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Software piracy cost $29 billion in '03 - study

A new study carried out by the Business Software Alliance and IDC Global Software has concluded that 36 per cent of all software used around the world in 2003 was pirated - representing some $29 billion market value.

The worth of the global software market, counting piracy, was estimated at $80 billion for the year, of which only $51 billion was paid for - with the highest rates of piracy being in Eastern Europe (71 per cent), Latin America (63 per cent), the Middle East and Africa (56 per cent) and Asia Pacific (53 per cent).

Only western Europe and North America had piracy rates below half, with the figures tagged at 36 per cent and 23 per cent respectively for those territories; while unsurprisingly, China and Vietnam had the highest piracy rates of any individual nations, at 92 per cent.

The study, despite covering all areas of software, still has relevance for the games industry as it should help to highlight the global areas where piracy is most endemic. However, the methodology of the study does artificially inflate the piracy rate, as it fails to take into account the use of pirated software where software would not be purchased even if no pirate version was available - as is believed to be the case with much game and application software piracy.

The full global study can be downloaded from the [BSA website].

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.