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Arrest half the world: More than 50% of computer users pirate software, study finds

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:26PM EST

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More than half of computer users admit that they pirate software according to the findings of a recent study. The Business Software Alliance, a software industry lobbyist group dedicated to combating digital piracy, released its ninth annual Global Software Piracy Study earlier this month. For the first time, the new edition of the trade group’s report includes the results of a survey involving 15,000 computer users from 33 countries around the world where respondents were directly asked, “How often do you acquire pirated software or software that is not fully licensed?”

According to the results of the survey, 57% of global PC users pirate software, up from 42% in 2011. The BSA says that this rampant digital piracy now costs the software industry $63.4 billion annually. Piracy rates are highest in emerging markets according to the study, and young make computer users pirate the most software.

“This year’s survey finds that frequent pirates — people who admit they acquire unlicensed software all of the time, most of the time, or occasionally — also are the most voracious software users,” the BSA wrote in its report. “They report installing 55 percent more programs of all types on their computers than do non-pirates. This gives them an outsized impact on the global piracy rate.”

The report continued, “Even more striking is the difference in behavior between users in emerging economies and users in the developed world. Frequent pirates in emerging economies install nearly four times as many programs of all sorts per new PC as do frequent pirates in mature markets. Among infrequent pirates — those who say they rarely acquire unlicensed software — there is a greater than two-to-one gap in the total number of programs they install.”

Despite acknowledging that instances of digital piracy increase dramatically in emerging markets, the BSA does not explore the correlation between the cost of software and digital piracy rates.

The Business Software Alliance, a group with members that include Apple, Microsoft and Adobe, is calling for new legislation that would double the fines levied on digital pirates. It also supports new laws that would make it easier to impose jail time on people found guilty of software theft, as well as those found to have pirated copyrighted material.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.


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