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Microsoft

Why Software Piracy is Good for Microsoft 522

Posted by timothy
from the shared-source dept.
jcphil writes "Salon has an article that explains why Microsoft has toned down its anti-piracy actions in China and other developing markets. The answer is simple: due to the network effect, the more users you have, the greater your strength in the marketplace. And it doesn't matter if their Windows is pirated or not. So, in effect, software piracy in countries like China helps Microsoft to compete with Linux." Meanwhile, the RIAA doesn't feel the same logic applies to record sales in the U.S., and has started an ad campaign to convince the public that sharing music hurts artists.
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Why Software Piracy is Good for Microsoft

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  • Beggar. (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) <mark@@@seventhcycle...net> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:25PM (#4337648) Homepage
    Hey Microsoft, ummm... Got any goods that you can offload to me?

    I won't put linux on my machine! Pinky Swear!

    Note: I'll just put FreeBSD on instead.

  • Groan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101&gmail,com> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:26PM (#4337656) Homepage Journal

    Meanwhile, the RIAA doesn't feel the same logic applies to record sales in the U.S., and has started an ad campaign to convince the public that sharing music hurts artists.

    Sheesh, talk about missing the point of the article. The article is talking about developing markets, not the US. Microsoft cares deeply about piracy in the US. The point is that in developing markets, Microsoft wants to establish a foothold.

    The other difference is that Microsoft has competition, while there is no direct competition for music. In other words, if you don't like the price of Bruce Springsteen, you're not going to switch to Broos Sprigstein who might be cheaper.

    • while there is no direct competition for music.

      I should have mentioned that this is not true for most classical music, where someone may very well compare prices between the Boston, London and New York symphony orchestras who are probably all interchangeably excellent. [there are certainly exceptions to this, of course]

      • ...who are probably all interchangeably excellent.

        Well, I have only limited experience in classical music, but even to my ears there is a noticeable difference between different conductors.
    • But this article points out something that makes the majority of slashdot users hate microsoft more!

      Isn't that the point?
    • Re:Groan (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dthoma (593797) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:39PM (#4337778) Journal
      "Sheesh, talk about missing the point of the article. The article is talking about developing markets, not the US. Microsoft cares deeply about piracy in the US. The point is that in developing markets, Microsoft wants to establish a foothold."

      Or, to sum it up, Microsoft won't bother alienating their market until they've got a market to alienate. ;-)

    • Re:Groan (Score:5, Funny)

      by Washizu (220337) <bengarvey AT comcast DOT net> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:52PM (#4337886) Homepage
      In other words, if you don't like the price of Bruce Springsteen, you're not going to switch to Broos Sprigstein who might be cheaper.

      Don't knock us Broos fans until you've heard his early stuff.
    • by Otter (3800)
      And the other, other difference is that network effects are not nearly as powerful for music as for software. If 85% of the people around me suddenly start listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, my Buju Banton CDs don't become any less valuable to me. 85% of users is more than enough to force me to have a way to open .doc files.

      Anyway, I've read that Microsoft sees piracy as a way to gain market share asserted here hundreds of times. Usually it's not even worth a mod point, let alone a story.

    • Re:Groan (Score:2, Interesting)

      by octalgirl (580949)
      Meanwhile, the RIAA doesn't feel the same logic applies to record sales in the U.S., and has started an ad campaign to convince the public that sharing music hurts artists.

      It's about the time the RIAA begins educating the public about this instead of bashing them over the head and calling everyone a thief. The concern remains though if they will truly educate and not bash them over the head and call everyone a thief.

      Quotes like Britney's Spears "Too many people don't realise that when you download a song you like from a peer-to-peer network or some other unauthorised internet service, you're stealing music", " calling P2P an unauthorised internet service when it has dozens of perfectly legitimate and legal uses, just puts a negative spin on an incredible software tool and really doesn't educate after all.
      • yeah yeah yeah. There are theoretically some legitimate uses. but 99.999999999999 percent of all users out there, and 99.9999999999999 percent of all files downloaded are illegal.

