Usage of Unauthorized Software in Taiwan

Article excerpt

In this study usage of unauthorized software was examined in detail to reveal the methods by which users obtain pirated software, the quantities and varieties of pirated software in use, and the evaluations and intentions of repeat purchases. In general, computer users who are younger and have a limited budget are more likely to use pirated software. The most commonly used pirated software includes operation systems, office software, antivirus, and games/entertainment software. Consumers who prefer using unauthorized software would have obtained close to nine pirated software products in six months, and about two thirds of these types of users have intentions to obtain pirated software again.

Keywords: unauthorized software, piracy, consumer behavior, software usage.

Software piracy can be categorized into five types: end user piracy, client-server overuse, internet piracy, hard-disk loading, and software counterfeiting (Business Software Alliance). End user piracy refers to installation and distribution of unauthorized copies of software. Client-server overuse occurs when more users than allowed by the license use the software on a network simultaneously. Internet piracy includes the illegal downloading and transferring of copyrighted software. Hard-disk loading happens when new computers are sold with unauthorized software. Software counterfeiting is illegal duplication and sales of copyrighted software with the intention of imitating the originals. The general definition of software piracy is unauthorized duplication of commercially available software (Business Software Alliance). The usage of unauthorized software affects not only the revenue of manufacturers, but also intentions of investing in research and development of new products (Bloch, Bush, & Campbell, 1993; McDonald & Roberts, 1994; Prendergast, Chuen, & Phau, 2002).

Users of unauthorized products often lack concepts of respect for intellectual properties and purchase pirated products because of cheaper prices ( Albers-Miller, 1999). Im and Van Epps (1992) studied software usage in business schools in the US and found that illegal copying of authorized software was common. Wagner and Sanders (2001) found that consumers who had positive attitudes toward pirated software had higher intentions to purchase pirated products.

Aryanto (2003) mentioned that intellectual property rights violation was proliferating in Far East countries. In Taiwan, the piracy level of business software was estimated to be 42%, and business software piracy caused US$ 77.5 million losses in 2005 (International Intellectual Property Alliance). Kuo and Hsu (2001) examined constructs measuring software piracy as to whether consumers used or distributed pirated software, or persuaded others to do so. Simmons (2004) surveyed college students in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the US, and concluded that cultural dimensions were influential in software piracy. Tang and Farn (2005) studied intention and behavior concerning software piracy using survey data collected in public universities in Taiwan. They concluded that interpersonal influence affected the intention of software piracy but not the behavior.

Actions taken by the government of Taiwan dealing with software piracy have included: (1) Continuing a sustained copyright enforcement campaign throughout 2005 against manufacturing, distribution, and retail sectors in producing, distributing, and selling pirated products; (2) Bringing more effective enforcement against internet piracy; (3) Adopting effective policies to ensure government-owned servers or computer facilities do not infringe copyrighted materials; (4) Continuing the effective enforcement against corporate end user piracy of business software and against software counterfeiting; and (5) Amending the copyright law to extend the term of protection of copyrighted materials (Intellectual International Property Alliance).

Based on the data published by Business Software Alliance or findings in the relevant literature, software piracy in Taiwan seemed to be an issue causing concerns for intellectual property protection. …