Software Piracy Said Down in China, Russia

Makers of computer software report that piracy rates, while still high, declined slightly in both China and Russia last year, but that global losses from the use of illegal computer software rose to $34 billion.

The Business Software Alliance said in a new report that 35 percent of the packaged software installed on personal computers worldwide in 2005 was illegal, the same percentage of pirated software found in 2004.

However, the group said losses from that illegal software rose to $34 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion from 2004, reflecting an expanding level of sales around the world. The new report was being released Tuesday but a copy was obtained early by The Associated Press.

The four countries with the biggest percentage declines in piracy were China, where 86 percent of all software sold is pirated, down 4 percentage points from the 90 percent of 2004; Russia, down 4 percentage points to a piracy rate of 83 percent; Ukraine, down 6 percentage points to a piracy rate of 85 percent, and Morocco, down 4 percentage points to a piracy rate of 68 percent.

By contrast, the United States had the lowest piracy rate in the world last year at 21 percent. However, that amounted to $6.9 billion in losses to software manufacturers, the highest of any country because the U.S. market for computer software is so large.

The lost sales in China totaled $3.9 billion, putting it in second place in dollar losses followed by France with losses put at $3.2 billion and a 47 percent piracy rate.

The data in the group's third annual report was assembled by IDC, a leading global market research firm for the information technology industry.

The report found that piracy rates fell in 51 of the 97 countries surveyed while increasing in 19.

The fact that the global rate for piracy was unchanged at 35 percent was attributed to the dominance in software sales in the United States, Western Europe and Japan, countries where piracy rates remained virtually the same.

"The progress made in reducing PC software piracy in several emerging market countries provides some encouragement, however much more needs to be done," said Robert Holleyman, president of the Business Software Alliance.

Holleyman said the fact that one out of every three copies of PC software were obtained illegally last year represented a huge drain on the industry.

The industry has been making a major push to get the Bush administration to take a harder line with regard to China because of its fast-growing economy and high rates of pirated software.

In advance of President Hu Jintao's visit to the White House last month, China announced that it would start requiring that all personal computers be sold in China with the operating software already loaded.

Holleyman credited part of the decline in the piracy rate in China last year to an effort by the Chinese government and multinational companies operating in China to use more legal software.

The study found that the piracy rate dropped by 2 percentage points in India and that the piracy rate declined in 15 of 18 countries surveyed in Central and Eastern Europe.

The countries with the highest piracy rates, according to the study, were Vietnam, 90 percent; Zimbabwe, 90 percent, Indonesia, 87 percent, and China and Pakistan, both at 86 percent.

The countries with the lowest piracy rates were the United States, 21 percent; New Zealand, 23 percent; Austria, 26 percent, and Finland, 26 percent.


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