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Report highlights software piracy in engineering

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) released a list of the Top 10 U.S. industries with the highest number of reports of PC software piracy. Engineering ranks eighth. BSA identified the Top 10 industries based on confidential reports of software piracy that the organization receives via its website, www.nopiracy.com, and its toll-free hotline, 1-888-NO-PIRACY.

According to BSA, theft and illegal use of software is a serious national and global problem that strains technology companies’ ability to innovate and create jobs, harms local IT services firms, saps government tax revenues, and increases the risk of cyber crime and security problems. Because 65 percent of all software in use worldwide in 2008 was of U.S. origin, software piracy has its largest impacts on the U.S. economy, BSA said.

On behalf of its member companies, BSA solicits and receives more than 2,500 confidential reports of PC software piracy each year from informants across the United States. Following are the Top 10 industries most cited in confidential software piracy reports to BSA by informants in 2008:

1. Manufacturing
2. Sales/distribution
3. Service (general category)
4. Financial services
5. Software development
6. IT consulting
7. Medical
8. Engineering
9. School/education
10. Consulting

"Managers in these industries need to know that PC software piracy is illegal and highly risky," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. "Whether it occurs deliberately or by accident, software piracy significantly increases financial, legal, and information security risks for the companies involved. The security risks also affect customers and the general public. In the midst of the current economic situation, we simply cannot afford to jeopardize the security of our most critical industries."

BSA data also show that the median age of informants is 36. Approximately 77 percent identify themselves as information technology personnel, and the rest are mostly sales personnel, managers, and audio/visual technicians. In 2008, BSA distributed more than $136,000 in cash rewards to 42 individuals as a result of the solid information they provided on software piracy.

According to the Sixth Annual BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Report, an estimated 20 percent of the software programs installed in the United States in 2008 were unauthorized copies without legal licenses. The retail value of pirated PC software was $9.1 billion in the United States alone, and $53 billion globally.

Reducing software piracy in the United States by just 10 percentage points over the next four years could generate more than 32,000 new jobs, $41 billion in economic growth, and $7 billion in tax revenues above current projections, according to a 2008 study conducted for BSA by the market intelligence firm IDC.

Through BSA’s "Know it, Report it, Reward it" program, informants are eligible to receive as much as $1 million in cash for qualifying reports of software piracy. A three-step, online reporting page found at www.nopiracy.com, makes reporting piracy easy and confidential, BSA said.

According to the organization, it’s also relatively easy for industry managers to avoid software piracy and its associated problems. "Businesses of all types have a wealth of resources available to help them do the right thing," said Holleyman. "Software asset management tools help companies of all sizes optimize the purchase, installation, utilization, maintenance, and replacement of all software assets within an organization. By using such tools, companies can greatly minimize, if not eliminate, the many risks associated with unlicensed software."

To learn about the risks associated with software piracy and how to avoid them, organizations can download free software asset management (SAM) tools from BSA’s website at www.bsaaudit.com.