• After California, Texas has the highest proportion of 2007 PC shipments to ordinary consumers (40 percent), but it has a relatively low rate of installing new software on older computers. These factors balanced each other and left a state piracy rate of 20 percent.

How to Avoid Piracy

"For companies, the first step in avoiding the risks of software piracy is awareness of the problem," MacBride added. "Not only can the use of unlicensed software potentially trigger an external audit or even a lawsuit, it can also create security vulnerabilities, productivity breakdowns and hidden internal support costs."

"To avoid such risks, businesses must create, communicate, and enforce an effective software asset management (SAM) program," MacBride said. Organizations can download a variety of free software asset management (SAM) tools from BSA's Web site.

Individuals have a simpler task, MacBride said. "Just know where your software is coming from," he said. "The old adage that, 'if something seems too good to be true, it probably is' certainly applies when it comes to deeply discounted software from dubious sources. Not even an auction site such as eBay is able to keep its site free of illegitimate software."