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BSA Claims 35% of Software is Pirated 617

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-lot-of-eyepatches dept.
hdtv writes "Business Software Alliance says 35% of packaged software installed on PCs globally is pirated, and estimates the losses at $34 bln. From the article: 'The countries with the highest piracy rates were Vietnam (90%), Zimbabwe (90%), Indonesia (87%), China (86%), and Pakistan (86%). The countries with the lowest piracy rates were the United States (21%), New Zealand (23%), Austria (26%), and Finland (26%).' TechDirt analysis debunks some of the myths: 'The BSA claims that all of these "lost sales" represent real harm to the economy. It's the same bogus argument they've trotted out before, which is easily debunked. Much of that unauthorized software is being used to make firms much more productive than they would be otherwise -- probably benefiting the overall economy quite a bit.'"
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BSA Claims 35% of Software is Pirated

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  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:23PM (#15417730) Journal

    Each pirated copy, contrary to the BSA (interesting, what does the BS stand for?) claim, not only is not a lost sale, but potentially an extra sale.

    BSA's claim is akin to the MPAA/RIAA's claims each downloaded/pirated DVD/CD is a lost sale. And, there have (AFAIK, and I've researched this many times) been no studies coming close to showing causal relationship between pirating and decreased sales.

    Interestingly, one of the most damning contra-examples was the huge spike in CD sales corresponding to the spike in file sharing at the emergence of the original Napster. Of course, once the RIAA and music industry managed to rein Napster in, the dropoff in shared files was matched almost identically for a decline of CD sales.

    People, especially in the poor couuntries, are running pirated software because they otherwise would run no software at all. And, if with this pirated software, they manage to bootstrap their own situation, or that of their business out of the netherlands they become much more likely to buy and pay prices for non-pirated software.

  • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:26PM (#15417743) Homepage
    Much of that unauthorized software is being used to make firms much more productive than they would be otherwise -- probably benefiting the overall economy quite a bit.

    This is the WRONG counter to their claims. The correct counter is that an unauthorized copy of a piece of software is NOT the same as a lost software sale.

    In fact, if companies are using unauthorized copies of software to increase their business, that's when it's morally wrong to not pay for your software in my mind.

    To me, it's like watching a illegally downloaded movie for personal (potential) entertainment vs. selling it on the street. The latter is the one I have a moral issue with and represents a more realistic loss of sale for the copyright holder.
  • Numbers are skewed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:27PM (#15417748) Journal
    How many of these systems simply would not be running the software that is being pirated at all. For example, if I were not able to pirate PhotoShop, I'd probably run GIMP or Picture Publisher or something that doesn't cost $500 a license. So saying that pirated software=money lost is not true.
  • free advertising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:29PM (#15417763) Homepage
    God only knows how they claim to have gotten this figure. For example, 98% of the software on the machine I'm using right now is open-source, and the other 2% is free-as-in-beer stuff like the linux version of Acrobat Reader. How the heck would the BSA have known about the existence of hundreds of pieces of open-source software on this machine?

    It's also worth noting that it's a bad thing for the open-source movement if, say, everybody in Vietnam runs a pirated copy of MS Office on a pirated copy of Windows. MS secretly loves that, because Vietnam wasn't a potential market for them anyway in the near future (too poor), but may be in the future. It's just like Apple selling machines cheap to schools and college students; it's a form of advertising. What would really strike fear into MS's heart would be if everybody in Vietnam started using Linux.

  • by Spad (470073) <slashdot @ s p a d.co.uk> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:30PM (#15417765) Homepage
    Indeed.

    IMHO it's one thing for me to pirate Photoshop because I want to piss about with some photos and see what I can do with it, when there's no way in hell I can afford to pay for a legit copy. It's quite another for a company to make a profit using pirated copies of Photoshop because they don't want their bottom line affected by a couple of licenses from Adobe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:33PM (#15417779)
    "Each pirated copy, contrary to the BSA (interesting, what does the BS stand for?) claim, not only is not a lost sale, but potentially an extra sale."

    Flip a coin. There's your "potential".

    "BSA's claim is akin to the MPAA/RIAA's claims each downloaded/pirated DVD/CD is a lost sale. And, there have (AFAIK, and I've researched this many times) been no studies coming close to showing causal relationship between pirating and decreased sales."

