The Australian software piracy rate continues to rise despite efforts to curb the trend, a new study has claimed.
According to the latest global piracy survey by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), 32 per cent of all software used on PCs last year was pirated, representing a loss of $545 million.
The figure is up one per cent from 2003's rate and stands in stark contrast to countries like New Zealand, with a piracy rate of 23 per cent and the US with 21 per cent.
IDC associate director for Asia/Pacific consulting, Martin Kralik, who helped head the study, would not speculate as to why Australia's figure continued to rise. However, an influx of new SoHo and consumer PC users and strong demand for applications such as personal finance and online gaming were factors.
Unsurprisingly, Internet-based piracy, on the back of growing broadband penetration rates and use of peer-to-peer file-sharing applications, proved to be the fastest growing form of piracy during the year.
"Piracy in the business segment is going down, but piracy in the consumer segment is going up or at best stabilising," he said.
While vendors such as Microsoft had been publicly aggressive in their prosecution of piracy of late, the BSA had widened its anti-piracy efforts to include more education, BSA Asia vice-president and regional director, Jeff Hardee, said.
"In Australia we are trying to raise awareness, so we have a website which supplies auditing tools and information on software asset management," he said. "On the consumer side we are educating people to respect intellectual property and to use the Internet responsibly."
But the message also needed the backing of government, Symantec Australia managing director and BSA Australia representative, John Donovan, said.
"Slightly more support from government in programs and messaging on the illegal nature of piracy would be beneficial," he said. "In a lot of cases we find that businesses don't even know piracy is happening."