Estimating software piracy in China

David Leonhardt of NYT points to this interesting way of estimating software piracy in China.

There is a belief that China is a leader in software piracy. But this is just a hypothesis. How can you test it?

Leonhardt says look at the sales of hardware vs software. China is 2nd in the hardware list ($64.4 bn) and 8th in the software industry ($5.4 bn). The difference is too large  – $ 59 bn. It implies China is buying its computer hardware and copying much of its computer software.

The post led to some interesting comments:

Ari in Ithaca asks whether the gap between sales of computer hardware and software in China is really evidence of widespread software piracy:

An alternative explanation is that they are using free software like Linux, FreeBSD, and variants. Without any data on what software they use any accusations of piracy are pure speculation.

Matt Reid of the Business Software Alliance in Washington replies, by e-mail:

Free software does not explain the disparity. Every country is utilizing a mix of free, open and proprietary software, yet nowhere else are we seeing a greater disparity between legal hardware purchases and legal software purchases. BSA and our research partner IDC have examined this question from all angles. Our annual Piracy Rate Study factors in the legal use of free and open source software, and it calculates China’s piracy rate to be 79 percent – with a commercial value of $7.6 billion.

Leonhardt also points to this note which estimates software piracy. India is one of the fastest growing software piracy market after China, US and Brazil. Also US remains the leader in software piracy..


One Response to “Estimating software piracy in China”

  1. aansystone Says:

    this is not as much serious issue as they are trying to make it. most of the purchase of computers in china is for industrial and official use and as we all know that by Computer Networking a single software can be easily access by all the clients of the network and also people over their prefer to use open source/free applications and softwares.
    -Aansy Stone

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