Software piracy drops in the UK

The amount of pirated software on PCs in the UK has dropped for the first time in three years, according to an annual IDC survey.

However, the drop was by only one per cent, with 26 per cent of software on PCs now illegal or unlicensed. According to the research conducted for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), losses as a result of software piracy now hit 925 million.

The BSA said that the fall was due to investment by the BSA in education and enforcement. A regional programme was launched which targeted Glasgow due to its specific piracy issues, and would focus on Manchester in the coming weeks.

"It's encouraging that we're making progress in the battle against software piracy, however there's a huge amount yet to be done," said Julie Strawson, chair of the BSA UK Member Committee.

"The fact remains that an unacceptable level of UK organisations still flout software licensing regulations. By using software illegally, businesses are undermining the software industry - a massive revenue generator for the UK."

"[They are] are also putting themselves at risk of losing data and incurring both financial penalties and serious damage to reputation."

The BSA said that the UK government needed to create a stronger deterrent by strengthening IP damages law. It also called for improvements in public education and awareness that the government should lead by example by requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software.

"The impact of pirated software on business throughout all regions of the UK cannot be understated," said Mohammad Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Central who worked with the Glasgow BSA campaign.

"As well as leaving companies vulnerable to security attacks and a poor reputation as a result of breaking the law, illegal goods drain revenues from companies that would otherwise invest in research, development and jobs," he added.

The pattern followed worldwide, with PC software piracy falling in 67 of the 108 countries looked at. However, because the worldwide PC market was growing fastest in countries with high piracy levels, the actual worldwide piracy rate increased by three per cent, to 38 per cent.

"This study shows that government and industry anti-piracy efforts are delivering software piracy reductions in many countries," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC.

"However rapid PC growth in higher-piracy emerging markets translates as an overall increase in global piracy."