Thirty-five percent of all software installed on the world’s personal computers is pirated, according to a global study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC (a sister company of CIO’s publisher). The biggest offender is Vietnam, where IDC estimates that 92 percent of the software installed on PCs hasn’t been paid for. The United States ranks lowest in the study, with a 21 percent piracy rate.
According to the study, the rates are highest in countries with developing economies, where the population of computer users is growing. Jenny Blank, director of enforcement for BSA, says these consumers may not be aware of intellectual property laws, or “maybe they don’t understand the impact of what they’re doing. They think it’s a victimless crime.”
Educating consumers about copyright laws and tougher law enforcement helps reduce piracy, the study says. Many developing countries have “less mature” intellectual property laws than the United States and Europe, says Blank, so it’s more difficult for software vendors to enforce their copyrights.
Overall, the study concludes, piracy cost software companies $33 billion in lost revenue in 2004.