For more than two decades, The Software Alliance (BSA) has supported major software companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, and Symantec in their battle against piracy.
The industry group is involved in legal action and lobbying efforts, but it also keeps an eye on the latest developments in the use of pirated software.
This week BSA published the latest edition of its “Global Software Survey” which reveals the various piracy rates around the world. According to the report there’s good news since software piracy is decreasing.
The survey, which only looks at PC software, shows that piracy rates worldwide dropped to 37 percent in 2017, down from 39 percent two years earlier. The commercial value of the pirated software dropped by 8 percent, to $46.3 billion globally.
While this is a positive sign for the industry, BSA tempers the optimism by pointing out that piracy remains widespread.
“Despite a global two-point drop in unlicensed software installation rates during the last two years, unlicensed software is still being used around the globe at alarming rates, accounting for 37 percent of software installed on personal computers.
“Although the overall commercial value of unlicensed software has also been declining, the majority of all countries in the survey still have unlicensed rates of 50 percent or higher,” BSA notes.
The organization has a point. Looking at the various piracy rates we see enormous differences from country to country.
In the US, for example, ‘only’ 16 percent of software is used without permission, but in other parts of the world, rates are well over 80 percent. In countries where the average consumer has little money to spend, piracy rates are often very high.
This includes many African countries, such as Libya, where 90 percent of all software is used without permission. The same is true for Eastern Europe and Asia, where Armenia, Belarus, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and others have piracy rates above 80 percent.
According to BSA, these high piracy rates hinder economic growth. At the same time, they could also subject people to malware risks, as more pirated software is correlated with more malware, the group warns.
“These high rates don’t just delay the local economic benefits that are associated with thriving technology use, they impede growth in a company’s bottom line and induce unprecedented security risks,” BSA notes.
Interestingly, not everyone sees piracy as something inherently bad.
Previously, BSA’s own numbers were used by the African Governance and Development Institute to show that piracy increases literacy and the spread of knowledge.
Similarly, in 2007 Traian Băsescu, Romania’s President at the time, said that piracy actually helped locals to develop computer skills.
“Piracy helped the young generation discover computers. It helped Romanians improve their creative capacity in the IT industry, which has become famous around the world,” he told Bill Gates.
BSA clearly sees things differently. To reduce piracy even further the organization hammers on the security risks, while encouraging governments to modernize laws, facilitate enforcement, and increase public awareness.
A copy of The Software Alliance’s latest Global Software Survey is available here (pdf).