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Tuesday, 11 May 2010 23:25

BSA continues to fight the good fight

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Despite a seemingly simplistic assessments of piracy, the BSA's latest research into world-wide piracy rates shows that the Global Financial Crisis wasn't the expected opening of floodgates.

According to the Business Software Alliance's 2009 Annual report the rate of world-wide software piracy grew from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009.  This means, according to the BSA, that "for every $100 worth of legitimate software sold in 2009, an additional $75 worth of unlicensed software also made its way into the market."

The study points out that world-wide estimates of piracy rates are based mostly on inferences and the 'gut feeling' of the BSA's research organisation IDC; as they suggest:

For the study, IDC used proprietary statistics for software and hardware shipments gathered through surveys of vendors, users and the channel, and enlisted IDC analysts in 60+ countries to review local market conditions. With ongoing coverage of hardware and software markets in 100+ countries, and with sixty percent of its analyst force outside the United States, IDC has a deep and broad information base from which to assess the market and estimate the rate of PC software piracy around the world.

As well as overt piracy via "hole-in-the-wall" stores all over the world (both package sales and pre-loaded software), the survey counts less easily quantifiable instances such as volume licence miscounts.

As would reasonably expected, the US tops the list of the greatest dollar value of pirated software and also the lowest piracy rate; which makes sense as the US is easily the largest software market in the world.

Australia has the fifth lowest piracy rate (at 25%) and the 19th highest piracy value (at $US550M).

Readers' attention is drawn to page 11 of the full report where the influence of free and open source software (FOSS) is factored into the overall software market.


Intriguingly, this demonstrates that the piracy rate for commercial software is over 50% when FOSS is removed from the figures with a fixed 43% of pirated commercial software, 35 - 45% legitimate and 12 - 22% FOSS in the market.

Similarly, and very obviously, the report observes a large dichotomy in the piracy rates between developed and emerging countries with an average piracy rate of around 25% in developed nations and 70% in emerging.

The ongoing reduction in piracy rates in developed nations is totally swamped by the growth in emerging nations.  For instance the report notes that the PC shipments growth in emerging nations is 4% whereas mature markets are growing at just 2%.

"This study underscores the importance of the BSA's efforts to reduce unlicensed software use in Australia.  A piracy rate of 25 per cent is an improvement, but is still far from acceptable," said Clayton Noble, co-chair BSA Australia Committee.  "As we emerge from the most severe global economic recession in twenty years, the BSA will continue to engage with government and businesses about the risks of stealing software and the harm that software piracy causes to Australia's economy."


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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