Over a third of all packaged software installed on PCs worldwide in 2005 was pirated, according to a study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a trade group charged with fighting the use of unauthorised software.
Although the percentage of dodgy software in use remained the same as last year, global losses from software piracy rose by US$1.6 billion to $34 billion, according to BSA’s figures.
Not everyone buys into the hefty figures though, with some economists questioning the estimated losses in the annual study.
The total is based on the price users would have paid for legitimate versions of the pirated software, but, as BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman recently commented himself, some users would have decided not to use the software if they had to fork out for it.
In fact, some have claimed that BSA’s accounting methods are so inaccurate that it amounts to scaremongering, especially when extrapolating figures from third world countries where just a few programs at full price would cost more than a citizen’s average annual income.
More notably, IDC, the company that produces the reports, has already stated publicly that the BSA is misrepresenting the numbers, pointing out that the US$34 billion claimed “losses” aren’t actually “losses” at all – it’s just the estimated retail value of the pirated software.
Instead, IDC estimates that only one out of every ten pirated programs should be counted as an actual loss, which makes for much less of a headline-grabbing story.
Piracy league tables
Back to the BSA, Holleyman noted the anti-piracy progress being made in some countries, but insisted that, “much more needs to be done.”
Of all the countries studied, the US came out with the lowest piracy rate of all at 21 percent, but the massive size of the software market there meant that it recorded the highest claimed loss of $6.9 billion.
In second place was China with recorded losses of $3.9 billion and a piracy rate so high that anyone actually buying a registered copy of software must be seen as a bit of a weirdo – 86 percent.
In third place was France which notched up losses of $3.2 billion, accompanied by a piracy rate of 47 percent, while in Brit-land, 27 per cent of PC software used in the UK was claimed to be illegal.
In terms of outright piracy, Vietnam and Zimbabwe led the purloining world with piracy rates approaching 90 percent, followed by Indonesia at 87 and China and Pakistan at 86 percent.
Although the amount of global piracy has remained constant, the study found that some traditional piracy hotspots have decreased, with Ukraine registering the biggest drop in piracy rates last year, down 6 percentage points, with China, Russia and Morocco also managing a 4 percentage points decrease.
Next to the US, countries with the lowest piracy rates included New Zealand, Austria and Finland.