    And yet people have no problem with a "causal" relationship showing a benefit from said action.

    "Interestingly, one of the most damning contra-examples was the huge spike in CD sales corresponding to the spike in file sharing at the emergence of the original Napster. Of course, once the RIAA and music industry managed to rein Napster in, the dropoff in shared files was matched almost identically for a decline of CD sales."

    Another "causal" relationship? Can I get a phone poll to go with that?

    "People, especially in the poor couuntries, are running pirated software because they otherwise would run no software at all."

    Like Linux.

    "And, if with this pirated software, they manage to bootstrap their own situation, or that of their business out of the netherlands they become much more likely to buy and pay prices for non-pirated software."

    For something that has no value, someone is sure getting their monies worth.

  • by unity100 (970058) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:33PM (#15417780) Homepage Journal
    What losses after selling software at EXTRAVAGANT prices ?

    Do they ALREADY count our money as theirs, and deem it as loss ?

    Nay, sire ... Consider it a market adjustment by the 'invisible hand' - an adjustment to balance out the ridiculous prices you sell software for.

    In the history of this world, there has NEVER been piracy UNLESS commodities' prices were not set in standards of highway robbery.

    I aint giving me money to you sir. Not at THESE prices at least.
  • by pbjones (315127) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:34PM (#15417789)
    my experience is that, in business, a pirated copy is another copy that they don't have to buy. If a business has gotten to the point where they are using pirated copies of something, they have no intention of buying a real one. This also extends to one copy for each computer licenses.
  • Not that bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:34PM (#15417790) Homepage Journal
    The cost of pirated software is typically free, or at least highly discounted. There are naturally far more people willing to get it for free than would be willing to pay for it. So, every pirated use is NOT a lost sale. That's probably especially true in very poor countries. So, the amazingly high rate of piracy in 3rd world countries really doesn't present that big of an issue for the software industry. The 20+% in the U.S., though, should be causing them a lot of concern.
  • bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ltwally (313043) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:34PM (#15417793) Homepage Journal
    "The BSA claims that all of these "lost sales" represent real harm to the economy. ..."
    Bah. Let's just say, hypothetically, that I sometimes pirate an MP3. Does that automatically mean that if a free (as in pirated) version were not available, that I would actually pay for that song? That I would go out and buy a CD that I really didn't want, or pay $1 for a DRM'd copy from iTunes? HELL NO.

    Along those same premises, let's say, hypothetically, that I had a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop on one of my PC's. I'm not a graphics professional, and have little use for it beyond making my own wallpaper. Are we to assume that I would actually pay the $699 price tag for this software? HELL NO.

    What I would very much like to see is a poll comparing what people have pirated against what people have pirated and would pay for if they could not pirate it. I don't have any statistical evidence to back me up, here, but I'm going to hazard a guess that piracy leads to a lot less in actual losses than the BSA or the RIAA/MPAA assumes. And that is ignoring the fact that there are a rare few people that actually purchase a product just because they were impressed with the pirated copy, and wished ot support the author/creator.

    Haven't we heard enough of this "piracy is going to kill our economy" bullshit? Why are we focusing on this, when the our (America's) trade deficit with China is over $200,000,000,000/year [census.gov] (yes, that is 200 billion dollars a YEAR at the current rate). Seems to me that this piracy thing is small potatoes, in the end.

  • by Ucklak (755284) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:35PM (#15417798)
    I'd like to have the BSA negotiate a raise for me.

    Here, I'm not in debt, but I sure could use an extra, say, $50,000 a year.
    I could file my taxes at a $50,000 a year loss and claim it on wages not paid.

    Isn't that the same thing they're doing?

  • It's total hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sterno (16320) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:36PM (#15417800) Homepage
    The truth of the matter is that most people wouldn't buy that software if they couldn't get it for free. I'm sorry but the average home user doesn't have the cash for a copy of Photoshop, so yeah, they pirate it. If they couldn't pirate they wouldn't go out and buy photoshop, they'd download the Gimp.

  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:37PM (#15417803)
    For now they are just talking. They can't take any enforcement actions, because those countries would simply switch to open source.

    For example, they could threaten these countries with ejection from the WTO or other treaty-based organizations, but they won't... until those countries are economically viable enough to pay the exorbitant licensing fees.

