Developing world buoys up software pirates

BSA spots emerging markets problem

Software piracy in the UK has fallen for the first time in three years, albeit slightly. However, the worldwide counterfeit software rate climbed to 38 per cent in 2007.

A survey conducted by analyst firm IDC on behalf of The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has shown that, despite huge efforts from the likes of Microsoft and other big name vendors over the past year to stamp out illegal copies of their software, piracy continues to be a big headache for the industry.

But the BSA, which describes itself as “the voice of the world's leading software developers” naturally put a positive spin on the results which were published yesterday.

It said of the 108 countries covered in the survey, the use of pirated software had fallen in 67 countries, and increased in only eight.

So, why the three per cent leap in global software piracy over the group's 2006 figures? The BSA attributed the hike to the fact that the worldwide PC market grew fastest in countries where software piracy has been rife.

Brazil, Russia, India and China saw 61 million PCs shipped last year, according to the results. The BSA said that figure nearly equals the US market where software piracy accounts for 20 per cent.

China scored the highest counterfeit software figure with an eye-popping 82 per cent, Russia notched up 73 per cent, India 69 per cent and Brazil 59 per cent. The US still suffered the greatest loss from software piracy, despite the fact that it recorded the lowest rate.

"This study shows that government and industry anti-piracy efforts are delivering software piracy reductions in many countries; however, rapid PC growth in higher-piracy emerging markets translates into an overall increase in global piracy," said IDC chief research officer John Gantz.

"We expect this trend to continue, meaning industry and government must increasingly focus their efforts on combating piracy in these emerging economies," he said.

Meanwhile, in Blighty software piracy fell by just one per cent to 26 per cent. However, encouragingly for software execs – if not street corner vendors selling dodgy copies of Windows out of battered old suitcases – that figure represents the first fall in the UK for three years.

The BSA welcomed the drop but admitted more needs to be done to curtail the counterfeit software industry in Britain, where it claimed losses hit £925m in 2007. ®

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