Western Europe worst for software piracy

Western Europe worst for software piracy

More than one third of the software in use worldwide during 2003 was pirated, according to the latest study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) the software vendors' global antipiracy lobby group.

The annual study on global software piracy trends shows that 36 per cent of software was being used illegally in 2003 and estimates the cost of piracy at $29 billion, more than double the figure calculated for 2002.

The BSA attributed the vast difference to a major expansion in the types of software tallied in this year's analysis. Changes in the study's method accompanied the BSA's switch to a new research firm for its latest analysis, International Data Corp.

The revamped annual survey shows that North America was the most law-abiding region in 2003, with a piracy rate as low as 23 per cent.

Whilst the biggest culprit was Eastern Europe, where a shocking 71 per cent of the software running on PCs, servers and mainframe computers was stolen.

In Western Europe, however, the percentage of illegally copied software was on par with the global rate of 36 per cent. Yet it was this region that fared the worst financially, recording the greatest loss in software retail value due to the larger software market in the west.

After Western Europe, the study showed the most expensive regional losses occurring in the Asia-Pacific region and North America, which accounted for $7.5 billion and $7.2 billion in lost retail value, respectively.

"The level of software piracy is not shrinking," said Beth Scott, vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa for the BSA.

"In Europe, we attribute this to the increasing availability of illegal software on the Internet and insufficient deterrents" in the form of intellectual-property legislation.

Scott said piracy within businesses, rather than consumers trading software over the Internet, was the biggest source of illegal copying.

Employees often download illegal copies or use more copies than their software license allows.

Mike Newton, Campaign Relations Manager for the BSA, argues that the 2003 figures did not yet take into account the work of the EU on directives that aim to combat piracy.

The BSA is currently pushing European Union member states to speed the passage of laws modelled after the EU copyright directive, the legal framework designed to modernise European copyright laws.

However, the deadline for putting the directive into effect by member states passed 18 months ago yet still, only half of EU countries have those laws in place.

"We're starting at grass roots to convince school kids and teachers that respect for intellectual property is something they should grow up with," he said.

Sources: BBC Online, ComputerWorld, Newsfactor

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