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BSA Calls for Action against UK Broadband ISPs to Limit Illegal Downloads

Posted: 14th May, 2009 By: MarkJ
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has released its sixth annual global IDC piracy study, which reveals that over a quarter (27%) of software on PC's in the UK is now illegal. Industry losses due to software piracy in the UK amounted to £1.49 billion in 2008 – the highest level ever. The study states that the growth of broadband Internet access and P2P file sharing has made it a lot easier for piracy to flourish.

With more than one in four software installations categorised as illegal in the UK, we cannot afford to give up the fight against software piracy,” said Alyna Cope, spokesperson for the BSA UK country committee. “Much more needs to be done by the industry and the government to warn businesses and consumers of the risks associated with under-licensed software, from a legal, financial and operational point of view. Software piracy hurts our knowledge-based economy by weakening the very foundation on which it is built - respect for intellectual property and innovation.

The BSA adds that in 2009 the value of legal settlements achieved on behalf of its members in the UK for the illegal use of software is 25 times up on the same period in 2008. It also points to a 2008 IDC study, which claimed that reducing software piracy by just 10% over 4 years could generate more than £6 billion in economic growth and increase tax revenues by £1.47 billion.

However, contrary to what some believe, the UK software piracy rate has stalled over the last five years, remaining at 27% for three years before dropping to 26% in 2007, only to rise again this year. Globally half of the 110 countries studied saw piracy rates drop and only 12% increased.
BSA Suggested Government Solution Proposals

* Support a light regulatory approach to software piracy and the development of a code of practice between broadband ISPs and right holders as recommended by Ofcom and the Government.

* Set about the formation of a body with a focus on enforcement and education

* Improve public education and awareness

* Lead by example by requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software [EDITOR: They don't already?]
Sadly the BSA does not qualify what it means by imposing a "light regulatory approach" upon UK broadband ISPs. We might think that means forcing all ISPs to send warning letters, although others could have a far stronger view. Elsewhere the report predicts that piracy will proceed to grow as newer broadband markets emerge from developing countries.

The study serves as a reminder that, while the music and film industry might be the most vocal about combating the problem, protecting application and games software is just as important.
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