Increasing levels of pirated software have resulted in a record level of loss for the industry.
According to the sixth annual global IDC software piracy study from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), industry losses due to software piracy in the UK amounted to £1.49 billion in 2008.
The UK software piracy rate has stalled over the last five years, remaining at 27 per cent for three years before dropping to 26 per cent in 2007, only to rise again back to 27 per cent this year.
Alyna Cope, spokesperson for the BSA UK country committee, said: “With more than one in four software installations categorised as illegal in the UK, we cannot afford to give up the fight against software piracy.
“Much more needs to be done by the industry and the government to warn businesses and consumers of the risks associated with under-licensed software, from a legal, financial and operational point of view. Software piracy hurts our knowledge-based economy by weakening the very foundation on which it is built - respect for intellectual property and innovation.”
John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC, claimed that a reduced spend on hardware may mean consumers may hold on to computers longer, which could increase piracy as older computers are more likely to have unlicensed software loaded on them.
Kevin Hoctor, senior policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “To realise the Government's Digital Britain ambition, our digital and communications industries must have the protection they need in terms of copyright and piracy.”
In a bid to cut levels of piracy, the BSA has encouraged the Government to support a light regulatory approach to software piracy, and to develop a code of practice between ISPs and right holders as recommended by Ofcom and the government.
It has also called for the formation of a body with a focus on enforcement and education, to improve public education and awareness and lead by example by requiring the public sector to use only legitimate software.