Combating software piracy needs collective effort

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 11, 2013

software piracy

The use of counterfeit and pirated software by businesses and end-user consumers time and again has been a cause of concern globally. In India too, software piracy continues to be a menace hurting business growth and exposing them to greater risks. Research reveals that counterfeit and pirated software not only lead to loss of enterprise time and money - damaging the system and causing loss of sensitive data, but also has a negative impact on the national economic growth. Experts believe that a strong private-public partnership promoting the use of properly licensed software can drastically reduce piracy and improve the country’s economic outlook.

Improving economic growth

“Licensed software usage can reduce the risk and creates operating efficiencies which in turn improve the business ROI,” states Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India speaking at a recent technology event. He adds that licensed software is not only beneficial for organizations, it can also be an important driver of the country’s economic growth.

A recent report by Software Alliance (BSA) released last month also substantiates that increasing use of licensed software corresponds to substantial positive gains in gross domestic product (GDP), and that the economic stimulus effect of properly licensed software is significantly greater than that of pirated software. The study mentions that properly licensed software would deliver $50 million in additional economic value as a 1 per cent increase in use of licensed software would generate an estimated $87 million in national production, compared to $37 million from a similar increase in pirated software. In India alone, increasing use of licensed software by 1 per cent would add $1.2 billion to the country’s economy, says the study, which also brings to light nearly 43 per cent of the respondents surveyed mentioned using pirated software in the country.

According to Rishi Agarwal, CEO and co-founder, Arvan Technologies, the use of pirated software is more common among SMBs and especially those in the non-technology domains, who use these software in areas such as office productivity, graphics and design and accounting among others. As a result, they are often at a greater risk of getting affected by spyware, malware and viruses that can lead to identity theft, loss of data and system failures.

A recent study by IDC found out that 33 per cent of software is counterfeit and that the malware market will reach $114 billion in 2013, mostly contributed by counterfeit software. In addition, consumers will waste about 1.5 billion hours dealing with this malware.

It is important for government, vendors, IT associations, industry organizations and other law enforcing bodies to collaborate and take proactive steps to reduce piracy and promote use of licensed software.
-Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India

Concerted efforts

Experts believe it is important for government, vendors, IT associations, industry organizations, and other law enforcing bodies to collaborate and take proactive steps to reduce piracy and promote use of properly licensed software.

BSA has been working closely with the Government, large enterprises, and SMEs in India to raise awareness about software. A top official of the company informs that there has been a high involvement from the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, who are leading by example by managing its own software, and taking this best practice directly to private enterprises.

Companies like Adobe and Microsoft are also rigorously raising awareness among customers and partners on the risks of pirated software. Pramanik says that Microsoft offers software as a subscription at highly reasonable prices in order to convert customers using pirated software to genuine software. Globally, the software giant has launched a huge campaign in association with industry leaders especially those in the banking and financial sector, to identify botnets that are responsible for stealing people’s online banking information and personal identities. “This cooperative action is part of a growing proactive effort by both the public and private sector to fight cybercrime, help protect people and businesses from online fraud and identity theft, and enhance cloud security for everyone,” says a company statement.

According to Roland Chan, senior marketing director, BSA Asia Pacific, while the government should establish strong and modern intellectual property laws that protect software and other copyrighted materials on PCs, mobile devices, and in the cloud, there is a definite need to improve enforcement of intellectual property rights with dedicated resources as well as raise public awareness about the risks of software piracy. In this regard, a concerted effort through a strong private-public partnership will promote the use of properly licensed software which in turn can reduce piracy and improve economic growth.