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Global Survey Finds Strong Support for IP Rights

Intellectual property rights — copyrights, patents and trademarks — provide the legal framework necessary for creative enterprise like commercial software development to flourish. But it is widely assumed that most people view IP rights as business and legal concepts with little relevance to their daily lives. That’s why the World Intellectual Property Organization and its 184 member states designate April 26, the anniversary of the Convention establishing WIPO, as World Intellectual Property Day.

BSA has recently conducted public-opinion research that finds some cause for optimism, though. Consider: 71 percent of the world thinks innovators should be paid for the products and technologies they develop, because it provides incentives for more technology advances.

This finding comes from a global survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, one the world’s leading public-opinion research firms, as part of the 2010 BSA Global Software Piracy Study, which is set to be released soon.

We polled a globally representative sample of approximately 15,000 personal computer users in 32 countries on their attitudes about software piracy and intellectual property rights. We asked a number of probing questions to get a clearer understanding of public attitudes toward IPR — and we found that world opinion comes down firmly in favor of innovation and intellectual property.

Here is how the question I have referenced was worded:

“The laws that give someone who invents a new product or technology the right to decide how it is sold are called intellectual property rights. Which comes closer to your view…”

  • Statement A: “It is important for people who invent new products or technologies to be paid for them, because it creates an incentive for people to produce more innovations. That is good for society because it drives technological progress and economic growth.”
  • Statement B: “No company or individual should be allowed to control a product or technology that could benefit the rest of society. Laws like that limit the free flow of ideas, stifle innovation, and give too much power to too few people.”

More than seven respondents in 10 chose paying innovators.

Make no mistake: We face significant challenges in protecting intellectual property rights around the world. The rest of the study we will soon be releasing illuminates several challenges in particular.

But when it comes to public appreciation for the core principle of intellectual property, there is also cause for optimism.

Robert Holleyman


As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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