back to article ARRRRR. Half world's techies are software PIRATES – survey

Almost half of the world's enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software at work – at least a survey from a software industry association says so. A report (PDF) from The Software Alliance claims that during 2013, 43 per cent of all software in the world was installed without a licence, up from 42 per cent in …


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  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    The (small) company I work for has absolutely no pirated software. But then I guess the big boys don't think they need to obey the same laws as us 'little' people.

    1. SoaG

      Re: Interesting

      I'd expect it more in medium than large places actually.

      The biggest outfits I've dealt with have all tended to be tightly locked down, one or two sizes fit all, even 1/2 the IT folks don't have admin rights on their own desktops, type places.

      Mid-size on the other hand are more likely to give (some) staff the ability to install whatever they like as they would at home while having a much harder time policing what that ends up being, compared to a small shop where the IT department is Bob down the hall.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        Medium business pirating more

        In my experience, I've found that it is the medium sized shops that have the most amount of pirated software, they are usually trapped between their original software that isn't scaling well enough to support their size and the the software they will need to grow is too expensive.

        Small businesses can easily afford most of the software they need (usually they are unintentionally in compliance from using whatever software the machines came with and not bothering to upgrade).

        Large enterprises usually just buy massively expensive site-licenses or get licenses through contractors or consultants setting things up for them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Medium business pirating more

          "In my experience, I've found that it is the medium sized shops that have the most amount of pirated software, they are usually trapped between their original software that isn't scaling well enough to support their size and the software they will need to grow is too expensive."

          Another factor that leaves medium sized businesses in the frame as 'prime suspects' is that they're at the size where they now need far more in the way of business processes, and those aren't in place, with management still possessing a small business mentality. It usually takes something like being caught using unlicenced software, intentionally or otherwise, for change to kick in.

    2. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Interesting

      With the unannounced checks of software licensing we've had from IBM, Microsoft, etc... yeah right

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting

      I do recall having to use a pirate crack util to get a valid XP license (bought direct from MS) installed on a machine that refused to accept it. Even MS couldn't figure out why it was not working. In desperation, I downloaded the XP crack, ran it to get past the registration block and then reentered the bought code after. Worked brilliantly.

  2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Questionable value

    "The survey estimated around $62.7bn worth of unlicensed software had been used last year."

    Except almost all of that use would just vanish or be replaced by FOSS if the end users had to pay the full price for things on which this valuation is based.

    Personally I am not going to support folk using cracked versions of software. If you don't want to pay in cash then use software that is licensed as free. If all of those pirates were to do that, I suspect BSA members would be even more worried...

    1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Questionable value


      Look around any office and you will find tons of software which cost £100's if not £1000's but is basically junk because it ran on obsolete OS or hardware, it was never used in a project or sometimes it was never even opened or used.

      Basically software uses value faster than a England football players reputation, so any value comparison is basically worthless.

      We have to remember that in the need of the day all software is just 0 and 1's and it terms of material wealth is worth as much as the DVD it came on

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "And that trend has been exacerbated in part by vulnerabilities associated with illegitimate software"

    Which are exactly the same as those associated with legitimate software?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Most software is pants for security. But its not uncommon for key generators and hacked versions of popular software to have a "little extra" inserted.

    2. Nym


      except, that is, for the built in backdoor for the illegitimate stuff.

  4. paulc

    All software?

    all proprietary software maybe... but not all software...

  5. smudge

    Complete... err... fabrications

    "ARRRRR. Half world's techies are software PIRATES – survey

    Almost half of the world's enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software at work – at least a survey from a software industry association says so."

    Your headline and first sentence of the article are complete fabrications. Nowhere in the report does it say this.

    The report says that 43% of PC software is unlicensed. This is NOT the same as "Almost half of the world's enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software...".

    You might have only a tiny number of managers admitting it, but if they were responsible for very large numbers of PCs, this would skew the results. The number of PCs is taken into account in calculating the figure - see page 14 of the report.

    There's plenty of other things to question in the report - e.g. could the increase from 42% to 43% be within the error bands for the survey? - but please let's not make things up.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Complete... err... fabrications

      Too right. Statistics: For the perpetually confused or gullible, I'd recommend that a lot of people read the book "How to Lie with Statistics". A nice, easy read and assassinates most statistics that you regularly see.

    2. P. Lee

      Re: Complete... err... fabrications

      > "Almost half of the world's enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software...".

      ... and the other harrf be lying scurvy scum!

      /coat, pointy-hat, parrot, doubloons - gone.

