The Business Software Alliance (BSA) says that South Africans are becoming more proactive in the fight against software piracy, with a 44% increase in whistleblowing in 2013.

The group says that this dramatic rise in reports of suspected software piracy suggests that the public is no longer prepared to stand idly by and watch companies flout copyright laws.

“Reporting the use of unlicensed software is a cultural shift that may tap into the public’s concerns around the universal problem of corruption,” says Darren Olivier, partner at law firm Adams and Adams and legal advisor to the BSA.

“The BSA received 395 leads in South Africa during 2013 which resulted in 32% more companies converting their illegal software into properly compliant products than in 2012.”

The BSA numbers for the last year show that getting away with pirated software is becoming more difficult and more expensive. South African businesses forked out more than R4.7-million ($448 081) in damages and the acquisition of legal software in 2013.

Across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) the use of pirated software cost businesses in excess of R155-million ($14 804 752).

The BSA says legal software is a strategic asset for organisations of all sizes – helping them make products, deliver services, run internal operations and participate in a global marketplace. It creates operating efficiencies that enhance productivity and facilitates communication within companies and between companies and customers. This allows the business to become more agile and to better exploit market opportunities.

“Legally licensed software provides access to upgrades, patches and manufacturer support in the form of technical support and problem resolution. This is of vital importance to reduce exposure to viruses and other security vulnerabilities,” Olivier explains.

“Research undertaken for BSA by INSTEAD, one of the world’s most prominent business schools reveals that properly licensed software in a national market corresponds to substantial positive gains in gross domestic product.”
According to BSA, manufacturing, sales and distribution and the service industry were South Africa’s software piracy top offenders of 2013.