Software piracy is costing tens of thousands of jobs and holding back economic growth across Southeast Asia, the head of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said last week.
BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman said the high rates of piracy are also costing governments vital tax revenue which would otherwise accrue from sales of legitimate software. Holleyman was commenting on the results of a study, "Contribution of the Packaged Software Industry to the Southeast Asian Economies", carried out by Price Waterhouse LLP on behalf of BSA.
The study covers Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and relies on BSA estimates of software piracy in 1996, which suggests that eight out of 10 packages in use there are pirated. "This rate of software piracy is far too high," Holleyman said. "The market value of pirated software in all product categories was estimated at $US598 million region-wide. However, I suspect that the real numbers are much higher, because this figure applies to only 12 per cent of the overall software market here."
BSA estimates that 1996 piracy accounted for 59 per cent of packages in use in Singapore, 80 per cent in Thailand and Malaysia, 92 per cent in the Philippines, 97 per cent in Indonesia, and 99 per cent in Vietnam.
Holleyman said that BSA experience had shown that if the software piracy rate was reduced to the current 27 per cent level as in the United States, the industry would have created 14,000 more jobs and generated an additional $246 million in government revenues, in 1996 alone.
"If everyone joined in a concerted effort to reduce software piracy, there would be a quantum leap in employment to 46,076 people, and in taxes to $1.3 billion in these six countries in 2001," he said. Holleyman acknowledged the region was trying to rid itself of its reputation of being a hotbed of copyright infringement.
"It's gratifying to see the relevant government agencies have come out in force to take action against suspected software pirates," said Holleyman. "I am confident that with renewed government initiatives, the protection of intellectual property will receive a further boost in terms of education and understanding."
Holleyman said this study was one of several commissioned by the BSA and undertaken by Price Waterhouse. Similar studies will be released in Japan, Korea and Taiwan later this month.
The BSA's members include most of the major packaged software vendors such as Lotus Development, Novell and Microsoft.