Sunday, June 3, 2007

College Students Experiencing Negative Consequences From Unlicensed Software Use

More than half of college and university students who download unlicensed software and other digital copyrighted files are experiencing computer viruses and spyware from their downloading activities, according to a new survey released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs*, shows that 55 percent of the students surveyed who download have personally experienced virus and spyware problems. Furthermore, students who download or file-share also have experienced hard drive crashes (20 percent) and document and file losses (18 percent).

"Clearly, the risks associated with using pirated software are very real," said Diane Smiroldo, BSA's vice president for public affairs. "Yet, many students continue to ignore these warnings and continue to illegally download and file-share software. They need to realize that this activity jeopardizes their computer and files."

A majority of students (55 percent) who download report rarely or never paying for downloaded software. This compares to 61 percent of students who downloaded without paying surveyed in 2005 and 68 percent in 2003.

Among faculty and academics who have downloaded commercial software, only 33 percent report rarely or never paying when they are downloading commercial software. Twenty-nine percent of academics reported this activity in 2005 and 38 percent in 2003.

The 2007 BSA-Ipsos survey is the third study of the higher education community's attitudes and behaviors around downloading and uses of copyrighted digital files, with previous studies conducted in 2005 and 2003.

Smiroldo added, "The higher education community are significant technology users, and these survey results indicate that too many students are paying the heavy price for lax attitudes and behaviors around illegal downloading."

Other results from the students surveyed:

-- Of the higher education students surveyed, 30 percent are concerned
about viruses and spyware.

-- 30 percent of students are afraid of getting in trouble if they
downloaded software illegally.

-- 27 percent are concerned about being fined by authorities.

BSA will be releasing B4UCopy, a cybersafety video for college students that emphasizes the serious consequences of software piracy and the importance of making the right choices about using and sharing digital media and information. Featured in the video is a former college student who is awaiting sentencing for pirating commercial software and other digital works. College students are also interviewed about sharing and copying digital copyrighted software. B4UCopy also offers tips to help students be "smart" about piracy and make the right choices when using digital media. The video, another resource for BSA's higher education program, will be posted on the BSA Web site,

And, BSA's "Define the Line" ( program is an example of how the commercial software industry is working with higher education institutions to prevent digital piracy. The campaign also educates students of the consequences they could experience if they engage in illegal downloading.

For a copy of the 2003, 2005 and 2007 Student and Academic Surveys and topline reports as well as digital copyright education resources, visit

For more information, visit

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