Maritime provinces awash with software piracy

The Yukon prevented an Atlantic province sweep of the top four spots in the latest study of national software piracy — not that any of them are bragging about it.

According to the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST),

more than half (50.8 per cent) of all business applications used in Prince Edward Island are in violation of intellectual property law. Newfoundland came in second at 50.2 per cent, followed by Nova Scotia (49.3 per cent), the Yukon (49 per cent) and New Brunswick (47.9 per cent). The Northwest Territories and Nunavut (47.9 per cent) rounded out the top five. The average as a nation is 38 per cent.

CAAST president Allan Steel says there isn’t a thumbnail sketch of a typical business using pirated software. The range goes from those who don’t know better to those deliberately making copies and distributing them.

“”There’s no pattern,”” Steel says. “”Under licencing or non-compliance runs from the small entrepreneur all the way up to the big organization.””

For the most part, the numbers didn’t change much over 2000 except for Quebec, which led the country for the first time in terms of least pirated software, at 32.4 per cent. Steel says its piracy rate dropped dramatically from 38.2 per cent in the last study.

“”We’ve had a number of initiatives both within CAAST and a number of members working in the Quebec marketplace. One of things we did was put French on our Web site and a lot more information for people, as well as working very closely with some of the large organizations in Quebec,”” Steel says.

Robert Holleyman, CEO of CAAST’s U.S. counterpart, the Business Software Alliance, says the trend — smallest group, highest percentage of offenders — is similar south of the border. He says the more populous a region, the more likely it is to have large enterprises and government, which are the most likely to use registered software. For whatever reason, most small companies haven’t adopted software management practices, he says.

While Canada’s average of 38 per cent puts us in the middle of the pack globally, the country is well behind the U.S. Holleyman credits its world-best 25 per cent average to having invested in education and stiff fines. American businesses can be fined up US$150,000 per work infringed. In Canada, by comparison, it’s $20,000 per work infringed. “”(Fines) clearly will be a useful mechanism to help drive down rates of piracy in Canada, but there’s not been the history,”” Holleyman says.

The vice-president of a Maritime company licenced to resell Microsoft products says its vendor is partly to blame for the problem.

“”I think Microsoft is the reason that it does happen, because their (products) are so expensive. There’s no reason for the stuff to be that expensive,”” said the executive who asked not to be named, citing Word as a prime example of the problem.

“”You’re forced to spend $600 on Office because you can’t buy Word by itself. It’s a bad thing, but unfortunately Microsoft doesn’t help the situation.””

After Quebec came Alberta (34.3 per cent), Ontario (37.6 per cent), Manitoba (39.1 per cent), British Columbia (41.1 per cent) and Saskatchewan (46.2 per cent).

According to the International Planning and Research Corp., which conducted study on CAAST’s behalf, piracy cost $289 million in retail sales in Canada in 2001, $2 billion in lost wages and 32,000 jobs.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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