Revulytics Blog

Culture of indifference toward software piracy in UK businesses

September 13, 2011



We’ve discussed the issue of piracy by businesses here in the past, as well as the challenges facing ISVs when it comes to identifying unlicensed use. Last April, we recorded a podcast that compared various sources of software piracy leads.

Recently, our friends across the pond at FAST polled UK office workers about their attitudes toward pirated software and the use of unlicensed software in the workplace. Specifically, the group looked at workers’ familiarity with “whistleblower” protection and willingness to report piracy.

The results are interesting, though not entirely surprising, and reveal an overall cultural of indifference toward software piracy (something that might be expected more in regions like China and Taiwan than in the UK).

Despite legal protection and the ability to report piracy anonymously, the overwhelming majority of professionals would not report piracy in their workplace. According to the survey, 13 percent of respondents feared losing their job; 22 percent feared the stigma of being a “whistleblower;” and an “astonishing” 49 percent simply didn’t care if the software they used at work was legally licensed or not. Less than a quarter of all respondents would consider reporting piracy.

A similar survey of IT professionals conducted by Network World found that nearly 70% of respondents have directly witnessed IT staff looking the other way when employees install unlicensed software.

This indifference is a threat to innovation and economic growth in the software sector. As much as it is an attitudinal shift, the growth of piracy distribution channels makes it trivial for users and businesses to obtain and adopt unlicensed software. It’s easier than ever to obtain pirated software and spread it within organizations without the users themselves even knowing that the software is illegal.

End-user organizations and ISVs alike need to proactively address software piracy. At stake for the end-user organizations is the loss of credibility, significant compliance fines and potential security risks. For the ISVs, it’s a matter of recovering lost revenue (click here for a great panel discussion on the topic of license revenue recovery with FAST, SIIA and V.i. Labs). At the end of the day, the answer is in gathering intelligence on the use and misuse of software and acting upon it.

With workers reluctant to report piracy, ISVs should consider piracy business intelligence tools such as CodeArmor Intelligence as a way of identifying license overuse and overt piracy and turning them into revenue recovery leads. These tools reduce the reliance of ISVs on personal reports of piracy, which can be inaccurate or influenced by ulterior motives, by providing unbiased and indisputable data on the use of unlicensed software.

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Michael Goff

Post written by Michael Goff

Marketing Director at Revulytics
Michael is Marketing Director at Revulytics where he is responsible for corporate marketing, content, and social media. He has helped to educate the industry on the benefits of software usage analytics for compliance and product management through the company's blog and contributed articles in trade publications. Michael was previously a marketing programs manager at The MathWorks and principal at Goff Communications. Michael earned a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University.