By Max Clarke

Global pirated software use saw a 14% jump in 2010 alone, and since 2003 has more than doubled in value to $59 billion.

As a result of this massive theft of developers’ intellectual property, The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is calling on the UK Government to increase the level of damages available resulting from this theft ahead of the upcoming Hargreaves Review. Current policies, the Alliance argue, do not go far enough to deter illegal software use.

The call for tougher measures to combat software piracy comes on the back of the organisation’s 2010 Global Software Piracy Study, conducted in partnership with market research firm IDC, which shows that unlicensed software with a commercial value of £1.2 billion was installed in the UK in 2010.

“The current damages law isn’t tough enough to deter those businesses that still think it is acceptable to use unlicensed software,” said Sarah Coombes, Senior Director of Legal Affairs, BSA EMEA.

“The Ministry of Justice acknowledged this in 2007, suggesting this issue would be addressed, but no progress has been made to date. Legislation that strengthens the availability of court awarded damages would act as a deterrent for those that continue to use illegal software. The UK IT industry is a dynamic sector that supports almost 600,000 high-skill, high salary jobs and contributes billions of pounds in taxes each year, and we need tougher IP laws to protect it.”

Globally, emerging markets account for the majority of software piracy, with businesses in economies like Bangladesh and Georgia, an estimated 90% of their software is pirated.

“Today’s study shows that while piracy continues to threaten the global economy, people clearly understand and appreciate the value of intellectual property, especially its role in driving economic growth,” said Robert Holleyman, BSA president and CEO. “Software theft continues to stifle IT innovation, job creation, and economic growth around the world. This report clearly shows the importance of educating businesses, government officials, and end users about the risks of software theft – and what they can do to stop it.”