Software piracy in South Africa rose 1% percentage point from 2007 to 2008, while half of the 110 countries studied saw piracy rates drop and only 15% increased. Industry losses, due to software piracy, in South Africa rose to R3,1-billion in 2008.
These are among the findings of the sixth annual global PC software piracy study released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), covering 110 countries and conducted independently by IDC.
"This report demonstrates that we have more work to do in South Africa to further reduce software piracy," says Alastair de Wet, South Africa BSA committee chair. "In these uncertain economic times it is vital that companies do not skip corners and use unlicensed software, as this would increase the detrimental impact on those businesses, consumers as well as the local and global economy."
The software piracy rate in South Africa had been dropping consistently for the past four years since 2004 where it peaked at 37%. However, last year it increased to 35% from 34% in 2007.
The BSA runs marketing and public relations campaigns to increase awareness
Software piracy affects much more than just industry revenues, says the BSA. An IDC study released in January 2008 found that reducing software piracy could generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and billions of dollars in economic growth, while increasing tax revenues to support local programs and services.
Reducing the software piracy rate in South Africa by 10 percentage points would have a "multiplier effect" and increase those economic benefits, generating 1 200 additional jobs, R480-million in tax revenues and R6-billion in spending in the local IT sector over the next four years.
Other key findings from the latest study include:
* Among the 110 countries studied, PC software piracy dropped in 57 countries, stayed the same in 36 and increased in only 16. However, because the worldwide PC
market grew fastest in high-piracy countries, the worldwide piracy rate increased by three percentage points to 41% in 2008.
* In the Middle East and Africa region, the highest-piracy countries were Zimbabwe 92%, Yemen 89%, and Lybia 87%. Among the lowest-piracy countries were Israel 32%, South Africa 35%, and the UAE 36%. Russia has made the most progress, with a one-year drop of five points to 68% and a six-year drop of 19 points.
* While emerging economies account for 45% of the global PC hardware market, they account for less than 20% 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. Also, lowering global piracy by just one point a year would add $20-billion in stimulus to the IT industry.
* Spreading Internet access will increase the supply of pirated software. Over the next five years, 460-million people in emerging countries will come online. The growth will be highest among consumers and small businesses, which tend to have higher rates of piracy than businesses and government agencies.
The global economic recession is having a mixed impact on software piracy, the study says.
John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC, notes that consumers with reduced spending power may hold on to computers longer, which would tend to increase piracy because older computers are more likely to have unlicensed software loaded on them.
However, pocketbook pressures are spurring sales of inexpensive 'netbooks', which tend to come with legitimate pre-loaded software, and business use of software asset management (SAM) programs to lower IT costs.
"In any case, the cost of software is only one factor driving software piracy," Gantz says. "The economic crisis will have an impact, part of it negative, part of it positive, but it will be one of many factors and it may not become fully apparent until the 2009 figures come in."