SINGAPORE, Dec 8 (AFP): More than half the computer software used in the Asia Pacific region last year was illegally downloaded and cost the region billions in lost economic potential, a study released Thursday said.
According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the regional software piracy rate was 53 per cent in 2004, unchanged from the previous year.
Globally, the situation improved slightly to 35 per cent from 36 per cent illegally downloaded in 2003.
If efforts to cut the piracy rate by 10 percentage points to 43 per cent by 2009 are successful, 135 billion dollars could be pumped into the region's economies and state coffers boosted by an extra 14 billion dollars in new tax revenues, the association of software makers said.
"Growth in the Asia Pacific's IT (information technology) sector has already translated into significant benefits for the region's economies," BSA's regional director Jeffrey Hardee said.
"With a 10-point drop in the region's average software piracy rate, the software sector could grow three times faster over the next four years than it did in the last four years and spur expansion of the IT sector," he said, adding "the region could do better".
Asia's IT industry is worth 195 billion dollars and brings in at least 120 billion dollars in tax revenues, BSA said.
The biggest culprits were Vietnam which topped the list with a piracy rate of 92 per cent, followed by China at 90 percent, BSA said in the study which it commissioned research firm International Data Corp. to carry out.
Indonesia had the third-worst record with 87 per cent of software illegally downloaded. Thailand took fourth spot at 79 per cent.
"Software is the driving force behind growth in the IT sector, which also includes hardware and IT services," Hardee said.