On Software Piracy, Modest Progress

By May 17, 2007Trade

On combatting Chinese piracy of software, some modest progress can be reported. Modest, but at least the trend is headed in the right direction.

The software piracy rate in China dropped four percentage points in 2006 from a year prior, according to a new report released by the Business Software Alliance and IDC, and showed an overall decline of 10 percentage points since 2003. The report came as part of the BSA’s annual Global Software Piracy Study, which looks at all packaged software that runs on personal computers—no server or mainframe software is included—including operating systems, business apps, consumer apps, games, and more.

While the overall rate of piracy for the world remained static, the rate in high-piracy countries such as China and Russia dropped considerably. China’s software piracy rate was as high as 92 percent in 2003 but, according to the 2006 data, has dropped to about 82 percent. Russia’s piracy rate dropped seven percentage points over the last three years—from 87 percent in 2003 to 80 percent in 2006.

The BSA and IDC credit the Chinese government for going after illegal software in its own offices, as well as stepped up education and enforcement.

Some credit should also go to all the U.S. business groups — including the NAM — who have pressed for action on China’s violations of intellectual property rights. As you can see from this 2005 NAM report on China’s compliance with the WTO, software piracy has long been a major point of concern. One of many.

The pressure continues. In April, the U.S. Trade Representative filed two cases with the WTO, one on China’s legal failings in protecting copyrights and trademarks, and the other on its trade barriers to U.S. books, music, videos and movies. The NAM fully endorsed the move.

Anyway, progress. More necessary. More to come.