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High-Tech Robbery

Apparently, there's been no slowdown in the plundering of software by high-tech pirates. According to a recent study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Software Publishers Association, worldwide dollar losses exceeded $11.2 billion last year. More than 225 million business applications were pirated, a 20 percent increase since 1995.

Not surprisingly, software manufacturers in the United States are the big losers in the piracy battle. The percentage of software in the United States that is being used illegally increased to 27 percent. The $2.4 billion in U.S. losses greatly exceeds that of any other country and represents 21 percent of total worldwide losses.

The growth of the Internet, where programs can easily be downloaded by users who don't hold software licenses, has significantly spurred software theft. Yet perhaps the most common form of piracy is unlicensed copying in the workplace. Often, licenses for one or a few copies are purchased for a business, but then illegal copies are made--sometimes unbeknownst to management.

A free program called SoftScan is available from the BSA to help businesses monitor software piracy. When placed on a user's machine, SoftScan inventories programs on the hard drive for verification against software purchase records and licenses. Download the software from the BSA's Web site at http://www.bsa.org , or call (888) NO-PIRACY.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: High-Tech Robbery.

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