Software Piracy Reaches Record $59 Billion In 2010

2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study finds too many people dont understand they are stealing

May 12, 2011

4 Min Read


WASHINGTON May 12, 2011 Theft of software for personal computers leapt 14 percent globally in 2010 to a record commercial value of $59 billion, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) reported today in the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study. That amount has nearly doubled in real terms since 2003. Emerging economies are the driving forces behind the trend, the report finds, because that is where PC shipments are growing fastest.

Software piracy is escalating in value even though large majorities of PC users around the world believe in intellectual property rights and prefer legal software to pirated software, according to surveys of approximately 15,000 PC users in 32 countries, conducted Ipsos Public Affairs as part of BSAs report. But a startling finding is that too many people do not realize they are using unlicensed copies.

BSA has created a rich, interactive presentation that shows how these trends play out in 116 countries and regions around the world. It is featured at

The software industry is being robbed blind, said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. Nearly $59 billion worth of products were stolen last year and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the worlds fastest-growing markets. The irony is people everywhere value intellectual property rights, but in many cases they dont understand they are getting their software illegally.

Software piracy is an urgent problem for the whole economy, not just the software industry, because software is an essential tool of production, Holleyman said. Businesses of all sorts rely on software to run their operations. Properly licensed companies are being unfairly undercut when their competitors avoid overhead costs by stealing software tools.

Key findings of the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study:

While the number of PCs shipped to emerging economies in 2010 accounted for more than 50 percent of the world total, paid software licenses in emerging economies accounted for less than 20 percent of global sales.

Six years ago, the commercial value of software piracy in emerging economies accounted for less than one-third of the world total. Last year, at $32 billion, it accounted for more than half.

The global piracy rate for PC software was 42 percent in 2010. That is the second-highest global piracy rate BSA has found in the eight years it has been conducting annual studies with leading market research and forecasting firm IDC. In 2009, the global rate was 43 percent.

The regional piracy rate rose by 1 point in the Asia-Pacific region and in Latin America two economic hotbeds of the developing world.

Seven PC users in 10 support paying innovators for their creations to promote more advances, while just three in 10 say no one should control technologies that could benefit society.

Around the world, solid majorities see clear economic benefits from IP rights and protections: 59 percent think IP rights benefit local economies, 61 percent think they create jobs.

Eight PC users in 10 say they value legal software over pirated software because it is more reliable and secure.

The most common form of software piracy is buying a single license for a program and installing it on multiple computers: 60 percent incorrectly think this is legal at home, and 47 percent think it is legal at work (including 51 percent in emerging economies).

The software industry is doing everything it can to promote legal software use, Holleyman said. We need governments to step up their efforts on this issue by supporting public education efforts, enacting and enforcing strong intellectual property laws, and leading by example.

Full copies of the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study are available for download, along with videos about the studys methodology and findings, on BSAs website:

About BSA

The Business Software Alliance ( is the worlds foremost advocate for the software industry, working in 80 countries to expand software markets and create conditions for innovation and growth. Governments and industry partners look to BSA for thoughtful approaches to key policy and legal issues, recognizing that software plays a critical role in driving economic and social progress in all nations. BSAs member companies invest billions of dollars a year in local economies, good jobs, and next-generation solutions that will help people around the world be more productive, connected, and secure. BSA members include Adobe, Altium, Apple, Autodesk, AVEVA, AVG, Bentley Systems, CA Technologies, Cadence, CNC/Mastercam, Compuware, Corel, Dassault Systmes SolidWorks Corporation, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Microsoft, Minitab, PTC, Progress Software, Quark, Quest Software, Rosetta Stone, Siemens, Sybase, Symantec, and The MathWorks.

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