Business Software Alliance: Canada A World Leader in Reducing Infringement

The Business Software Alliance has issued its annual Global Software Piracy report with some positive words for Canada.  Consistent with my column this week on how claims that Canada is a piracy haven is rhetoric over reality, the BSA study notes that Canada had one of the sharpest declines in the world last year and is now firmly in the group of countries with the lowest piracy rates anywhere.  The BSA finds Canada dropped by 3 percent last year, tied with India and Chile for the sharpest declines, but coming from a much lower rate.  Canada is now listed at 29 percent, far lower than countries like France (40%), Italy (49%), or Spain (42%).  Michael Murphy, chair of the BSA Canada Committee is quoted as saying:

“At 29 per cent, Canada’s software piracy rate is at an all- time low, which demonstrates the progress that can be made through greater consumer education, legalization programs by software companies and better enforcement of licensing rules."

Note that there is no reference to copyright reform as a key factor in reducing infringement. While I have raised concerns with the BSA methodology in the past, there is no disputing that the industry's own numbers suggest Canada has continually declined for software infringement for the past three years and, contrary to the rhetoric about Canada, is at an all-time low.


  1. Marcus Coles says:

    Is some of this reduction sparked by the use of free software?
    In these times of cut backs and reduced spending, I find myself recommending to my mostly SOHO clients, various free applications as an alternative to proprietary software. This in almost all cases has been a successful transition and probably avoided the clients use of illegally copied and cracked software in at least a few instances.

  2. Bill Lambert says:

    Where do the numbers come from
    How does the BSA come up with these figures ? If they could really tell who and how many people are in possession of pirated software, wouldn’t they be inclined to sue everyone and bring that number down to zero ?

    Much like the music and movie industry, I go by the assumption that the BSA’s numbers and methodologies are made up on-the-fly, to support their agenda. I would love for my cynicism to be proven wrong on this.

  3. Russell McOrmond says:

    Where do the numbers come from?
    Bill Lambert,

    I offer my attempt to answer your question here:

    Lies, Damned lies, and IIPA/BSA/etc statistics.

    In other words, they are largely made up based on assuming that most other contributing factors aren’t relevant.

  4. @Bill Lambert
    For most countries of the world, the numbers used by the BSA is an estimate. They claim to base the estimate on surveys taken in similar countries… I suspect that some of it comes simply from a number pulled from a bodily orifice and use this to justify their position on IP issues. According to the BSA website, they actually do consider open source software as being legal and attempt to account for it. The question is, how much do they account for it?

    Remember, the BSA is an organization with an agenda. As with any person or organization with an agenda, they are not going to publish information which contradicts their position, save in an effort to shoot down the contrary evidence.

  5. All-time profit then?
    Let’s suppose the BS-A’s numbers are correct, does this mean software sales in Canada have risen? Is the Canadian software industry making more money than ever before? These numbers indicate an all-time profit for the Canadian software industry.

    Since these numbers are BS, I’ll just have an all-time laugh!


  6. I dont believe on any of them anymore
    Statistics are easy to manipulate, to find out the lies or the truth means do your own research.

  7. Do software companies internal copies count in the BSA methodology?
    What little information on methodology there is can be found on page 16 of the report.

    Why are the U.S. rates so low?

    Do Microsoft, Oracle, CA, Adobe, et al consider the copies of their software used internally by employees to be “purchased”? Wouldn’t this skew the U.S. numbers considerably? Or could it be the shear volume of Gov’t licenses.

    Most modern licenses also allow a laptop and/or a home installation. Are these factored in?

  8. Glenn Carbol says:

    Partner, Innovate LLP
    As an intellectual property lawyer in Toronto who defends clients against BSA claims, I am surprised the statement was not “… Canada’s software piracy rate is at an all- time low, which demonstrates that progress can be made through offering rewards to whistle-blowers …”. I personally would like to see legislation that prohibits End User Rewards. Is it really doing the right thing if you get paid for it?


  9. Much has been lost with BSA initiatives..
    Unfortunately, Much has been lost: Thanks to BSA, today’s home and commercial software is fraught with many, many errors, bloated code and is highly over priced. As with the decline in Canada’s mining and manufacturing industries, the alliance’s initiatives have retarded real growth. Conditions are now ripe for Asian countries to garner lion’s share of software market. It’s scandalous. RC

  10. There are statistics …
    Cue the “But it’s only declining because it was so high to begin with” contortions to justify continuing labeling Canada as the black ship of the seas.