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Nearly a third of business users steal software or digital content, by grabbing it from the Net.

Thirty per cent could be considered to have pinched code or content via chat rooms, peer-to-peer file sharing systems, email, or by FTP, according to a survey conducted by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) and KPMG.

According to the study, 54 per cent of business users do not know if they can redistribute information from on-line sites they subscribe to, while 23 per cent believe this is permitted.

Almost 70 cent say they use the Internet to acquire software, but fewer than 16 per cent admit to sharing it around.

But passing on subscription service content seems fair game to business users. One in five subscribe to business information services, and almost half of this group pass their stuff on. But they don't swamp their friends and colleagues with information - just seven per cent of the subscribers pass on data more than once a week.

In addition, 21 per cent of the business users obtain digital content from information services to which their employer does not have a paid subscription. One third of these "thieves" get unpaid-for info once a week; one-sixth get it once a day; and 46 per cent receive the content from workmates.

Is anyone surprised by this study? The results are based on a poll of 1,004 business software users. ®

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