Business Software Alliance Paints Half of PC Community as Dummies or Pirates

Take a look at your coworker sitting in the cubicle next to you. Is he a software pirate? Would you classify him as a nincompoop? If neither of those apply, then statistically speaking, it's you that fits into one or both of those categories. Don't go shooting the messenger, we're just paraphrasing the Business Software Alliance's annual Global Software Piracy Study.

According to the BSA's study, the commercial value of PC software piracy jumped up 14 percent around the globe in 2010 to a whopping $59 billion. That's a big figure, and so the BSA wanted to find out what was going through the minds of software pirates as they made off with billions of dollars in unlicensed code. What they found is a little bit shocking, and maybe a bit insulting, depending on your perspective.

Source: Business Software Alliance

Getting back to the questions we posed above, the BSA concludes that nearly half of the world's computer population -- 47 percent -- obtain software through illegal means most of the time or all of them. At the same time, 71 percent of PC users say they support intellectual property rights. So why the discrepancy? Ignorance.

"Many of the world's software pirates may not even realize they are breaking the law and betraying their own principles, which underscores the importance of concerted public-education and enforcement campaigns," the BSA wrote in a blog post.

The BSA's findings come from a somewhat large sample size, too. Whereas some studies draw conclusions based on just dozens or even a few hundred survey respondents, the BSA pinged around 15,000 people in-person and via online surveys.

Most software pirates reside in China, according to the study, which showed the pirate population to be at 42 percent. Based on this plenty of other statistics (PDF), the BSA says "the survey data paint a statistical portrait of today’s archetypal software pirate: He is likely to be an 18- to 34-year-old man who lives in China, works at a company with less than 100 employees, and uses a computer in his job. In his attitudes and behaviors toward intellectual property rights and software, he is a walking contradiction, supporting IP principles and preferring legal software in theory, yet getting most of his software illegally because he doesn’t understand what’s okay and what isn’t. He also appears to be affected by his surroundings. For example, he believes software piracy is commonplace, and he thinks it is unlikely people who steal software will be caught."