A white paper sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and conducted independently by the International Data Corporation (IDC) has found that by proactively driving the fight against software piracy, government and other public sector authorities stand to gain, both directly through job creation and tax income generation, and indirectly, through government-led IT initiatives.
The white paper, which draws statistics from several IDC reports on software piracy and the IT sector, cites increased GDP; a positive impact on employment; productivity gains and heightened innovation as additional key benefits of reducing software piracy.
“The impact of software piracy is real and negatively affects the entire economy. In South Africa alone, software piracy accounted for more than R3.1 billion in industry losses in 2008. Reducing the current 35% piracy rate by even 10 percentage points would have a “multiplier effect”, increasing economic benefits, generating 1200 additional jobs, R480 million in tax revenues and R6 billion in spending in the local IT sector over the next four years,” says Charl Everton, vice chair of the BSA South Africa committee.
Although not exhaustive, the study includes a proposed roadmap for governments and public sector authorities that can be used to evaluate their anti-piracy policies, in order to identify possible deficiencies and subsequent corrective actions. The five fundamental pillars – namely legislate; enforce; educate; collaborate and lead – are aimed at implementing effective and durable policies to reduce software piracy and improve the protection of intellectual property (IP) in South Africa.
The paper also highlights two examples of successful government initiatives to reduce software piracy, in Russia and Greece. In Greece, a specialist “tax police” unit was created to carry out software license compliance audits as part of overall tax audit procedures. In Russia, efforts were made to improve copyright and IP laws, and public private partnerships between government and industry have proven effective. While the approaches were different in both markets, the outcome was the same – marked reductions in software piracy. Greece currently has a 57% piracy rate [down from 64% in 2005] and Russia’s piracy rate is currently 68% [down from 87% in 2004].
Concludes Everton: “We’re excited about the successes we have seen in Russia and Greece and believe that South Africa can learn from these markets. But it is going to take true collaboration between all key stakeholders, to ensure that current copyright legislation is effectively implemented, as well as ensuring that end users are educated about the dangers of using pirated software.”