Half of Global PC users acquire illegal software

Nearly half the world’s personal computer users — 47% — acquire software through illegal means most or all of the time, and in developing economies the figures are much higher, according to the most extensive survey ever undertaken on PC users’ behaviors and attitudes toward software piracy and intellectual property rights.

Half of Global PC users acquire illegal software (image source: file photo)

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) released detailed findings on 7 September 2011 from the study on its official blog, BSA TechPost. Ipsos Public Affairs conducted the research for BSA by surveying approximately 15,000 PC users in 32 countries. This included 400 to 500 in-person or online interviews per country.

The study finds that large majorities of computer users in the developing world regularly acquire software through illegal means — such as buying a single license for a program and then installing it on multiple machines, or downloading programs from peer-to-peer networks — even though they express support for intellectual property principles.

China had a higher percentage of these regular software pirates among its PC-using population than any other country surveyed, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Ukraine, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Mexico.

The study finds that significant majorities of software pirates in developing markets incorrectly believe that typically illegal means of acquiring software are, in fact, legal. At the same time, they believe software piracy is common, and they think it is unlikely that software pirates will be caught.

Critically, business decision-makers around the world exhibit behaviors and opions that are similar to those of other computer users.

“It took hundreds of millions of thieves to steal $59 billion worth of software last year. Now we have a better understanding of what they were thinking,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman.

“The evidence is clear: The way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal — and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterent signals to the marketplace.”

Pirate Populations by Country

Country Always Illegal Mostly Illegal All Regular Pirates*
China 42% 44% 86%
Nigeria 36% 46% 81%
Vietnam 22% 54% 76%
Ukraine 16% 53% 69%
Malaysia 22% 46% 68%
Thailand 15% 50% 65%
Indonesia 14% 50% 65%
Saudi Arabia 23% 39% 62%
South Korea 15% 45% 60%
Mexico 19% 41% 60%
Brazil 14% 41% 55%
Colombia 12% 43% 54%
Chile 13% 40% 53%
Russia 9% 43% 52%
Spain 13% 37% 50%
Poland 15% 33% 48%
Czech Republic 10% 37% 47%
Turkey 13% 29% 43%
Argentina 10% 29% 39%
Italy 11% 25% 37%
Australia 11% 26% 37%
USA 8% 26% 34%
Switzerland 5% 26% 31%
Netherlands 5% 25% 30%
United Kingdom 7% 23% 30%
Japan 9% 20% 29%
Sweden 5% 24% 29%
India 9% 19% 28%
Canada 7% 20% 27%
France 5% 21% 26%
Germany 6% 15% 21%
South Africa 5% 16% 20%

Staff Writer


  1. Really bad news! Why do so many people not want to pay for shareware? I think the cost will not be too much for them… I always try to find discounts when I need to buy software, there are so many coupon sites across the internet you can try. Paying for software to enjoy the full features is always a good choice.

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