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Shadow Market of Pirated Software Grows to $63 Billion

This year's BSA Global Software Piracy Study marks the first time a large sample of computer users around the world have been asked directly, "How often do you acquire pirated software or software that is not fully licensed?" The answers people have given to that and other questions reveal sharp divides between the habits and outlooks of computer users in emerging and developed markets. Those differences help explain why the global piracy rate hovered at 42 percent in 2011 while a steadily expanding marketplace in the developing world drove the commercial value of software theft to $63.4 billion.

Key Findings

Admitted Piracy Rates

Well over half of the world's computer users — 57% — admit they pirate software.

Country by country, the frequency with which people report acquiring unlicensed software closely aligns with the actual rates of piracy that IDC calculates annually for this report using hard market data.

The global piracy rate for PC software hovers at 42 percent.

The users who say they pirate software most frequently are disproportionately young and male — and they install more software of all types on their computers than do infrequent pirates or non-pirates.

The commercial value of this shadow market of pirated software climbed from $58.8 billion in 2010 to $63 billion in 2011, a new record, propelled by PC shipments to emerging economies where piracy rates are highest.

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. They took in 56 percent of the world's new PC shipments in 2011 and now account for more than half of all PCs in use.


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