        Now, from a legal standpoint, the theoretical legal use should have just as loud of a voice as the illegal use.

        From a practical making your point type of speech, the .000000000000000001 can be ignored.

        Cocaine is illegal. Even though there are some very narrowly defined places and circumstances in which it is legal (research, some medicine etc). However if I say cocaine is illegal, nobody is going to get into a debate with me. They might debate if it SHOULD be illegal, but not that it IS illegal.
    • Microsoft does indeed fight piracy here (ever hear of the BSA? 'Nuff said). I contend, however, that they probably shouldn't fight piracy of windows, though with XP they have upped the ante a bit. They are benefited immeasurably by their monopoly (ask the DOJ, eh?), something that would be harmed if everyone had to pay for it, or couldn't reuse old OEM copies. I really think that people aren't going to pay an extra $150 to throw XP on their second computer - so here comes Mac OS or linux, which people might find they like more.

      When you get down to it, wouldn't disregard for piracy be the best way to engage in dumping of product to eradicate competitors (a practice that would be illegal under antitrust, in their position)? This would be the best way to maintain their install base. I mean, they would still extort the OEM's to get money out of windows, but let anyone who builds their own box or wants to upgrade to do it for free. Unofficially, of course.
  • by outsider007 (115534) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:27PM (#4337663)
    Let's say you're a 14 year old kid and you're running a pirated copy of windows vs. a legal copy of linux. What happens when you grow up and get an IT job for a small company? you recommend using windows because you're familiar with it. The same is true for productivity software (office,photoshop...) but not games and definitely not music.
    • The same is true for productivity software (office,photoshop...) but not games and definitely not music.

      Maybe, but also it is the creative process, not just the specific tool. Knowing how to navigate around in a pirated copy Word vs using a free tool like OpenOffice does not give you the ability to write well. But the personal skills that make good writer with a free tool like OpenOffice WILL transfer over to the more expensive tools like MSOffice.

      Same with graphics apps. If you can create something spectacular with GIMP, you can definately do the same with Photoshop.

      Ability, not just tool familiarity, is the key.
    • Let's say you're a 14 year old kid, you don't get much pocket money but you want to be with the 'in' croud.

      You've scraped together enough cash to by some DC's or Nikes so that people stop hitting you every time you walk past, but now there's this cool some they keep playing any you don't have the cash.

      Do you
      a:, buy it
      b:, blag a copy off of a mate on tape cassette,
      c: download it from gnutella

  • by pheph (234655) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:27PM (#4337665) Homepage
    Here is an article [prospect.org] that quotes Gates in 1998:

    "They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

    1.) Get user's addicted to our software
    2.) ????
    3.) Profit!!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:27PM (#4337667)
    This is exactly why i do not offer to give copies of Windows to people anymore.

    If you want Windows, you can go ahead and pay for it yourself. Then you'll understand even better why Microsoft is losing market share to Linux. It's not cheap for an individual, and for a business it's highway robbery. If the price is too high for you, well, why not install something free?
    • What about turning people into Microsoft for pirating their software? Talk about an effective technique to get people to switch to Linux!! Seriously, we'd all probably lose some friends along the way, but if you think about it the idea in the parent post really won't be that effective without reasonable enforcement. I can tell people I won't give them pirated copies of Windows, but there's always someone out there willing to pirate a copy. Think about it. Have you ever really wanted a piece of Microsoft software and not been able to find someone who had it? If we really want to push this let's start turning people in. The best part of it is that you're doing exactly what Microsoft wants, but in the end it's just going to come back to bite them. As more people find themselves actually being forced to either shell out the cash or go open source, I think Microsoft would find their install base shrinking dramatically.
    • by Dr. Evil (3501)

      I wonder if you could view a soft stance towards piracy as "dumping" in the marketplace. It is, after all, exactly what you're doing -- saturating the market with product, under cost, knowing that it is hurting your competitors.

      IMHO, shareware fits into this, bennefiting from the network effect and hurt competition, while crying that only a small fraction of their customers are paying.

      Yeah, I know, it is a stretch.

