Software Piracy is Chipping Away at Our Innovative Potential

This week marked the release of the latest edition of a much anticipated annual report on digital piracy. The bottom line of the 2011 Business Software Alliance (BSA) Global Software Piracy Study is not totally surprising—with an 8% increase in pirated products to a market value of $63.4 billion—but reinforces the fact that what we’re confronting is a massive illicit industry that chips away at our innovative potential.

That is $63 billion that is not being paid to employees, not being invested in new, innovative products, and on which taxes are not being paid.

The U.S. is not only missing out on the revenue or added GDP, but we’re also missing out on the workforce potential. A recent Department of Commerce study found that over one-quarter of the U.S. workforce—40 million Americans—is employed by our most creative and innovative industries. Piracy and counterfeiting undercut the ability for these sectors of our economy—such as software, entertainment, and technology—to maintain American jobs and generate innovative products that make our daily lives better, richer, and safer.

Let’s be real: the problem of piracy and counterfeiting is not going away and will indeed grow and grow and grow. The solution, however, is not to sit and watch it happen. One obvious approach is enhanced across-the-board education efforts. The BSA study also looked into attitudes towards digital piracy, with 71% of respondents saying that it is important to reward innovation, yet over half of all global computer users admit to pirating software. The dots need to be connected that digital piracy and consumption thereof, in fact, undermine this very innovation.

Enforcement is an important component where there is plenty of room to grow to tackle this menace. Digital pirates and counterfeiters act as if there are no consequences. They pretend that they’re not infecting our hard drives, stealing our personal identities, chipping away at our jobs and innovative potential. Our enforcement agencies need more coordination, resources, and manpower to ensure that the drivers of America’s economy don’t succumb to this multi-billion dollar illicit enterprise.

We thank our friends at the BSA for highlighting this enormous problem and we look forward to tackling this issue head-on, one download at a time.

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