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Linux "is not piracy" Says Microsoft Lawyer 735

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-how-generous-of-them dept.
dipfan writes "Further to this Slashdot piece on the activities of the Business Software Alliance, the BBC reports on a European conference on piracy organised by the BSA. The good news is even Microsoft distinguishes between open source software and piracy; it quotes Microsoft's top in-house lawyer Brad Smith as saying: 'Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying.' The rest of the article is the usual panic-attack about the size of software piracy in general, and how this is holding back the software industry in Eastern Europe, according to Brad. Although the article notes the irony that despite all the piracy, software sales are forecast to grow from $50 billion in 2000 to about $90 billion by 2005."
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Linux "is not piracy" Says Microsoft Lawyer

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  • full text (Score:2, Informative)

    Jane Wakefield
    BBC News Online technology staff
    line
    Tech industry leaders gathered in Brussels have reiterated the growing threat of piracy to the software industry in Europe.

    The warning was issued at a conference, organised by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which attracted delegates from firms such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Symantec.

    The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost $3bn to pirates.

    This figure is thought to be only a tiny fraction of the amount of piracy that is going on every day on the internet.

    "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson.

    Unacceptable

    For an industry that commits millions of pounds to research and development, and that contributes six times as much to Europe's GDP as the consumer goods industry, the levels are unacceptable, the BSA says.

    "It is a risk most other businesses don't have to deal with - having 34% of your product stolen," BSA's president Robert Holleyman told the conference.

    According to Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith, piracy has transformed the nature of the software industry in Europe.

    "If there wasn't piracy there would be more software companies in Russia and Eastern Europe," he said.

    Instead Russia has become an enclave for pirated software and Microsoft has recently declared a five-month amnesty for Russian and Ukrainian internet cafes to switch to legally licensed software.

    Software pirates range from professional businessmen to teenagers selling illegal programmes from their bedrooms to organised criminals.

    Organised crime is giving the BSA the biggest headache.

    "Criminal organisations can sell software direct, as well as through retail channels," said Symantec lawyer Art Courville. "So, it is harder to monitor."

    Tightening legislation

    Europe has a greater rate of piracy than the US - around 34% compared with 25% in the US. Software leaders put this down in part to differing rules in Europe.

    "Some countries in Europe had copyright laws dating back to the 1940s," pointed out Apple lawyer Peter Davies.

    The last thing that you want is to create havens where the legislation is weaker

    BSA spokesperson
    That is about to change as the European Commission puts into force a directive intended to harmonise civil laws governing how courts deal with cases involving intellectual property.

    All BSA members are hopeful that this will act as a deterrent.

    "The last thing that you want is to create havens where the legislation is weaker," said a BSA spokesperson.

    Change of attitude

    There is also work to be done on educating the public about the importance of intellectual property, especially as a web counter-culture advocating free software, such as music downloads, continues to grow.

    Open source software such as Linux is not seen as a threat to the work the BSA is doing, however.

    "Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying," said Microsoft's Brad Smith.

    He does believe that stopping the pirates could have a dramatic effect on the current pricing of software, however.

    "As the legal market grows, there is more investment in new products and enhanced competition. A healthy market leads to more attractive prices for consumers," he said.

    Despite the efforts of the pirates, the software industry in Europe is looking pretty healthy.

    It is forecast to grow from £35bn in 2000 to £67bn by 2005.
    • Re:full text (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Theft! MY ASS!!!!!!!

      I propose we show the RIAA, the MPAA and the BSA what theft is.

      We'll call it - "show those bastards what theft is day"

      Here's how it works. You walk into a store, take the latest Hollywood crap film, the latest crap Top 40 album, and any of the BSA's products - Illustrator, Office, etc. Put it in your pocket and leave the store.

      That's theft!

      The BSA has to realize that their products would not be in the top spot if it wasn't for (at one time legal) copying and installing on home computers. How many art students can afford Illustrator? None. How many art students can learn about Illustrator, do amateur work on it, get a job, use the software in "the real world" and then increase Adobe's sales? All of them.

      I mean shit - who out there pays for this crap? I don't. I can't afford to give Microsoft $150 every 9 months for incomplete upgrades. I can't afford to give Adobe $10000 every other year for their upgrades. I use pirated versions - and I don't feel bad about it at all.

      If I didn't have a bootleg of Windows 2000 server and workstation, I wouldn't have the skills to perform a migration. By migrating - just one client, to Windows 2000, I help sell several hundred licenses.

      If I didn't have bootlegs of all the Adobe software, I wouldn't be able to support them in the real world.

      The fact that you can get this shit for free (if you try hard enough) is what keeps qualified tech support people in 2nd and 3rd tier industries.

      Shit, if I could download an "evaluation copy" of Reuter's or Bloomberg, I would be an expert on that too. Instead, these firms end up ramping up the TCO for their clients because the job skills are impossible to get outside of the client environment.

      Hey, its simple math. More qualified techs for a given product means that more IS departments can provide support for a product meaning more firms can buy a product. Simple as that. If the product is difficult to support, and people can't roll their own skillset, the product will never grow in in its installed base, and the product's future will be left to the people least likely to help it: the software firms' marketing departments.

