Manila, June 13, 2003 (STAR) The average piracy rate for commercial software across the Asia-Pacific is at its highest level since 1996, and dollar losses in the region in 2002 were at an all-time high of $5.5 billion, according to the Business Software Alliance’s eighth annual survey on global software piracy (www.bsa.org/globalstudy).

One of the countries in Asia that have seen their piracy rates increase in 2002 is the Philippines, with a piracy rate of 68 percent, up from 63 percent in 2001.

BSA, the Washington, DC-based international association representing the world’s leading software publishers, said the average software piracy rate in the Asia-Pacific rose for the third year in a row and stood at 55 percent in 2002.

In 1994, the Asia-Pacific’s piracy level was 68 percent and by 1999, the rate dropped to 47 percent. The upturn started in 2000.

The BSA attributed this trend partly to the strong growth in demand for software in China and the high piracy rate for software in the market.

"The BSA is very concerned that the average software piracy rate in the Asia-Pacific is rising, in contrast to every other region, except for Eastern Europe," said Jeffrey Hardee, BSA vice president and regional director for the Asia-Pacific.

"The enormous losses in the region due to software piracy are particularly troubling. If Asia-Pacific countries are to realize the economic benefits software generates in an economy, software piracy levels must be brought down," Hardee said.

A worldwide study conducted by International Data Corp., an independent and well-known research firm, and released in April, measured the economic benefits derived from lowering the software piracy rate, and the results were staggering.

The IDC study showed that just a 10-point drop in piracy over four years in the Asia-Pacific would add 1.1 million new jobs, $170 billion in additional economic growth and more than $15 billion in tax revenues.

"The Asia-Pacific’s IT sector could double in size in just four years – growing from $175 billion to $330 billion," Hardee said.

The IDC study, according to the BSA, sends a strong message to governments about the benefits of fighting software piracy. Indeed, some economies in the region have strongly benefited from reductions in the software piracy levels. These include Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

The BSA said it is committed to working with governments to eradicate software piracy by taking a three-pronged approach – public policy, education and enforcement.

"The Philippines is one country that has realized the benefits of reducing software piracy," said Ronald Cua, chairman of BSA Phils. Committee 2003.

"Although the piracy rate has gone up by five percent over the previous year, long-term figures show that the rate has decreased considerably. In 1994, the Philippines’ piracy level was 94 percent. Since then, the country has made good progress and has succeeded in reducing the piracy rate to 68 percent in 2002," he said.

Cua quoted a recent IDC study as saying that the Philippines’ IT sector contributed P55 billion to the economy, created 27,169 jobs, and contributed P3.9 billion in tax revenues to the government in 2002.

The IDC study, he said, indicated that cutting the piracy rate in the Philippines by 10 points over a four-year period (2002 to 2006) could add P19.3 billion to the economy, create 2,00 high-paying jobs, and generate P1 billion in new tax revenues.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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