STUDENTS on campus still consider piracy a cheaper option and claim that price is not the only deciding factor in committing software piracy.
Ryan Vandenbergh, an electrical engineering PhD student, said he believes most people pirate software because of the restrictions placed on them by companies.
“You’ve paid for [software] but you don’t have access to all of it because you’re limited by technology or location- sometimes the services are restricted to some regions only.”
Students in the school of electrical and information engineering said they did not illegally download software because the school provides them with what they require.
“The school is supportive of the things we need,” said Kyle Vorster, an electrical engineering student. “Wits has a licensing agreement with most of the software we use.”
But the masters student said this does not necessarily stop students from pirating software at home. “Some programmes can only be accessed through the Wits network, so people would pirate those programmes so they can use them at home.”
“There are free options in terms of programmes that you could use, but people just don’t know where to get it from,” said Shamil Morar, another masters student.
Dr. Stephen Levitt, a software engineering lecturer at Wits, said students who pirate software probably do it for economic reasons. “I’ve seen a lot of articles on software piracy and they never mention that there are a lot of other free options available,” he added.
All students interviewed said they would legally buy software but they understood why people found pirating cheaper. “The price of software in South Africa is so high, as it has to go through customs etc,” said Morar.
“At the moment Wits is researching various methods – in terms of making sure that computers on campus have the correct software,” said Greg Sulej, who works in IT support at Wits. He said Wits has measures in place that limit software piracy on campus, but suspects that it still happens anyway.
South Africa has the lowest reported piracy rate in Africa at 35%, with countries like Zimbabwe at 92% and Zambia at 82%, according to Business Software Alliance.