      Hell, marketing departments for software should be banned, as part of the Industry's Best Practices. These shit for brains are the reasons developers get sued out of existance.

      Hell, shareware is the key. Look at winzip for crying out loud. You don't really have to pay for their product - but if you are in a corporate environment, they probably buy licenses a few hundred at a time. Winzip's happy. I'm happy. Shit, even when my firm would buy Winzip licenses, I still churn out the registration code with a cracker!
    • Re:full text (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for pirated software

      Downright misleading. Search for "warez", get a million hits, trumpet about how software is being stolen. "We can't estimate...but we found". If you can't estimate it, why are you spitting out these meaningless figures, other than to feed the press? I think the best counterclaim would be to have people follow the top, say, hundred links and see what percentage of those pages *actually* contain links to pirated files. Be interesting, actually.

      There are legitimate numbers that could have been given. The number of Hotline servers serving files containing given strings. The percentage of computers without licenses found when MS audits are conducted. The "number of times transferred" statistic some IRC file serving bots put out. Number of napster or gnutella hits for a search for the name of a piece of software. Call me naive, but it seems that if piracy is as big a problem as the BSA is telling everyone, they should be able to come up with some meaningful statistics.

      I also love the BSA's emphasis of organized crime. Most software is pirated through organized crime? Please. Oh, maybe in China or Russia, and I don't live in eastern Europe, so I can't really say there. But in the US (and, I would assume, western Europe), the BSA likes holding up the Mafia on one hand and asking legislators "Don't you want to stop this?" Most software pirated in the US is from casual copying, end of story.

      Now, all this doesn't mean that piracy isn't a real, legitimate problem. But that release has as much spin on it as I've ever seen.

      As for the token handed to Linux, I don't know why that was in there, unless it was to try to split up the groups of people (pirates, OSS folks) who don't really approve of the BSA.

      I don't know if Microsoft is evil, but a search for "microsoft evil" on google spits out a quarter million results...:-)
  • funny thing is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jacer (574383)
    for each new copy protection scheme, you'll have ten ways to circumvent it from release groups (fleet, razor, ect.) and most of the people who pirate would never buy the software in the first place (like me for instance) so, i'd be a wise choice on their part to drop the charade on fighting piracy, pocket the money they save by not actively persuing it, and enjoy the software growth
    • That's an interesting note... While I don't condone piracy, it's important to recognize that they probably spend more money than they recoup on their efforts to stop it.

      For some time it's been widely accepted that piracy is going to happen, but you make better products and you make it worthwhile to buy the real deal and somehow, magically, those companies manage to stay in business - both in the entertainment industry and in computer software.

      Also, that 34% figure is probably way out of whack, but why don't they look at it like this: all the copy protection crap we put on our products is incoveniencing our honest customers in a two to one ratio over pirates.

      Yes, that's a good business practice.

  • News To Me (Score:5, Funny)

    by rubinson (207525) <rubinson&email,arizona,edu> on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:55PM (#3429630) Homepage
    Linux is a way of developing software...

    And all this time I was under the impression that Linux was an operating system kernel!
    • 'Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying.'

      And I always thought "piracy" was the illegal plundering of ships and boats. I love newspeak!

      • by Servo5678 (468237) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:24PM (#3429857)
        And I always thought "piracy" was the illegal plundering of ships and boats. I love newspeak!

        Maybe it's all in how you develop your software.

        Normal: "I'm going to compile my latest version of code."

        Piracy: "Avast me hardies, I'm going to compile me latest booty! Arrr!"

      • Re:News To Me (Score:3, Interesting)

        Not terribly new -- we called it "piracy" back when we copied LP's to tape, before half of Slashdot was born. The term trickled up from the masses, not down from the record companies and software houses, because we liked the image - it made us sound all underground and outlaw and radical, instead of just too cheap to buy the album ("Eight bucks for a Kiss album? Fuck that, man!")
  • BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoctorPepper (92269) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:56PM (#3429635)
    I heard a radio commercial for the Business Software Aliance this morning while driving into work. This was a first in the Jacksonville, Florida area. I suppose the BSA will start harassing businesses in this area now.
    • Re:BSA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chill (34294) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:03PM (#3429695) Journal
      Just now? They've been all over Orlando for the last year and a half. The company I used to work for got their HQ (Long Island City, NY) audited and scared the hell out of the Orlando office I had converted to about 1/3 Linux. They forked over big $$ for licenses they don't need, use or want -- just to avoid the hassle.

      The BSA is nothing more than a legalized protection racket.
    • Re:BSA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170)
      It's amazing how they come off all reasonable like on the radio, isn't it?

      They ran ads back in January in the SF Bay Area (e.g. KCBS 740) about how important it is to keep a clean shop and comply by the grace period end. Nothing about imperial stormtroopers installing software on your PC's or Servers, or demanding audits which would be unthinkable in short timeframes, or even the extortion of large wads of cash and total capitulation as the only other option.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:56PM (#3429636) Homepage Journal
    Here it is in a nutshell:

    Ideas developed and shared undermine Intellectual Property. i.e. If you invented a better moustrap and GPL'd the design, then MSFT wouldn't be able get a patent on it, and thus license for big fees or lock any other developer or competitor out.