    And then they will win, because they can lock people in to their proprietary formats. They call themselves the Business Software Alliance. But they are really the Proprietary Software Alliance.
  • Liberal Estimate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:37PM (#15417806) Homepage
    0% of free software is pirated.
  • Who loses. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:41PM (#15417824)
    That techdirt line is great. If a company uses pirated software and makes profit they wouldn't have been able to make without that software, the BSA has a legitimate gripe with them. The heavy handed tactics are tiresome and they pretty much pretend with the statistics, but companies that generate profits exceeding the cost of a given program by pirating it are stealing in a very real sense.
  • by aphor (99965) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:44PM (#15417835) Journal

    All of those dollars the BSA is claiming as economic losses are actually being spent elsewhere. It's not a situation of money that should be out working loafing safely in a shoebox. Would we all reap more economic benefit from shifting money away from the other things into the software industry? I reckon not. Microsoft is probably one of the biggest claimants of the BSA loss statistic, and it is difficult to suggest that we would all be better off if they had more money or more freedom to make/improve software.

    This is more of that smoke and mirrors trickle-down voodoo-economics gobbledygook. The BSA overwhelmingly represents the entrenched interests of large enterprises (you think big government is wasteful? How about big business..) against entrepreneurial business (where we see the most real economic growth).

  • by jxyama (821091) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:46PM (#15417847)
    > I'd probably run GIMP or Picture Publisher or something that doesn't cost $500 a license.

    So why don't you?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:55PM (#15417877)
    God only knows how they claim to have gotten this figure. For example, 98% of the software on the machine I'm using right now is open-source, and the other 2% is free-as-in-beer stuff like the linux version of Acrobat Reader. How the heck would the BSA have known about the existence of hundreds of pieces of open-source software on this machine?
    They don't and that's exactly the problem. Here is how they "estimate" (one has to use that term loosely with regard to their methods) the amount of pirated software: They guess how much software the average computer needs, multiply it with the amount of computers. Then compare that number with the amount of software packages sold and they get their "35%".
    Yes, indeed, they count you as a pirate who pirated all his software just because you didn't buy your stuff and use FOSS instead. Some study....
  • by Vexorian (959249) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:59PM (#15417897)
    I am sure that if it wasn't for piracy linux would have taken the world literally, the majority of PC users would be adepts to free software, instead piracy allows MS and other giants to retain their monomoply.
  • by linvir (970218) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:02PM (#15417907)
    If the market for commercially licensed software is sour, then what the fuck are all those companies still doing trying to sell commercially licensed software? Are they just sticking it out, hoping for a miracle? Or do they expect someone to come along and lock down everyones' computers for them in order to artificially prop up their business model?

    Welcome to the free market, pal. Adapt or die.

    Part of adapting is adapting to your competitors. If your competitors are pirating software, they're gaining an advantage over you. With piracy in it's semi-legal state, it's bad business not to do it.

    Oh, and fuck your stolen chairs and desks analogy. We both know what a pile of bullshit that is.

  • BSA Monopolists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:07PM (#15417931)
    What the BSA wants is a bit absurd. They'd love to be able to do 3rd degree price discrimination - to charge one price in Zimbabwe and one in the US, maximizing their profit, unless, of course, you believe Windows would sell for 300 USD a copy in Zimbabwe. This is a monopolist tactic. It deprives consumers of benefit, and no global regime against it exists. Copyright violation acts as an illegal solution.

    The same situation exists in region-coded DVDs - it's not piracy-preventing, it's profit-maximizing.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:10PM (#15417943) Homepage Journal
    I don't object at all with home users playing wit business software.
    When its being used for amateur things then its ok.

    I believe that using unlicensed software within a business is wrong however, a business is there to make money and if thats the case they can support the economy and buy their toolset.
  • by bit trollent (824666) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:10PM (#15417944) Homepage
    My new laptop came loaded with a ton of scumware. Solution: wipe the hard drive and reinstall windows. The recovery cds dilligently reinstall all the scumware, so my only option is to run a pirated version of Windows. Now I can't get updates, even after paying the windows tax.

    Solution: learn every genuine advantage workaround, repeat them, and distribute pirated copies of windows. If you want to screw me over, I'm happy to return the favor.

