Despite the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), last year was surprisingly positive in the fight against software piracy, according to a new study.
Many people believed the recession would drive PC users to deploy unlicenced software to help save money, the Business Software Alliance (BSA)/ IDC Global Software Piracy Study 2009, indicated. Yet in Australia, PC software piracy decreased by one per cent to 25 per cent, and is commercially valued at $US550 million.
Globally, the commercial value of pirated software dipped three per cent to $US51.4 billion.
“A piracy rate of 25 per cent is an improvement, but is still far from acceptable,” BSA Australia co-chair, Clayton Noble, said. “But we're heading in the right direction – the rate has been reducing at one percentage point per year [since 2005 at 29 per cent].”
Lowering software piracy can have a significant impact on economic benefits. IDC estimates every dollar of legitimate software sold in a country means $3-$4 of revenue for local service and distribution organisations.
A greater potion of software piracy takes place in the consumer market, Noble explained, but there are many different forms of piracy including downloading over the Internet or buying counterfeit offerings.
“A high proportion of those types of illegal software contain malware, viruses, botnets and key logging software that can put your confidential data at risk. It can bring down your computer and network at a greater expense than the cost of an actual software licence,” he said.
Several factors driving piracy rates down include vendor legislation programs, government and industry education campaigns, enforcement actions, technology shifts and greater use of software asset management by organisations.
The software industry was also changing with movement towards software-as-a-service (SaaS), but that also changed the profile of piracy, Noble said.
“Whenever you make a service that’s good and available, there’s always going to be someone trying to rip it off,” he said. “It’s going to keep changing as technology changes and unfortunately, counterfeits and pirates will keep moving whenever we try to stop them with a technology measure or enforcement campaign.”
Noble advised software resellers to be careful when licensing software.
“Awareness of licensing is one of the key skills software resellers have and it’s important,” he said. “They other thing resellers can do is if they find a company running pirated software, they should report it so we can help bring the piracy rate down.”
BSA runs a hotline and Web reporting mechanism on its website.
“We’re making every effort in our education and enforcement campaign, and we’ve even got an education campaign for corporate end-users," Noble said. "We’re noticing more organisations are being more rigorous in their software asset management and more aware of the software licenses and deployments. We’re making sure they’re not using unlicensed software.”