    3. Tom 35

      Re: Complete... err... fabrications

      And it's the "The Software Alliance" so I expect they just pulled half the data out of their ass, and fudged the rest to get the answer they wanted to get.

    4. Nym

      Re: Complete... err... fabrications

      Openly. Yeah. Right. I agree with you. A moment's contemplation tells you this isn't so, Sony would sht little robotoids at the very thought, for one. Microsoft? think back to Tron. get the drift, lol...

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The report is without basis

    I've checked the PDF and found it contains no facts, just percentages and associated millions. There is no notion of what software has been counted, no way of justifying the prices quoted.

    This report is supposed to be about companies, which means that there should be a list of software items appended to it with the list price of each software and the number of unlicensed installations per country. I mean, they're supposed to have that data if the figures quoted are to resemble reality in any way, right ? So why not show it ?

    In addition, there is no explanation of how installations are taken into account. It is supposed to be unlicensed installations. Does that mean that the software was downloaded, cracked and used, or was the disk of the legitimately-bought software used to install another copy without bothering to record it properly for some reason ? If the latter, then we're not talking full price (since the company bought licences already), are we ?

    As usual, the BullShit Alliance is doing a splendid job of using lots of smoke and mirrors for nothing of actual substance. And I love the reference to Cloud Computing making everyone happy and secure. I'm sure Code Spaces can take some solace in that.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: The report is without basis

      Colour me surprised: lobby makes up numbers in report designed to further its interests.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The report is without basis

      An addition to this, for every company that has 'pirate' software. There are also those who overlicense. A friend of mine worked for a company whose soul job was to go through other companies records, work out how many computers they had, what software they had licenses for, and how many of those licenses were in use.

      In some cases (i was told) there were companies with more than double the licenses than they had for PCs in the first place. Whenever they upgraded their computers, they'd repurchased licenses for the software on that machine, rather than transferring the license previously used. (Not small companies either ).

      I'd actually hazard a guess a lot of the illegal software is stuff along the lines of "Free personal license, or pay X for a coorperate license" where they've just grabbed the personal license version and passed it around. A lot of the time it seems to be a "I'll grab the personal license to test it and see if it's worth buying" and evolves from there to "It's useful, but gather more opinions" to "Hey management, this makes our job much easier, can we buy it?" Followed by an "It isn't in the budget so no" at which point people just keep on with the personal licenses.

  7. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    According to Microsoft, I am responsible for 3 pirated Windows7 (not my choice) installs at work. Licences that I duly bought and paid for barely 1 month ago. Together with MSOffice licences (not my choice either), which of course are also labelled "pirate" by MicroSauron's all-seying eye. So I guess I am currently considererd as stealing thousands from poor MS nigh-empty purse. Or sumfin.

    On the other hands I directed the affected -and frightened- users to open-source alternatives, some of which did stick thanks to MS' ill-advised anti-legit-user nagging.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks

      In reply to ElReg!comments!Pierre

      >According to Microsoft, I am responsible for 3 pirated Windows7 (not my >choice) installs at >work.

      > Licenses that I duly bought and paid for barely 1 month ago.

      Can you contact your supplier if Microsoft are claiming your licences are illegal?

      How did Microsoft *know* about these - were you audited?

      1. Nym

        Re: Bollocks

        Generally, no. But that's in my experience with an OEM from something like TigerDist where you run in circles. By the way [IN MY PERSONAL OPINION ONLY, MIND] I wouldn't deal with TigerDist. In fact, I haven't, come to think of it. Just personal opinion, mind.


      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Re: Bollocks

        > Can you contact your supplier if Microsoft are claiming your licences are illegal?

        Had done that. They came back to me with new activation codes; hope these work for longer!

        > How did Microsoft *know* about these - were you audited?

        Windows updates

  8. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    A lot of licensing is still done on trust, particularly in the the larger corporate environments (or where I currently work at a top University). Server licences particularly so, as the user / access licences are worded so vaguely or inclusively that for example a data access middle tier would only require a single licence to connect to the database tier however could be serving hundreds of distinct users connecting to it. It can be argued that requiring the number of user licences for the number of end users is fair, but where does stop? Are viewers of reports included? How about live (cached) reports hosted on an intranet? To add to it, you then need a few maintenance, service or operational accounts as well.

  9. Sandtitz Silver badge

    I must confess...

    I've been using Winrar beyond the eval. period...and approx 90% of my C-64 games were copies!

    1. Goldmember

      Re: I must confess...

      "I've been using Winrar beyond the eval. period"

      Ha ha, I too used to happily click OK to the "WinRAR is not free" box for years. The extra step when opening zip files just became part of the procedure. That is, until I discovered the wonderful 7zip...

