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More than Half of Computer Users Are Pirates, According to Survey

Andrew Williams


Captain Pugwash
Captain Pugwash

According to the findings of a recent study, more than half of computers users admit to using pirate software. Factor-in the people too ashamed or embarrassed to fess up and you're looking at even higher levels of guilt.

The study was undertaken by The Business Software Alliance. It involved a survey questioning 15,000 computer-using folk from 33 different countries. They were asked "how often do you acquire pirated software or software that is not fully licensed?" and 57 per cent of them responded suggesting they used pirate or "not-fully-licensed" software. This is up 15 per cent from 2011, and the BSA says that younger users pirate more software, and are also the "the most voracious software users."

The BSA reports that piracy costs the software industry $63.4 billion annually, which is more than the GDP of Croatia. As with any study, though, it's important to remember who is running the show. The Business Software Alliance is a lobbyist group for the software industry, with the aim of combating digital piracy, and we're not sure what positive gems the survey may also have unearthed.

On the doom and gloom side, the survey report finds that "frequent pirates in emerging economies install nearly four times as many programs of all sorts per new PC as do frequent pirates in mature markets." The BSA wants new US legislation to bring about greater fines for software pirates, and make jailing pirates easier. Members of the BSA include Intel, Apple, Autodesk and Adobe Systems.


June 1, 2012, 3:13 pm

OK, piracy is a problem, but loses and causes of it are severely misinterpreted. And while, in regions where piracy is considered the norm (eastern Europe, southern Asia) changing people's mind will not be easy and especially not fast, going in with lies and brutal force will just provide people with convenient excuse.

Overpricing poorer customers (US has the lowest prices while having among the highest income per average consumer) is counterproductive to say at least. Forcing people who don't have money to license software they don't need is even worse. If you want to make dent in piracy you have to play smart and appeal to customers, not bludgeon them.

And those losses... 99.999% of illegal software would never be purchased anyway since people would realize that they don't need expensive software for simple tasks they most likely preform. So, those numbers are complete BS.

Finally, as some games have proven horrendous DRM has negative effect in the long run. Ubisoft felt it. And I wonder if Blizzard will suffer similar consequences for it's Diablo III always online but not really connectible disaster (I really soubt that). And, having such a restricting DRM never actually lessened piracy rates. People carck games eventually. They code fake servers for MMO games, what more can I say?

Russell Peto

June 1, 2012, 3:36 pm

Endless hysterical 'studies' like this one just make it easier for normal people to ignore copyright holders complaints.

As soon as bodies such as the BSA, RIAA et al. start entering into reasonable dialogue without making ludicrous claims about the damage being done to their business sectors ($58 billion dollars? Really, MPAA? Really?) this can be sorted.

At the moment the reasonable reaction is to not give an inch to these wildly shouting zealots since, as has been proven time and again, they are willing to see basic democratic freedoms destroyed in the name of nothing more than copyright protection.

You don't open the door to someone brandishing a shotgun and screaming at you, you open it to a polite knock.


June 1, 2012, 4:03 pm

"they are willing to see basic democratic freedoms destroyed in the name of nothing more than copyright protection."

I agree. It is the huge multi-national corporations who are doing what they can to control the market, in the name of copyright protection. However, a convenient by-product of the laws they want passed, is the damage to their competition and small/ individual creators. Did you know to use the everyday song "happy birthday to you" in a film, you have to pay the copyright holder $25,000. Big organisations want a stranglehold on all content.


June 1, 2012, 7:26 pm

Indeed, The Time Warner company 'own' the copyright for the 'Happy Birthday' tune and gross over $2Million each year from it's use! The copyright, legally, should have expired back in 1991 but the powers that be keep on extending the copyright. (Why kill a cash-cow, just change the law and keep exploiting people?).

( http://unhappybirthday.com/ )

This propaganda 'study' is such complete BS. It shouldn't even be reported on, except perhaps in terms of it being ridiculed. $63.4 billion....indeed, that's a good one!


June 2, 2012, 2:27 am

$63.4 billion. A number plucked out of nowhere.

I don't think there's any doubt that piracy is a problem, but as already discussed their bully-boy tactics stem from a lack of competitiveness and innovation. In music especially.

People actually want to buy good music but when labels restrict music country-to-country, how is a costumer supposed to get his hands on the music? Likewise, in order to collect "bonus" tracks and B-sides, one must buy the same album several times over from several sources.

Outdated business models are effecting now destroying fundamental rights with violating legislation such as ACTA. In ethical terms, it's fairly clear which one is the true offender.

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