    In a similar situation, I find myself out of town and I accidently left my laptop power cable at home. I go to the store to get a replacement and it costs $120. Highway robbery if I ever saw it. My solution: return the new cable when i get back in town. If it cost less than $50 I would just keep it, but if they want to rob me, I have no problem robbing them right back.

    Moral of the story: If you screw me over I have no problem returning the favor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:13PM (#15417949)
    Not necessarily ...

    As a contractor I have worked for several companies where the reason why their was (a lot) of pirated software being used by the company because employees installed software onto their own systems. The company I am currently with has avoided this because they are (very) strict on what software is alowed on your system. Many companies have large budgets to purchase software that go unutilized because their employees don't even ask for software packages.
  • by rkcallaghan (858110) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:15PM (#15417960)
    Or do they expect someone to come along and lock down everyones' computers for them in order to artificially prop up their business model?

    Yes [wikipedia.org].

    ~Rebecca
  • by VValdo (10446) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:21PM (#15417980)
    This is the WRONG counter to their claims. The correct counter is that an unauthorized copy of a piece of software is NOT the same as a lost software sale.

    An extension of this argument might be, "If make 20,000 unauthorized copies of Word in my basement, did I single-handedly just deprive Microsoft of millions of dollars?"

    You wouldn't even need that much hard drive space. Just copy the .iso, delete the copy, then make a new copy. With a simple shell script, anyone (think economic terrorist) could bankrupt Microsoft in less than a week!!!

    W
  • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:22PM (#15417990) Journal
    By that logic if I work really hard on building a house and sell it, I should be paid for it hundreds of times, not once. Why should software programmers be paid over and over for their hard work when the rest of us get paid only once for the same amount of effort? Yes, I've said the same thing about musicians and song-writers. You seem to think you have a moral right here, but I don't think you do. Legal, yes, moral, no, not until everyone has the same right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:29PM (#15418021)
    Art seemed to have no problem getting along before copyright law.
  • by miyako (632510) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <okayim>> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:31PM (#15418029) Homepage Journal
    I agree, and I think this is the sort of prevailing mindset that a lot of people have.
    I know a lot of people who have started off pirating software like photoshop and dreamweaver. They played around with it and learned how to use it. Eventually, they started making money off of it and went out and paid for a legit copy.
    Speaking for myself, I know that this is what I've done with some software. I used a pirated copy of Photoshop back in highschool, and eventually I got pretty good with it. Now I make money on the side using Photoshop, and as soon as I started making money off of it, I paid for a legit copy of it.
    Some software vendors realized this, and offer "free for non-commercial use" licenses. For example, Maya is a very expensive bit of software, and they offer a free personal learning edition which is feature-equivilent to the basic version of the software, and not time=limited (it does add a watermark to your renders though). I started out a while ago using this free personal learning edition of the sofware, and now I have a legitimate license for it.
    The only companies I think that it really hurts are companies whos products are not really that good. For example, I used to have a pirated copy of Dreamweaver. I used it for a while, but I never paid for it. The reason? most of the web work that I do is developing in PHP, and I found that I vastly prefer using Eclipse with the PHP plugin to development with Dreamweaver. As for HTML, I prefer to hand-code HTML over letting a program generate it for me, so I tend to use either Quanta+ or simply use vim to write HTML.
    Of course, I'm sure there are people out there who have downloaded Dreamweaver and decided that they really liked it and paid for a copy of it.
    Software is a funny thing, there are a lot of choices out there for most things, and for most people, one is not just as good as the other. People are unwilling to spend a lot (or even a small amount) of money on software when they have no idea if it will be useful to them. Since one cannot return software if they find that it doesn't fulfill their needs, and many companies so severely limit their free trials, if they even off them at all, pirating is often the only way for a potential customer to really gague the usefullness of a product.
  • by mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:31PM (#15418030)
    But not all computer users are businesses. I would expect that piracy would be much more common among individuals, due to individuals not having as much money to afford software, and due to businesses being more afraid of being caught.

    If Joe Blow on the street is pirating a $700 program, chances are that he wouldn't be willing to pay $700 for it even if that was the only way to obtain it.
  • by Tango42 (662363) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:33PM (#15418037)
    But how is that piracy? You didn't buy windows, you bought a license to use windows. How does it matter how you get it on your computer? (It might say something about it in the EULA, but until it's been tested in court, such clauses should be taken with a bag of salt.)

