TORONTO - The value of computer software piracy in Canada totalled just more than $1.1 billion last year with 40 per cent of computer users admitting they acquired software illegally, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Business Software Alliance study found that nearly one in three copies of software was unlicensed in Canada in 2011.

"If 40 per cent of consumers admitted they shoplift -- even rarely --authorities would react by increasing police patrols and penalties," said Jacquie Famulak, head of the Business Software Alliance Canada committee.

"Software piracy demands a similar response: concerted public education and vigorous law enforcement," Famulak said in a news release.

The study also found that admitted software pirates in Canada were predominantly male between the ages of 25 and 34.

Globally, the study found that piracy rates in emerging markets towered over those in mature markets -- at 68 per cent, compared to 24 per cent, on average.

The global software piracy rate was at 42 per cent in 2011, while a steadily expanding marketplace in the developing world drove the commercial value of software theft to $63.4 billion.