Software piracy remains a multi-billion dollar industry in Asia, but there are some signs of improvement in the 14 Asian countries being most closely surveyed, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).
Although its figures are not complete, IIPA estimates that 2003 losses due to piracy of entertainment software will reach $US1.19 billion in China, India, South Korea and Taiwan. But piracy losses were sharply down on the previous year in South Korea (down 35 per cent ) and Taiwan (56 per cent).
The largest software piracy losses occur in China where entertainment software alone was pirated to the value of $USS568 million last year, according to IIPA. China's piracy rate remains at 96 per cent - of all software sold, only 4 per cent is legitimately bought.
China's efforts to combat piracy remain under a special US trade monitoring procedure known as Section 306, the IIPA said.
Six more Asian countries - India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand - remain on IIPA's priority watch list for the high losses due to piracy and high rates of piracy. Malaysia is by itself in a watch list category, while Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam are also mentioned as being monitored.
Losses due to entertainment software piracy only represent about 25 per cent of piracy losses. The balance is made up by piracy of business software, which totalled $US2.67 billion in 2002.
IIPA has not yet estimated the 2003 figure for business software losses, but only Taiwan and Singapore recorded piracy rates of under 50 per cent in 2002.
The IIPA released the figures as part of its Special 301 recommendations.
Special 301 is an annual review process under US trade law which that requires the US Trade Representative (USTR) to identify countries that fail to stem piracy, with the option that the country could face US trade sanctions.