Survey reveals most software pirates are young and male
By Benjamin Fox
Software pirates are most likely to be young men according to a survey carried out by software industry lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
The BSA study of nearly 15,000 computer users, published on Tuesday (15 May), also revealed that, at 48 percent, nearly half of European computer users admit to downloading pirated or unlicensed software.
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The piracy rates are particularly high in Eastern Europe, with Romania and Bulgaria recording piracy rates of 64 percent and 63 percent in 2011, while Latvia, Lithuania and Poland all have piracy rates over 50 percent.
Figures published last December by Eurostat indicated that over 50 percent of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens had never used the Internet, while a report on international cyber-security by the Brussels-based think-tank Security and Defence Agenda in February, claimed that countries in eastern and southern Europe had the least sophisticated software security systems.
The BSA estimates that PC software piracy in the EU was worth €10.4 billion of lost revenue in 2011, accounting for roughly 25 percent of the worldwide commercial loss of €45.6 billion. In response, it demanded tougher laws on intellectual property theft including specialised training for law enforcement authorities.
The BSA's director of government affairs, Thomas Boué claimed that "the EU's current damages rules provide an incentive to infringe and it is clear that these rules need to be revised" adding that the EU needed to "ensure that the remedies for IPR (intellectual property rights) infringement act as a deterrent."
The European Commission is expected to propose legislation to revise its eight-year old directive on intellectual property rights before the July recess, although it has delayed publication of new rules on collective copyright in the face of rising public controversy about intellectual property laws.
The study comes as policy makers in Europe and the US are grappling with a series of publicly divisive anti-piracy laws.
While the US Congress passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in April, aimed at increasing the rights of internet service providers and social network sites to monitor and pass on personal data, the Obama administration has promised to shoot it down if it includes any references to intellectual property theft.
The White House also blocked the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in January.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament is set to reject the international anti-piracy treaty Acta this summer following a well-publicised public campaign against the agreement reached by the European Commission and other countries including the US and Japan.
An anti-Acta petition organised by internet campaign group Avaaz is due to be discussed by the Parliament's Petitions committee after it attracted 2.4 million signatures.