldova (90 percent each). In the United States, the piracy rate last year was 20 percent. The worldwide rate was 42 percent.
In terms of the value of pirated software in 2010, the United States led the list of countries at $9.5 billion, followed by China ($7.8 billion), Russia ($2.8 billion), India ($2.7 billion) and Brazil ($2.6 billion).
Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the alliance, called software piracy an “urgent problem for the whole economy,” beyond just the software sector.
“The software industry is being robbed blind,” Holleyman said. “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.”
Six years ago, the commercial value of software piracy in emerging economies accounted for less than one-third of the world total, according to the alliance’ study. Last year, at $32 billion, it accounted for more than half.
While the number of PCs shipped to emerging economies in 2010 accounted for more than half of the global total, paid software licenses in emerging economies accounted for less than one-fifth of global sales.
The most common form of software piracy is buying a single license for a program and installing it on several computers. A survey commissioned by the alliance showed 60 percent of people incorrectly think this is legal at home and 47 percent incorrectly think this is legal at work.
“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.”