Most Computer Users Are Pirates (of Software, not Booty)

    May 16, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

Be honest: how much of that software on your home computer did you really pay for? All of it? Most of it? Maybe just a little? Did you feel the need to hide that disc containing Adobe Photoshop CS6 that your friend gave you so nobody finds the evidence?

If you answered yes to any of the above, don’t worry – you’re far from alone. A new study from Business Software Alliance reveals that 57% of people who use personal computers admit that they have some pirated software. The study, the 9th Annual BSA Global Software Piracy Study, surveyed 15,000 computer users in 33 countries in January and February of 2012, most of whom don’t pay for all of their software. Globally, the amount of pirated software is valued at $63.4 billion in 2011, up from $58.8 bilion in 2010.

BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman doesn’t think that governments are taking software piracy as seriously as they should. “If 57% of consumers admitted they shoplift, authorities would react by increasing police patrols and penalties,” he said. “Software piracy demands a similarly forceful response – concerted public education and vigorous law enforcement.”

A bold 31% of users gleefully admit that they pirate software “most of the time” or “occasionally,” where another 26% admitted to doing it rarely. Only a shrewd 38% said they “never” take unlicensed software.

Here, take in this video BSA put together that highlights some of the results from the study.

The most pirate-likely region of the world is Central and Eastern Europe with a 62% piracy rate. That roughly translates into $3,227,000. However, while that area might have the greatest density of software pirates, by far the largest sink hole of money lost from pirated software is the United States. Incredibly, though, nearly $9.8 billion was lost due to pirated software in the U.S. in 2011 but the piracy rate there was only 19% due to legal software sales of over $41 billion. While China’s total value of pirated software wasn’t far behind the U.S. with $8.9 billion, its piracy rate was towered at 77% because the country only had $2.7 billion in legal software sales. That roughly translates to PC buyers spending only $8.89 on average for legal software.

Still, the developing world is where piracy is most rampant. The study found that frequent pirates in developing economies install almost four times as much pirated software as do the software pirates in established economies. The piracy rate of emerging economies was 68% whereas first-world economies had a piracy rate of 24%.

BSA Senior Vice President of Anti-Piracy Jodie Kelley feels that governments need to address the swelling problem of software piracy. “Governments, especially in emerging markets where most of the theft is taking place, must take steps to modernize their IP laws and expand enforcement efforts to ensure that those who pirate software face real consequences,” Kelley said.

Typically, most of the piracy talk these days seems to revolve around the entertainment industry and the debate over anti-piracy measures typically focus on curbing pirated movies and music. Depending on which study you want to rely on, the total amount of lost revenue from pirated music and movies could range anywhere from $58 billion to as high as $200 billion (although this is said to be a highly inflated). Regardless, Holleyman makes a good point about the response (or lack thereof) from authorities to the plague of software piracy. The amount of money lost on pirated software is a considerable, possibly as much as what is lost from the entertainment industry, and yet the computer software industry doesn’t have nearly the lobbying influence that the entertainment industry does. You hardly even hear about them being invited to the debate.

You’d think piracy of operating systems or business software would be the more relevant problem than, say, people pirating something as insipid as Suckerpunch.

Priorities, people. Priorities.

(Image courtesy of South Park/Comedy Central.)

  • http://www.pcprofile.com Rob Harmer

    The BSA “……………asserts that the best way to target the problem of piracy is to focus on enterprise consumers”.

    This again illustrates that the BSA has no idea how to solve the problem , other than education and enforcement to solve the problem of piracy.

    The underlying issues of free software, apps, user attitude, coupled with constantly changing license ground rules and the inability of the software vendors to accurately describe and identify what is installed on systems are some of the key reasons that do not make it easy for the enterprise to “comply with software compliance audits”.

    The enterprise in most cases is the victim, not the villain. Sure, there are few that over use licenses (not pay for what they have installed) but they are in the minority not the majority which is the BSA seems to be inferring.

    Until such time as the BSA provides assistance to enterprises (they have a significant war-chest of $ from member fees) by forcing software vendors to simplify licensing and at the same time insist that software vendors provide accurate lists of what is shipped for installation, then C-level executives should get their legal counsel to push back on these threats and demands.

    It’s high time that the BSA used its funds to find a solution, not keep playing the enterprise as the villain.

    Rob Harmer