The global value of pirated software stayed roughly static in 2009, according to research by the Business Software Alliance, counfounding expectations that the recession would drive piracy.
Research by the non-profit trade association and market analyst IDC found that after correcting for fluctuations in currency exchange rates, the worldwide total value remained relatively unchanged at $51.4 billion.
The BSA, which is funded by software vendors, said that "conventional wisdom" had led it to predict a visible rise in rates of piracy as the result of the recession. It now believes that government education and enforcement programmes prevented that effect.
The proportion of all software deployed worlwide that had been pirated did rise, however, by two percentage points to 43%. The BSA attributed this statistic to high PC sales in emerging markets such as China.
In the UK, the value of pirated software was down from $2.2 billion to $1.6 billion, although the proportion of deployed software that had been pirated remained unchanged at 27%. In the US, which according to the study had the lowest rate of piracy, the proportion stood at 20%.
"This study makes it clear that industry and government’s efforts to reduce software theft in the UK are of vital importance,” commented Michala Wardell, chair of the BSA UK committee. Countries deemed to have the highest rates of software piracy included China, Vietnam and Nigeria. One of the most substantial reductions was seen in Russia, where the commercial value of pirated software dropped from $4.2 billion in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2009.
The study also underlined the impact of open source, which the BSA found to account for as much as 22% of global software markets. A report by IDC in 2009 found that open source software, unlike software piracy it seems, was being driven by the downturn.