Pirated software accounts for what percentage of software in use today?

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Pirated software has been a persistent issue in the digital world, with individuals and organizations illegally copying and distributing software without proper authorization. This raises the question: what percentage of software in use today is pirated? In this article, we will delve into this topic and explore the extent of pirated software in the current software landscape.

The Global Impact of Pirated Software

Definition of Pirated Software: Pirated software refers to unauthorized copies of software that are distributed, sold, or used without the proper licensing or permission from the software’s copyright holder.

The use of pirated software has significant implications for both software developers and users. For software developers, piracy can result in substantial financial losses, as they are deprived of potential sales and revenue. Additionally, piracy undermines the incentive for developers to invest in research and development, hindering innovation in the industry.

For users, the use of pirated software poses several risks. Pirated software often lacks the necessary security updates and patches, leaving users vulnerable to malware and cyberattacks. Furthermore, the use of pirated software is illegal and can lead to legal consequences for individuals and organizations found to be in violation of copyright laws.

Estimating the Percentage of Pirated Software

Determining the exact percentage of pirated software in use today is a challenging task. The nature of piracy makes it difficult to obtain accurate data, as it often goes unreported and is conducted discreetly. However, various organizations and studies have attempted to estimate the prevalence of pirated software.

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a global organization that advocates for the software industry, the global piracy rate in 2018 was estimated to be around 37%. This means that approximately 37% of all software installed on personal computers worldwide was pirated. The BSA’s methodology involves analyzing data on software shipments and PC sales, as well as conducting surveys to gather information on software usage.

It is important to note that the piracy rate can vary significantly across different regions. Developing countries tend to have higher piracy rates due to factors such as affordability and limited access to legitimate software. In contrast, developed countries generally have lower piracy rates, as there is greater awareness and enforcement of copyright laws.

Efforts to Combat Piracy

The software industry and governments around the world have been actively working to combat software piracy. These efforts include implementing stricter copyright laws, conducting enforcement actions against piracy operations, and raising awareness about the risks and consequences of using pirated software.

Software developers have also taken steps to protect their products from piracy. This includes implementing licensing mechanisms, digital rights management (DRM) technologies, and software activation processes that require users to verify their licenses.

Furthermore, the shift towards cloud-based software and subscription models has helped reduce piracy to some extent. With cloud-based software, users access applications and services through the internet, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized copying and distribution.


While it is challenging to determine the exact percentage of pirated software in use today, estimates suggest that it remains a significant issue globally. The prevalence of pirated software not only impacts software developers but also poses risks to users in terms of security and legal consequences. Efforts to combat piracy, including stricter laws and technological measures, are ongoing to protect the software industry’s interests and promote a legitimate software ecosystem.


– Business Software Alliance (BSA): https://www.bsa.org/
– International Data Corporation (IDC): https://www.idc.com/
– World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): https://www.wipo.int/