BSA: Software Piracy Cost $50 Billion in 2008

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.”

Check out the full report here (PDF).

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • jsloan
    can anyone say china, india, ect...
  • danimal_the_animal
    "Crickets chirping"
  • solymnar
    Saying that pirated software was used d/not = software sales lost.

    Someday these analysts will get a clue on that.
  • dragonfang18
    ARRRG! Keep it up me mateees! ARRRRG!
  • SAL-e
    Ha. I was wandering why we have so many propaganda news this week. The BSA is back with their studies. How much the dirty pirates are costing us?! I have simple math task for everyone to solve. Let accept that the "losses" are really $50.2 billion and there is magic that allows to remove the "piracy" this will result in $50.2 billion less money spend for hardware because software and hardware are complementary products. How much the software sells will drop if less hardware is sold?
    The numbers of those studies is very questionable. They have only single purpose to full the propaganda in order to request more protections for failing business model. Selling copies in today reality is doomed. The software companies need to find new business model.
  • outacontrolpimp
    Do they realize most people wouldnt buy the software if they didnt get it illegally? If i didnt pirate microsoft word, i would use open office. If i didnt pirate all my games, i would play online games. Only a few things are worth it, those are the things that make money

    If games went $50 may i would buy a couple. If photoshop wasnt $700i would probably buy it, it would have to come down to about $50 maybe.
  • Dave K
    I think if some magic came about that made pirating impossible you'd see software sales go up slightly short term. Long term you very well might see sales DECREASE relatively as the advancement of computing in third world countries slowed. The VAST VAST majority of people pirating software would never buy it so they might as well be making up their "we lost this much" number.

    I think the way the software industry SHOULD look at the problem is as an indication that they need to think of more affordable ways to market their product.
  • sdgamer
    Lies, damn lies, and statistics....

    How do we quantify speculation?
  • outacontrolpimp
    Hello, how can I help you?
    Visitor: Hi, I would like to know why photoshop is $700
    Randy: Hi there.
    Randy: I'll be glad to help you with that.
    Visitor: Thank you
    Randy: Are you referring to Photoshop CSI'll stay online while you place the order.
    Visitor: Yes, I want to know why it is so exspensive, thats almost as much as my computer.
    Randy: Please be informed that you will get $50 as discount if you place the order now.
    Randy: Would you like to place the order for it now?
    Visitor: I need it for school, is there any way to get it cheaper?
    Randy: May I know whether you are a higher education student or a teacher or K-12 student?
    Visitor: I am a senior in high school
    Randy: Okay.
    Randy: Let me check that for you.
    Visitor: Thank you
    Randy: The full version of Photoshop CS4 Extended is priced at US $299.
    Randy: Shall I forward the direct link to purchase it?
    Visitor: Im a student, I live on my own, and I cannot afford that price?
    Randy: Let me check that for you.
    Randy: The full version of Photoshop CS4 Extended is priced at US $199 under student version.
    Randy: Shall I forward the direct link to purchase it?
    Visitor: Yes thank you

    Lol brought it down to $200
  • Hitokage
    Bullshitter's Anonymous?

    If someone pirates something, they had no intention of paying for it, you didn't lose a sale, you just didn't make one.