    Having to include source to something they didn't invent and can't get along without is their problem and, like any reasonable minded person, don't want problems. They like to keep it simple, by owning or having license agreements on IP.

    How anyone actually associates Linux with Piracy is beyond me and reflective of a lack of understanding the spirit of MSFT's gripes.

    • How anyone actually associates Linux with Piracy is beyond me and reflective of a lack of understanding the spirit of MSFT's gripes.

      The problem is that you have software like Napster that represents the freeloader movement getting confused with the free software movement. Popular websites like slashdot do more to hurt than to help with this problem. A lot of people are under the false impression that Linux and open source are about "free beer", and if you believe that, then it's not an enormous stretch to conclude that Linux is about piracy.

      • by scott1853 (194884) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:29PM (#3429900)
        Comments like yours do more to hurt than to help with this problem.

        Ok, if you're going to mark /. as the root of all evil then at least explain yourself.

        Secondly, Yes, a lot of people are under the impression that open source means "free as in beer" because it DOES! Look at Freshmeat or SourceForge and try to find some pay products. The percentage probably can't get measures in whole numbers.

        Lastly, who the hell that reads /. or knows what open source is, doesn't know that Linux is an OS and not an idea or an action.
        • it sounds like socialism to the majority of people in the U.S. at least. It probably also sounds like that to those in the EU regimes that are socialists only so far as they can use socialist economics to control the lower and middle classes (ie the aristocrats that want to tax you and me 60-80% but want their yacts and porsches). And yes, I know socialism is not really the dirty word in Europe that it is in the US, but it can still influence center, right wing and the equivalent (if they even exist in Europe) of libertarians. Therefore insinuating a socialist connection with OSS can have an effective propaganda effect.
    • Oh, this is just too good.

      "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson.

      I believe the "code word" is WAREZ and I believe that the inference was that because there are a lot of sites advertising "WAREZ" there must be a lot of piracy.

      Yes, there are an awful lot of sites that try to sucker people in by having "WAREZ" in their site name. Most of these sites have a lot of shareware not actual pirated software. So the inference is total crap. Not that there isn't a lot of piracy just that the hit count for "WAREZ" is no proof of it.

      "For an industry that commits millions of pounds to research and development, and that contributes six times as much to Europe's GDP as the consumer goods industry, the levels are unacceptable, the BSA says. "

      I thought they just said that "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net..." If so, how do the know that "the levels are unacceptable?"

      "That is about to change as the European Commission puts into force a directive intended to harmonise civil laws governing how courts deal with cases involving intellectual property"

      Software piracy is already illegal. So what do they want to do? Make it REALLY, REALLY illegal?

      "There is also work to be done on educating the public about the importance of intellectual property, especially as a web counter-culture advocating free software, such as music downloads, continues to grow."

      Oh, so now we get to the crux of the matter. We're back on the "Kill Mp3s" track again. They want laws to take away fair use so that they can increase corporate profits.

      "Open source software such as Linux is not seen as a threat to the work the BSA is doing, however."

      Then why mention it? "Look! Your shoe is untied!"

      "Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying," said Microsoft's Brad Smith.

      Wrong again Bozo. Linux is an operating system. Someday Microsoft should try to create one.

      "He does believe that stopping the pirates could have a dramatic effect on the current pricing of software, however."

      And why does he bundle the discussion of Linux in with the discussion of piracy? He's not using subtle association techniques is he?

      "As the legal market grows, there is more investment in new products and enhanced competition. A healthy market leads to more attractive prices for consumers," he said.

      So does the open source movement. You can't get a better price than free. The only problem that I see with open source is that society as a whole isn't mature enough to break out of the "take what you can get and give back nothing" attitude. We need to learn to do a better job of voluntarily supporting open source companies.
    • by extrasolar (28341) on Monday April 29, 2002 @04:09PM (#3431284) Homepage Journal
      Actually, Microsoft has every right to dislike its greatest threat.

      The Linux kernal is more than just a better mouse trap. Its free software.

      I believe we are seeing the beginnings of the third and last stage of software. An age where software is largely mutually beneficial to everyone. Much as math and sciences are today and have been for a long time now.

      This stage is an unfortunate stage for software businesses. Because they can not continue to exist.

      And its not just the threat of GNU and the large body of free software either. Its economics. Even though software isn't scarce, lets assume it is for benefit of argument.

      What do you do when everyone has the software they need? This is the burden Microsoft has had for a while. So they play every trick in the book. Changing file formats -- more restrictive licensing -- regular upgrades -- huge marketing -- and the creation of new technologies. The hope is to obsolete the previous version of software.

      Problem is that this provides almost zero benefit for the customer. Sure -- every so often someone gets a fringe benefit from a new technology. But usually, people are happy with the software they have now.

      So, in economics, if the customer gets no benefit from a product, they won't buy it--right? And thats the future as I see it. "Piracy" is the least of their worries. Their business model is about to collapse upon itself.

      And the GNU/Linux operating system represents this collapse all too vividly. Microsoft, there is no hope for you.
      • How anyone actually associates Linux with Piracy is beyond me

      It's easy. Same way we associate "drugs" and "bad". It's all down to an understanding of the way the human brain interprets repitition, association, emphasis and repitition:

      Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying.

