Report: China's software piracy rate falls to new low -- of 77%

The report on piracy is published one day before a Chinese court hands out the severest penalty ever for an intellectual property crime in the territory.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

The proportion of China’s personal computers with pirated software installed fell to 77 percent in 2011, a new record low and a decrease of 15 percentage points since 2003, according to 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) on Tuesday.

The result represents a steady improvement over the past few years. In 2003, the piracy rate stood at 92 percent, according to the report.

The 77 percent illegal usage of pirated software in China compares with the average software piracy rate of 42 percent  worldwide in 2011, and 60 percent in Asia Pacific. However, the overall situation in Asia Pacific region was worsening in the past eight years as the piracy rate in 2003 was only 53 percent -- 7 percentage points lower than that of last year.

The report was published one day before a Chinese court handed out the severest penalty ever for an intellectual property crime in the territory. On Wednesday, a Beijing intermediate court upheld a lower court's decision that sentenced counterfeiter Shang Yajun to seven years and six months imprisonment, for copyright infringement and the sale of illegally manufactured registered trademarks.

In July 2011, the police confiscated more than 360,000 partially completed certificates of authenticity worth nearly $80 million at Shang's manufacturing base. About 4,400 OEM products for Dell, HP and Lenovo, including Simplified Chinese and English-language versions of Windows XP Professional and Windows 7, were also confiscated during the raid.

The BSA report recognized China's progress in promoting software legalization initiatives, which aims to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights and have bared fruits over the years.

However, illegal software market in China remained worth nearly $9 billion in 2011, versus a legal market of less than $3 billion, making it the second largest unlicensed software market in terms of value in the world.

The US ranked No. 1 in the world where the illegal market worth of $9.8 billion. But the piracy rate in the US was only 19 percent as the legal market has produced revenue of near $42 billion last year, said the report.

Forty-one percent of admitted software pirates in China surveyed said they acquire software illegally "all of the time," "most of the time" or "occasionally," compared with 36 percent who "rarely" do it and 23 percent who "never" did it. Among these pirate software users, the gender spread almost evenly in China, with 52 percent of male and 48 percent of female.

Besides the Chinese mainland, In Hong Kong, the proportion of PCs with pirated software installed fell to 43 percent last year, a new record low and a fall of 10 percentage points over six consecutive years since 2006. In Taiwan, the pirate rate was recorded 37 percent in 2011 - also the lowest level recorded which is unchanged from the previous year.

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