May 23, 2005--One in three software programs in use around the world today have been installed without license, according to the second annual survey by The Business Software Alliance and research firm IDC. The survey makes other grim conclusions for software industry leaders, who have been trying hard through public and private associations, to curb the theft of their digital goods.
Predictably, the study found piracy rates highest in developing nations with weak currencies. The worst behaved award goes to Vietnam at 92%, followed by the Ukraine, China, Zimbabwe and Indonesia at 87%. China's piracy in 2004 comprised a $3.3 billion snub to software companies- though the nation actually improved significantly since the mid-90s.
While piracy was lowest per capita in the U.S. at a mere 21%, legal sales would have generated $6.6 billion in revenue for software makers. That's partly due to the relative strength of the dollar versus global currencies, and partly due to the size of the marketplace for software back stateside.
Amish Mehta, the CEO of Corel Software, which makes the programs Draw and WordPerfect with offices in Minnesota and Ottawa, CAN, expects third-world nations won't prioritize a piracy crackdown. Mehta hires legal professionals in Brazil, Eastern Europe, India and China to identify major, illegal users of their software, then entreat them to become legal customers.
Corel also added features like "product activation" to its programs to combat piracy. Product activation, also found in software from leviathan firms Adobe and Microsoft, involves a "key" and a product I.D. number. It allows a customer to install software on an agreed-upon number of computers only, and therefore limits casual copying of that software.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has begun looking into problems associated with the spread of technology around the world. Twenty percent of the agency's proposed 2006 budget to the goal would be allocated to "foster[ing] science and technological leadership," with the aid of departments like the Patent and Trade Office, and the Technology Administration.