Brazil's software piracy is growing again after a steady decline in recent years. The latest numbers from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) show that 64% of all software used in Brazilian computers are pirated. In 2003, the percentage of illegal computer programs was 61%.
Although the numbers are high, by Latin American standards, Brazil has the second smaller rate of software piracy. According to the Global Study of Software Piracy, only in Colombia, among all Latin American countries, pirated software is less frequent. 55% of Colombian personal computers run on illegal software.
Due to the size of the population and the market, however, Latin America's software industry suffers its biggest losses in Brazil. Brazilian piracy results in annual losses for the industry of US$ 659 million.
The Global Study of Software Piracy was done by the research company IDC and released in Brazil by the ABES (Associação Brasileira de Empresas de Softwares - Brazilian Association of Softwares Companies) and the BSA (Business Software Alliance).
"It is believed that the increase of software piracy in Brazil and in the rest of Latin America is due to the larger combination of PC sales in local retailers, with the bigger availability of pirate software in the Internet", explains André de Almeida, BSA's juridical consultant in Brazil, who is also an adviser for the ABES, and titular member of the Federal Government's National Board for Combating Piracy.
"In countries where the sale of brand-name PCs and especially of laptops grows much faster than the sale of computers by local retailers we see the amount of pirated software decline," he says.
According to the IDC study, Brazilians in 2004 spent US$ 30 million more buying personal computers than in the previous year. The revenue with software, however, increased less than half this value.
The additional number of Internet users in 2004 reached two million, increasing Brazil's internauts' population to 17,1 million. The number of Internet users with access to broadband at home grew 70%, reaching 700 thousand in 2004.
This growth of Internet users and the rise in the number of those using broadband are, according to the company that prepared the study, one of the contributing factors to the increased use of pirated software in Brazil.
When compared to the worst cases of piracy in the world, however, Brazil's record is quite unimpressive. Brazil came well below the champion of pirated software, Vietnam, where 92% of all the computer programs used are illegal. Second in line is Ukraine with 91% of pirated software, followed by China, with 90%.
The United States is the country with the smallest percentage of pirated software (21%) followed by New Zealand (23%) and Austria (25%).
In terms of losses, however, the US comes in first place. Software piracy represented losses of US$ 6,645 billion in the United States in 2004. In second place came China, with US$ 3,565 billion and in third, France, with US$ 2,928 billion.
The average rate of software piracy all over the world is 35%. In Latin America, this average jumps to 66%.
Brazil holds the tenth position in the list of countries with more losses due to software piracy. In Latin America, the second place went to Mexico -right after Brazil - which had losses of US$ 407 million.