    (Also, I expect you can get updates if you go through some kind of activation procedure with the license key from your legal copy)
  • Basic economy...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:34PM (#15418039) Journal
    Vietnam (90%), Zimbabwe (90%), Indonesia (87%), China (86%), and Pakistan (86%). The countries with the lowest piracy rates were the United States (21%), New Zealand (23%), Austria (26%), and Finland (26%).

    I'll wonder if they can see the common denominator among the piracy levels and these countries.

    Looks to me like high piracy goes for less rich countries.

    Wow, could BSA's issues have mostly to do with too expensive software [microsoft.com], rather than a general evilness among people?

    Naah, it can't be that simple, can it? :-p
  • by Tango42 (662363) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:35PM (#15418043)
    What are you talking about? When you buy a house, you pay the total cost of manufacture, plus a profit margin. When you buy software you pay a tiny proportion of the production costs. Software companies rarely break even after one sale...
  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:48PM (#15418092)

    MS secretly loves that, because Vietnam wasn't a potential market for them anyway in the near future (too poor), but may be in the future.

    More to the point, if everybody in Vietnam pirates windows (to run on their Ox?), then it isn't a potential market for anybody else either.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:51PM (#15418102) Homepage Journal
    On the other hand, many company managers act bewildered when you inform them that the software they're running is not legal. "Oh, you mean I have to buy a copy of [Office|Norton Antivirus|etc] for each user?!" Uh, yeah, buddy, you do, especially since you're a medical clinic and have a far, FAR higher chance of getting audited not only by the IRS, but for HIPAA compliance. Any audits would find that hey, you're running "unlicensed" software and guess what? A phone call later and the BSA comes knocking on your door. That kind of client I turn on to free alternatives like the OpenOffice.org suite, Postfix, ClamAV, ASSP, and Thunderbird, then they don't have to buy licenses, worry about having to have a bunch of shit together for an audit, and can be lax in worrying about accounting for software. If the BSA comes a-knockin' in that case because a vendor or employee ratted you out, no worries.
  • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:54PM (#15418110) Journal

    Ok, we have a (probably BS) estimate on how customers are screwing over software companies. Where's the estimate on how much software companies have screwed over customers? Oh, wait, we're not supposed to give a damn about that, are we? It's okay for the software companies to screw over people but not the reverse.

    This is why people don't give a crap -- including me. My first computer came with Widnows ME which caused me no end of trouble because it was buggy as hell. I was running Norton's Internet Security Suite and kept it fully updated. Within a month a worm downloaded itself into my system when I went to (of all things) a charity site. The worm wrecked my system and I had to get everything reinstalled. After that I downloaded a shareware anti-worm program to supplement Norton's. It worked fine, or seemed to, so I bought it. They sent me a keyfile in my email and told me how to install it. It didn't work. The program responded as if the time had run out and loaded my screen with one pop-up box after another to inform me that I needed to buy it. I literally could do nothing with my comuter because of all the pop-up boxes; I'd estimate that there were two hundred piled on top of each other when I had to force shut-down my computer.... and then reinstall Windows. Did I get my money back? No.

    So, if you're not keeping score here, I got screwed by Microsoft, Symantec and one of the small software companies you guys are defending so ferociously. But no one else is saying anything about this sort of thing happening. Here's a clue: until the protection goes both ways we, your potential customers, don't give a damn. People have been screwed over enough that they assume that the software companies are trying to screw them over -- and a great many are -- so they don't care about you. But no one is even trying to do anything about that happening; no, all the effort is directed at trying to prevent piracy, not software makers abusing licenses and committing outright fraud. Until an actual effort is made to curb that people won't care. And why should they? I wouldn't be surprised if the guys who sold me that anti-worm program posted in this thread.

    Oh, and btw, I'm a *nix-user now, so when a program doesn't work or screws up everything I can at least console myself with the fact that I wasn't defruaded out of money for it. Plus I know that someone will eventually fix it, instead of hoping that the software company will. All too many software companies never will fix their buggy software, or if they do they release it as the new version and expect you to pay for it all over again just to get a copy that workd even though you've already paid for it once. But it's okay for them do that but not for the customer who got screwed over with the earlier buggy version to pirate the new version, isn't it?

  • by 0racle (667029) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:01PM (#15418127)
    from the beginning most companies just can't afford to go out and buy several licenses of software that goes anywhere from $50-$10,000.

