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BSA report finds over a quarter of computer users in UK admit they pirate software

BSA calls for stronger damages law as value of PC software theft in the UK totals £1.2 billion in 2011


London, May 15, 2012 —


More than a quarter of computer users (27 percent) in the UK admit they have acquired pirated software, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) reported today in the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study. The net effect was to fuel a software piracy rate of 26 percent last year in the UK, meaning more than one in four programmes that users installed were unlicensed. The commercial value of this piracy was £1.2 billion.

The study also highlights that more than three quarters (77%) of UK PC users surveyed do not think the risk of getting caught is an effective deterrent to software piracy.
Professed software pirates in the UK are also disproportionately young (28 percent are under 34 years old) and male (79 percent).

Across Europe, business decision makers confess to pirating software more frequently than other users — and are more than twice as likely as others to say they buy software for one computer and then install it on additional machines in their offices.

“As the UK enters a double-dip recession, it has never been more important to protect the creative industry’s intellectual property (IP) and its vital contribution to the economy. However, to do so we need to fundamentally change the way we view and acquire software. It is not another utility. It powers everything we do to secure business success. Software should be the very thing businesses invest in, not scrimp and steal. Anyone who uses software they haven’t paid for should face hefty consequences,” says Julian Swan, Director, Compliance Marketing, BSA EMEA.

Given the persistence of IP right infringement in the UK, the BSA is calling for a stronger damages law, including double damages, to clamp down on illegal software use. This would provide a greater deterrent than the existing law, under which damages equivalent to the cost of the software license are permissible.

“Software piracy persists as a drain on the global economy, IT innovation and job creation,” said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman. “Governments must take steps to modernise their IP laws and expand enforcement efforts to ensure that those who pirate software face real consequences.”

Globally, the study finds that piracy rates in emerging markets tower over those in mature markets — 68 percent to 24 percent, on average — and emerging markets account for an overwhelming majority of the global increase in the commercial value of software theft. This helps explain the market dynamics behind the global software piracy rate, which hovered at 42 percent in 2011 while a steadily expanding marketplace in the developing world drove the commercial value of software theft to a new record of £39.6 billion from £36.6 billion in 2010.

Other findings from this year’s BSA Global Software Piracy Study include:

  • Globally, the most frequent software pirates are disproportionately young and male — and they are more than twice as likely to live in an emerging economy as they are to live in a mature one (38 to 15 percent).
  • Well over half of the world’s personal computer users — 57 percent — admit they pirate software. That includes 31 percent who say they do it “all of the time,” “most of the time,” or “occasionally”.
  • Globally, there is strong support for IP rights and protections in principle, but a troubling lack of incentive for pirates to change their behavior in practice. Just 20 percent of frequent pirates in mature markets — and 15 percent in emerging markets — say the risk of getting caught is a reason not to pirate software.
  • By its sheer scale, China has the most troubling piracy problem. Its illegal software market was worth nearly £5.5 billion in 2011 versus a legal market of less than £1.7B, making its piracy rate 77 percent.

This is the ninth annual study of global software piracy conducted by BSA in partnership with IDC and Ipsos Public Affairs, two of the world’s leading independent research firms. The study methodology involves collecting 182 discrete data inputs and assessing PC and software trends in 116 markets. This year’s study also included a survey of 15,000 computer users in 33 countries that together constitute 82 percent of the global PC market.

A full copy of the 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study, including UK-specific data, is available for download on BSA’s website:

About BSA


The Business Software Alliance ( ) is the leading global advocate for the software industry. It is an association of nearly 100 world-class companies that invest billions of dollars annually to create software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. Through international government relations, intellectual property enforcement and educational activities, BSA expands the horizons of the digital world and builds trust and confidence in the new technologies driving it forward.

Notes to editors
Original financial calculations were done by IDC in $US. These have been converted into £UK using the historical average exchange rate for the full calendar year using the online currency exchange tool, Oanda.

Double damages: twice the amount that a court would find the injured party entitled to - compensation in excess of actual damages.

Media Contacts

James Ellerington/Tom Armstrong
020 7592 1200

About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance ( is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
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