Software piracy cost the industry a record $63.4 billion globally in 2011 with emerging economies listed as the main culprits, an annual study said Tuesday.
This was up nearly 8% from the previous record of $58.8 billion in 2010, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said in the study.
In the Asia Pacific, which comprises several emerging economies including China, bootleg software usage also cost the industry an all-time high of $21 billion last year, up 12% from 2010, BSA said.
Emerging markets had an average piracy rate of 68%, far exceeding the 42% global average and 24% in mature economies, according to the study which is based on a survey of about 15,000 computer users in 33 markets.
These markets account for 82% of the global PC market.
"Emerging economies, which in recent years have been the driving force behind PC software piracy, are now decisively outpacing mature markets in their rate of growth," said the study carried out in January and February.
"They took in 56% of the world's new PC shipments in 2011, and they now account for more than half of all PCs in use," it added.
"Emerging economies thus continue to account for an overwhelming majority of the global increase in the commercial value of pirated software."
China was the worst in Asia when it comes to software piracy with almost $9.0 billion worth of computer programs obtained illegally in 2011, compared to a legal software market of only $2.65 billion.
While the U.S. has the largest pirated market estimated at $9.8 billion, it also has the world's largest legal software sales valued at over $41 billion, BSA said.
"The thing about the [Asia Pacific] region is that PC growth is booming. PC growth in the region is growing at 9% but piracy is coming down at 1% annually," said Roland Chan, BSA's senior director for regional marketing.
"So governments need to do more to bring down the rate at a faster rate to match the rapid PC growth," he told AFP.
Washington-based BSA is a non-profit trade body that works for copyright protection and counts among its members some of the world's biggest technology companies, including Apple (IW 500/14), Microsoft (IW 500/16), Symantec and Adobe.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012