  • by Uttles (324447)
    Damnit, at least you could have given me some credit for submitting that link instead of attaching it to another story. Thanks a lot.
  • by sys$manager (25156) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:27PM (#4337671)
    Because when you download music, you're taking bread from Britney's mouth! She can barely afford to LIVE! Please, think of the starving artists before you download that next MP3.

    Come on, does the RIAA really expect me to take a PSA from Britney Spears or bling blingin' Nelly when it comes to theft of music? Are they trying to make us feel bad for these people who get paid truckloads of money and have no talent? Maybe they should show me a non-RIAA artist who lives out of their car and plays dumpy clubs instead.

    NOTE TO RIAA: GET A CLUE.
    • Likelihood of making anti-piracy ads increases as (one of the following):
      1. Your celebrity clock approaches 14:59.
      2. Your street cred approaches zero
      3. Your talent approaches zero
      4. The average age of your audience approaches 18 (or 40, depending on Britney vs. Madonna)

    • Kid Rock Starves To Death: MP3 Piracy Blamed [theonion.com].

      Linking to an Onion article on /.: -1 Karmawhore.
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:55PM (#4337922) Journal

      With any luck, the anti-music-piracy commericals will be as much a scream as those "Today I killed a judge (because I bought drugs)" drug-terrorism ones:

      • "Today I starved a song writer"
      • "I just destroyed a pop-star's lifelong dream."
      • "Hey, it's not like I'm hurting anyone!" (jump cut to a fired record company executive taking out his anger on his wife and child)

      GMD

  • by gosand (234100) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:28PM (#4337676)
    I have to wonder if the artists who are supporting this ACTUALLY believe it, or if their record company is forcing them to do it. After all, they are indentured servants, they do what they are told. if they aren't being forced, I'll bet the company has bombarded them with FUD until they actually start to believe it. I can see the record company telling them all about how they need to change the contract for this new "piracy" fee that is stealing all their money. Phbbt. Fine, let the music industry go down the tubes, I don't really care.
  • That the record company hurts artists.

    Maybe a picture of some big-name musician begging as record execs walk by.
  • Humorously, all the artists supporting the RIAA are garbage pop stars anyways. These people woundn't know good music if it fell on their head. It's commercial fodder, produced (sic!) only to bilk the public out of their money anyway. Spears, an artist? HAHA!

    Real musicians make their money on the road.
  • The answer is simple: due to the network effect, the more users you have, the greater your strength in the marketplace. And it doesn't matter if their Windows is pirated or not

    I disagree with this article--Microsoft already got it's massive marketshare for PC's in China, and then tried to crackdown on piracy because it already had hundreds of millions of users there. It's not like Windows is just now entering the country. The 'network effect' worked its magic years ago...

  • Repeat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Beatbyte (163694)
    I don't want to hear anyone else bitch about how the users on slashdot don't read the story before they post.

    Reason being? The people posting the story don't even read Slashdot stories.

    This is yet again another repeat.
  • Get them hooked (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikewas (119762) <wascher&gmail,com> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:30PM (#4337704) Homepage
    Just like drugs?

    Give the poor slob some free hits, get him hooked before he knows how bad the dope is, then start charging big bucks.

  • by John Harrison (223649) <<johnharrison> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:31PM (#4337711) Homepage Journal
    Software and music are different enough that the same logic isn't entirely applicable. If you have a country where lot of people have pirated copies of Word, the those who don't pirate are going to be more likely to purchase Word, simply because it is a de facto standard. Using the most prevalent solution makes interoperability easier. It helps the legitimate users get their jobs done. How would this apply for music? Also, some day China is going to do more enforcement. When people need an updated version of their software whose are they going to buy? The one they are used to. How does this apply to music? Again, it doesn't.
    • One could equate a piece of software being the "de facto standard" with a song, artist or genre becoming more popular. The more people who listen to it, the more people who *want* to listen to it.

      Listening to that music gives you a social connection to other people who listen to it (i.e. something to talk about, etc.), which is a (very) rough parallel to "getting your job done better".

