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Piracy losses still in billions

Software publishers lost $13.1 billion in sales last year because of pirated versions of software, a study by two software trade groups concludes.

Software publishers lost $13.1 billion in sales last year due to pirated versions of software, a study released today by two software trade groups concludes.

That 1995 figure was up nine percent from an estimated $12.2 billion in 1994 piracy losses, according the study for the Software Publishers Association and Business Software Alliance.

SPA president Ken Wasch said the 1995 figures showed that antipiracy efforts are beginning to show results, particularly in the United States. "Through the study, we have a better understanding of where our work must be focused," he said. "There is never any level of software piracy that can or should be considered acceptable."

But the SPA's antipiracy campaign has kicked up criticism, particularly among Internet service providers that object to being held liable for piracy by their customers. Today, a group of about 45 ISPs issued a letter to the SPA objecting to the association's tactics (see related story, Online coalition opposes antipiracy campaign).

The annual survey was, for the first time, conducted by an independent group, International Planning & Research. Previously, the two software groups had done their own survey. IPR, based in Westchester, Pennsylvania, estimated losses for both 1994 and 1995 based on sales and market data for 80 countries for 27 business applications.

The BSA said last month that it has recovered more than $18 million in the last four years in software copyright infringement settlements in the United States.

Overall, Eastern Europe had the highest overall piracy rates with an average of 83 percent. North America had the lowest regional piracy rate at 27 percent.

But all regions saw a modest improvement in their overall piracy rates compared to 1994. The reports estimates by region are as follows:

  • Western Europe: Piracy losses in 1995 exceeded $3.5 billion. Highest piracy rates: Greece at 86 percent, Spain at 77 percent. Lowest: United Kingdom at 38 percent, a 4 percent improvement over 1994. Others: Germany at 42 percent, France at 51 percent.

  • Eastern Europe: 1995 losses were $750 million but the highest piracy level was 83 percent, a 2 percent improvement over 1994. Highest rates: Slovenia at 96 percent, Bulgaria at 94 percent, Romania, at 93 percent. Lowest: Czech Republic and Slovakia, both 62 percent.
  • United States: 1995 losses were $2.9 billion, highest of any nation. Piracy rate 26 percent (a decrease of 5 percent over 1994).

  • Latin America: 1995 losses were $1.1 billion, a decline of 2 percent over 1994. Highest rates: El Salvador at 97 percent, Paraguay at 95 percent, Guatemala at 94 percent. Others with some improvement: Chile at 68 percent, Venezuela at 72 percent, Brazil and Mexico at 74 percent.

  • Asia-Pacific: 1995 losses were $3.9 billion, with Japan at more than $1.6 billion. Highest rates: Vietnam at 99 percent, China at 96 percent. Lowest rate: Australia at 35 percent. Other rates: Japan at 55 percent (down 11 percent over 1994), Korea at 76 percent (up 1 percent over 1994).

  • Middle East & Africa: 1995 losses were $521 million. Highest rate: Oman at 96 percent, United Arab Emirates at 92 percent, Qatar at 91 percent. Lowest: South Africa at 58 percent, a decrease of 6 percent over 1994 estimate.

    The highest rates for individual nations were Vietnam (99 percent), El Salvador (97 percent), China (96 percent), Oman (96 percent), and Russia (94 percent). The lowest piracy rates were in the United States (26 percent), Australia (35 percent), the United Kingdom (38 percent), New Zealand (40 percent), and Germany (42 percent).

    Nation-by-nation figures are available on the SPA's Web site.