2004 Global Software Piracy Study
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2004 Global Software Piracy Study

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the global trade organization representing the world’s leading software developers, has conducted a global research study to reveal software piracy rates in countries around the world since 1996.

Paul Holmes

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the global trade organization representing the world’s leading software developers, has conducted a global research study to reveal software piracy rates in countries around the world since 1996 and to illustrate the effects piracy has on these countries’ local economies.

In July 2004, BSA and its public relations firm, Dittus Communications, launched a PR and media campaign to release the results of the ninth annual study in the U.S.

The findings of the study include: increasing awareness of the worldwide software piracy problem among businesses and consumers in order to develop new ways to fight it, increasing awareness of the economic effects of piracy on global and local markets to help initiate a dialogue amongst policy-makers about the issue and reinforcing BSA’s role as the leading resource on helping businesses use commercial software legally, positioning it as an organization dedicated to research, prevention, education, policy initiatives and enforcement.

Although International Planning and Research Corporation (IPR) conducted the study for eight years, BSA commissioned the global technology research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) to conduct the ninth annual study in 2004. Switching vendors from IPR to IDC provided both opportunities and challenges. While IPR’s study tracked only PC business software applications, IDC broadened the study’s scope by examining 100 percent of the total software market, including operating systems, consumer software and local market software. While implementing this improved methodology was a natural progression of a study conducted in a constantly evolving software market, BSA faced the problem of potentially raising suspicion about the validity of previous years’ data.

BSA and Dittus determined that pitching an exclusive story to an international wire service would maximize news coverage of the piracy study by emphasizing its global nature and helping to generate an international business story. Pitching the story in Europe was based on the legislative environment surrounding the issue of copyright in the European Union at the time, would maximize global pick-up of the story. To bolster the exclusiveness, each country would tailor its media strategy to reflect the climate surrounding piracy in that country.

In the U.S., this primarily meant leveraging IDC’s results to illustrate the severity of the problem, thus reinforcing the need to educate businesses about the importance of software compliance and positioning BSA as an authoritative resource. Secondarily, it meant ensuring that these messages were appropriate to domestic policy decisions being made about piracy.

Switching vendors to IDC provided an opportunity, as its survey instrument examined not only business software applications, but operating systems, consumer software and local market software. These market-driven results could be extended to more software types and segmented by industry or size class. For this analysis, IDC drew upon its worldwide data for software and hardware shipments, conducted more than 5,600 interviews in 15 countries and used its in-country analysts around the globe to evaluate local market conditions.

The study revealed the 2003 piracy rate and its economic impact in 86 countries in North America, Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia/Pacific Region. The global piracy rate was 36 percent, resulting in a loss of nearly $29 billion dollars.

BSA collaborated with Dittus to develop key messages, formulate answers to anticipated questions and create a detailed communications outreach plan, including objectives, strategies, tactics and budget.

BSA worked with Dittus to develop the following materials in preparation for executing the campaign: news release and radio media advisory; key messages, talking points and questions and answers; design layout for key findings fact sheet, hard copy report and date snapshot slick; and audio news release script. Dittus also developed an extensive media list including contacts from national wire services, national television and radio networks, daily newspapers in the top media markets and national technology and business trade publications.

After the PR team determined that BSA’s United Kingdom office had the best potential for securing a global exclusive due to a strong relationship with a Reuters European correspondent, BSA U.K. pitched and secured the exclusive.

Media outreach in the U.S. included disseminating the radio media advisory the day before the study’s release and conducting follow-up; coordinating the recording and dissemination of an audio news release; disseminating the press release to all media contacts; conducting aggressive follow-up via phone and email; and securing interviews for BSA spokespersons. Other countries used media tactics as they saw fit for their markets, including holding press conferences.

In the U.S., the study generated 172 hits and garnered more than 359 million impressions. Notable placements included The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Bloomberg Radio, CNN Money, Forbes Online, United Press International, USA Today and Investor’s Business Daily. Forty-seven individual radio stations, in major markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., and seven national radio networks (with 1,560 affiliates) accepted the audio news release.s

In Latin America, the study generated 275 hits and garnered more than 28 million impressions. Notable placements included La Nación, La Republica, Buenos Aires Herald and Yahoo! En Español.

In the Asia/Pacific region, the study generated 309 hits and garnered more than two billion impressions. Notable placements included The Age, South China Morning Post, The Hindu and Channel News Asia.

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa the study generated 1,000 hits and garnered more than 189 million impressions. Notable placements included Newsweek International, The Financial Times, CNBC Europe TV and BBC World Service.

In Canada, the study generated 72 hits and garnered more than 10 million impressions. Notable placements included National Post, Toronto Star, The Canadian Press and Broadcast News Service.

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