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Global software piracy increasing rapidly, study shows

Warwick Ashford

Global software piracy is increasing rapidly in the absence of any effective deterrence, a survey has revealed.

Some 57% of respondents to the Business Software Alliance’s (BSA) Global Software Piracy Study admitting using pirated software.

The research, conducted in partnership with IDC and Ipsos Public Affairs, surveyed around 15,000 computer users from a total of 33 countries.

The survey indicates that the global annual cost of software piracy has reached $63.4bn, with only 20% of software pirates considering current enforcement measures a sufficient deterrent to their activities.

“It is clear that the fight against software piracy is far from over," said Robin Fry, commercial services partner at DAC Beachcroft, and member of the legal advisory group for the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).

One of the more troubling issues, he said, is that business decision makers purchase some legitimate copies, but then turn a blind eye to further illegal installations for new users, locations and devices.

"Only actions against senior directors personally as well as the companies themselves will get the message across," said Fry.

Enforcement has emerged as a significant issue globally, he said, with 80% of pirates disregarding current enforcement measures entirely.

"As long as individuals are able to carry on without real consequences, software piracy will remain a running sore. In order to tackle software piracy effectively, this will have to change," he said.

According to FAST, the impact of software piracy goes beyond the software industry to include job and wealth creation in the broader economy.

Continued growth and investment in the digital economy depends upon strong intellectual property rights, and the understanding that investment of time and money will be properly protected and rewarded, said Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST.

“Although, the legal framework currently in place in the UK generally serves the software industry well, readily accessible enforcement could be improved," he said.

FAST works to assist members in protecting their products and take to task those who illicitly seek to exploit them.

However, said Heathcote Hobbins, the existing legislative process can be unduly wieldy, putting off many businesses and enforcement agencies.

"It is all very well having the IP rights in place, but unless we can improve the practical enforcement measures, the effectiveness of the laws will be blunted," he said.


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