    2. Nym

      Re: I must confess...

      It took me five seconds to remember what Winrar was. That is a LONG time. And you're old too, just like me. Nice to meet you.


  10. shaggabouti

    The spice must flow !

  11. The First Dave

    My take on the whole thing is that they asked a bunch of managers if they were 100% sure that they had exactly the right number of licences for all of the software on their estate, and that 43% said "no, we're not entirely sure, cos so many companies make licensing REALLY hard"

    If I'm right, then that really doesn't equate to 43% of software installs, not least because some of those will be over-licenced.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have lost count of the number of days I have lost due to VMs not having their Windows OS correctly activated. And then finding all license keys are used up. If we ever get audited, we're in trouble.

    Total PITA, why we continue to suffer MS's crap I don't understand.

    1. Nym

      Re: Activation

      I would have used Apple. I knew it was the better gear, especially than that toy Radio Shack had. I couldn't stand their snooty commercials. And DOS was fun, even though it was too intimidating for most. I would have used Linux, but it wouldn't friggin run on anything. Along came Windows. It sucked up all the programs. It was a choice between, then. And I really, really hated Apple commercials.

      That's why I suffer Windows.

      What I really wonder is why I still suffer computers, having started using them, actually, in 1972.

      And anyone sane who has relied on a computer must hate them. I mean, really.

  13. Mr Templedene

    Another reason I am glad I switched to open source, all the computers in my business run linux and have done since 2006

  14. Sergey 1

    Yeah, right

    if 43% of software is pirated, and the other half(?) is freeware/GNU/Linux/Mac, WTF do the BSA sponsors sell to pay for their surveys?

    ...sent for a M$-free machine, as always ;o)

  15. RobHib

    Hard to believe

    Hard to believe unless the stats are slanted at back-yard businesses in Asia. Most IT pros know it's too much trouble.

    Besides, the BSA has always exaggerated. (As an IT department head, I recall using using their bullshit stats in the early 1990s into frightening management to giving me more money for my IT budget. The BSA's copyright claims are so way-out that even hardened financially-tight-arsed managements will pay up without question.)

  16. JaitcH
    Thumb Down

    The Software Alliance - Lies and More Lies

    This outfit simply publishes guestimates - for many countries they don't even visit, just grab a passing number they fancy and Bingo! there goes a statistic.

    I'm happy to report we have no software that we actually bought in a box.

    We rolled over our computers this year and the contract required they be running Win 07. The dealer exchanged the installed software for the Win 97 at no cost. All our other software is either free or home grown.

    And the People's Police, who check software, never bother to even call to pick up their bribes!

    1. roger stillick

      Re: The Software Alliance - Lies and More Lies...a comment.

      DOS 5.0 was my favorite flavor...

      Unfortunately nothing today in the way of hardware will run it...

      IMHO= WIN 97 needed WIN NT patches to run the modern stuff, and by using NT patches to fix / make USB2 / 3 ports n the Ethernet / Wi-Fi / VPN stuff work, you be Pirating MS software...argh matey !! RS.

      Note= this is the cleanist SW solution I have seen so far this year... YUM.

  17. Technological Viking

    Define: Pirate; Define: Illegitimate

    Regardless of the clear bias and stupidity in the report, I bet an objective analysis of many workstations would turn up some alarming results if we used the vendors' definitions of legitimacy. As an administrator myself, I have to admit that I have placed Flash on a shared folder and installed it on PCs without visiting the Adobe website. Since I didn't declare to Adobe that I was an IT manager and go through their hoops of being given the right to share their .exe, any installations that happened from my centralized shared folder, or installations from the .exe that I put on a USB drive, or if we stretch it some more, any installations from the basic image that I built and deployed, violated their terms.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and Pure Greed

    Once again the Alliance is spewing forth statistics that are not justified anywhere in the report it refers to.

    What the Report does say, reading between the lines, is that the multi-millionaire software authors are still over valuing their products to justify their shareholder benefits giving them each lifestyles that the rest of us only dream about.

    So many 'hate' Apple, but what none can ignore is that their software does what it says on the label, and now at a price 99% of us can afford. Where else can you purchase licenses for 20 server installs, each a 1000 seat server, for $19.99? A complete new OS for FREE!

    I hear you say "yes but they over charged for years". Well may be they have. But look at what they have done with that cash, and are now giving back to the loyal users.

    I don't see Adobe or Microsoft following suit any time soon and as for some of the smaller enterprise authors..........

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