Software piracy is cheaper

By Siyabonga Africa, ITWeb junior journalist
Johannesburg, 29 Jul 2009

More than 200 people have taken part in a survey to analyse the psychology behind software piracy. The study, which is being run by ITWeb and University of the Witwatersrand psychology student Julie Robinson, is into the third week of its run, and promises to lift the lid on the software piracy conundrum.

“What most people are saying is that software is too expensive for them to afford, which is why they pirate,” says Robinson. “Yet, would you steal a new Volkswagen Golf 6 just because it is too expensive to buy?”

The psychology masters student hopes to get more participants to partake in her survey in order to get a comprehensive picture of software piracy in SA.

Robinson's research paper: 'Triandis Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour in understanding software piracy behaviour in the South African context', will look at the objective factors within society that either help or prevent individuals from pirating software.

“As the software industry has expanded over the years, so has the criminal activity of software piracy,” says Robinson.

According to the Business Software Alliance's fifth annual piracy survey, pirating rates in SA and Zambia were 34% and 82% respectively. Yet, Robinson also points out that recent research conducted in SA and Zambia has indicated that the intentions to make unauthorised copies of software are actually higher here compared to Zambia.

“Therefore, if Zambia's software piracy rate is higher than SA's, but SA's piracy intentions are higher than Zambia's, what then are the objective factors present in the external environment that make an act easy to do or hard to do, even when there is a strong intention?”

Robinson says she will conduct a number of online surveys, in conjunction with ITWeb and other stakeholders, to gain a better understanding of the psychological phenomena explaining software piracy. She hopes to determine what conditions would deter people from pirating software, and find out what allows a person to pirate software.

Related story:
Survey examines piracy psychology