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Emerging Markets Drive Software Piracy to US$59 Billion

16 October 2012

Emerging Markets Drive Software Piracy to US$59 Billion

Theft of software for personal computers leapt 14% globally in 2010 to a record commercial value of US$59 billion, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) reported in the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study. That amount has nearly doubled in real terms since 2003. Emerging economies are the driving forces behind the trend, the report finds, because that is where PC shipments are growing fastest.

Software piracy is escalating in value even though large majorities of PC users around the world believe in intellectual property rights and prefer legal software to pirated software, according to surveys of approximately 15,000 PC users in 32 countries, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs as part of BSA’s report. But a startling finding is that too many people do not realize they are using unlicensed copies. The BSA report is online at

“The software industry is being robbed blind,” said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman. “Nearly US$59 billion worth of products were stolen last year – and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the world’s fastest-growing markets. The irony is people everywhere value intellectual property rights, but in many cases they don’t understand they are getting their software illegally.”

“Software piracy is an urgent problem for the whole economy, not just the software industry, because software is an essential tool of production,” Holleyman said. “Businesses of all sorts rely on software to run their operations. Properly licensed companies are being unfairly undercut when their competitors avoid overhead costs by stealing software tools.”

Key findings of the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study:

 While the number of PCs shipped to emerging economies in 2010 accounted for more than 50% of the world total, paid software licenses in emerging economies accounted for less than 20% of global sales.

 Six years ago, the commercial value of software piracy in emerging economies accounted for less than one-third of the world total. Last year, at US$32 billion, it accounted for more than half.

 The global piracy rate for PC software was 42% in 2010. That is the second-highest global piracy rate BSA has found in the eight years it has been conducting annual studies with leading market research and forecasting firm IDC. In 2009, the global rate was 43%.

 The regional piracy rate rose by 1 point in the Asia-Pacific region and in Latin America – two economic hotbeds of the developing world.

 The most common form of software piracy is buying a single license for a program and installing it on multiple computers: 60% incorrectly think this is legal at home, and 47% think it is legal at work (including 51% in emerging economies).

“The software industry is doing everything it can to promote legal software use,” Holleyman said. “We need governments to step up their efforts on this issue by supporting public education efforts , enacting and enforcing strong intellectual property laws, and leading by example.”

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