Slow, steady progress is being made in the fight against software piracy in the workplace, but Internet software piracy continues to be a problem, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
In its latest annual study, the BSA found the global piracy rate for commercial software had decreased to 39 per cent from a high of 49 percent in 1994, when the group began its surveys. But the fight is far from over.
"We've been successful at some levels in reducing piracy in the organisational, end-user environment, vice president of enforcement at the BSA, Bob Kruger, said. "But we still struggle in other areas, as in the exploding amount of piracy on the Internet."
Two out of every five software programs installed and used today on workplace computers were pirated, allowing people to use them without paying the companies that created and sold the software, Kruger said. That amounted to about $US13 billion in annual losses to software companies.
The biggest problem has always been in the workplace, he said, when a company bought one copy of an application and installed it on multiple computers, violating its licensing agreement.
Much of the decrease in piracy since 1994 has been due to intensified education efforts, new technologies used by software makers to protect their products from unauthorised use and better antipiracy laws, the BSA said.
Every country except Zimbabwe has reduced its rate of piracy since 1994, according to the study. The US piracy rate hit an all-time low of 23 per cent, currently the lowest piracy rate in the world.
China has the highest piracy rate at 92 per cent, Kruger said.
President and CEO of the BSA, Robert Holleyman, said that fighting Internet software piracy is the next critical step for software makers.
"In the future, if the industry is to continue its success in reducing the problem further, then clearly, more robust education and advocacy initiatives will be required," he said.
The BSA study looks at piracy rates of business software applications in 85 countries. Worldwide dollar losses due to piracy rose from $US10.97 billion in 2001 to $US13.08 billion in 2002, a 19 per cent increase attributed to generally higher software prices, that offset the lower piracy rates and smaller software shipments, according to the group.
The BSA study evaluated sales data and market information for six major world regions and examined 26 business software applications.