At 41pc, almost one in every two software programmes installed in Ireland is an illegal copy, the latest 2003 Global Piracy Study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has found. According to local representatives of the BSA in Ireland, this could seriously undermine Ireland’s reputation as the largest exporter of software in the world.
The study, conducted on behalf of the BSA by IDC, found that 37pc of software in use in the European Union is pirated. The cost to national and international software publishers in the region is valued at over €8bn.
At 41pc, Ireland is above the European average with only nine countries with a lower piracy rate – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. Greece maintained its record as the worst offender with a 63pc piracy rate.
The chairman of the BSA in Ireland, Julian McMenamin, commented: “Unfortunately, this demonstrates that Ireland is failing to capitalise on the benefits that even a 10pc reduction in software piracy could bring by 2006 – including over 2,400 new jobs and in excess of €236m in tax revenues.
“Ireland is the largest exporter of software in the world but with a software piracy rate of 41pc our valuable software industry is being seriously undermined as we fail to recognise the value of software and demonstrate strong intellectual property (IP) protection,” Julian McMenamin warned.
McMenamin’s warning was backed up by the director of IBEC-based ICT Ireland, Brendan Butler, who pointed out: “Ireland’s thriving software industry is being stymied in its development due to the level of illegal use of software at home and abroad. There is no doubt that improved respect for IP would create positive effects on Ireland’s economy and the software sector through increased tax revenues and employment. Ireland needs to reduce its piracy rate dramatically to bring itself below the EU average if it is to remain attractive and competitive to other countries.”
Local software creators and emerging markets face both a huge opportunity and a huge challenge if they’re to break through the piracy barrier to achieve their growth potential as demonstrated by comments from national members of BSA.
Explaining the impact of piracy on software entrepreneurs in UK & Ireland, Agfa Monotype’s John McCallum said: “Many companies do not understand that fonts are valuable intellectual property and therefore, subject to licensing terms. A professional quality typeface takes a typographer 100 hours to design and produce. That designer has to be paid for his/her work.”
The BSA has introduced a five-point action plan aimed at tackling the spiralling software piracy racket in the EU. These centred around: engendering respect for IP early at school and university level; increasing confidence in the industry to continue to invest in R&D; ensuring that all businesses understand the implication of lax security; encourage the development of laws and rules to protect software creation; encourage businesses to appreciate software as a fundamental business asset.
Specifically, the BSA has called on EU governments to hurry in the introduction of an EU Enforcement Directive to beat software counterfeiting as well as spread the implementation of an EU Copyright Directive. To date, less than half of EU member states have implemented the latter directive. The deadline for implementation passed over 18 months ago.
By John Kennedy