More Than Half The World Pirates Software

More Than Half The World Pirates Software

Business Software Alliance: 57% of Internet users admit to pirating software

While most new stories covering Internet piracy talk in terms of the entertainment industries and major associations like the MPAA and RIAA, software piracy is often part of the discussion and debate as well. While entertainment companies collectively call for extreme legal measures like SOPA and ACTA, software companies also battle piracy outside the legal arena by using extreme anti-pirating measures built into their products (and their accompanying license agreements). Microsoft is probably best example of a company that goes to great lengths to limit pirating of its products.

With digital piracy being a major issue in many countries over the past several months, the Business Software Association added user surveys to its annual piracy study. The results show that, despite measures from software makers, existing anti-piracy laws, and pending legislation, more than half of all Internet users admit to pirating at least one piece of software.

The BSA’s report (PDF Link) included survey data from more than 15,000 people in 33 countries. This is the first year that the trade group, which includes Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe as members, included user responses in the study.

The survey explicitly asked users this question.

How often do you acquire pirated software or software that is not fully licensed?

According to the results 57% of Internet users reported that they use pirated software. A jump from measures in previous studies. Last year’s report showed that only 42% of users pirated software.

The BSA also noted some interesting stats based on the use habits of software pirates.

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. They report installing 55% 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 also notes that business decision makers are somewhat more likely to pirate software than general users and that this trend was particularly strong in emerging markets and developing countries. The BSA acknowledged in the report that emerging markets and developing countries, where users have less means to purchase expensive software, have higher rates of software piracy. The organization declined to investigate or comment on any correlations related to software pricing in either developed countries or in the developing world.

Pirating of desktop software was much more common than mobile apps. The iPad and other tablets were singled out as being particularly adverse to piracy at this time – a fact the report correlates to the small market.

(PDF link)

  • ken147

    In a related story: people breathe air

  • Tallest_Skil

    I wonder if fewer people block ads on websites than do pirate software.

    Because I believe this number is abject nonsense, but I bet the real number of pirates outweighs people blocking ads.
  • shannonbwiggins

    More than half the world pirates? Makes sense, considering only about 30% of people in the world have internet access, oh and this survey was based on ONLY 15000 PEOPLE!

  • Shameer Mulji

    more than half the world makes only a dollar a day.  don’t blame them.

  • Anthony M Perez

    Here’s a question… if the BSA “knows” that more than half the planet pirates… Uhhh… how did it come to that number? What possible metric did they use? Did they run out and made a poll and gathered a bunch of spoon fed downloaders to get this number?


    BSA, MPAA, RIAA – They are all over-hyping-the-same-old-story bunch of greedy pukes that cry ad nauseum about how everyone is a pirate. But does anyone realize how much they are just plain-in-your-face-crooks and liars?

    Hypocrisy… is all over the place…
  • howie_isaacks

    Stealing software is bad, but one thing that the software industry could do to combat piracy would be to lower some of their prices.  Adobe CS is well over $1000, so a lot of people will try to find a way to get around paying for it. I remember when MS Office for the Mac was $400.  Guess what…  It got pirated a lot.  Now that Office has a more reasonable price, anyone that I recommend it to usually goes right out and buys it without complaining about the price.

  • Tallest_Skil

    more than half the world makes only a dollar a day.  don’t blame them.

    Don’t for a second pretend that’s a valid excuse.

  • David_Lazarus

    Wow how inaccurate. It might be true in some parts of the world and for some software but most mac software is pretty affordable.

    I have plenty of software licenses. In fact I bought License Keeper to keep track of them all. If the software is cheap why pirate? It opens up the risk of malware. Then you have various mac bundles of software for $99 or less. I have bought quite a few of these even though I only use a few of the apps. I think that even Microsoft have realised this. I bought the family pack of Office 2008 because it was not excessive. I have no need for Adobe CS or its components so no need to pirate, but I can understand why people do it. 
  • Jairo

    maybe if software didn’t cost hundreds of dollars then maybe we’d buy it.

  • extra_medium

    When companies report how devastating their losses are from piracy, they never mention that a huge number of people who pirate never would have paid for it in the first place. Im sure these voracious users of software the article mentions have only even fired up most of the software in question once or twice anyways. True, it is illegal, but companies shouldnt consider that money out of their pockets since little timmy in his bedroom wasnt going to buy your $3000 3D rendering software anyways and cant even get it working properly. If he didnt stumble across a.copy on bittorrent, he wouldnt even know it existed, much less try to use it.

    Thats not to say i think these companies over charge or deserve to be stolen from. I use a lot of professional level music software these days, pay for it all, and dont think its over priced given the functionality and the fact that i cant get it cheaper from a competitor. Ill gladly shell out the money if it gets the job done that i need to do. I just dont think a part time working college kid messing with a hacked pro tools set up should be looked at as lost revenue for them.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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