Survey: Half of World’s PCs Have Pirated Software

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Correction 9/7/11: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the BSA survey found the United States to have the world’s highest piracy rate rather than China. The appropriate changes have been made to reflect this.

According to a new survey conducted by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), 47% of the world’s PC users get their software illegally.

The survey called upon 15,000 users from 32 different countries and found that 13% always get their software in illegal ways, such as from peer-to-peer networks (like BitTorrent) or installing single license software on multiple machines.  Another 34% get their software through illegal means most of the time.

(PHOTOS: A Brief History of the Computer)

The biggest culprit? China, which led all 32 countries surveyed with 86% of its PC users getting software illegally all or most of the time. Those users account for approximately 206 million PCs – twice as many as in the second place, United States, and seven times as many as third place, Brazil.

“The survey makes it clear that the global software piracy epidemic is spreading fastest in China, which is now the worlds biggest market for new PCs,” BSA president and chief executive Robert Holleyman tells Phys Org. Click here to see more of the findings in PDF form.

As we reported previously, the World Trade Organization has already reprimanded China for their lax enforcement of copyright and patent laws. However, Chinese officials have said they’re interested in reversing the trend and joining in on the worldwide crackdown.

As for the U.S.? Six states in particular are responsible for nearly half of all the country’s downloads: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Texas.

Poll time: Why not take our own quick and informal survey (completely confidential, of course):

[via Phys Org]

MORE: The 6 Worst Piracy States in the United States

Chris Gayomali is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.