The Jolly Roger

BSA: Cloud Piracy Rife In Developing Countries

Many businesses in developing countries are sharing cloud service log-in credentials, potentially breaking the law, BSA says

On by Max Smolaks 0

Just under half (45 percent) of companies using paid cloud services for business in developing countries have employees sharing log-in details, according to a report published by Business Software Alliance (BSA).

In many cases, this constitutes a breach of license conditions, the BSA said. The report has also found that while in mature economies 33 percent of computer users say they use cloud services, the figure is a lot higher in emerging economies and stands at 50 percent.

BSA has suggested that cloud computing has produced a “leapfrog effect”, with many companies adopting the cloud, while never having any on-site IT infrastructure at all.

Leapfrogging

On behalf of the BSA, Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed over 15,000 computer users in 33 countries, to find out about their understanding and use of cloud computing. Among the most interesting outcomes of the survey was the realisation that cloud-based services are more popular in emerging economies like Thailand or Malaysia than in mature economies like the UK or Germany.

“We’re seeing a leapfrog effect. A lot of recent adopters of computers and information technology are jumping straight to the cloud,” said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman.

“If you live in a developing economy and use a computer, then, likely as not, you also use cloud computing services at least some of the time for email, word processing, document or photo storage, or other things — although you might not understand those services to be ‘cloud computing.”

According to BSA, 88 percent of the world’s self-identified cloud enthusiasts said they use cloud services for personal purposes, and 33 percent said they use the cloud for business. At least half of enterprise users around the world pay for the cloud services they use.

A new battleground

However, 42 percent of businesses who say they pay for their cloud also said they have employees sharing login credentials inside their organisations – a practice that often breaches license conditions and could be called “cloud piracy”. The number of organisations engaged in this practice is considerably higher in the emerging economies – 45 percent, against 30 in the mature economies.Our new favourite pirate image © josemarques75 - Fotolia.com

“This is eye-opening data,” said Holleyman. “It doesn’t necessarily mean 42 percent of business users are pirating cloud services. Some licenses may allow sharing of accounts – and many cloud service providers charge not by ‘seat’ but by the volume of computing resources consumed, making the path users take to access those resources less important.”

The study also found that 56 percent of the people who use paid cloud services for business believe it is wrong for co-workers to share login credentials

“The fact that so many people share their credentials for cloud services despite believing it’s wrong to do highlights the chronic nature of software piracy,” added Holleyman.

BSA has called for “vigorous enforcement” of intellectual property protection in the cloud, which increasingly looks like a new battleground on which the copyright holders will once again go to war against the software pirates.

Earlier, BSA had claimed that in 2011, one in four programmes installed in the UK were lacking a correct licence. According to the Alliance, this resulted in a £1.2 billion loss for the software industry. These numbers were later called “absurd” by Forbes columnist Tim Worstall, who said the report ignored basic rules of economics.

Last month, the organisation had fined East Yorkshire-based Web Marketplace Solutions for £10,500 over use of software without an appropriate licence.

Arrgh! How much do you know about online piracy? Take our quiz!

Max Smolaks
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