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BSA Report Reveals Scope of Online Software Piracy

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) tracks almost $1 billion in illegal software shared on BitTorrent P2P networks in the first half of 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Individuals are turning to peer-to-peer (P2P) networks and auction sites in staggering numbers to acquire or transfer illegal software and in doing so are harming the economy whilst exposing themselves to malware, identity theft and criminal prosecution, according to the 2009 Internet Piracy Report from the Business Software Alliance.

The report, entitled Software Piracy on the Internet: A Threat To Your Security, offers a peek into the scale and impact of online software piracy, including a retrospective look at the past year's notable enforcement actions. The report is also a resource for those who wish to avoid the pitfalls of illegal software on the Internet and has been produced to coincide with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which began with the start of October.

In particular, this year's Internet Piracy Report zeros in on Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks and auction sites, both of which are a hotbed for the transfer of illegal software. As a longtime leader in the fight against software piracy, BSA uses special technology to monitor peer-to-peer networks and auction sites, issuing "takedown requests" when it finds suspicious software being offered. In the first half of 2009, BSA stepped up its efforts in this area and issued almost 2.4 million takedown notices related to P2P and BitTorrent file sharing, an increase of more than 200 percent over the same period in 2008.

Likewise, in the first half of 2009, BSA more than doubled its impact with its in-house Internet "crawler" requesting the removal of almost 103,000 torrent files from nine of the largest BitTorrent hosting sites worldwide. These torrent files were being used by nearly 2.9 million individuals to download software with a retail value of more than $974 million.

"Peer-to-Peer networks are ideal for distribution of a wide variety of materials that can be legally shared with large groups and are a tool used by more businesses to enhance productivity. Unfortunately, P2P technology is also a favorite channel for software pirates who see it as the perfect channel through which to distribute illegal and potentially dangerous software. One of the great disappointments of this technology, for all of its benefits, is that it is now too often seen as the domain only for pirates and malcontents who place no value on the work of software developers and designers," commented Jenny Blank, Senior Director of Legal Affairs for the BSA.

With respect to illegal auctions, BSA issued around 19,000 takedown requests in the first half of 2009, a 4% increase on the same period a year earlier. The centerpiece of BSA's efforts is the Online Auction Tracking System (OATS), a proprietary tool that monitors auction sites and BitTorrent networks on a continuous basis.

Beyond P2P and auction site piracy, the report also draws correlations between Internet piracy and the spread of malware such as viruses, trojans and spyware, which often exploit vulnerabilities in illegal software that does not benefit from security updates provided by manufacturers. Although the correlation is not universal, geographies with high instances of software piracy suffer from high instances of malware.

"Software piracy is a threat on multiple fronts. Pirated software can be a breeding ground for malware and can also open users up to crimes such as identity theft. Those who decide to acquire illegal software harm the economy and companies of all sizes. Moreover, those who engage in piracy open themselves up to civil and criminal prosecution," said Blank of BSA.

Among the notable cases highlighted in this year's report is that of Tommy Rushing, recently sentenced to three years in federal prison for copyright infringement linked to four for-profit Web sites that offered pirated copies of Adobe and Macromedia software. Likewise, Timothy Dunaway was sentenced to 41 months in prison for selling counterfeit computer software through 40 different Web sites.

Outside of the U.S., a District Court in Taiwan sentenced two individuals to six months' imprisonment for illegal duplication of software, while Hungarian authorities raided the country's largest illegal software distribution company and seized approximately 250 terabytes of illegal content stored on 43 computer servers. The largest case in the world was in China, where the government shut down and convicted the leaders of tomatolei.com, a Web site offering free downloads of massive quantities of illegal software originally published by Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, and Symantec.

Alongside enforcement, this year's Internet Piracy Report also highlights how BSA works proactively to educate users about the dangers of online piracy. Pirated products often fail to function properly, or worse still, they are capable of infecting users' PCs with malware that has the potential to cause serious damage

Tools & Resources to Ensure Compliance

BSA works with businesses to help ensure that their company isn't at risk of the financial, technical, and legal risks associated with illegal software. In addition to the educational and self-audit resources provided online at www.bsa.org, BSA has partnered with the US Small Business Administration to educate up to 100,000 small businesses on software licenses, copyright laws, tips on how to purchase safe and legal software online, and how to develop an SAM program.

Businesses trying to determine whether their organizations are using unlicensed software can download the free software audit tools at www.bsaaudit.com.

Please visit our Facebook page under keyword Business Software Alliance (BSA) Anti-Piracy.

About BSA

The Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world. BSA is the voice of the world's commercial software industry and its hardware partners before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members represent one of the fastest growing industries in the world. BSA programs foster technology innovation through education and policy initiatives that promote copyright protection, cyber security, trade and e-commerce. BSA members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Corel, CyberLink, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation, Embarcadero, McAfee, Microsoft, Minitab, Quark, Quest Software, Rosetta Stone, Siemens, Sybase, Symantec, and The MathWorks.

SOURCE Business Software Alliance

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