Ok, I might have misread this data a bit. The BSA (Business Software Alliance) has just published its annual study of global software piracy rates. One interesting finding: 57% of the world's PC users admit they pirate software. Only 38% said they never do, and 5% were at Starbucks getting a venti no-foam latte with extra shot when the question was asked.
Perhaps even more interesting, it's not 14 year old kids swiping games here, it's "business decision makers" who have the dirtiest hands--they outnumber "ordinary" users when it comes to software piracy rates. And given that the most massive piracy takes place in emerging economies, this translates pure and simple into a competitive advantage (via illegal means) for those businesses against the ones who play by the rules.
At a recent conference I attended Dave Graubart of Synopsis spoke as the chair of the Anti-Piracy Committee from the Electronic Design Automation Consortium about the problem. EDAC's own data collection methodology closely matches the BSA data at 40% global piracy rates. This is approximate, of course--he had some interesting methods people use to track piracy, such as getting support calls from a company which has never bought the product.
In the "old days" piracy for complex software (and complex frequently equates to expensive) piracy was less of a perceived problem because support was such a critical element in user success. Now software is more sophisticated and ease of use are vital for market success, so it's easier for people to use pirated software without calling tech support, who might want to confirm their license status.
The top 4 countries in terms of the dollar value of pirated software are US, China, Russia, and India. All these countries compete on the global market and the companies who do so without paying for their licenses have a potentially huge advantage over those who do (keep in mind we're not talking about Microsoft Office here, we're talking about electronic design software that can cost 5 or 6 figures per seat).
What to do, what to do? Well, start (and end) with good piracy protection. The best, of course is CodeMeter: who else can make the statement that it defeated both Chinese and Russian crackers?