      Linux is [mumble] software whereas piracy is copying.

      Linux is [mumble] software [mumble] piracy [mumble] copying.

      Linux is [mumble mumble] piracy.

      Linux is piracy.

      Linux is piracy.

      LINUX is PIRACY.

      Incidentally, I am not - repeat NOT - trying to be cute or funny here. Microsoft are mentioning Linux and piracy in the same sentence because they are laying the foundations for Joe Reader to imagine an association. Expect to see a lot more of this in the future, especially once they figure out whether they want to demonise specifically Linux, the GPL, or Open Source in general.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:58PM (#3429645)
    "piracy is copying."

    So 18th century pirates just boarded your ship, copied everything, and left?
  • by bildstorm (129924) <peter,buchy&shh,fi> on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:58PM (#3429650) Homepage Journal

    Is it just me or does this contradict things?

    They tell us we can't buy machines without an OS. Then they say that we're not allowed to remove the OS. Oh, and we can't give away the machine without a Microsoft OS either.

    Oh, and you can be sure that they think that a machine with Linux preinstalled is an OS-free machine.

    These guys play both sides so much you'd swear they were U.S. negotiators in the Middle East. Well, granted, Microsoft has been more successful. Bill Gates to solve the crisis in the West Bank???

    • Oh, and you can be sure that they think that a machine with Linux preinstalled is an OS-free machine.

      ...but as Linux users, we know better. It is, in fact, a free OS machine.
  • by Bob McCown (8411) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:58PM (#3429651)
    ..standard includes:

    #include "StandardWhineAboutExpensiveSoftware.h"
    #include "WhineAboutOnlyUsingItOnce.h"
    #include "RantAboutNeedingPhotoshopInsteadOfGimp.h"

    etc...

  • Well Duh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adam613 (449819) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:59PM (#3429652)
    Of course Linux isn't piracy. It would be extraordinarily difficult for me to pirate RedHat when I can get it legally from their website.

    This is another one of those "We'll look like we're compromising on this minor point so that people can buy into our other major point" things. Linux may not be piracy, but it is viral and anti-capitalist and bad for consumers because it's supported by hobbyists with PHDs in CS rather than a major company whose tech support knows as much as their average supportee (is that a word?).

    What is the market for Linux like in Europe? Does M$ have any more reason to be worried over there than they do here?

    (sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm an American so I have no clue what goes on outside of my own country)
    • Re:Well Duh.... (Score:2, Informative)

      by quinto2000 (211211)
      This is another one of those "We'll look like we're compromising on this minor point so that people can buy into our other major point" things.
      It's bigger than that. All that MSFT needs to do is associate the word "Linux" with "piracy," and the innuendo is enough to scare off many businesses.

      And in Europe, yes, Linux is much more popular. A number of people don't want to rely on an American company for their OS.

    • Re:Well Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by minion (162631)
      They have much more to loose in Europe than here. When our government brought Microsoft to court, every country that uses Microsoft software took notice. Why? Because here you have a company, who's products you use to make your business function, under scrunity for illegal business practices, under foreign laws. That worried many counties. Legal ramifications that you have absolutely no control over.

      To those people, Open Source software just got a lot more appealing, because a foreign power can't take it away from you.
  • I know that our cost for MS software is going up at least 25% because of their new requirements for "software assurance" (basically upgrade insurance.) Our company bought into the FUD of the Microsoftie sales guy. That and no more upgrade licenses available as of July will cause our software costs to rise dramatically just to maintain the status quo.

    So I'm not really sure if I belive that "sales" are increasing. In all reality the cost of standard software is going up and therefore so are "sales."
  • by bokmann (323771) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:59PM (#3429659) Homepage
    No... Piracy should be defined as 'breaking the license the software was issued under'.

    If they get away with defining 'piracy'=='copying', even in people's perceptions, the main distribution method of linux will be severely hampered. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone receive a burnt CD with 'Red Hat xx' scribbled with a magic marker, and they ask something like, "is this legal?". It just 'feels' like you are doing something dirty.

    It is only illegal to copy it if you have specifically given up that right. As the GPL says, "Most lices are created with the purpose of taking away your rights..."

    • by stevenj (9583) <stevenj@alum.mi[ ]du ['t.e' in gap]> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:17PM (#3429798) Homepage
      It is only illegal to copy it if you have specifically given up that right. As the GPL says, "Most [licences] are created with the purpose of taking away your rights..."

      You've got that backwards. It is only legal to copy a copyrighted work (other than for fair use) if you've been specifically granted that right by a license (e.g. the GPL). (IANAL)

      The default under copyright law is to forbid copying; most shrink-wrap "licenses" try to restrict your rights beyond the ordinary powers of copyright.

      • OK, I agree that the default under copyright law is to prevent the copying, but my point still holds, that people need to understand that they are ALLOWED to copy linux.

        It is completely in the spirit and letter of the license that I can download any linux distro and install it on an infinite number of machines.

        Most people instinctively feel that you must be doing something wrong.

