Illegal software piracy costs Australian industry $622 million

Illegal software piracy costs Australian industry $622 million

The cost of local software piracy dropped by 2 per cent to $622 million over the past 12 months, according to a new study.

Conducted by IDC and released by Business Software Alliance (BSA), the study found Australian PC software piracy rates dropped from 31 per cent to 29 per cent in 2006. The figures covered packaged software that runs on PCs, including desktops, ultra-portables and laptops. The study does not account for server or mainframe-based software.

While pleased to see the rate fall, BSA local spokesperson, Jim Macnamara, said it was still not good enough. The global software piracy rate remains at 35 per cent.

"The US is at 23 per cent and we want to see ourselves down to that," he said. "What's contributed to it is the education. We can't really compare ourselves to China where piracy was higher - we have to compare ourselves to other developed countries. If you were a software developer, would you like to be developing in Australia or in the US where you have less piracy and greater protection?"

BSA vice-president and regional director for Asia, Jeffrey Hardee, said one of the major concerns was organisation piracy. This is where companies obtained illegal or under-licensed software.

He also said Internet piracy was the fastest growing form because the availability of software over the Internet had grown exponentially. "The fact that you can download software programs of any type is clearly a problem," Macnamara said.

IDC consulting vice-president for Asia-Pacific, Walter Lee, said factors helping to drive down piracy rates included the popularity of branded laptops over desktops, which tend to come with licensed software; OEM agreements between software suppliers, distributors and PC vendors to include legitimate software; and government and BSA efforts for improved law enforcement and education.

BSA offered free downloadable material on software asset management via its website to help organisations keep track of licenses, Macnamara said.

He singled out SMBs as a particular concern.

"We recognise that a lot of software piracy is accidental: it is businesses that just don't have systems to keep track of software," Macnamara said.

The Business Software Alliance (Australia) has also doubled its reward for anybody willing to turn over software pirates to $10,000 in October.

In other news, BSA and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) have welcomed the Federal Government's decision to provide $12.4 million in funding over the next two years to help tackle the issue of intellectual property crime.

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