The Business Software Alliance, a trade group, says that 36% of all the software in the world has been pirated, costing the industry $29 billion in lost revenue. The five countries with the highest incidence of pirated software are: China (92%), Vietnam (92%) and Indonesia (88%), Ukraine (91%), and Russia (87%). (AP/*San Jose Mercury News*, 7 Jul 2004; NewsScan Daily, 7 Jul 2004]

An unexpected "benefit" of piracy

For Open Source advocates, the high rate of piracy in the third world is an even bigger setback than it is for the likes of Microsoft.

It's pretty well accepted that "lost revenue" calculations based on piracy rates are inflated, since most of those pirate copies don't represent lost sales of the pirated software. For countries with low per-capita income this effect amplified: does the BSA really believe the high priced vendors that are claiming lost revenue would actually make significant numbers of full- price sales in China, Vietnam, or Indonesia?

With the recent trend towards Open Source in countries like India and China, it seems likely that the only hope Microsoft or other large vendors has of getting any significant revenue from the third world is the "investment" in "pirate domain" software they've made overseas. Without it, they'd be facing the sort of uphill battle against an entrenched installed base of Open Source platforms that the Open Source movement is waging against them in the US today.

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