More than $50bn lost to software piracy, study shows

Software piracy cost technology companies more than $50-billion around the world last year, with Asia accounting for the largest share of losses, an industry report said on Tuesday.

Global losses due to software piracy reached $51,4-billion in 2009, with $16,5-billion of this in the Asia-Pacific region, said the annual report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which has a base in Singapore.

Despite some successes in the fight to protect intellectual property rights, 43% of software used in computers worldwide in 2009 was pirated, compared with 41% the year before, the BSA found in the report, conducted in collaboration with market research firm IDC.

The deluge of counterfeits was largely due to the growth of the personal computer market in Brazil, India and China, it said.

But last year’s financial losses also marked a 3% drop from 2008 as the rate of pirated software use fell in 54 of the 111 economies studied, remained steady in 38 and rose in 19.

Bangladesh was the Asian country with the highest software piracy rate, followed by Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam, with China and India also among the most prominent culprits.

“This study makes clear that while efforts to bring down piracy levels in the Asia-Pacific are enjoying some success, dollar losses at over $16,5-billion remain the highest in the world,” said Jeffrey Hardee, BSA’s vice-president and regional director.

“This is unacceptable and there is still much to be done to engage governments, businesses and consumers on the risks and impact of software piracy.”

BSA said that for every $100 of legitimate software sales in 2009, another $75-worth of unlicensed programs were sold.

Ex-Soviet state Georgia was the world’s top software pirate, with 95% of all software used in the country deemed illegal. It was followed by Zimbabwe, with 92%, Bangladesh with 91% and Moldova with 91%.

BSA is an industry group that works for copyright protection and counts among its members some of the world’s biggest technology companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Quest Software and Adobe, as well as smaller regional and local firms.

The study covers piracy of all software that runs on personal computers including operating systems, systems software like databases and security packages and application software like office packages, finance and tax packages, as well as PC computer games. — AFP

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