COMPUTING

Software Piracy in South Africa Shows Slight Increase

Software piracy on personal computers (PCs) in SA rose marginally from 34% to 35% between 2007 and last year, resulting in a R3,1bn loss for the industry, an annual global PC software piracy study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) yesterday shows.

The study, which was conducted by IT market research firm International Data Corporation , covered 110 countries. BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman said last week that software piracy affected almost everyone.

"For every dollar of software that is sold, another three to four dollars is paid to local IT service firms, the people who install and service your computers at work. Software piracy means fewer jobs in the IT industry and that is terrible news in the current economy."

The rate for software piracy in SA had been reducing slightly since 2004, when it peaked at 37%.

Marcel Warmerdam, the Industrial Development Corporation's associate vice-president of IT markets, said one of the reasons for the increase in software piracy was the growth of the PC market. Close to 2-million PCs were sold in South Africa last year.

"If the PC market is growing, there is a platform for pirated software. There is a continued penetration of PCs in households," he said. In the Middle East and Africa region, the countries with the most piracy were Zimbabwe at 92%, Yemen at 89%, and Libya at 87%. SA had one of the lowest levels of piracy, close to Israel at 32% and the United Arab Emirates at 36%.

"This report demonstrates that we have more work to do in SA to further reduce software piracy. In these uncertain economic times it is vital that companies do not cut corners and use unlicensed software, as this would increase the detrimental impact on businesses and consumers, as well as the local and global economy," said BSA South African committee chairman Alastair de Wet.

The study found that individuals were more active than businesses in replacing software on older computers, often replacing pirated software with new pirated software. "In general, the piracy rate is higher for software shipped to older computers," it said.

The study found that piracy levels dropped or were flat in central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, North America, Latin America, and Western Europe. It went up in the Asia-Pacific region because of the emerging market growth.

"In Asia, for instance, shipments of PCs to China and India outpaced shipments to Japan and Australia by 29 million units, and the installed base grew 25% , compared to 6% for Japan and Australia."

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