        The comment from the lawyer makes it sound like they are 'graciously' allowing that.
    • In fact, now that I think about it, the BSA's role is 'enforcing the license to prevent piracy'... Maybe someone should ask their help the next time someone takes something that is GPL'ed and tries to turn it into a closed-source product... wouldn't that be 'making illegal copies'? The copies don't follow the license agreement the person agreed to...

    • JW: So tell me about the free software.

      VV: So what you want to know?

      JW: It's free right?

      VV: It's free, but it ain't 100% free. I mean you can't just walk into Fry's and grab a copy of Red Hat off the shelf without paying for it. You have to download it or copy it from a friend.

      JW: That's because it's under the GPL.

      VV: Right. It breaks down like this It's leagal for you to buy it, it's leagal for you to copy it and if you are into programming, it's legal for you to modify it. Companies can sell the software, but that don't matter, 'cause you can turn around and give away copies of it. Limiting redistribution is a right the GPL explicitly doesn't give developers.

  • by quinto2000 (211211) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:00PM (#3429665) Homepage Journal
    "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson"
    They forgot to mention that all of the sites had the same broken links to servers that had only porn popups, not warez.

    And wow, it sure took them a long time to figure out the "codeword" for pirated software :)

  • Eastern Europe? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ymgve (457563) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:02PM (#3429683) Homepage
    If anything, I believe piracy has progressed the software industry there, atleast the MS-centric part of it. If they didn't have illegal copies of Windows and VC++ to develop on, there is no way they'd be able to afford the real thing. So in a way, pirated software helps Microsoft, because then more people are able to develop Windows applications.
    • Re:Eastern Europe? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Your right.
      You know how MS got so popular? People took copies home from work, installed it on ther machines so they could 'work' from home.

      My 98 system went down this weekend, lost everything. I went to reinstall Ofice 98. Turns out there where in the box that got lost when we moved. You think I'm going to buy my next copy?
    • The recent essay contest sponsored by Wipout drove this point home [wipout.net]: the license cost for a single seat of, say, Visual Studio is as much as sixty percent of the per capita income of your average Sri Lankan. There's no concievable way that people from those parts of the world can afford to put the software on very many machines legally. The options are to pirate or to do without, and doing without doesn't do much for their software industry, or indeed any industry.
  • by Drachemorder (549870) <brandon@NOSPaM.christiangaming.org> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:02PM (#3429684) Homepage
    Make up your mind, Microsoft! Is it piracy, or is it just a virus?

    Sheesh. Are there any insulting comparisons Microsoft hasn't yet made?

  • by Chewie (24912) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:02PM (#3429689)
    My favorite part was the quote from the story:
    He does believe that stopping the pirates could have a dramatic effect on the current pricing of software, however. "As the legal market grows, there is more investment in new products and enhanced competition. A healthy market leads to more attractive prices for consumers," he said.
    Anyone want to wager what the odds of BSA members dropping their prices will be? I'm guessing something involving a snowball and Hell.
  • It's darn nice of Microsoft to admit that it's not stealing if someone gives it to you. What they and the BSA are still dancing around is that open source is one of the very best solutions to piracy. An organization that uses only open source won't have to waste its time and money maintaining license compliance. Of course, this doesn't help software sellers, but in the spirit of the very capitalism they claim to support: that's their problem. The companies who make money in some way besides selling software (i.e. most of us) aren't obliged to provide welfare to Microsoft.
  • New Acronym? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ocie (6659)
    software sales are forecast to grow from $50 billion in 2000 to about $90 billion by 2005

    What do you expect. Software is write-once sell-many (WOSM)


  • Opportunity cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kris Warkentin (15136) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:07PM (#3429724) Homepage
    Lots of money will continue to be made in software simply because piracy is a pain in the tuckus. If you come right down to it, most software hasn't really gotten that much more expensive over the years.

    Take games for example. They still usually cost around $50 bucks, just like they have for years. I pay $50 dollars for my tax program every year now because, after all, what's $50 bucks? 10 years ago it cost the same and we used to get 5 people together and pay $10 bucks each. Now we just buy it because it's more of a nuisance to pirate than it is to just pony up the cash.

    Games are relatively cheap too. If you use a pirated version, half the time you're having problems like, "I need the latest 1.09 patch for such and such bug/feature but it breaks my 1.07 pirated no-cd version". It's just easier to buy it than it is to go surfing warez sites/kazaa, etc. My time is more valuable than that.....surfing for warez takes time away from gaming. ;-)
    • Everything else even remotely related to computers has gotten drastically cheaper over the years. Everything except Microsoft's software. It has actually gotten more expensive. Gee... I wonder why that is... could it be... monopoly?!

      • by sheldon (2322)
        " It has actually gotten more expensive."

        Prove this statement. I dare you.

        Go back and check the price of the original DOS, the original Windows... Windows 95 and so on. The price of the OS has remained almost constant as long as I can remember.

        Then if you go and compare the price of Microsoft's offerings to other comparable products in the industry you'll see software has gotten drastically cheaper because of Microsoft.
  • In other news: "Mozilla piracy has grown 12% last year according to MS sources. Also, GIMP piracy has also grown considerably."

