SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Illegal copying of computer programs in Asia cost businesses $21 billion in lost sales last year and China was on course to set a dubious new record — overtaking the U.S. in losses caused by software piracy.
Asia's figure for lost sales was higher than any other region and an increase from $19 billion in 2010, according to the Business Software Alliance's annual report released Wednesday.
Software piracy is growing faster in developing nations where individuals and companies are buying more personal computers but are less willing to spend on software when cheap pirated versions are widely available.
More than half of all personal computers in use are in developing nations. Some 56 percent of new computers sold last year were shipped to developing countries, the report said.
Globally, China had the second-highest commercial losses from software piracy — at $9 billion — and is set to overtake the United States, the report said, even as the legal U.S. software market remains many times bigger than in China.
It found 77 percent of all software in China was pirated last year. In Asia, the overall piracy rate was 60 percent.
Chinese firms and consumers spent an average of $542 for a new computer but spent less than $9 in legal software programs to run it, the report said.
In the United States, the world's largest computer software market, almost $10 billion went down the drain in 2011 because of illegally copied software.
In Asia, other countries with high piracy rates included Indonesia at 86 percent and India at 63 percent. Lost sales in Indonesia were estimated at $1.5 billion and were estimated at $2.9 billion for India.