Study: Colleges a Gateway to Software Piracy

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With students downloading everything from music to software, college campuses are becoming abreeding ground for software piracy, according to a new study.

Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed say the would potentially download pirated softwareand a majority of academics say downloading software is a real problem on campus, notes thereport from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the trade organization for the commercialsoftware industry. Students also say they don't think their professors discourage softwaretheft.

''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 inP2P technology, but its misuse raises concerns. Education is ever more important to changingthese behaviors. With P2P use on the rise, student and educator attitudes toward illegaldownloading and file-swapping, if ignored, have the potential to become a gateway forincreased software piracy on thousands of college campuses.''

Last month, the BSA reported that software piracy cost the United States $1.9 billion lastyear, 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 softwareresearch and development, causing layoffs in the industry and billions of dollars in lostwages and tax revenues.

But the BSA also reported this summer that the U.S. has shown a small decline in softwarepiracy rates. The U.S. piracy rate dropped two points from 2001, going from 25 percent to 23percent.

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 itspiracy rate since 1994, the first year the study was done. And software piracy has declinedaround the world, decreasing 10 points over the past eight years. The piracy rate forcommercial software dipped down to 39 percent in 2002, compared to an all-time high of 49percent in 1994.

But analysts worry that if the trend to download and share files on college campuses isn'tchecked, then those rates may increase again.

The new BSA survey, which was commissioned by the BSA and done by market research firmIpsos, shows that more than two-thirds of college faculty and administrators say it's wrongto download or swap files. However, fewer than one-quarter of students at those samecolleges say it's wrong.

The study notes that 23 percent of college and university students have downloaded softwarewith only 32 percent paying for it all or most of the time. Another 69 percent havedownloaded 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 thetime.

''Our concern is that two out of five students report using P2P file-sharing programs todownload 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 Internetmuch faster.''

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