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Software piracy in Asia Pacific up last year

Melissa Chua | May 13, 2009
Revenue loss from piracy exceeded US$15 billion

SINGAPORE, 13 MAY 2009 The rate of software piracy may be falling in some Asia Pacific countries, but a high piracy rate in certain rapidly growing markets has contributed to an overall rise in the software piracy rate for the region in 2008.

According to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and conducted by research house IDC, the software piracy rate for the region grew to 61 per cent in 2008, a two per cent increase over 2007's figure of 59 per cent. The study estimated software vendors lost US$15.26 billion due to piracy last year, up 8.3 per cent from 2007's estimated loss of US$14.09 billion.

Jeffrey Hardee, vice president, regional director, Asia Pacific, BSA, attributed this rise to the increase in the number of PCs shipped in the region. Victor Lim, vice president, Asia/Pacific consulting operations, IDC Asia Pacific, said IDC's study showed 62 per cent of PCs shipped in 2008 for the region went to China and India.

This increase in the average piracy rate is attributed to the mathematical outcome of more rapid growth of PC markets in economies of higher piracy rates. Even if piracy were to go down in every high-piracy country, their growing market share for PCs could drive the regional average up, said Hardee. We are seeing mixed results in Asia Pacific, with eight economies showing a decline in the PC software piracy rate, no change in seven and an increase in three."

The study showed Hong Kong registered the largest software piracy rate decline, at three per cent, while China, Thailand and Japan each registered a two per cent decline. Singapore and Taiwan registered a one per cent decline.

Indonesia registered the highest increase in software piracy rate for the region at two per cent, while Brunei and Pakistan each registered a one per cent increase.

Software tracked by the study covered all packaged ones running on personal computers. Server or mainframe-based applications were not included.


According to Lim, the effects of the global recession on software piracy were still unclear, as the economic crisis only occurred in late 2008.

"Reduced buying power is only one of many factors affecting software piracy," said Lim, who said the impact of the recession on software piracy would only become apparent when 2009's results are analysed.

The study cited increasing broadband penetration as a contributing factor to software piracy, due to unlicensed software being freely available for download via peer-to-peer networks. IDC projects the Internet will see 460 million new users from the emerging markets in the next five years.

Factors contributing to declining piracy rates include legalisation programmes offered by vendors and enforcement programmes by various governments.

Japan registered the lowest piracy rate for the region, at 21 per cent, while Bangladesh registered the highest piracy rate of 92 per cent.


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