UK has sixth lowest pirated software rate

Software Piracy

The UK has the sixth lowest rate of software piracy in the world, with the country's installation level of such products remaining stable.

Despite this ranking, from 2008 to 2009, 27 per cent of all software units installed in the UK were unlicensed, costing the UK 1 billion, according to a report from the British Software Alliance and analyst firm IDC.

The BSA has now called for greater work to go into cracking down on the illegal activity, even in light of the nation's comparatively good position.

A double-edged sword

Michala Wardell, chair of the BSA UK Committee, said the research figures have both positive and negative connotations for the UK.

With the growth of the consumer PC market, an area where higher piracy rates would be expected, it is good news that the level of unlicensed software installation did not rise, Wardell told IT PRO.

"In that respect, it is a real positive that we have kept it stable because with that market growing, they don't have the same mandates that a business has in order to manage their software effectively and legitimately."

However, Wardell noted there are still many that need to be educated on the issue.

"With the way the digital environment is going, this is going to be an even bigger job. More and more people are positively embracing technology, which is fantastic, and using more and more digital downloads. But we need people to be aware of the dangers that are involved and make sure they are sourcing their products from the correct places," he said.

"We are not seeing enough improvement here in the UK," he added.

Not all doom and gloom

Despite calls for industry and the Government to do more, both have been proactive in addressing concerns over pirated software.

The BSA study reported on how vendor legalisation initiatives, education campaigns and enforcement actions have all helped to drive piracy down. Furthermore, Wardell had praise for the Digital Economy Act, which the BSA supports. However, she said that more negotiations still need to be carried out over "technicalities".

"As long as those can be delivered in an appropriate manner, then obviously it is a fantastic thing and just needs to be adopted and embraced in the right way that benefits all parties."

She added that the right support needs to be given to government agencies so that the UK remains a strong "protector of IP".

Research has shown the potential rewards of cracking down on unlicensed software use. A 2008 study from the BSA and IDC suggested that cutting the software piracy rate by 10 percentage points over four years could contribute 4.46 billion to the UK economy and create 13,600 jobs.

A global issue

In terms of an economic impact, the use of unlicensed software appears to have significant consequences for all nations involved. Globally, the commercial value of pirated software was $51.4 billion, according to the research.

What also emerged was a correlation between rapidly growing countries and the use of these unlicensed products. China, Brazil and India - all burgeoning economic forces significantly contributed to the global piracy rate increase.

"Those countries are growing day by day and really booming. However, one or two of them in particular are known to have high piracy rates," Wardell added.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.