      The parallel between software updates and music are obvious: when an artist you like releases a new album or single, you are more likely to buy it because of the stuff you've already heard.
    • Like the other guy said - if everyone listens to Britney, they expect music to sound like Britney. But if they listen to actual music, it would break the RIAA's "monopoly"
  • by Brigadier (12956) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:34PM (#4337729)

    In my field (architecture) AutoCAD has pretty much the monopoly, despight other packages such as ArchiCAD, Microstation and DataCAD. Why ? It's simple, this is the tool that everyone knows. By filling schools and colleges with thier software and having student version for little and nothing ($200 for a AutoCAD12,3DStudio,AA package)the only software package that anyone knows is AutoCAD. Since it's very expensive to train someone to use a new software package proficiently can costs upards of $3000 most employers just settle with AutoCAD even though it may not be the best or cheapest package.
    • I can see how it matters if AutoCAD is not the best tool for the job, but it doesn't matter much if it's more expensive since the companies are saving money by not doing training. AutoCAD has thus sponsored training for them. Would it be better if schools kept using all sorts of software, and changing it every so often? It's better to stick to a package that works and put pressure on the company to implement the changes you require.
  • This is called The Photoshop Effect.

    The sad thing is that it took them this long to figure it out. How many windows users would there be if we had to pay for windows?

    It's an interesting effect on 'supply and demand' however. How do you evaluate demand and scarcity when there is unlimited product available and production costs (ie, duplication) are nil? How does the market work when you're trying to sell information that can be free?
  • PC Tools leaked early versions of their software into the pirate (Arrrr!) market in order to compete with the already-established Norton Utilities. It worked to a certain degree ... and it spread the tool's use through some circles ... but we all know who's still standing today.
  • the more users you have, the greater your strength in the marketplace.

    Don't crack dealers use similiar tactics?

  • by eastern (92669) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:39PM (#4337773)

    Absolutely true. Here in India (a very China-like piracy situation) there are plenty of small businesses which want to move to Linux in theory but they continue to use Windows-Office-Exchange etc because its free to them.

    At zero cost (actually approx. US$ 2.15 per CD that all software costs here), its pretty hard to convince yourself that the effort of migrating to Open Source is worth it!

    Funnily enough, Linux costs more than Windows because none of the regular pirates stock Linux. So Win2K is US$ 2.15 but Redhat is about US$15 which is what the cheapest unoficial Redhat CD costs

  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf (211581) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:39PM (#4337774)
    A wrinkle laden aging speed metal rocker, wrapped in shredded leather pants; he's drinking from a bottle in a paper bag; sad music is playing.

    The voice over says "When you pirate music, you steal money out of artists pockets. Now, how is this poor man going to afford his presidential suite, hookers, and 3 day liquor and heroin binges?"

    Then a black screen with white text comes up:

    "Help the Fella, Don't Gnutella."
  • After all their rants on how pirating destroys intellectual? property they turn on a dime.

    If people in china gets used to pirating its hard to reverse it. A culture of pirating blessed by MS will be almost impossible to reverse.

    I guess their campaign against pirating didnt turn out like they liked it to. From what i could see the only thing it did was to spark a new wave of linux companies.
  • by E-Rock-23 (470500) <lostprophyt@nOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:44PM (#4337815) Homepage Journal
    Not. Come on, do you actually expect us to believe that the artists are suffering because we download their tunes? That's complete bullshit. The artists suffer because of the lopsided contracts that the RIAA companies make them sign. They get an advance, sell so many copies, and still end up oweing the record companies money. That's an insane way of doing business.

    The only ones hurting are the RIAA companies themselves. "Wah wah, we're not making the X number of billions we made last decade thanks to services like Napster(RIP), KaZaA, Limewire; We're only making Y number of billions now thanks to users downloading music. X Billions > Y Billions. We want more billions." Cough-bullshit-cough.

    If we're smart, we'll continue downloading and taking a chunk out of the RIAA's profit. They're spending millions on this ad campaign, which won't work at all, and lose said millions. What we need is a commercial detailing the evils of the record companies' underhanded practices and how they are hurting artists.