    Come on MS... come on... grow up!
  • Even Gates never failed to make the distinction. Linux is a cancer, remember, not piracy.

    Besides, at least the pirates use windows. Us linux users are much more lowlife, in their opinion.
  • by Tri0de (182282) <dpreynld@pacbell.net> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:08PM (#3429730) Journal
    In other news Micro$oft spokesman says "we magnanimously concede that breathing oxygen is not, in and of itself, stealing from us".

    To me, the big brotherish quote was:

    "Criminal organisations can sell software direct, as well as through retail channels," said Symantec lawyer Art Courville. "So, it is harder to monitor."

    yep- can't have that ol' free market in the way, somebody might be doing something unlawful
  • Well... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Sarcasmooo! (267601)
    It may not be piracy, but it sure stole my heart.

    aawwwwww...
  • Easter Europe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pmancini (20121) <pmanciniNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:09PM (#3429736) Homepage
    The remark about piracy holding Eastern Europe back is partially right. In Russia, Ukraine and other states you can pick up just about any software for next to nothing. Imagine paying $1.80US for Windows XP Professional? The piracy rings there are so good you get it fully cracked, you get it in nice packaging and if you need help they can sell you a ton of books that have been scanned into PDF format also on CD.

    The problem isn't piracy. It is a lack of respect or even awareness of Intellectual Property in my opinion. There is no respect for it at all, it seems, in these countries. Their legislatures are just now starting to examine laws concerning it. I am not sure which industry is bigger: China's piracy rings or Russia's. In China the piracy goes to aid specific Red Army units (in fact the rings are allegedly controled by Army Generals).

    It is an interesting problem. While we want to business with these countries, lack of protections makes it nearly impossible. At least under the rules and structure of Capitalism. While those rules can lead to our current situation where we have an agressively bad and dangerous monopoly controlled by Bill Gates, they generally are good and promote sane business practices. My hope is that Eastern Europe reforms. With China, I don't see and end coming to their ways of doing business.
    • I completely agree: getting Windows XP "Professional" for a mere $1.80 would be enough to sabotage the intellectual development of any nation. Trash like that should be made so expensive that it is out of the reach of most people.

      Let's hope the Eastern European legislatures crack down on this kind of problem. When Windows XP costs $200, as God intended it to, then open source software will look a lot more attractive to those people.

  • Microsoft would secretly love to carpetbomb Eastern Europe, Russia, China etc. with their software.

    People learn to use Microsoft and end up paying later, or encouraging other people to use microsoft through a network effect ('everyone uses Word/Excel'). If Microsoft software was available only at full price they would be more likely to try other alternative. The main battle is for mindshare not dollars.

    Piracy allows microsoft to effectively sell cheap, without being accused of dumping.
  • by JudasBlue (409332) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:11PM (#3429755)
    This is probably off topic, but I feel the need to share it.

    It is easy for those of us hip to the open source movement to laugh at this crap from MS, even though we know that some end users and such might be taken in by it. But the depths to which MS FUD penetrates the general IT community is bloody incredible to me.

    Yesterday I was talking with a mid-level QA engineer from Apple. This guy is working on a very complex product. He knows how to code.

    We start talking about software development, and I mention some things I am working on, mostly centered on Linux. At which point he says:

    "That's cool, but anything you do on Linux you would have to give away for free, right?"

    Contrary to what everyone is thinking, this guy isn't stupid. He isn't even technically inept. He works on a complex project and knows what he is doing in his problem domain.

    Anything that MS might say about Linux and open source that isn't totally negative should be lauded, because a LOT more people than some of us realize, people we think should know better, apparently are buying pretty much everything MS is trying to spread about open source and Linux.

  • by Restil (31903) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:23PM (#3429844) Homepage
    "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson.

    I assume here they are referring to "warez". And yes, you will get a LOT of hits if you put that into a search engine. However, before you get TOO excited about it, understand that 99 times out of 100, you're more likely to find porn than pirated software if you actually visit any of those sites. Its a completely meaningless association.

    The majority of "warez" trading is done through IRC or usenet. Yet those who are striving to rid the internet of piracy rarely mention these treasure troves. Certainly they get mentioned as the breeding ground for evil "hackers" and for child porn distribution, but as far as piracy goes, they tend to stay rather mum about it.

    Could it be that their only real mission is one of sensationalism? They know for a fact that the average clueless newbie will do a hunt for pirated software on the web (because as far as they know, the web IS the internet), and will be disillusioned by all the porn websites, banners, and popups that they will figure its more trouble than its worth. They might trade with their friends and download some mp3's off Morpheus, but that will be the limit of their piracy activities.

    However, if lots of news articles spent a great deal of time complaining about the rampant piracy on IRC and usenet and other places, then that clueless newbie might actually decide for once that a clue isn't such a bad thing and venture into that world. "What do you mean that IE can't go there???" But once entrenched in that world, they'll be very difficult to "retrain".

    The public at large has been convinced by and large that child pornography and hacking are indeed "Bad things (tm)" and will probably avoid those places that distribute them. But software piracy hasn't reached that degree of evil in most people's eyes. So they will to some small degree actually seek it out. And deep down, there's probably an even bigger fear. Their preverbial sheep might stumble across something dangerous. "What's this here linux thing all about???"

    ok. Fine. Mod me down. :)

    -Restil
  • Bradford L. Smith (Score:3, Informative)

    by deft (253558) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:30PM (#3429906) Homepage
    "Look at the Brain on Brad!"

