More than half the computer software used in the Asia Pacific region last year was illegally downloaded and cost the region billions in lost economic potential, according a study conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The regional software piracy rate was 53% in 2004, unchanged from the previous year. Globally, the situation improved slightly to 35% from 36% illegally downloaded in 2003.
Asia's IT industry is worth $195 billion and brings in at least $120 billion in tax revenues, BSA said.
If efforts to cut the piracy rate by 10 percentage points to 43% by 2009 are successful, $135 billion could be pumped into the region's economies and state coffers boosted by an extra $14 billion in new tax revenues, the association of software makers said.
"Growth in the Asia Pacific's IT (information technology) sector has already translated into significant benefits for the region's economies," BSA's regional director Jeffrey Hardee said. "With a 10-point drop in the region's average software piracy rate, the software sector could grow three times faster over the next four years than it did in the last four years and spur expansion of the IT sector," he said, adding "the region could do better".
The biggest culprits were Vietnam which topped the list with a piracy rate of 92%, followed by China at 90%. Indonesia had the third-worst record with 87% of software illegally downloaded. Thailand took fourth spot at 79%. New Zealand's piracy rate of 23% was the lowest in the region, followed by Japan's 28%. Australia was at 32% and Singapore 42%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005