Irish software piracy rate fell slightly last year


23 May 2006

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Ireland’s rate of software piracy was 37pc last year, down 1pc from 2004 and a decrease of 4pc from two years previously. The piracy level here remains slightly above the EU average of 36pc and the global average of 35pc.

In practice this means that just over one third of the commercial software installed on PCs in this country was illegal, either by being inappropriately licensed or unlicensed outright. The data came from a study released today by the IT research firm IDC on behalf of the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Julian McMenamin, chairman of the BSA in Ireland, welcomed the decrease in software piracy. “What I’m taking as being encouraging is that if you go back four or five years ago, you were looking at [Irish] piracy rates in the forty percentiles and if you compare those across IDC figures they were more in line with developing countries and not western ones that are relying on knowledge and intellectual property to drive their economies,” he told siliconrepublic.com. There was a downside, he added. “The rate is 22pc for North America and that’s really where we need to aim for.”

According to the data released today, piracy rates declined in 51 of the 97 countries covered in this year’s study and increased in only 20. The global rate was unchanged from 2004 to 2005 as large developed markets such as the United States, western Europe, Japan and a handful of Asian countries continue to dominate the software market while their combined piracy rate hardly moved.

Data from BSA Ireland shows that there were many calls into the group’s hotline last year, often resulting from campaigns to highlight the need for software audit management which ran last year. Most leads now come via the organisation’s website, where there can be potential rewards of €10,000 for information that leads to a case being settled. Already this year there have been 14 leads generated from calls and 13 from the web which are currently being investigated.

According to McMenamin, the most common form of software piracy in Ireland is where a company buys a licence to install software on a specific number of PCs but as the company grows this licence is not updated to take account of a greater number of users.

This might be excusable in a small business where there is no dedicated IT function but the same could not be said of companies with a full-time IT professional, he said. “That’s where I draw the line. I don’t believe they can plead ignorance; you don’t have to be in this business that long to understand that if it’s business software, it requires a licence.”

Technology dealers and resellers could also do more to make customers aware of the need to keep their software up to date, McMenamin added. “If you’re an IT products provider, particularly to the SoHo (small office home office) and SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) markets where people don’t have an IT professional, it is to some extent incumbent on the provider to say ‘be aware: as far as we can see your licence doesn’t cover these machines and you should check it out’.”

By Gordon Smith