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Study: Software piracy on the wane

The latest report from the Business Software Alliance concludes that software piracy declined in the United States throughout 2002.

The latest report from the Business Software Alliance concludes that software piracy declined in the United States during 2002.

The special interest group, an antipiracy organization that's comprised of members such as Apple Computer, Cisco Systems and Microsoft, released results of its state-by-state analysis of software piracy across the United States on Tuesday. According to BSA's report, the nation's piracy rate dropped 2 percentage points in 2002 compared with 2001, to 23 percent. The International Planning and Research (IPR) conducted the study for BSA.

BSA also reported that some 37 organizations handed down more than $3.1 million in piracy-related settlements as a result of its annual campaign to raise awareness among business users regarding illegal use of copyrighted software.

Among the U.S. states that saw the most significant reduction in piracy percentage rates were Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, South Carolina, Washington and Oklahoma, according to BSA.

The group listed the top nine states (in addition to the nation's capital) that had the lowest piracy rates in 2002 as: Illinois; Michigan; Ohio; Indiana; New York; Connecticut; New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Washington; and Virginia.

Bob Kruger, BSA's vice president of enforcement, said the increased amount of revenue loss is a good sign that piracy continues to be a major problem despite state-by-state improvement.

"The piracy rate in the U.S. is as low as it has ever been, but the losses continue to be staggering," Kruger said. "While we've certainly made inroads with corporate users, the issue of individuals downloading illegal software over the Internet is a growing problem."

Kruger said software companies need to follow the lead of the music industry, which has been working hard to keep copyrighted materials from being illegally transferred online.

BSA representatives were quick to point out that, despite the states' lowered piracy rates, the practice of using unlicensed or stolen products continues to have a negative effect on the software industry and the larger U.S. economy.

The group estimates that piracy cost the nation $1.9 billion in 2002, up from $1.8 billion in 2001. As a result, BSA contends that piracy was related to the loss of 105,000 jobs over the course of last year.