GLOBALLY, SOFTWARE PIRACY HAS BECOME A MAJOR PROBLEM. SOFTWARE PIRACY WAS VALUED AT A RECORD US$63.4 BILLION LAST YEAR, UP FROM US$58.8 BILLION IN 2010 BY BUSINESS SOFTWARE ALLIANCE (BSA). ACCORDING TO BSA, THIS INCREASE IS ATTRIBUTED TO AN INCREASE IN PC SHIPMENTS TO DEVELOPING ECONOMIES WHERE SOFTWARE PIRACY RATES ARE AT THEIR HIGHEST.
One such developing economy is China where the problem is the most notable. Last year, a study conducted by BSA in conjunction with the International Data Corporation (IDC) and Ipsos Public Affairs, found that the software piracy market in China was valued at US$9 billion, three times more than legal software sales.
“Software piracy is a major issue, not just to the software market due to violations to intellectual property, but it can also be detrimental to users,” commented Kareem Tawansi, CEO of software development provider, Solentive Software.
“Pirated software copies often contain malware and spyware. For unsuspecting users who have pirated copies installed on their PC, they may be unaware that their personal information may be siphoned off to cyber criminals,” explained Tawansi.
Pirated software is widely available in IT malls in China. Pirated copies of Windows OS for example, are even installed on new PC’s to unsuspecting buyers, further exacerbating the problem. In an effort to curb piracy and protect consumers, Microsoft have decided to distribute the new Windows 8 OS through downloads on websites owned by Microsoft or through pre-installations on devices. This means that legal physical copies of Windows 8 OS will not be available in China.
“By taking on this distribution model, I believe that this will make it easier for consumers to know when they are purchasing a legal or illegal version of the OS. This will ultimately protect consumers’ PC’s from being infected by malware and spyware,” remarked Tawansi.
“Will this stop Windows 8 from being pirated in China? Probably not; it will only delay it at best. The important thing though is that consumers have a clear choice when it comes to whether they want to purchase a legal version that is safe or an illegal version that could cause them problems down the track,” offered Tawansi.
In Australia, software piracy was valued at US$739 million in 2011 by BSA. The study found that 23 per cent of new software installed on Australian computers was pirated. However, the trend in Australia has seen a decrease in software piracy over the last eight years.
“It is illegal to use pirated software in Australia. As a business owner, I would not condone the risk of using such software. On a bigger scale, software piracy negatively impacts the economy, software innovation and ultimately, the creation of new jobs,” concluded Tawansi.