According to a study by the Business Software Alliance, pirated software accounted for 41 percent of all software used on PCs in 2008, up from 38 percent in 2007.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) released the results of its Sixth Annual BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study, conducted by research firm IDC, which found both positive and negative findings.
In 2008 the rate of PC software piracy dropped in 57 of the 110 countries studied, remained the same in 36 countries, and rose in just 16. (The subsets do not add up to 110 because there is no prior year data for one country, Georgia.)
Despite the fact that most countries have falling piracy rates, the worldwide software piracy rate rose for the second year in a row, from 38 percent to 41 percent.
The BSA attributes this rise to growing PC shipments in high-piracy countries such as China and India, which tipped the averages.
The lowest-piracy countries are the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and Luxembourg, all near 20 percent. The highest-piracy countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, and Zimbabwe, all over 90 percent.
Even though the U.S. only had a piracy rate of 20 percent, it still managed the largest dollar losses from PC software piracy with $9.1 billion in 2008 purely because it is the largest software market in the world. The total monetary value “losses” of unlicensed software to piracy hit a record high $50.2 billion.
“We are continuing to make significant progress against PC software piracy, which helps people working in the IT industry as well as the wider economy and society. That’s the good news,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. “The bad news is that PC software piracy remains so prevalent all over the world. It undermines local IT service firms, gives illegal software users an unfair advantage in business, and spreads security risks.
The BSA also said that software piracy “increases the risk of cyber crime and security problems,” and gave the example of “the recent global spread of the Conficker virus has been attributed in part to the lack of automatic security updates for unlicensed software.”
The Alliance backed up its claim by saying that in a 2006 study, the IDC found that “29 percent of Web sites and 61 percent of peer-to-peer sites offering pirated software tried to infect test computers with ‘Trojans,’ spyware, keyloggers, and other tools of identity theft.”