Microsoft targeted as software piracy tops $90m

Everyone wants their 'free' Windows...

Everyone wants their 'free' Windows...

Software ranks among the most popular categories of counterfeited goods - and the internet is only contributing to the rise in intellectual property violations.

During the month of June, $91m worth of entertainment media and software was pirated worldwide, up 13 per cent from December 2004, according to research from Canada's Gieschen Consultancy.

That's second only to counterfeit 'financial instruments' - currency, cheques, credit cards, treasury bonds and money orders - which had a total value of $509m in June.

Microsoft earned the dubious honour of the top IT brand to be pirated, and came in second overall to Nike. The rest of the names in the top 10 were retail fashion brands such as Adidas and Prada.

Microsoft has just announced a plan to crackdown on Windows piracy by forbidding users to download updates unless they can prove their copy is legitimate.

The internet is only exacerbating the piracy problem: 13 per cent of counterfeiters use spam, online auctions, retail websites and other internet tools to sell or distribute their wares, Gieschen said.

File-sharing technologies such as BitTorrent also play a "significant" role in the piracy of software, music, films and books, according to the consultancy.

While counterfeit software is on the rise, pirating of computer hardware has declined in the past six months. In December 2004 Gieschen reported $11.4m worth of counterfeit computer equipment and supplies, compared to only two such incidents with no dollar value in June.

The US leads the world in documented intellectual property theft violations with $87m in seizures and losses over the past month, followed by South Korea with a comparatively low $8m. The UK ranks fifth with $3m worth of IP theft.