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Almost half of PC users around
the world say they acquire software through illegal means most or all of the
time, according to a new survey out from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
Conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs among 15,000 PC users in 32 countries, the
survey followed up the annual Global Software Piracy Study released earlier
this year that showed the commercial value of PC software theft jumped 14
percent worldwide last year to $59 billion.

This time the BSA examined
prevailing attitudes about piracy. It found that even though seven in ten PC
users said they support intellectual property rights and protections, 13
percent said they usually buy pirated software and 34 percent said they tended
to get their software illegally. Only 13 percent of users said they are
fastidious about buying software legally.

"It is shocking that nearly
half the world’s PC users are regular software pirates," said Robert
Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA. "But it is also encouraging that
most regular pirates acquire their software legally at least some of the time,
because it suggests they can be persuaded to do it consistently."

The survey found that among
decision-makers at businesses with under 500 employees, 16 percent fit the
profile of a "hardcore" software pirate and 37 percent tend to still
get software illegally. That figure goes down to 12 percent and 32 percent
respectively at larger companies, but the BSA believes that business
decision-makers especially need to be educated about the finer points in
software licensing law. Among this group, between two-thirds and three quarters
hold the erroneous belief that it is legal to use software lent to them by a
friend or co-worker or to buy one license and install on multiple computers.
Even more interesting, just four out of ten decision-makers think that people
who use unlicensed software are likely to be caught.

"Never before have we had
such clear and convincing evidence of the need for industry and governments to
redouble their public-education efforts and send stronger deterrent signals to
the marketplace with vigorous enforcement of IP laws," Holleyman said.