05/16/2012 05:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Shadow Market: The Story of Software Piracy in 2011

What if 57 percent of consumers admitted they shoplift? That's how many of the world's computer users say they pirate software, according to the ninth edition of the BSA Global Software Piracy Study.

Some say they do it all or most of the time. Some say they do it occasionally or rarely. The net effect in 2011 was a 42 percent global rate of software piracy with a record commercial value of $63.4 billion.

Driving the global piracy trend are the emerging economies of the developing world. The picture is like a seesaw with more and more weight being added to one end: Emerging economies are taking in an increasing share of new PC shipments -- 56 percent last year, up from a hair-thin majority the year before -- and their piracy rates tower over those in the more mature economies of the developed world, 68 percent to 24 percent, on average.

In emerging and mature markets alike, there continues to be widespread support for intellectual property rights, BSA's study finds. Why then are so many people pirating software? One answer is that in most markets people don't seem to think there is any sheriff in town to stop them. In fact, just 15 percent of computer users in emerging markets -- and not many more in mature markets -- say the risk of getting caught is a good reason not to pirate software. That strongly suggests governments need to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace.

They certainly would if we were talking about shoplifting.

Here is a brief overview of the study's findings:

Visit for all the details.