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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 04:04 GMT 05:04 UK
Call to target UK software piracy
Microsoft advert in Vietnam, AFP/Getty
Software piracy in some countries such as Vietnam top 90%
More than a quarter of the computer software used in the UK is pirated, according to a report.

The survey by an anti-piracy lobby group shows the percentage of illegal software in use in the UK has stayed at 27% for the last two years.

The Business Software Alliance said the piracy cost the UK's technology sector almost 1bn a year.

It called on the government to help tackle the "hardcore" of pirates who continue to use counterfeit software.

Rate change

The UK figure of 27% is below the global average of 35% of pirated software.

But Siobhan Carroll, the BSA's regional manager for Northern Europe, said it showed that some British businesses had a complacent attitude toward the use of illegal software.

By comparison, piracy rates in the US stand at 21%.

Piracy figures are calculated by working out how much PC software was installed in 2005 and subtracting from that the amount paid for software during the year.

Vietnam: 90%
Zimbabwe: 90%
Indonesia: 87%
She said it was disappointing that UK piracy rates for PC software had remained static and called on the government to do more to educate businesses about the issue.

There was only so much the BSA could do to make sure businesses bought and licensed all the software they used, said Ms Carroll.

The impact of pirated software was felt very widely, she said, as it took cash out of the UK's technology culture and stunted money available for innovation.

"This is a serious issue. It's not affecting just businesses but everyone down the line," she said.

She added that reducing piracy significantly would mean a boost for the UK economy.

United States: 21%
New Zealand: 23%
Austria: 26%
There was increasing evidence, said Ms Carroll, that organised crime groups were behind many sophisticated counterfeiting efforts and profiting from the continued use of illegal software.

The BSA survey, carried out for the anti-piracy group by analyst firm IDC, shows that piracy in some nations is still rampant.

In Vietnam, piracy rates stand at 90%, the highest in the world.

In some countries where piracy rates have been notoriously high, such as China, official efforts to tackle the problem are having an effect.

Piracy rates in China have dropped by 4 percentage points to about 85%.

This follows government campaigns to get their official departments using legal software and the introduction of guidelines to make domestic PC makers install legitimate versions of software.

The BSA study estimates losses due to piracy by contrasting the amount of software used compared to the amount that was paid for.

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