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Study: Reducing Software Piracy Benefits Global Economies

An independent research group says reducing piracy of computer software by 10 percent over the next four years could generate more than 2.4 million new jobs around the world. The report released Thursday shows how global economies could benefit by reducing software piracy.

Today's most popular software programs can be expensive, and rather than paying high prices, many people simply copy the programs illegally.

The new study, conducted by the International Data Corporation, says the global economy would be greatly strengthened if piracy could be reduced even by a small percentage. It says a 10 percent reduction in piracy could generate nearly $70 billion in tax revenues and $400 billion in economic growth and create over two million jobs over four years.

The study was commissioned by the Business Software Alliance, a group that represents the interests of the world's commercial software industry. The president of the alliance is Robert Holleyman, who says fighting piracy is not just in the interest of software companies.

"The benefits shown by the study for reducing software piracy have enormous local, national benefits by improving overall jobs in the IT economy, raising legitimate tax revenues, and increasing a country's competitiveness," he said. "This report shows quite clearly that the majority of those benefits in each country remain in each country, and benefit their local economy by reducing software piracy."

The study by the International Data Corporation found that a 10 percent reduction in piracy would add $125 billion to the economy over four years. For example, it said China could create 2.6 million new jobs in the information technology sector if piracy was reduced by only 10 percent, while Russia's information technology industry would more than triple from $9 billion today to $30 billion by 2009.

In order to fully realize the economic benefits of reducing software piracy, the study says governments must take several steps. They should update their copyright laws, improve awareness of the issue, and create strong enforcement mechanisms.

Mark Cooper, research director for the consumer advocacy group Consumer Federation of America, says it is important that governments seek a balance between the interests of the public and the legal rights of those who created the software.

"What has happened in the last couple of decades is that the owners or the holders of those copyrights have extended the period, have tried to lock down all usage, and the public is rebelling against that imbalance in the rights of the public to have access to ideas and the rights of the creators to profit from it," he said.

Mr. Cooper says it is in the interests of software users and software makes to try to work together. If they do, he says, both sides can win.