UK software piracy losses hit highest level ever

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UK software piracy losses hit highest level ever

Simon Quicke

The cost of software piracy in the UK has risen to its highest level at £1.49bn last year with over a quarter of all products in the market now being illegal.

The annual figure for piracy has been issued by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) using IDC's numbers which show that the overall level of piracy has returned to 27%, the level it was for 2004-2006 after a drop to 26% in 2007.

Alyna Cope, spokesperson for the BSA UK country committee, said that the findings were a prompt for the industry and government to do more to protect intellectual property.

"Much more needs to be done by the industry and the government to warn businesses and consumers of the risks associated with under-licensed software, from a legal, financial and operational point of view," she said.

The piracy rate was also comes against the background of the Digital Britain report, which aims to get the country into a more competitive position with its use of broadband.

Kevin Hoctor, senior policy advisor at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that there needed to be greater copyright protection to protect that vision of a digital Britain.

"In the current economic climate the impact effective enforcement could have on employment and revenue should not be ignored," he added.

John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC, said that the recession would have some negative impact on piracy but as customers chose to buy cheaper netbooks, with preloaded legitimate software, there could also be positive repercussions.

The BSA has called on the government to take four steps to help the software industry:

  • Support a light regulatory approach to software piracy and the development of a code of practice between ISPs and right holders as recommended by Ofcom and the Government
  • Set about the formation of a body with a focus on enforcement and education
  • Improve public education and awareness
  • Lead by example by requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software
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