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Are You An Accidental Software Pirate?

No eye patches or parrots required for modern day piracy, just a software package and two computers. The Business Software Alliance says 60% of consumers don’t know they’re guilty of piracy when they install newly minted software on more than one computer. A new report by the BSA says this is the most common form of piracy and also says that 47% of people who install one computer software package in more than one machine at the office also believe it’s legal. It’s not.


However, American consumers have a reason to take a bow. North America has the lowest rate of software piracy in the world. The report says that $59 billion worth of software worldwide was stolen last year, an increase of 14% on 2009. Central and Eastern Europe had the highest rate of piracy – 64% of all software loaded on computers there was stolen or not paid for – while the lowest rate was in North America (21%). The European Union rate was a substantially higher 35%.

To put that global piracy figure in context, the BSA – a software industry group whose members include Adobe Systems, Apple and Microsoft – says businesses and consumers around the world bought $95 billion worth of legal computer software in 2010. But the problem remains, the BSA says, primarily because governments around the world aren’t enforcing intellectual property laws and educating their citizens. It doesn’t mention one other fact: software packages are expensive.

“Theft is theft when it comes to intellectual property,” Matt Reid, vice-president of communications for BSA, tells Pay Dirt, “The software industry can’t speak collectively about prices, but we have watched various software companies lower prices in emerging markets and that hasn’t brought with it a corresponding reduction in piracy rates. When companies see a $59 billion problem, they try everything they can to bring that figure down.”

Think carefully before you answer: have you ever installed software on more than computer?


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.