updated 09:08 pm EDT, Fri June 1, 2012
Survey finds piracy rampant worldwide, especially developing world
Computer users the world over are engaging in software piracy, according to a new study (pdf) from the Business Software Alliance, an industry group consisting of Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe, among others. The BSA's survey found more than half of all respondents pirating software, up dramatically over last year's findings. Additionally, the study found that piracy is quite popular in the developing world, with users in those markets installing several times more pirated software than their peers in the developed world.
BSA's survey looked at 15,000 computer users from 33 countries around the world, asking them "how often do you acquire pirated software or software that is not fully licensed?" Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that they used pirated software. That's up from 42 percent in 2011.
The survey found that people who admitted to using unlicensed software all of the time, most of the time, or occasionally were installing 55 percent more programs of all kinds on their computers than people who do not pirate software.
Furthermore, the study found a multiplier effect for emerging economies. Software pirates in the developing world installed four times as much software as software pirates in mature markets. Even infrequent pirates in the developing world had twice as much software on their computers as their developed world peers.
BSA calculates the total impact of piracy on the software industry at $63.4 billion annually. As BSA is composed of software industry players, it is possible that its estimate of piracy's impact is on the high end of the scale, much in the same way that the music industry's estimates presume that every pirated copy necessitates a lost sale.
BSA member companies such as Microsoft have previously taken matters into their own hands in order to combat piracy, such as when Microsoft partnered with a Russian startup in order to take down torrents thought to contain infringing material.
Apple, another BSA member, tends to price Mac software cheaply, in the hopes that users will not engage in piracy. The policy has generally worked well, though Apple has recently focused on combating piracy of apps in its iOS App Store.