The seventh annual joint investigation by the Business Software Alliance and analyst firm IDC has claimed that £1bn worth of unlicensed software was installed in the UK last year.
Britain has the sixth lowest rate of software piracy in the world at 27 per cent, but this theft comes at the cost of businesses and the economy as a whole, according to the Global Software Piracy Study. Georgia has the highest rate at 95 per cent.
"Although the UK has one of the lowest piracy rates in the world, 27 per cent is nothing to be proud of. £1bn is an awful lot of money to lose in a recession, and ultimately this will have an impact on the software industry and the UK economy," said Michala Wardell, chairman of the BSA UK Committee.
"As we emerge from the most severe global economic recession in 20 years, we will continue to engage with government, businesses and consumers about the risks of stealing software, and the true impact that software piracy has on the UK's economy."
The recession has had an impact on software investment as a whole, and this has been most keenly felt in enterprises, according to the report.
While consumer spend went up by 14 per cent, business sales dropped by 22 per cent, IDC said. Sales to consumers have been boosted by the boom in netbooks and laptops, which often have legitimate software preinstalled, IDC added.
Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive at the BSA, said that global software piracy had risen from 41 per cent to 43 per cent, and urged governments to do more to address the problem.
"Piracy is limiting IT innovation, job creation and local economic growth, and is robbing governments of vital tax revenues," he said.
"Our report makes it very clear that governments around the world must redouble their efforts to combat software theft."
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