Software piracy damages businesses, economy as a whole

The vast majority of California voters support a legislative crackdown on information-technology piracy, based on their desire to prevent economic damage and job loss in California. 

This is one important takeaway from our firm’s recent voter survey on the skyrocketing use of illegal, unlicensed software in the state and around the world by businesses, individuals and even government agencies.

By wide margins, voters think the consequences of software piracy go well beyond the technology industry, impacting many other businesses and the economy as a whole.  A striking 84 percent of those we surveyed believe California loses jobs to non-American companies using stolen technology.

Most voters say they personally would never use unlicensed technology and they strongly reject the notion that IT theft is a victimless crime. They make no distinction between stealing in general and the use of unlicensed computer software.

Those surveyed believe companies have the right to protect themselves from theft and virtually all of them believe that laws should protect against software piracy. This is a clear indication that voters would look favorably on state policy makers who protect the economy and jobs by supporting legislation to prevent the use and proliferation of stolen information technology products.

In fact, the survey shows that 88 percent of voters support enacting a law requiring state agencies and their contractors to use only legally licensed software products.  Voters of all demographic groups, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or party registration want to ensure that state government and its contractors do not use stolen software.

In addition to government protections, a strong majority of voters believes businesses throughout the state must take the responsibility of ensuring that they and the people they hire are not using stolen software.  Eight in ten of them say California-based companies also need to be held responsible for foreign business partners that use pirated information technology.

Voters have a nuanced view of IT theft and its ramifications for California.  For instance, most of them identify technological innovation as crucial to improving the state’s economy, creating new jobs, future growth, competiveness, and maintaining California’s position as a leader in the development of high-tech products and services.  They understand the need to deal effectively with anything that threatens this important economic driver.

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