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On the Reliability of Software Piracy Statistics

Ivan P. L. Png

National University of Singapore (NUS)

March 20, 2010

Despite tremendous debate and policy interest in software piracy, statistics compiled by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) have generally been accepted at face value by policy makers and scholars. However, the accuracy of BSA statistics has not been independently verified.

Based on a review of the BSA methodology and empirical analysis, I conclude the following. A change in the BSA consultant and methodology around 2002-03 had systematic effects on published piracy rates. First, the trend rate of decrease of piracy rates fell from 2.0% points per year to 1.1% points per year. Second, piracy rates apparently became more sensitive to changes in income. Third, piracy rates depended on projections of software usage based on per capita incomes in the respective countries, and were subject to a bias that was greater for higher-income countries.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: copyright, piracy, software

JEL Classification: O34

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Date posted: February 28, 2008 ; Last revised: May 14, 2014

Suggested Citation

Png, Ivan P. L., On the Reliability of Software Piracy Statistics (March 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1099325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1099325

Contact Information

Ivan P. L. Png (Contact Author)
National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )
Singapore, 117543
+65 6516-6807 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/iplpng/
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