The Business Software Alliance is out today with their annual report on global piracy in 2008. While the methodology raises serious questions – the BSA actually only surveys about 5,000 people in 24 countries and then extrapolates the data to 110 countries – the report shows declining numbers in many countries, though there is an overall increase due to very high rates in parts of the world. It also points to the growing importance of open source software, which the report says commands 15 percent of the market.
Piracy rates in Canada have been steadily declining in recent years – down to 32% in 2008 from 36% in 2004. Canada ranks among the 25 countries with the lowest piracy rates, ahead of many European countries including France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal (notwithstanding claims of CAAST). The 32% is lower than the European Union average, lower than any country in Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East (tied with Israel), and lower than all but three Asian countries (Japan, Australia, and New Zealand). In fact, only five countries that have ratified the WIPO Internet treaties have software piracy rates lower than Canada. So much for Canada as a piracy haven and deserving of a place on the USTR Priority Watch List.
Beyond refuting many of the claims about Canadian piracy rates, the data is interesting since the BSA uses it to argue that implementing of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is part of a blueprint for reducing software piracy. It says it is one of five key elements: