The Business Software Alliance (BSA) 2009 global software piracy study released this month showed a global piracy rate rise to 43% from 41% in 2008. BSA says this means that “for every $100 worth of legitimate software sold in 2009, an additional $75 worth of unlicensed software also made its way into the market” globally.
An interesting observation from the report is that while the global recession seemed to drive all the market dynamics in the direction of higher piracy rates, piracy either declined or largely stayed the same in countries around the world. In fact, the 2 points global rise is attributed to rapidly growing PC markets in emerging geographies like Brazil, China and India.
In this piracy study report, Zimbabwe still finds itself among the top pirating countries in the world. And this has been the pattern since the BSA started publishing these reports. Our best rating ever was the first BSA piracy study in 2003 when we were the number 7 pirating country in the world with an 87% piracy rate. In 2004 we rose to number 4 with 90%. In 2005, our 90% piracy rate was one position short of the top position held by Vietnam. In 2006 the rate was now 91% and we were number 4 on the culprits list. The rate remained the same in 2007 and we moved down the list to number 5 after, Armenia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and Moldova. In 2008 it increased to 92% and this time we climbed back to number 4. The rate stood stagnant at 92% last year but we edged closer to the top. We are now number 2, after Georgia which has a 95% software piracy rate.
While other countries are registering a decline in software piracy, ours is increasing steadily, from 87% in 2003 to the current 92%. Of course the accuracy of the report is another story, but one thing is clear here: we have a software piracy problem in Zimbabwe.
What is the cause? Is software too expensive? We just don’t like paying for stuff? There hasn’t been any education on software piracy issues? Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiatives are failing? It’s our ten years of economic turmoil? We don’t have the laws to deal with it?
Whatever the reason, we need to start doing something about it. Apart from the obvious fact that piracy is a crime, dealing decisively with this problem has numerous benefits for our economy.
Please let us know your thoughts on this problem in the comments below. How can we deal this? Do you use unlicensed software? Why?
To put the matter into perspective, while countries like the USA have the lowest PC software piracy rate (20% in 2009), the commercial value of pirated software in the US is a staggering USD 8 billion. In comparison, Zimbabwe’s value of unlicensed software, at USD 4 million, is just a drop in the ocean.