Kiwis alleged to be top among software pirates

New Zealand computer users pirate software more than their counterparts in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom according to Microsoft.

New Zealand computer users pirate software more than their counterparts in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom according to Microsoft marketing manager Steve Jenkins.

Jenkins says according to figures compiled by the Business Software Alliance, 55% of software used in New Zealand is illegal--either counterfeit or copied. The comparable figure in Australia figures is 37%; in the US and UK it's also in the mid-30s.

Microsoft is one of the most vocal members of the BSA, which exists to combat software piracy. Jenkins says the high figure for New Zealand "reflects poorly on our business ethics and integrity. As far as the industry is concerned, software piracy is theft and it's not worth the risk."

Earlier this week Microsoft settled out of court with three members of the Tauranga branch of the IBM User Group caught illegally copying Microsoft software. The company had filed civil proceedings in the Tauranga District Court but reach a settlement with the trio for an unspecified amount.

Jenkins says the trio were caught out after an anonymous tip, leading to investigation of two "swap meets" in March and April. The three people made unauthorised copies of Microsoft programs.

According to Jenkins, New Zealand's high rate of piracy springs from poor availability of software in the past. "We're trying to make software more available through retail chains. The old Kiwi 'can-do' attitude might have something to do with it and also people still don't believe that it is wrong."

Microsoft is involved in two other cases involving PC resellers illegally bundling software on their machines.

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