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Despite a seemingly simplistic assessments of piracy, the BSA's latest research into world-wide piracy rates shows that the Global Financial Crisis wasn't the expected opening of floodgates.

According to the Business Software Alliance's 2009 Annual report the rate of world-wide software piracy grew from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009.  This means, according to the BSA, that "for every $100 worth of legitimate software sold in 2009, an additional $75 worth of unlicensed software also made its way into the market."

The study points out that world-wide estimates of piracy rates are based mostly on inferences and the 'gut feeling' of the BSA's research organisation IDC; as they suggest:

For the study, IDC used proprietary statistics for software and hardware shipments gathered through surveys of vendors, users and the channel, and enlisted IDC analysts in 60+ countries to review local market conditions. With ongoing coverage of hardware and software markets in 100+ countries, and with sixty percent of its analyst force outside the United States, IDC has a deep and broad information base from which to assess the market and estimate the rate of PC software piracy around the world.

As well as overt piracy via "hole-in-the-wall" stores all over the world (both package sales and pre-loaded software), the survey counts less easily quantifiable instances such as volume licence miscounts.

As would reasonably expected, the US tops the list of the greatest dollar value of pirated software and also the lowest piracy rate; which makes sense as the US is easily the largest software market in the world.

Australia has the fifth lowest piracy rate (at 25%) and the 19th highest piracy value (at $US550M).

Readers' attention is drawn to page 11 of the full report where the influence of free and open source software (FOSS) is factored into the overall software market.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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