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.