A recent global study on software use revealed that many users of personal computers (PCs) are still using illegally acquired software, leading an anti-piracy watchdog to recommend strengthening law enforcement and user education.
A 32-country study by Business Software Alliance (BSA) showed that almost half, or 47 percent, of PC users acquire illegal software "most" or "all of the time." Many of the offenders are from developing economies, but the BSA study also noted that some of these users are ill-informed that their methods to acquire software were illegal.
In developing economies, the percentage of illegal software users is higher. In China, 86 percent of PC users acquire their software illegally most or all of the time. In Nigeria, it is 81 percent; in Vietnam, 76 percent.
Aside from China and Vietnam, four other countries in the Asia Pacific region -- Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea -- had individual piracy rates in the top 10 of all countries surveyed. Nine countries in the AP region were included in the study.
These high rates cost the industry $59 billion in software "heist," according to last year's annual 'Global Software Piracy Study' report.
Some of the most common offences in acquiring illegal software include using a single licence in multiple computers, or downloading programs from peer-to-peer networks, or buying illegally copied disks in street markets.
Some in developing economies view software piracy as common, and think they are unlikely to be caught, the report noted. In such cases, the BSA said education and law enforcement are crucial.
"Many of the world's software pirates may not even realise they are betraying their own principles and breaking the law, which underscores the importance of concerted public education and enforcement campaigns," the report stated.
Said Lyn Boxall, managing director, BSA Asia-Pacific: "BSA is committed to a program that focuses on creating further awareness and greater respect for intellectual property rights (IPR) of both foreign as well as local products. We firmly believe a stronger IPR regime will benefit Asian economies as the IT industry plays an increasingly significant part of the region's growth."
"The evidence is clear: The way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal - and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace," said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO, BSA.
The study was conducted for BSA by Ipso Public Affairs, global market research company. It involved conducting about 15,000 in-person and online surveys of computer users in 32 countries that together represent more than 90 percent of the world's software market.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.