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SA climbs software piracy ranks

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More than half the global value of PC software theft, totalling $21.9 billion, stems from emerging economies, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The BSA reports in its annual Global Software Piracy Study that the commercial value of PC software theft leapt 14% worldwide in 2010, to reach $59 billion.

BSA ranks SA as the 25th highest country in the world for purchasing pirated software. The firm rates the commercial value of total pirated PC software in SA to be worth $513 million.

Mark Reynolds, Microsoft SA head of SMB and partner business, says: “According to legislation, for every pirated copy of software found in a business, that business is liable to a minimum fine of R5 000 per copy.”

He believes more needs to be done from a legislation point of view to criminalise end-user piracy. “The Copyright Act, in its present state, doesn't criminalise end-user piracy, but does criminalise selling it. The vast majority of countries criminalise end-user piracy.”

Dale Waterman, Microsoft's corporate attorney for anti-piracy for Middle East and Africa, explains that every month, worldwide, Microsoft conducts over a million crackdowns on retailers selling pirated software and companies using pirated software.

Waterman says Microsoft is working with the BSA, the Hawks and international security bodies, such as Interpol, to track down piracy syndicates. He points out the biggest problem is that criminals base their servers in other countries that have lenient laws when it comes to cyber crime, which makes it difficult to track and sentence them.

He explains how criminals build genuine-looking Web sites to sell fake Microsoft software, and even construct printers to manufacture forged Microsoft certification holographs, in order to make the product look authentic.

Latest research by BSA reveals that while the volume of software piracy remains largely unchanged compared to last year, the cost of piracy has almost doubled. BSA states that more than four out of 10 software programs installed on personal computers around the world last year were pirated.

In addition, reducing the piracy rate by 10 percentage points for PC software in four years would create $142 billion in economic activity, and will add 500 000 new IT jobs.

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