    And, for the record, I'm in total agreement with sy$manager [slashdot.org]'s post [slashdot.org] on the subject. There is no way that downloading "Baby One More Time" is hurting Brittany "I've got fake tits before they're even done developing" Spears' bottom line. Duh, she has a multi-million dollar endorsment deal with Pepsi, is doing movies (that probably net her a few milion apiece), and has several other sources of income besides her contract with the RIAA. Nelly? What the hell kind of name is Nelly, anyway? I can't even take him seriously. And Missy Elliot earns her papers because she herself is a producer. There's no way downloading "Get Your Freak On" is hurting her wallet, that's for sure.

    Just another case of RIAA Spin trying to get us to shill out damn near $20 for a CD with 12 lame songs on it, when we can download what we want for free, spend $0.20 on a blank CD-R, and put 150+ songs that don't suck on it ourselves. Who's going to win this fight? We are, plain and simple. The RIAA is wasting their time, and ours.
  • by jcsehak (559709) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:44PM (#4337828) Homepage
    from the article: A print campaign, featuring such performers as Eminem, Madonna, Missy Elliott, Elton John and Luciano Pavarotti

    Pavarotti is quoted to have said "Downloading music is wrong, because it's virtual. You're not getting the real thing. You're using technology to circumvent actually paying for it; you're taking the easy way out... Lip-synching a concert however, is perfectly okay; there's nothing wrong with that, the audience can't tell anyway, ...*sigh*... yes, I'm a tool."

    Elton John on the matter: "Um, I really really need you're money since I'm WAY in debt, no, I didn't get screwed by my label, at least I don't think so, I was kinda high all the time."
    "Elton, you spent $40,000 a month on flowers."
    "They were pretty..."

    disclaimer: don't know if it was exactly $40k, but it was some insane amount like that.
    • by Slak (40625)
      Did anyone else think it ironic that some rap artists are endorsing the RIAA's position, considering that "sampling" is little different from consumer use of Napster?

      Cheers,
      Slak
  • Perhaps it is time for some of those wealthy artists like the Offspring and Courtney Love who in the past have spoke out against the RIAA to fund a campaign of their own, promoting music downloads and against the RIAA.

  • Lots of people I know wont buy an X-box, because its an m$ product. But, with so many m$ employees, always a couple of your buddies seem to work for m$.

    So, m$ employees get to buy software for 10 bux. Now theres a reason to buy an X-box, when you can get 10 games for 100 bux. No reason to pirate your M$ OS either, when M$ gives it away for free. You just go to an m$ events, training, etc (and there are many around...) Hell, work alone (sun shop) M$ has given me (personally) multiple copies of NT server products with full licenses to keep. Too bad I cant sell them on E-Bay.

    I hope Halo for PC [bungie.org] runs under wine. :)

  • the myth of getting windows xp betas on irc even before official beta testers...Even there was some claim that Window XP Beta 2 Build 2474 was *internally* leaked by Microsoft.

    Mmmm maybe microsoft has more evil tactics we may ever think of?
  • by Quixadhal (45024) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:53PM (#4337902) Homepage Journal
    ...in the same sentance!

    Music "sharing" is another name for FREE ADVERTISING! The real money is in merchandising anyways, concert ticket sales, T-shirts, branded notebooks, action figures...

    When are those idiots going to learn that they can never stop the free exchange of data, without changing the country into a police state? Our friends in the White House (courtesy of many big business lobbiests) are trying their best to do this, but we don't YET need tongue tattoos to authenticate our cognitave brain centers. We retain the ability to think for ourselves, for just a little while longer.

    MPAA/RIAA! It's really simple. You adapt your business model to become a service industry, which is what you are. Stop trying to treat content as a commodity (which it is not). Make tangible goods and sell those, but stop pretending that a song is something you can put in a box.
  • Britney Spears is now crying her ass off saying that pirated music is "hurting" the artists?

    From age 15 she had a golden music career. She still makes more in a day than I will all year.

    Cry me a river. How does this hurt you? Can't buy that fourth sports car to fill up your garage?

    Jesus. And people wonder why I dislike money.
  • Who's stealing what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @01:57PM (#4337940)
    If I buy a watch today, and it turns out I don't like it, I can take it back. Afterall, I won't know if the product is satisfactory until I've had time to get to know it. But if I buy a CD, good or not, I'm stuck with it. Because of this, I'm forced to either gamble with my satisfaction, or find a way to sample the music before I buy.

    It's hard for me to rationalize music downloading as stealing when the RIAA is happy to take my money without guaranteeing my satisfaction. Frankly, I think they're stealing my money when they sucker me into buying a CD.

    I think their biggest concern is that P2P makes the market for music fair for the consumer instead of biased in the RIAA's favor.
  • A much closer-to-life version ;-) Kid Rock Starves To Death: MP3 Piracy Blamed [theonion.com]

    R

  • Its not just developing markets where piracy could be seen as beneficial for microsoft.

    Even in the US, Microsoft would probably prefer people using pirated MS software over using no MS software, as long as they couldn't afford to buy the Software from MS. This is why MS gives millions worth of their products to college students every year. Up to this month, my university [psu.edu] had an agreement to give out free ms software including: Office, Windows XP, Visual Studio, and more. This agreement has finally ended, and I can't help to wonder if MS tries use a drug dealer approach to software, to come in to a University and set up an agreement to give away software and then end it after a couple of years in hope that the University will shell out big bucks to keep the agreement.

    For the pirates that can't afford MS software, they want then to become accustomed to MS software to the point where when they leave school they will buy computers with the latest version of windows preloaded and more importantly, demand that windows be in their computer at work.

  • How many here have one legit copy of Windows and copy for their other computer(s), or know someone who does? How many of those people would switch to Linux/FreeBSD etc if they had to pay?

    How many of those people would eventually switch to Linux for both boxes? A good number I suspect.
  • This article cites (without reference) a working paper by Carlos Osorio [harvard.edu] of Harvard. I think it's here: A contribution to the understanding of illegal copying of software: empirical and analytical evidence against conventional wisdom [harvard.edu] (PDF).
  • This is simple drug dealer tactics. Look, you can have the first one for free. You can quit anytime you want to, honest! Then down the road once Microsoft is firmly entrenched they can start playing hardball on licensing.
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @02:07PM (#4338032) Homepage
    If MS was really serious about stopping piracy, they would have required the 'activation' home users of XP have to go through for 'enterprise' licensed copies as well. The 'enterprise' licensed copies have no activation requirements, which means that people will still continue to sneak home copies from work to install, bypassing the activation scheme completely.

    They've never been serious about stopping piracy. Collecting money - yes. Stopping piracy - no.
  • The keyword in piracy is the word: ECONOMY.

    A country with a very poor economy will always suffer from piracy and counterfiets. The reason for this is that majority of the population simply cannot afford things such as original software that a member of a rich country can easily afford.

    Take, for example, my country - the Philippines. An average worker here earns around $160 a month, as opposed to 1st-world countries where $2000 a month is more or less normal. Here, lunches cost around $1-$2, with $2 being already considered "expensive". Assuming an individual purcheses food at $1 and eats 3x a day, for 30 days, that would be a total of 30 * 1 * 3 = $90, which leaves you with $70 to spend on rent, electricity, water, phone, etc. That isn't much, and it's only ENOUGH to keep you sustained. If you have a family, things become worse.

    Now this doesn't leave us much for luxury goods such as $40 PC games, let alone a $200 operating system. Hence, the solution - piracy.

    Will Microsoft bother going after these small third-world home users? I don't think so. Since we don't have the capacity to buy, we aren't very high in their target market list, or they would be relentlessly knocking down pirated CD stalls everyday.
  • by caesar-auf-nihil (513828) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @02:17PM (#4338094)
    Awhile back I read an article in the Detroit News on the "Grey Market" for Autos made in the US but sold in Canada. Given local market conditions, the US car sold in Canada is cheaper than if you sold the exact same car in the US. The "Grey Market" comes from Detroit dealers driving up to Canada, buying a lot of the cars cheaper, shipping them back to Detroit, and then charging full price - making a handy profit. The big three (GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler) are trying to put a stop to the practice, as they sometimes sell the cars in Canada at a slight loss, but charge more south of the border (the US) to make up for it, while still maintaining market share in Canada.

    Now let's look at Microsoft. MS decides not to pursue piracy to gain an "advertising" edge in the OS market. So how do they make up for those losses? They charge more for the software in markets with a higher cost of living, or markets where they really chase after the software pirates, as it really cuts into their profit margins. So basically we consumers (who may be stuck buying Windows - that's a different story) are stuck with the bill for the piracy. Why would a company in a monopoly position really care if they loose money in one place when they can get away with charging more for it in another place?

    This problem even hits the health care industry. Once I had a workman comp case when I was a student (injured in the lab) and had to get an itemized bill back from the hospital. $25 for a throw away stiches kit, $50 for gauze, $220 for "Emergency Room Service/Bed Rental". When I asked why so high - I was basically told that the hospital pads its costs do be able to provide care to those who don't have insurance, or those who decided to not pay their bills. Not piracy, but you get the idea. Those of us who have the money carry the burden for those who don't. I don't mind the angle of providing care for the poor, but for those who didn't want to pay their bills?!? WTF?!?

    So how does this all relate to MS's non-piracy clause. Simple, they now have subscription based software costs to make up for lost money due to piracy. They also charge more for the base OS, which is so buggy and unstable it ought to be them paying me to use it. So now not only might I be paying for software which doesn't work as well as it should, but I'm paying for MS's advertising in new markets where they lose money. Grumble. One more reason I plan to try and make my house MS free.
  • It would seem then, that the best thing us open source guys can do is to rat out everybody copying MS software to the SPA?

    I'm gonna take a while to get me head wrapped around that one :-)

  • Intersting (Score:5, Funny)

    by karb (66692) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @02:30PM (#4338240)
    Here are some more excerpts from the ad series. Very informative.
    • Dave Matthews : "When you create programs to help blind people read things, it's the same as going into the store and stealing a CD."
    • Pink : " When you research copy-protection schemes, it's the same thing as mugging a homeless man on the street and stealing his wheelchair."
    • Eminem : "When you listen to internet radio, it's the same thing as assaulting somebody outside a club, except without high-priced lawyers."
    • Bruce Springsteen : "Not letting the RIAA hack your computer is the same as clubbing a seal."
    • Michael Jackson : "Creating digital to analog converters is the same as running a massively corrupt oligopoly that uses payola and political influence to maximize profits."
    • Busta Rhymes : "Using open source media players is the same as screwing artists out of money, only without the exorbitant salary of a record executive."
    • Jonathan Davis of Korn : "AGH WHOO HAGH BOOM BAGHCK, CHA CHA CHA!"

    Too true. Stop the insanity.

  • by cswiii (11061) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @02:45PM (#4338401)
    My girlfriend is from Beijing originally; We went over there back in April-May, on vacation. I was talking with her brother once about computers -- well more realistically, my gf was translating for us -- and I mentioned that I don't use Windows, that I use Linux. When he asked why, I went on about a few of its strong points, one of them being that it was pretty much free.

    His response was that since piracy is so rampant in China, Windows is, in essence, free as well. He added that he doesn't forsee people leaving the windows platform, as long as it's so readily available on the black market. If serious crackdown began to occur, there might be a move otherwise, but until then, there was very little chance of an alternate OS being adopted.

    There was a bit more in the discussion too, but I can't remember offhand what it was. In any case, it put things in a really interesting light.
  • Britney (Score:3, Funny)

    by JohnG (93975) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @02:52PM (#4338463)
    Britney isn't the best spokesperson for something that requires a thought.
    "I go to lot's of overseas places, like Canada"
    "My love for New York is indefinite."
    "Where the hell is Australia anyway?"
    (paraphrase)"I covered 'I love rock and roll' because I'm a big Pat Benatar fan"
    "Downloading music is like stealing a CD"

    Does the RIAA really want those quotes associated with one another? To late now I guess.

