Computer users download illegal software unknowingly
Maltese computer users downloaded €4.4 million worth of illegal software last year, according to the latest findings in a survey of software piracy worldwide.
But there is no need to accuse users of intentionally breaking copyright laws for the research suggests that over one-third of PC users believe it is legal to download software from peer-to-peer networks or give copies of software to a friend or co-worker.
According to the Business Software Alliance global software piracy study, 43 per cent of business decision-makers polled thought it was legal to buy a single licence for a software programme and then install it on multiple machines.
The survey also found that public opinion comes down firmly in favour of intellectual property rights and against software piracy. In many cases, the BSA stated, people wanted to abide by the law but were confused on what to do so
This finding runs counter to the results of a Eurobarometer survey published this week, which found that the majority of Maltese felt there was nothing wrong in purchasing a pirated product.
Malta’s piracy rate stands at 43 per cent, according to the BSA’s survey. Although this represents a two-per-cent drop when compared to 2009, it was still eight per cent higher than the EU average.
The implications of software piracy extended beyond the risks to the individuals user, the BSA said. Piracy undermined legitimate businesses and caused competitive imbalances because companies using illegal software stood to gain a cost advantage over those that abided by the law.
The BSA also said that, as with any underground activity, it had an impact on jobs, tax revenues and the broader economy.
The BSA called for extensive public education on software piracy issues. Its awareness-raising activities with businesses, it said, had proven very effective, with several companies signing legalisation agreements.