Software piracy still rising

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An anti-piracy lobby group, the Business Software Alliance, has released survey results claiming software piracy in Australia is on the rise.

An anti-piracy lobby group, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), has released survey results claiming software piracy in Australia is on the rise.

Jeff Hardee, regional director of BSA Asia, said piracy of packaged software in Australia had grown to US$409 million in 2004, up from US$341 million in 2003.

"Vietnam had the highest [in the region] with 92 percent piracy. New Zealand had the lowest, 23 percent. Australia was third from the bottom, with 32 percent," Hardee said.

Last year's results suggested Australia had 31 percent piracy, compared with a global rate of 35 percent, down one percent from 2003. The piracy rate for the entire Asia-Pacific was 53 percent.

Australia's piracy statistics showed no sign of falling, Hardee added.

Previous years' statistics weren't comparable because the BSA survey used different methodology before 2003, Hardee said.

BSA commissioned market researcher IDC to do the global survey, comprising 12,000 interviews in 39 countries. Analyst Martin Kralik said IDC had made estimates based on its proprietary data and databases.

It was hard to say whether piracy would keep increasing or start to fall in the near future, he said.

"It's a fairly complex picture," Kralik said. "A number of different factors might influence the overall rate and push it in different directions."

For example, small businesses and consumers were buying more software, and there were more consumer-specific applications. Piracy appeared to be going up in consumer segments, across various countries, and going down in businesses, he said.

It is the second time IDC has studied global piracy using the same methodology to look at the PC packaged software market.  BSA studies before 2003 also only covered business software, excluding operating systems.

IDC took its statistics for software and hardware shipments to estimate the overall size of the market, then subtracted sales by revenue. From those figures, it calculated the losses, Kralik said.

BSA is a global lobby group mainly comprising software giants, including Microsoft and Symantec. Its Australian division is called the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA).

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