Australia falls behind in software piracy fight

Australia has experienced a small increase in the use of pirated software in 2004, keeping the overall piracy rate well above comparable nations, according to a survey published by the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA).The BSAA -- affiliated with global body the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and backed by software companies such as Microsoft, Symantec and Apple -- said 32 percent of software used in Australia in 2004 was pirated, up from 31 percent the previous year.

Australia has experienced a small increase in the use of pirated software in 2004, keeping the overall piracy rate well above comparable nations, according to a survey published by the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA).

The BSAA -- affiliated with global body the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and backed by software companies such as Microsoft, Symantec and Apple -- said 32 percent of software used in Australia in 2004 was pirated, up from 31 percent the previous year. The survey -- conducted by International Data Corp -- found piracy slid by one percentage point in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Jim Macnamara, chairman of the BSAA, said software piracy cost industry AU$545 million.

"While nearly a third of all software used in this country is pirated it will continue to stifle the development of our local IT industry... Software piracy costs local developers as well as international manufacturers, reduces tax revenue and costs jobs," said Macnamara.

According to the study, during 2004, software piracy rates in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom dropped to 21 percent, 23 percent and 27 percent respectively.

"It is significant that Australia's software piracy rate continues to be substantially higher than other developed countries," said Macnamara.

However, the report's findings have been questioned by Foad Fadaghi, research director of the ICT Practice at Frost & Sullivan Australia. Fadaghi said the survey assumed that any software that has been pirated would otherwise have been bought legitimately, which is incorrect.

"You can not assume that all those that pirate software have the means to purchase the software," said Fadaghi.

Additionally, Fadaghi said that software vendors were not sensitive enough to the local currency when setting prices.

"In the Australian market, I believe software piracy is driven by price sensitivity. A lot of software vendors are converting [prices] from US dollars and the perception in this market is that they are gouging too much into the wallet," said Fadaghi, who was quick to point out that price is not a justification for using illegal software. "That is not a justification for piracy but it certainly is a driver."