Software vendor losses to piracy grew by 11% to $53 billion, according to a new joint report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and research firm IDC.
The sixth annual BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy study found that the monetary value of unlicensed software broke the $50 billion level for the first time.
The study also suggests law enforcement and software vendors are making some headway in the battle against software piracy. The rate of pirated software decreased in 2008 in about half of the 110 countries studied. Still, high levels of piracy in China and India have fueled an increase in software piracy worldwide for the second year in a row. The two countries combined to raise the PC software piracy rate to 41% from 38% in 2007.
"We are continuing to make progress against PC software piracy in many countries, which helps people working in the US-led global software industry. That's the good news," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman in a statement.
Holleyman said piracy undermines local IT service firms, gives illegal software users an unfair advantage in business and increases security risks.
The study found that Central and Eastern Europe represented the regions with the highest piracy rate (67%), followed by Latin America (65%). Georgia had the highest piracy rate at nearly 95% followed by Armenia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
The United States has the lowest PC software piracy rate in the world, 20%, but because it is the world's largest software market, it has the largest dollar losses from piracy, $9.1 billion. Japan, New Zealand and Luxembourg also have low software piracy rates, near 20%.