    Smith graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he received the Class of 1901 Medal, the Dewitt Clinton Poole Memorial Prize, and the Harold Willis Dodds Achievement Award, the highest award given to a graduating senior at commencement. He was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar at the Columbia University School of Law, where he received the David M. Berger Memorial Award. He also studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He has written numerous articles regarding international intellectual property and electronic commerce issues and has served as a lecturer at the Hague Academy of International Law.
  • Funny numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:35PM (#3429941)
    "The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost $3bn to pirates."

    I am always curious where they actually come up with these numbers. Some kid in his basement downloading a $3,000 software package hasn't actually cost the industry anything b/c he wouldn't have bought it anyway. Now if a company like IBM bought 1 copy of office and installed on every corporate desktop then I think that is a real problem. The real question is how many companys are really in gross violations of the current laws?
    • Re:Funny numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:09PM (#3430618) Homepage
      "The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost $3bn to pirates."

      I am always curious where they actually come up with these numbers. Some kid in his basement downloading a $3,000 software package hasn't actually cost the industry anything b/c he wouldn't have bought it anyway. Now if a company like IBM bought 1 copy of office and installed on every corporate desktop then I think that is a real problem. The real question is how many companys are really in gross violations of the current laws?


      I have no idea how they arrive at that number, but in reality ever copy of software that is downloaded (and used, so they people that just trade software and never use any of it don't count) usually costs someone something. If someone needs a photo editing program and they d/l a cracked copy of Photoshop, they most probably would not have paid for Photoshop, so they rightly did not cost Adobe $500 (or whatever the going rate is). Of course this is not always true, but in a general sense. It is the makers of the Gimp and small apps like Paint Shop Pro that have really lost the money (okay, Gimp lost users not money, but they still lost something). These people probably can't afford Photoshop and probably wouldn't have bought it, but they probably can afford a cheaper app (or a free app) but they don't use it because they can pirate Photoshop for free. If they need a photo editing app, they may not have bought Photoshop, but they would have bought something if they really needed it. But instead they bought nothing, choosing to get a pirated version instead. So no, ever person who d/ls and uses a cracked copy of Photoshop is not costing Adobe $500, but they are costing the smaller companies and free software instead.
  • One big motivation to stomp out piracy is the current piracy situation in China. It's pretty amazing, I think.
    Right now, Piracy is such a problem in China that it actually has an impact on their economy. However, the piracy is not on software like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, it's on the software that governs assembly lines and supports large scale manufacturing, etc.
    It's so established that there are actual private networks that have been built specifically for shuffling pirated software back and forth.
    So why doesn't the government go after these private networks? Because the cost of bandwidth on these networks is much cheaper than the regular service providers...which means you have regular, legal companies using these pirate networks for everyday business use. And to top it all off, the average joe looks at these pirates as the underdog against the big bad govnt. The Chinese government can't touch these nets because they risk putting a lot of small businesses, well, out of business.
    That's pretty scary to me.
  • by eyeball (17206) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:38PM (#3429965) Journal
    Linux is also not...
    • A vegitable
    • An animal
    • A mineral
    • A verb (although I have heard people say "let's linux this project," which made me want to slap them)
    • A birthcontrol device (well, arguably)
    • A form of martial arts
    • A cure for the common cold
    • A paint remover
    • A shoe manufacturer
    • A religion (arguably)
    etc...

  • by pgpckt (312866) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:45PM (#3430014) Homepage Journal

    Why does the Topic say the lawyer said "is not piracy" when the text of the submission does not use these words? In fact, the text says: "Brad Smith as saying: 'Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying.'"

    Could be just me, but I don't see the words "is not piracy" in there. We couldn't be bothered to use the actual words I suppose?

  • My Favorite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pb (1020) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:46PM (#3430021)
    "A healthy market leads to more attractive prices for consumers".

    By this standard, I suppose the music industry and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the software industry are "unhealthy". In fact, this makes piracy look pretty attractive, unless these "attractive prices" are cheaper than "free".

    Obviously, the reason we have piracy is *because* the current prices aren't "more attractive". Also, not everyone who pirates a program really needs it, especially not for the price that it is selling at.

    This goes double for programs that have free alternatives; most people don't really need that new copy of Photoshop 6, but why bother learning about The Gimp when you can just pirate the industry standard? Actually, bundling free alternatives to commercial software would be a good way to decrease piracy, but I doubt that most companies would agree to this, because it might also decrease *SALES*, which is all they really care about. They don't care about their customers, just their money...
  • by smoondog (85133) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:01PM (#3430115)
    Micro$oft has a monopoly. What's worse is they use those powers regularly in a way that is not productive to the consumer or, IMO, the computer industry. However, /. cannot get into the belief that software piracy is *not* a bad thing. Especially when it is commercial piracy (shrink wrapping copied/conterfeit products). The observation that sales are increasing has nothing to do with whether piracy is good/bad or affecting/not affecting the market.

