Software piracy here 'down but still comparatively high'

Nearly 1 in 3 programs installed last year was unlicensed: Survey

Software piracy in Singapore has dipped over the last three years, but the Republic still has one of the highest rates of piracy among developed nations, a survey has found.

Almost one in three programs installed in homes and offices here last year were unlicensed, according to a global software survey released yesterday by industry watchdog, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), and market research firm IDC.

It tracked PC software piracy in 116 countries.

Singapore's unlicensed software rate stood at 30 per cent last year, down from 32 per cent in 2013.

This puts Singapore fourth in the Asia-Pacific region, behind Japan and New Zealand (18 per cent), and Australia (20 per cent), and 18th place globally, behind other developed countries such as Switzerland (23 per cent) and Canada (24 per cent).

One reason for the Republic's piracy rate could be the cost-saving mindset of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here, according to IDC's vice-president for custom solutions in Asia-Pacific Victor Lim.

  • WHERE SINGAPORE STANDS IN ASIA-PACIFIC REGION

  • 18%

    Unlicensed software rate in Japan and New Zealand 

    20%

    Rate in Australia

    30%

    Rate in Singapore

"SMEs and consumers tend to have a higher percentage of unlicensed software on their computers - that has been a trend over the years," said Mr Lim.

"It is always a cost-benefit analysis for them: 'Do I really have to pay so much money for software? Let me just take the risk of my system going down'."

The kinds of software most pirated among enterprise or business users, according to Mr Lim, are productivity software such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office, while consumers tend to use pirated entertainment software such as games.

Using pirated software can lead to security breaches, according to BSA's senior director in the Asia-Pacific Tarun Sawney. "If you don't have licensed software, you don't get things like patches that protect you from the latest malware or cyber attacks."

Piracy rates continue to fall globally, with 39 per cent of software installed around the world not properly licensed, down from 43 per cent in 2013.

The best-performing countries globally were the United States at 17 per cent, followed by Japan and New Zealand, and Luxembourg at 19 per cent.

The worst offenders were Libya and Zimbabwe, both with a 90 per cent software piracy rate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Software piracy here 'down but still comparatively high''. Print Edition | Subscribe