Study: Software Piracy Now a $29 Bln Biz

In its annual survey released Wednesday, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said that 36% of the software installed on PCs in 2003 was software not paid for representing a loss of US$29 billion.

The study found that while $80 billion in software was installed on computers worldwide last year, only $51 billion was legally purchased.

"Software piracy is not slowing down. Itis growing rapidly," Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of BSA told The Mac Observer, Wednesday. "With the growing use of point-to-point file sharing, weire seeing this piracy take off."

"The BSAis new research firm, IDC, estimated the 2003 global piracy rate was 36 percent, roughly 2 percent above the BSAis revised 2002 figure. The survey said the Asia-Pacific region, Eastern Europe and Latin America are the worst offenders, with more than half of all installed software being pirated.

Among the key findings included evidence that the piracy rate was highest in Eastern Europe at 71%, with dollar losses at more than $2.1 billion. Second was Latin America at 63%, Middle Eastern and African countries at 56% and the Asia/Pacific region at 53%. The North American piracy rate was substantial lower at 23%, or a loss of $7.2 billion.

The highest software piracy rate in the world was in China and Vietnam, with a staggering 92% of software being pirated. The revenue loss from the two countries together was over $3,86 billion.

"Chinais level of software piracy is incredible," Mr. Holleyman said. "Itis shows no signs of abating and the government shows little sign of trying to stop it."

The study found that the size of a regional software market is the critical link between piracy rates and actual dollars lost. For instance, 91 percent of software installed in the Ukraine in 2003 was pirated, as compared to 30 percent in the U.K. But dollar losses in the U.K. ($1.6 billion) were about 17 times higher than those in the Ukraine ($92.1 million). This difference is attributed to a much larger total PC software market in the U.K. than in the Ukraine.

"A number of factors contribute to the regional differences in piracy, including local-market size, the availability of pirated software, the strength of copyright laws, and cultural differences regarding intellectual property rights," said John Gantz, Chief Research Officer at IDC. "Unfortunately, we found that high market growth regions also tend to be high piracy regions, such as China, India and Russia. If the piracy rate in emerging markets ? where people are rapidly integrating computers into their lives and businesses ? does not drop, the worldwide piracy rate will continue to increase."

The study, conducted by global technology research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), drew upon its worldwide data for software and hardware shipments, conducted more than 5,600 interviews in 15 countries, and used its in-country analysts around the globe to evaluate local market conditions.

The survey did not break down usage by PC platform or give any evidence that software piracy is more prevalent on the Mac platform versus Windows, or visa versa.