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Software piracy grows in Slovakia

N SPITE of a decline among businesses, Slovakia continues to suffer from a high level of software piracy. The industry’s anti-piracy organisation, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), estimates that almost half of the software used in Slovakia is illegal and that prospects are not bright either.

A Slovak software pirate's den(Source: Courtesy of BSA)

N SPITE of a decline among businesses, Slovakia continues to suffer from a high level of software piracy. The industry’s anti-piracy organisation, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), estimates that almost half of the software used in Slovakia is illegal and that prospects are not bright either.

According to analyses conducted by IDC, an analytical company, the software piracy rate in Slovakia was 45 percent in 2006 and 2007, Slávka Šikurová, the BSA spokesperson told The Slovak Spectator. But BSA estimates that the real piracy rate is even higher and that almost one half of all software in Slovakia is used illegally.

“The software piracy rate in Slovakia is very high compared, for example, with the Western European regional average of 33 percent,” Šikurová told The Slovak Spectator. “Software piracy is also significantly lower in the Czech Republic, at 39 percent.”

Šikurová estimates annual losses from piracy to cost the local software sector about €34 million, and those losses keep growing.

BSA gets data about software piracy from IDC, which compares the number of computers and the number of software licenses sold to households and the corporate sector on an annual basis, Šikurová explained. This comparison basket covers the most frequently used software of various producers.

The difference provides an estimate of the share of computers without any licensed software, which is then most likely to be pirated.

Internet attracts greater software piracy

BSA will reveal the software piracy rate in Slovakia for 2008 in May. But it has already elaborated the main trends from last year: there was mass distribution of illegal software via the internet and progress incutting the rate of software piracy has stalled.

The first trend was visible particularly in households in which, in contrast to companies, the quantity of illegal software has been growing.

“Cheap computers and a fast internet are a suitable starting point for distribution of illegal software,” said Šikurová. “This means that the brake has been put on the long-term downward trend in software piracy.”

Recently, the fight against software piracy has borne fruit especially among companies, Šikurová said in summing up developments over the last few years for The Slovak Spectator. But on the other hand, the amount of illegal software in households has grown, in particular via the internet.

BSA closely cooperates with the Adobe and Autodesk companies whose software products are copied illegally in large numbers.

“We have strengthened our team for uncovering piracy of Autodesk products,” said Jan Bucek, the company manager for the company in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. “In most cases we manage to close the cases with an out-of-court settlement. Otherwise, we advance them to a legal representative of BSA, which then takes legal steps.”

In spite of the long-term increase in illegal software in households, the trend might be less steep this year than in the past. This is because many software companies have started to offer their software products to households under more favourable conditions.

“They have reduced prices or enabled households to install software on more computers,” said Šikurová. “They are also offering simplified household versions of programs originally designed for professionals for significantly lower prices.”

Many local members of BSA have followed this path, for example producers of graphic software programs such as Adobe and Corel, Microsoft in the office software segment or Symantec, a producer of anti-virus programmes.

But BSA believes that this more favourable licensing policy will only slow down software piracy in households and that it will only motivate some people to use legal software, for instance those who buy a home computer for ordinary use.

“Neither lower prices nor better licensing conditions will force habitual pirates to change their behaviour,” said Šikurová. “These people often use software for professionals, which will never cost as little as home software. Therefore, they will not obtain the software legally, but rather wilUsers also have a low awareness about the illegality of pirated software, according to Šikurová. Just installing an illegal software product can lead to a police investigation. People often incorrectly think that when they only install the illegal software on their own computers and do not share it with others, that they cannot be prosecuted.

“Installing illegal software is recognised as violation of copyright laws in Slovakia,” said Šikurová.

BSA uses many ways to fight against software piracy.

“Primarily, BSA informs the public about the advantages of using legal software and the risks linked to illegal software,” Šikurová told The Slovak Spectator. “BSA also educates consumers in the areas of software management and copyright protection, virtual space security, trade, electronic trade and other segments linked to the use of the internet. We also prepare campaigns against use of illegal software, organise undercover shopping, and cooperate with the police when uncovering use, copying and distribution of illegal software.”

Prospects are not very bright

Šikurová does not expect any significant decline in the rate of software piracy in Slovakia this year.

“To keep the piracy at the 45 percent rate will be a success,” said Šikurová. “We do not expect any significant change with regard to the global economic downturn either. Large corporations, which presently use a minimum of illegal software, will continue to legalise their software. And we do not assume a change within small companies and households, in which pirated software reaches the highest rates.”

This year BSA will focus with its anti-piracy activities on companies with less than 50 employees. This is because its December analysis showed that within the corporate sector, software piracy is the highest in companies with about 50 people.

“Pirated software occurs least often in companies with 250 and more employees,” said Šikurová. “On the other hand, smaller companies often do not care about the legality of their software at all. The reason is the lack of interest by managers to solve the situation and efforts to save money on licences.”

A survey conducted by BSA among 300 managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees confirmed this trend. More than half of the respondents, 53 percent, did not know who in their companies was responsible for software and 56 percent of respondents said that they were not interested in proper software management.

l install an illegal copy from the internet.”

Users also have a low awareness about the illegality of pirated software, according to Šikurová. Just installing an illegal software product can lead to a police investigation. People often incorrectly think that when they only install the illegal software on their own computers and do not share it with others, that they cannot be prosecuted.

“Installing illegal software is recognised as violation of copyright laws in Slovakia,” said Šikurová.

BSA uses many ways to fight against software piracy.

“Primarily, BSA informs the public about the advantages of using legal software and the risks linked to illegal software,” Šikurová told The Slovak Spectator. “BSA also educates consumers in the areas of software management and copyright protection, virtual space security, trade, electronic trade and other segments linked to the use of the internet. We also prepare campaigns against use of illegal software, organise undercover shopping, and cooperate with the police when uncovering use, copying and distribution of illegal software.”

Prospects are not very bright

Šikurová does not expect any significant decline in the rate of software piracy in Slovakia this year.

“To keep the piracy at the 45 percent rate will be a success,” said Šikurová. “We do not expect any significant change with regard to the global economic downturn either. Large corporations, which presently use a minimum of illegal software, will continue to legalise their software. And we do not assume a change within small companies and households, in which pirated software reaches the highest rates.”

This year BSA will focus with its anti-piracy activities on companies with less than 50 employees. This is because its December analysis showed that within the corporate sector, software piracy is the highest in companies with about 50 people.

“Pirated software occurs least often in companies with 250 and more employees,” said Šikurová. “On the other hand, smaller companies often do not care about the legality of their software at all.

The reason is the lack of interest by managers to solve the situation and efforts to save money on licences.”

A survey conducted by BSA among 300 managers of companies with fewer than 100 employees confirmed this trend. More than half of the respondents, 53 percent, did not know who in their companies was responsible for software and 56 percent of respondents said that they were not interested in proper software management.

Topic: IT


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