Piracy lost software industry over $50 billion in 2009

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) said in their annual report that 43% of software used on computers worldwide in 2009 was pirated. This is an increase from the 41% recorded in 2008 and high piracy rates in Asia are believed to be the main cause. 

AFP on Tuesday released the $51.4 billion figure for 2009 saying the average piracy rate in the Asia Pacific region was 59% of all software installed costing $16.5 billion. The growth of illegal software was blamed on the expanding PC market in the fast growing economies in Brazil, India and China. 

However 2009 saw an actual 3% drop in losses compared to 2008 as the rate of pirated software fell in 54 economies of the economies studied, remained even in 38 and rose in 19.

In the Asia Pacific region 530 million of the 900 million units of software installed last year were unlicensed. The top piracy rates were found in Bangladesh with Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam following. China and India were also cited as some of the worst culprits.

BSA's vice president and regional director Jeffrey Hardee said although efforts to lower piracy rates are seeing some successes in the region the piracy rates were still too high. "This is unacceptable and there is still much to be done to engage governments, businesses and consumers on the risks and impact of software piracy."

Georgia took the crown for the world's top pirate software user with 95% of all software used in the country deemed illegal. Zimbabwe (92%), Bangladesh (91%), Moldova (91%), Armenia (90%) and Yemen (90%) rounded out the top six offenders. 

In contrast the top five least offending nations were the United States with 20%, Japan (21%), Luxembourg (21%), New Zealand (22%) and finally Australia (25%). 

Hardee said he believed not only were global technology companies suffering from the piracy rates, but small and medium software makers were being affected as well. He continued by saying a 10% reduction in the software piracy rate over four years in the Asia Pacific region would generate an extra $41 billion to the regional economy. An additional 435,000 jobs would be created along with $5.4 billion in taxes and increased revenues to local vendors of $33 billion.

Hardee also said instead of individuals causing the worst piracy losses it was rather companies using pirated software as they may not have adequate software management policies. "Surprisingly, quite a few listed companies are caught using pirated software ... It's quite shocking."

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