ECONOMY

Greek software piracy well over EU average

Greece is the EU’s worst offender in software piracy, as 62 percent of all software merchandized in this country in 2004 was pirated, marginally down from 63 percent in 2003, a survey for industry body Business Software Alliance (BSA) has shown. The value of pirated software in Greece rose to $106 million. «Despite the small decline in the percentage of piracy in Greece, it still is far above the EU average, overtaking even the new Eastern European members,» said BSA’s legal adviser in Greece, Georgios-Andreas Zannos. Within Europe, piracy rates fell two percentage points to 35 percent in 2004. «From BSA data, it emerges that our EU partners perceive differently the significance of copyright protection in a competitive economy, which encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting domestic and foreign investment,» added Zannos. The report has prompted calls for the European Union to crack down on piracy. Beth Scott, vice president of BSA for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said national governments and the EU must set harsher penalties for software theft and ensure that legislature is enforced. «Although some progress is being made, unfortunately, this small decline shows software piracy remains a crucial obstacle for the growth and evolution of the sector. There is legislation but the enforcement of that legislation and the penalties simply aren’t adequate,» said Scott. The survey showed that although the software piracy rate in the EMEA fell to 39 percent from 41 percent in 2003, the cost to software publishers and retailers increased $3 billion to $15.7 billion. Zannos suggested that data from other countries show that the state’s contribution is the most important factor against software piracy: «In these countries the state, after providing the appropriate legal framework, enforced the laws’ application by increasing illegal software checks and limiting the use of pirated software in the public sector by taking preventative and suppressive measures,» explained Zannos. BSA in Greece recently announced the free-of-charge distribution of two useful guides for companies through its local website (www.bsa.org/hellas). These are the Software Asset Management Guide and the Software Licensing Guide, both aimed at greater awareness of the legal and correct use of software.