Washington, DC - A fifth of PC software in the United States is pirated and the worldwide cost of piracy topped $50bn for the first time, says the annual report from IDC and the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Despite US piracy running at just 20%, market size means megabuck losses - over $9 billion in 2008.
The worldwide PC software piracy rate rose for the second year in a row, from 38 percent to 41 percent, because PC shipments grew fastest in high-piracy countries such as China and India, overwhelming progress elsewhere.
While emerging economies account for 45 percent of the global PC hardware market, they account for less than 20 percent of the PC software market. If the emerging economies' PC software share were the same as it is for PC hardware, the software market would grow by $40 billion a year. Lowering global piracy by just one point a year would add $20 billion in stimulus to the IT industry, says the report.
The monetary value of unlicensed software broke the $50 billion level for the first time. Worldwide losses grew by 11 percent to $53.0 billion in non-adjusted dollars, although half of that growth was the result of the falling U.S. dollar. Excluding the effect of exchange rates, losses grew by 5 percent to $50.2 billion. This compares to a legitimate PC software market of $88 billion in 2008, and a personal computer market of $244 billion.
"We are continuing to make progress against PC software piracy in many countries, which helps people working in the U.S.-led global software industry. That's the good news," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman.
"The bad news is that PC software piracy remains so prevalent in the United States and all over the world," he added. "It undermines local IT service firms, gives illegal software users an unfair advantage in business, and spreads security risks. We should not and cannot tolerate a $9 billion hit on the software industry at a time of economic stress."
The lowest-piracy countries are the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and Luxembourg, all near 20 percent. The highest-piracy countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, and Zimbabwe, all over 90 percent.
The highest-piracy regions are Central/Eastern Europe (67 percent) and Latin America (65 percent). The lowest regions are North America (21 percent) and the European Union (35 percent).