This article is part of our special report Data protection.
Almost half (48%) of the computer users in the EU admit they have acquired pirated software, according to a new report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).
Some users say they pirate all or most of the time. 22% say they do it "occasionally" and 26% say they do it, but only "rarely". The study also found that admitted software pirates in the EU predominantly are males aged between 25 and 44.
"The sheer volume of software piracy remains alarming, considering the security risks posed by illegal software and the importance of the industry to the digital economy in the single market," said Thomas Boué, director of government affairs at the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an industry association.
"The software industry is a major contributor to growth and competitiveness in Europe and reducing piracy would deliver benefits for the European Economy, industry and consumers alike," he argued.
One of every three software programmes that users installed last year were unlicensed for a total commercial value of €10.4 billion, according to the BSA.
Only 27% of the European PC users surveyed say the "risk of getting caught" is a reason not to pirate software.
"The EU's current damages rules provide an incentive to infringe and it is clear that these rules need to be revised," Boué said.
The European Commission is currently gathering opinions and evidence on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and will decide whether or not to revise the existing legal framework in the second half of 2012.