“Canada’s Piracy Rate is at an All Time Low”

The Business Software Alliance released its annual Global Piracy Study yesterday and while the study is oft-criticized on methodological grounds (Glyn Moody, my 2009 criticisms that revealed no actual surveys in Canada that year), the trend is unmistakable. According to this annual study, Canada’s piracy rate has been on a steady decline as Michael Murphy, Chairman of the BSA Canada Committee, notes “at 28 per cent, Canada’s piracy rate is at an all time low, dropping six percentage points since 2006.”

The Toronto Star runs a story on the release, complete a graphic showing Canada among the 15 lowest piracy countries in the world. Canada’s is well below the Western European average and well below the other countries on the USTR Special 301 Watch list. While the BSA notes an increase in the dollar amount, this is due almost entirely to currency fluctuations given the stronger Canadian dollar. Moreover, Joe Karaganis highlights the fact that the BSA says the top source of “software piracy” is not unauthorized versions of software but rather “overinstallation” – the installation of legal, authorized software on more than one computer.

The BSA study is only the latest data point from the industry that counters the steady stream of myths regarding the Canadian market and Canadian copyright law:

  • claims that the Canadian digital market is wild west is countered by recording industry data showing that the Canadian digital music market has grown faster than the U.S. market for five consecutive years
  • claims that new services avoid entering the market because of copyright law is countered by those services (such as Pandora) noting that it is pricey licensing demands, not copyright laws, that are the chief barrier
  • claims that Canada does not have laws to deal with so-called piracy sites is countered by the recording industry’s own lawsuit against isoHunt that seeks millions in damages using current copyright law
  • claims that Canada is a haven for movie piracy is countered by the CMPDA, which has acknowledged the significant decline in the practice in Canada in recent years
  • claims that notice-and-notice is ineffective as an approach to ISP liability is countered by data from the ISPs, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, and by the CMPDA’s own discussions with the U.S.
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  1. Bill MacEachern says:

    Please call them what they are: lies meant to manipulate, and the liars should be repeatedly called out and mocked for their Special 301 Fairy Tales list. I suspect the Harper regime will take a renewed interest in compliance with US demands now that it is in a position where it doesn’t have to care what the average voter thinks for the next 4 years.

  2. Misty De Meo says:

    This is definitely interesting, though the BSA is of course focused very specifically on business software. That’s a very different market from general piracy. I’d be curious to know whether the trend they’re identifying generalizes across all categories – though as you say, movie piracy is down too.

  3. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Never let it be said that lobbyists allow facts to get in their way.

  4. Over-installation is not piracy (and I dislike the term piracy in the first place) at least not as its thrown around to describe scruffy geeks downloading warez from Pirate Bay. Over-installation in most cases its unintentional (more like benign neglect) and sometimes its intentional. I view this as breaking the software licensing agreement between two companies which can be resolved without the legal system in most cases and certainly not a criminal matter.

    Clearly these exaggerated numbers are lumped together to support the anti-piracy cause. How they gain any relevance is shocking and indicative of the ignorance the various organizations like the RIAA, MPAA, CRIA can exploit. One thing needs to be made abundantly know to everyone: a downloaded copy of software (by the traditional meaning of “pirated”) is not equivalent to a lost sale at full retail price. The vast majority of the downloaded copies cannot and will not translate into sales. This alone invalidates their complete study and methodology.

  5. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    just sayin’
    @BillG Sorry, you’re wrong. Piracy is what the law says it is.

    That’s why copyright maximalists are pushing so hard for new copyright laws around the world. They want to change the laws so that we can be coerced into thinking and behaving the way they want us to, to increase their maximum profits.

    Copyright maximalists want zero tolerance AND serious legal consequences for “breaking the software licensing agreement.” Thelaws they want *will* MAKE it a criminal matter.

    Also, “a downloaded copy of software (by the traditional meaning of “pirated”)” is NOT piracy, although they want you to think that too. Many people PAY to legally download software, movies, music, artwork &tc.

    And of course, there is a vast amount of FREE software available out there. [ ] I myself am typing this on my desktop computer which now uses the free Trisquel Operating System (it is so cool to be Windows free :)

  6. Crockett says:

    Manifesto of the common man …
    On John Degen’s blog I was challenged to read a very interesting book called ‘I am not a gadget’. I am part way through the book and have some of my preconceptions challenged and others confirmed. To set a baseline for future comment I decided to write a ‘manifesto’ of my own. To check it out jump on over to John’s site …

  7. Piracy
    Piracy is an act of criminal violence at sea. What they’re actually talking about with the “overinstallation” is a breach of contract matter.

    Of course MPAA likes to re-define words so that “piracy” would mean “breach of contract”. Let’s do it both ways then. A certain company removed an advertised feature from a product they sold to me (they said it could run Linux then removed the feature after I bought the product). And they advertised a network that I could use with their product which is down for 3 weeks now. On top of it they leaked my personal info to hackers. Looks like they aren’t holding their end of the sale contract. According to their own new meaning of words, they look to me like PIRATES.


  8. As far as “over-installation” goes, I see no reason why anyone should have to buy a copy of software per device. If I buy a CD, it is generally accepted that I can transfer it to all of my computers, to my mp3 player, burn it to another CD (and thanks to the levy give said CD to a friend). Why in the hell should I have to buy 3 copies of Windows?

    If that’s all they have to complain about, then the appropriate response is “sit down and shut up.”

  9. progreenbychrirs says:

    Overinstallation is not privacy but the claims are bullshit
    Overinstallion of windows OEM can work with several computers such cheating WPA.

    EULA of Windows claims OEM can licensed only one PC. If I buy three copies for three computers, so a lot of money will wasteful. It is senseless because Microsoft loves Capitalism and got a lot of billion dollar and caused few loss of jobs 😛

    I can lend my own original DVD of Windows 7 to my friend for installing any laptops than illegal downloading.

    I doubt that Piracy-rate is too low in Canada. I assumed there is secretly high rate of piracy because a lot of Canadian do torrenting a lot of movies, games, etc. They do copy the movies from Rental for personal use when RCMP gave up for tracking down any offenders since 2007.

    Is Canada Movie Piracy Haven. It’s true because I witnessed a lot of pirated DVDs which owns my few friends but they are not interesting to sell copies to anybody. They prefer sharing files to anybody for free 😛 Piracy for sale is an crime.

    Note: Protect IP act is coming soon to US Congress. If an law passes, then Law Enforcement will remove all pirated website to globally reduce pirated-rate. 🙂

  10. progreenbychrirs says:

    misspell “privacy” on title. I mean Piracy.
    I noticed that I did misspell “Privacy” on Title. I apologize for inconceivable.

  11. Thank You Micheal
    I just want to say thank you for all of your honest work on behalf of Canadian internet users. Please keep up your good work.

  12. could it also be that some are looking at Open Source?
    LibreOffice or OpenOffice are excellent options for MS office (and they are free), VLC and other open source (free) media players are better than the paid ones. I could go on (Kubuntu for the OS, 29$ to install a new version of OSX)… my point is that most of the ‘piracy’ involves over priced windows based software. As people look to other options that software will be ‘pirated’ less frequently.