Analysis: Mood right to drive down software piracy

Software piracy rates have remained fairly stable over the last couple of years hovering at the 27% mark costing the industry millions in wasted revenue. Getting that figure down has been the aim of various groups and vendors but it has proved to be difficult so far with companies and individuals c

Software piracy rates have remained fairly stable over the last couple of years hovering at the 27% mark costing the industry millions in wasted revenue.

Getting that figure down has been the aim of various groups and vendors but it has proved to be difficult so far with companies and individuals continuing to avoid payment and choosing the riskier illegal route.

But that might be starting to change. There are a couple of reasons for this but before we get into looking at what the industry is doing it is worth commenting about the current social and political climate.

The coalition government has to make cuts and as austerity starts to bite the idea that on one side of the street there are tax payers struggling to keep a job and giving the state what it demands and then on the other are people that perhaps choose not to work and end up becoming an additional burden on the welfare state is no longer acceptable.

The culture is starting to change, with those that have sat in a large family home paid for by the council being given their marching orders into smaller accomodation, and the sense that the days of people taking advantage are coming to an end is in some areas a palpable one.

So it is against that background that whistleblowing of illegal software use is being encouraged and rewarded and the message from those fighting piracy seems to be morphing into one of encouraging people to stop the cheats and the criminals getting away with it.

Add to that the second factor, which is statistics, and what you end up with is a clearer picture of what the impact of piracy is on the economy.

According to figures produced by IDC on behalf of the Business and Software Alliance (BSA) if piracy could be reduced by 10% in the next four years then it would deliver £1.5bn in tax revenues and £5.4bn in new economic activity and create 13,011 new jobs.

Chair of the BSA UK Committee Michala Wardell said that she thought that armed with the figures the power of argument would be with those trying to keep the industry legal.

"I do believe there is a bit of a tide turning," she added that more employers were starting to get the basics right about software.

"Dodgy Dave, who is not playing by the book, is putting the good trader out of business," she added about the impact on the channel.

The figures will help resellers talk of the need to be legal and the impact on the economy and the references to nurses and teachers paid for out of the savings are bound to appear but those will also be accompanied by a degree of despair about the time it takes for words to be translated into action.

"On one hand, it is highly encouraging to see the savings and progress that could be made by a 10 percentage point reduction in PC software piracy. However, we have heard this before and still not enough is being done," said Matt Fisher, director at FrontRange Solutions.

"With such a precarious economy, now is the time for aggressive education from vendors, bodies and government alike on the benefits of stamping out piracy.
 
"A ten percentage point reduction is realistic due to the advances in Software Asset Management, which is making licensing and compliance easier than ever for businesses, but it is now down to all ­organisations to spread the news and drive towards this target," he added. ■

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