    I'm surprised that the /. community gets up in arms over gpl violations but thinks piracy against the evil empire is somehow less bad. There are better ways to work for a better (more fair) computer industry.

    -Sean
  • by gdyas (240438) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:10PM (#3430166) Homepage

    To sum up the numbers from the article, the Euro software industry currently makes about 35bln pounds ($51bln USD), and say they're losing about 3bln pounds (4.4bln USD). So, about 8.6% is going down the drain, theoretically, due to piracy, putting aside quibbles about how they did the numbers, etc.

    What I want to consider here are two things. First, the cost v. benefit of pursuing pirates, and second, the likelihood of cost improvement for the general software-buying public if piracy were eliminated.

    As far as piracy is concerned, once you get past business-level piracy of software and get down to kids in their rooms trading programs, I'd say it becomes impossible. You simply can't police everyone all the time. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing -- maybe today's pimple-faced thief is tomorrow's well-off software purchaser? Software companies, none of whom are hurting, shouldn't let their lawyers obsess about kids in front of their computers.

    Second and last, does anyone really think that if they were able to truly get rid of piracy across the board that they'd lower their prices to give you, the honest software buyer, a better deal? Even if they did, that discount in price would never be lower than the amount of piracy currently projected, meaning that a $50 program would only become a $46 program.

    Software companies are stuck in a situation where they have to make their product both useful and try to prevent people from stealing it because it's easy to steal. Most people are honest, though, and because of this they make money. Basically, none of them were ignorant of the piracy situation, which has been the same since Win3.1, so they should quit their whining about how the market should be and work in the market that is.

  • by Gildor (40243) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:33PM (#3430932)
    ...in other news, Microsoft released a statement which said that the Pope is Catholic...
  • press release (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @02:14AM (#3434217) Homepage Journal
    the article is one of those "got press release, changed a few words, printed it" pieces of "journalism". here's what I wrote to BBC in reply:

    Dear Jane Wakefield,

    In the article titled "Net pirates 'threaten software industry'", posted at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1 951000/1951231.stm
    on Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK, you write down a few items that I don't consider to be entirely correct, and even more that are very one-sided.

    Allow me to comment on some of these items:

    > The warning was issued at a conference, organised by the Business
    > Software Alliance (BSA), which attracted delegates from firms such as
    > Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Symantec.

    This sounds like an accomplishment with credits to the BSA, except that the BSA is funded by the firms mentioned, especially Microsoft. Once you check the speakers list against the BSA membership list, you realize that what appears to be a conference is, in fact, a PR meeting.
    Pointing this out to the reader would have enabled him to take the points made by these "delegates" with the grain of salt they deserve.

    > The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost
    > $3bn to pirates.

    I have always been interested in finding out just how BSA and other "independent" researchers arrive at these figures. They don't tell. Any credible claim should name its sources, shouldn't it?

    > This figure is thought to be only a tiny fraction of the amount of
    > piracy that is going on every day on the internet.

    If I interpret "tiny fraction" as less than 10%, I'm at $30bn EVERY DAY, or about 11 trillion per year. The GDP of the UK in 2000 was $1.36 trillion. So these people are telling you that internet piracy is a business 10 times the size of the whole UK economy?
    Obviously that is, if you excuse the word, bullshit. The sentence does, however, create the impression that internet piracy is unbelievably huge.
    Even so, $30bn is more than Microsoft's worldwide net profits, and a considerable percentage of the total net earnings of europe's software industry. A claim of this size better be substantiated by serious facts and sources. Where are they?

    > "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we
    > found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for
    > pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson.

    One of the "codenames" is "warez" and does indeed return about 4,230,000 hits when put into google.
    However, what kind of point does that make? "Buckingham Palace" returns 99,300 hits, but as far as I am aware, there is only one.

    More to the point, a search engine just tells you how many sites mention a given topic. Ironically, the BSA's own websites, both at bsa.org and national sites such as bsa.de or bsa.org.tr appear in the above-mentioned search for "warez", because they use the "bad word". A majority of the "real" warez sites are just traps with pornographic advertisement. A little research would have taken an hour or two and been quite revealing.

    Warez sites are very real. The BSA, however, having an agenda, is greatly exagerating both their number and capabilities.

    Finally, here are a few choice quotes that should have really ticked you off to the fact that the figures are made up:

    > The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe
    > lost $3bn to pirates.
    [...]
    > Europe has a greater rate of piracy than the US - around 34%
    [...]
    > It is forecast to grow from £35bn in 2000

    Maybe math works differently in america, but even without a calculator I can see that $3bn isn't 34% of $50bn.

    It sorries me when I see journalists lifting whole articles almost verbatim out of corporate press releases. It is especially not the kind of reporting I expect from a respectable news source like BBC.

    For the record, I am a computer security professional with a telco company. I have been working professionally on the internet for over 5 years, and I have seen the warez scene both from inside (when I was a teenager) and from the outside now that I deal with people abusing our computer resources for these purposes or help the law enforcement agencies to track criminals through our systems.

    Piracy is real, no question about it. The BSA, however, justifies its very existence by a gross exageration of the facts, and as a very interested party should not be believed too much.

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