Supposedly, the software industry lost $50 billion to international "piracy" last year, $9 billion in the U.S. That's according to the Business Software Alliance's latest study.
And although piracy in the U.S. is the lowest in the world, BSA bemoans: "A fifth of PC software in the U.S. is pirated, posing challenges to cyber security." Don't forget to bring out security!
Software piracy also increases the risk of cyber crime and security problems. For example, the recent global spread of the Conficker virus has been attributed in part to the lack of automatic security updates for unlicensed software. And in a 2006 study, IDC found that 29 percent of Web sites and 61 percent of peer-to-peer sites offering pirated software tried to infect test computers with “Trojans,” spyware, keyloggers, and other tools of identity theft.
Eventually, this will all be solved when President Obama appoints the IP czar, BSA prez Robert Holleyman told the Wall Street Journal.
"That recognizes, as leaders on [Capitol] Hill did, that intellectual property really matters to the U.S. economy," Holleyman said. "Getting that person on board is critical."
Ars Technica points out that these numbers assume that every pirated copy would be replaced by a full-value copy if only piracy were stamped out. Even the BSA admits this, but they don't agree that the replacement value would be more like 20%, not 90%.
"I concede that, in this model, we express the value of pirated software in terms of retail value of what's being displaced. We assume 100 percent of the software would be replaced and we calculate the retail value of that," BSA VP of communications Dale Curtis told Ars over the phone. "I don't know how much will be replaced or not. A lot of it will be replaced."