By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The computer software industry is worth a couple hundred billion dollars in the American economy, but companies say they’re losing a big chunk of change every year due to program piracy.

Worldwide, stolen copies of Windows, Photoshop, and the like are a $50-billion problem, according to industry group Business Software Alliance.

“In the US, there’s a 20% piracy rate,” says Peter Beruk, the senior director of compliance marketing with the BSA. “One out of every five copies of business application software are being used illegally.”

Beruk says companies like Microsoft and Adobe want to take a bite out of such crime, so his firm is paying for tips that pan out.

“We want people to contact us when they are frustrated at trying to do the right thing because their managers, presidents or organizations just don’t want to use legal software. We’re sort of that last resort.”

The top reward for a piracy report is $1-million — money that comes from court settlements.  Beruk says they’ve paid informants hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past decade.

1-888-NO-PIRACY is the number to call and is the website to surf if your boss turns a blind eye.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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