Reducing software piracy in Australia by just 10 percentage points over the next four years could generate 3,900 new jobs, according to a new study released yesterday by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
In addition to the jobs a reduction in piracy could also generate A$2.1 billion in economic growth, and A$485 million in tax revenues for all three tiers of government.
The benefit for local vendors is an additional A$1.55 billion in revenues, according to the study commissioned by BSA and undertaken by IDC.
According to IDC, reducing software piracy has a "multiplier effect. For every $1 spent on legitimate packaged software, an additional $1.25 is spent on related services from local vendors such as installing the software, training personnel and providing maintenance services."
In 2007, Australia spent nearly $25.4 billion on information technology (IT) - computers, peripherals, network equipment, packaged software and IT services.
That spending accounted for 3.0 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), supported more than 23,500 IT companies with nearly 178,000 IT industry employees, and helped generate $11.6 billion in IT-related taxes.
AIIA CEO, Sheryle Moon, said the growth of the Australian ICT industry is reliant on the ability of local companies to reap the benefits of their IP in the globalised marketplace.
"It is important that such innovation be protected at home and abroad from piracy. Protection would result in increased export revenue for Australia which is imperative to address the ICT trade deficit," she said.
IDC research director of IT markets, Marcel Warmerdam, said there are a number of steps government can take to drive down software piracy.
"The encouraging numbers found in this study should serve as further incentive for governments to do even more to promote intellectual property rights protection in their markets," Warmerdam said.
"A strong IT sector can serve as a major contributor to domestic labor productivity and national economic growth. And because most of the benefits from a reduction in software piracy accrue to locally-based software services and channel firms, most of the benefits stay within a country."
Warmerdam said Australian governments creat tough anti-piracy laws, implement obligations on behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organization and improve public awareness and education.
He said significant government resources should be dedicated to the problem, including national IP enforcement units, cross-border cooperation, and more training for local officers.
More than 40 economies were included in this study, collectively representing 91 per cent of the entire global IT sector. Of these, 11 were Asian economies.
- with Sandra Rossi