Study: Colleges a Gateway to Software Piracy

With students downloading everything from music to software, college campuses are becoming a

breeding ground for software piracy, according to a new study.

Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed say the would potentially download pirated software

and a majority of academics say downloading software is a real problem on campus, notes the

report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the trade organization for the commercial

software industry. Students also say they don’t think their professors discourage software


”Students aren’t being told, ‘Downloading unlicensed or illegal files is a mistake,’ ”

says Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of BSA. ”There have been positive advancements in

P2P technology, but its misuse raises concerns. Education is ever more important to changing

these behaviors. With P2P use on the rise, student and educator attitudes toward illegal

downloading and file-swapping, if ignored, have the potential to become a gateway for

increased software piracy on thousands of college campuses.”

Last month, the BSA reported that software piracy cost the United States $1.9 billion last

year, up from $1.8 billion in 2001. And that rate reportedly resulted in 105,000 lost jobs.

Industry analysts generally agree that piracy depletes available funding for software

research and development, causing layoffs in the industry and billions of dollars in lost

wages and tax revenues.

But the BSA also reported this summer that the U.S. has shown a small decline in software

piracy rates. The U.S. piracy rate dropped two points from 2001, going from 25 percent to 23


And around the world, software piracy is showing some signs of being on the mend.

A recent BSA study shows that worldwide, every country except Zimbabwe has reduced its

piracy rate since 1994, the first year the study was done. And software piracy has declined

around the world, decreasing 10 points over the past eight years. The piracy rate for

commercial software dipped down to 39 percent in 2002, compared to an all-time high of 49

percent in 1994.

But analysts worry that if the trend to download and share files on college campuses isn’t

checked, then those rates may increase again.

The new BSA survey, which was commissioned by the BSA and done by market research firm

Ipsos, shows that more than two-thirds of college faculty and administrators say it’s wrong

to download or swap files. However, fewer than one-quarter of students at those same

colleges say it’s wrong.

The study notes that 23 percent of college and university students have downloaded software

with only 32 percent paying for it all or most of the time. Another 69 percent have

downloaded music, with only 8 percent of them paying for it all or even most of the time.

And 26 percent have downloaded movies, with only 4 percent paying for it all or most of the


”Our concern is that two out of five students report using P2P file-sharing programs to

download commercial software and they are doing so more often than in previous years,”

Holleyman says. ”Students can now distribute large files, like software, over the Internet

much faster.”

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