  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:00PM (#4338543) Homepage
    I have been to China, and believe me, piracy is a way of life there. You can get any Microsoft product for about $4 per disc. It seems that many people view it simply as buying a less expensive version, much as Americans might buy the store brand of paper towels instead of Bounty(tm). There was a time when the same attitude was common in the US. Ironically, copy protection simply added to the "possession of media == right to install" mindset.

    The end result of all this piracy was massive market penetration, to the point where the average Chinese IT worker is "born and raised" on Microsoft products. It's easy to abandon industry standards in favor of the M$ proprietary trap when everything costs $4 per CD.

    M$ first introduced product activation in Asia, allegedly because of the rampant piracy. When they realized how quickly the Chinese were prepared to drop M$ in favor of Linux, they couldn't give away the products fast enough.

    It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles product pricing in the various markets around the world. Their current pricing is encountering resistance from US companies, but not [yet] to the point of wholesale abandonment. US prices would be dead-on-arrival in less developed parts of the world, where the commitment to Microsoft is less, as is the availability of funds.

    Sure, they can give away the product, but what happens when the market will tolerate a price that not free but far less than full price? Hypothetically, if Microsoft sells a product for $500 in the US and they blow it out for $5 in China, is that not a classic case of product dumping? If they do this, shouldn't I buy all my US licenses via my Beijing office?

    From here on out, it will be damn hard for M$ to control who gets the freebies, who gets a steep discount, and who pays a fully-monopolized price.
  • by Nintendork (411169) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:27PM (#4338756) Homepage
    I download just as much of her music as I purchase...None
  • ID Did this, non? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Astin (177479) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:40PM (#4338861)
    I seem to recall ID approving of the piracy of Doom after it had been out a while. Their belief was that it was such a huge phenomenon BECAUSE so many pirated copies were out there, and that it drove sales higher because everyone felt they needed a copy, but not everyone pirated it.

  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot.spamgoeshere@calum@org> on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:52PM (#4338960) Homepage
    I can't wait for the day that Microsoft finally crack (no pun intended) the lockdown of Windows.
    People everywhere will be so pissed off, and will be reaching for the Linux CD's faster than you can say insmod ntfs.o.

    I think they know that though. Their current tactics are just to warn corporates to pay up. To be honest, I think Microsoft are resigned to home users running Windows for free, although they don't mind if they can get a few of the old timers to actually fork out.
  • Uh...no (Score:4, Funny)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:52PM (#4338961) Journal
    Brittney honey -- it is not music sharing that is causing a drop in your record sales...Hell just ask Tiffany & Paulla Abdual (sp?) -- they went through the same tough times, and could not even blame the big bad music sharing thugs. And to M&M -- What would it be 15.5 million instead of 15.3 million units moved if there was no music shareing? (Somewhere Vannila Ice is dreaming of being so popular that millions would download his music for free...)
  • I'm so torn (Score:3, Funny)

    by rattler14 (459782) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @03:53PM (#4338969)
    Do I keep pirating their software and let them gain market share or do I stop using all of there software and let them win the war against piracy?

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
  • by weave (48069) on Thursday September 26, 2002 @05:54PM (#4339860) Journal
    "We want to hit fans with the message that downloading music illegally is, as Britney Spears explains, the same as going into a CD store and stealing the CD,

    Bullshit, it is not. First of all, if you steal the CD from a store, the person who gets hurt is the store owner. He's already bought that CD from the distributor who bought it from the label, who paid the pittance of a royalty to the artist. So if you go in and steal a CD from the store, it isn't hurting the artist, or the distributor, or the label. It's hurting the store owner only.

    Now if you download a CD's worth of stuff from the net, it's a theoretical loss only. No real money is lost, just the *possible* opportunity for a sale. One would have to prove that the person would have went out and bought the CD and didn't because they got it off thet net before you could legitimately count it as a realized loss. And even so, it's a loss of income, not a theft loss where property or money was deprived of the owner (as in, their net worth went down by their share of that CD).

    Now both cases are "wrong" but they are in no way "the same thing." There is a real victim in one case, and theoretical victims in the other case.

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