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Software industry making a dent on piracy problem

The latest global figures around software piracy levels have indicated the the downward trend in the UK has continued

The fight against unlicensed software has been a long one and the industry has worked hard over the past few years to reduce the level of applications that are being used illegally.

That battle is far from over but is swinging in the direction of the software industry with the BSA | The Software Alliance reporting a 1% drop in piracy in the UK, since the last global survey in 2016.

That takes the level of unlicensed software being used down to 21% and the lobby group has revealed that the motivation for staying on the right side of the law has become more about avoiding cybersecurity risks than avoiding legal issues.

In the past the threat of legal action and being caught up in a name and shame case was enough to dissuade companies from playing fast and loose with their licenses. But now the prospect of dodgy discs loaded with malware or illegal versions of apps with backdoors are more of a boardroom concern.

The BSA | The Software Alliance estimates that the software industry contributes £125bn to the UK economy and supports 2.6m jobs. The value of the unlicensed software being used is £1.05bn.

There are signs that things are improving with customers understanding the benefits of using legal products and there has been an uptake in Software Asset Management since the last Global survey in 2016.

The shift to cloud is also playing a role with users paying subscriptions to applications rather than getting the chance to hawk copies of CDs around the office.

The Global survey also found that those firms that were on top of their software estates were more secure and could increase profits by as much as 11%.

“Organisations around the world are missing out on the economic and security benefits that well-managed software provides,” said Victoria Espinel, President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance.

“Businesses should establish software asset management (SAM) programmes to evaluate and manage the software on their networks. This, in turn, helps organisations reduce the risk of debilitating cyberattacks and helps grow their revenues,” she added.

Key findings

key findings include:


  • Use of unlicensed software, while down slightly, is still widespread. Globally it still accounts for 37% of software installed on personal computers – only a 2% drop from 2016.
  • CIOs report unlicensed software is increasingly risky and expensive. Malware from unlicensed software costs companies worldwide nearly £267bn a year. CIOs report that avoiding data hacks and other security threats from malware is the number one reason for ensuring their networks are fully licensed.
  • Improving software compliance is now an economic enabler in addition to a security imperative. When companies take pragmatic steps to enhance software management profits can be increased by as much as 11%.
  • Organisations can take meaningful steps today to improve software management. Studies show that organisations can achieve as much as 30% savings in annual software costs by implementing SAM.

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