The global rate of software piracy has diminished by 1 per cent but the commercial value of counterfeit software has jumped 14 per cent, according to a report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The group concerns itself with educating the public on software management and copyright protection. Members include Apple, CA and Microsoft.
In the BSA 2010 Piracy Study, global piracy rates was recorded at 42 per cent and the worldwide consumer value of unlicenced software hit $US58.8 billion. Last year’s figures were 43 per cent and $US51.4 billion, respectively.
Australia was ranked 19 in terms of highest commercial value of pirated software at $US658 million but had a comparably low piracy rate at 24 per cent. Total value of pirated software in the Asia-Pacific region was $US18.7 billion.
Half of the countries studied had piracy rates of over 62 per cent.
BSA, with the help of IDC and Ipsos, studied 116 countries and surveyed 15,000 consumers for the report.
The high level of unlicenced software use was partially attributed to emerging economies’ rapid adoption of technologies. This group now accounts for more than half of the global value of PC software theft.
But the key driver for the software piracy issue is under-licencing, that is, installing multiple copies of a legal copy on different computers.
“[It] remains the biggest contributor to software piracy and has broad implications beyond just the software sector, because software is a productivity tool in every sector of the economy,” IDC Asia-Pacific vice-president of consulting operations, said in a statement.
“Companies that do not pay for the programs they use to run their operations have, to some extend, an unfair cost advantage over companies that do and this skews competition.”
The BSA is appealing for governments across the world to ramp up anti-piracy efforts including toughening up intellectual property laws and raising public awareness on the issue.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) chair, Colin Jacobs, questioned the methodology used in the BSA report, noting it would require a very comprehensive data into exactly how many pieces of software installed on devices have been paid for.
“Personally, I don’t understand how they can possibly estimate the number of pieces of software that is installed in the country in order to get those figures,” he said.
“People these days aren’t buying all their software from retailers in a box so unless they have a very comprehensive way of tracking every downloaded software it is hard to understand how the group can have much confidence in those numbers.
“Then the dollar values noted in the report would be a bit questionable.”
It is also calling for the implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Copyright Treaty to foster an “effective legislative environment for copyright protection”.