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Clamping down on software piracy could help "jumpstart the world's stagnant and struggling economies" by creating new jobs and business opportunities.

So says a major new economic impact study of 57 countries by IDC on behalf of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) which found 40 per cent of all software breaches copyright.

IDC analysts estimate that reducing this figure to a third (30 per cent) could lead to the creation of 1.5 million new jobs, increase economic growth by $400bn and generate $64bn in new taxes.

Even a single-percentage point reduction worldwide would raise $6bn in new tax revenues, says IDC.

Launching the study today. Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA, said in a statement: "This report shows not only what a remarkable engine for economic growth the software industry has been, but what a positive force it can and will continue to be for both developed and still developing countries around the globe.

"Strong intellectual property protection spurs creativity, which opens new opportunities for businesses, governments and workers."

As if to make the point that reducing software piracy does have a positive economic impact, the report reveals that the UK has the lowest software piracy rate in Western Europe. At the same time it has enjoyed the region's fastest software sector growth rate - growing 55 per cent over the last six years.

Says the report: "Strong software growth, in turn, helped the UK achieve the fastest IT growth in the region over the same period. The UK’s IT sector is a proven engine for economic growth, adding half a million IT jobs to the economy over six years between 1995 and 2001."

If - and it's a big, some would say near impossible "if" - the software piracy rate in the UK can be cut from 25 to 15 per cent, the value of the IT sector will from £37.5bn to £54.4bn and create more than 40,000 jobs over four years, according to IDC's number-crunchers.

Mark Floisand, chairman of the BSA, said: "Copyright infringement is a huge problem in today's society and these staggering statistics illustrate what could be achieved if everyone worked together to bring down piracy rates.

"While it is the government's responsibility to create an environment that allows the IT industry to prosper, technology companies have a key role in educating businesses on maintaining software compliancy and those businesses must take responsibility for respecting intellectual property laws."

The BSA's full report can be found here. ®

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