Most Irish IT users condone illegal software piracy

18 Dec 2002

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A Microsoft/MRBI survey has discovered that while most Irish PC users are aware that it is illegal to copy software, many condone the practice because they believe software is expensive.

Microsoft recently commissioned MRBI to survey 1,000 Irish adults, almost two thirds of whom (615 people) are in full-time employment. The individuals were spread across nine different industry sectors. Everyone surveyed used a PC daily and 89pc of them were aware that it was crime to copy software.

Most respondents recognised that illegal software had few positive benefits, but felt it common practice due to the perceived cost of the original software. Only 24pc of the people surveyed saw software copying/piracy as having a direct link to potential job losses in the IT industry.

Despite a widespread awareness that software needs a licence per user, most people surveyed accepted the prevalence of copying activity. Some 63pc felt that piracy was most common among large companies.

Some 52pc of the survey respondents accepted that the illegal copying of software was widespread in this country. They felt that penalties that exist are seen as cash fines only and across the board no real fear of being caught exists.

Many of the respondents saw it as a software industry issue and were unaware that investigations today, often in conjunction with the Business Software Alliance, involve the gardaí. There have been several high profile raids on Irish businesses in the past three years. The survey’s respondents felt that tackling the problem was the industry’s responsibility, not that of the users themselves.

Microsoft Ireland’s licensing and compliancy manager Donna Gibson found the results and people’s general apathy towards piracy disturbing. She told “People should have respect for intellectual property rights because they impact on society as a whole.”

“We estimate that if privacy was brought down substantially, from today’s rate of 42pc to 20pc, 5,000 additional jobs could be created in the IT industry. Ireland is setting itself up to be a knowledge economy, but this tolerance for software piracy is undermining the stance of the economy going forward. Software piracy also has direct links with organised crime, whereby the revenues from illegal software sales money could go back into drug trafficking and terrorism. It also puts legitimate businesses at risk and reduces potential tax revenues,” Gibson said.

By John Kennedy