    Then they didn't have enough money to start their business in the first place. Software licenses are supposed to be a cost of doing business. Would it be ok to squat in an abandoned building because they couldn't afford rent when they started their company?
  • by babbling (952366) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:26PM (#15418197)
    How much does it cost you if I steal one of your chairs or desks?
    How much does it cost you if I copy one of your CDs?
    See the difference?
  • Re:Ironic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fithmo (854772) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:37PM (#15418241)
    Well, if you've got enough money to buy a (non-mini) Mac the pricetag on the Creative Suite probably doesn't look as daunting.
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:46PM (#15418270)
    In any case, this notion of a lost sale is just plain silly. After all, you can't lose something you never had.
  • Re:bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LetterRip (30937) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:54PM (#15418295)
    "Along those same premises, let's say, hypothetically, that I had a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop on one of my PC's. I'm not a graphics professional, and have little use for it beyond making my own wallpaper. Are we to assume that I would actually pay the $699 price tag for this software? HELL NO."

    The problem with this reasoning, is that had you not 'hypothetically' pirated Adobe Photoshop, instead of purchasing photoshop, you probably would have purchased a cheap tool that met your needs, or used a legally free equivalent. So your piracy doesn't hurt Adobe, but it very much does hurt Adobes low end competitors by denying them the sale and/or marketshare that would otherwise be theirs.

    Only if you would have gone completely without software that does the functionality that you desire (wallpaper making, or basic image retouching) have you 'harmed' no one with your action.

    Similiarly the pirating of Windows and Office, etc. very rarely harm Microsoft but instead harm their competitors that offer similar functionality and a significant price discount.

    LetterRip
  • by Jerf (17166) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:00PM (#15418314) Journal
    You haven't disproved his point. "Turning a blind eye to" something and "decrying" it are orthogonal.

    Words aren't actions.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:10PM (#15418348) Homepage
    Yeah, but for the average Joe who buys the $399 Dell box, even $90 can be a lot for a single program. If you spend $90 on elements, $200 on an office suite, $30 on a decent DVD burning program, $30 on a program to unzip files, and all the other software they need to run their computer, then all of a sudden that $399 Dell costs a lot more than $399. Granted, the software is the part that makes the computer actually work, but It still costs way too much. I think that if you gave most users the choice between Gimp and paying for Photoshop that most would choose GIMP. That's what I do. Whenever somebody asks me for a copy of photoshop, I point them to GIMP. They won't pay for anything, so they use GIMP. Most people find it easy and useful enough that they don't miss photoshop, and don't have to worry about what happens when something on their computer gets messed up, and they have to reinstall. People have a bad habit of losing pirated software, because they pay nothing for it.
  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:19PM (#15418382)
    it doesn't legitimize theft. I realize that software piracy is not seen as a particularly serious crime by, but it is still a crime.

    Realistically, it is also a more serious crime than most people treat it as. It is essentially theft, and it does clearly violate the right of property of the copyright owner. The counterargument, which is usually only made halfheartedly, is that piracy does not subtract from the material possessions of the copyright holder. This is essentially a silly argument, and only shows that theft of material possession and theft of intellectual property are not the same thing and have a different set of repercussions.

    The repercussions of intellectual property theft are different from the repercussions of material theft, but they do share one thing in common that keeps them in the same class. The theft of intellectual property violates the right to property, including the right to control access to said property, and the right to use said property for profit. Some other crimes that would fall into this category would include breaking into someone's house to use their bathroom or telephone without asking, sneaking into a theater, or breaking into an amusement park at night to ride the ride for free.

    People often also make the argument that they are trying out software that they pirate, and that if it is good they will purchase it later. This does sound like a good business model for software in some cases. Indeed, many developers do publish software under a contract that allows some degree of trial usage. These are shareware publishers. However, if businesses don't want to give trial licenses to their software, it is quite clearly their right not to do so, even if this appears shortsighted to users.

    By using software in a trial system that developer has not licensed you to participate in, users are behaving paternalistically towards the developers and content producers. By paternalistically I mean that they are saying the the developers aren't competent to choose their own ends, and that these are their proper ends, and then forcing them to comply with them. This is actually worse than simply violating someone's rights or coercing them, since normally when someone violate another's rights they at least admit that they have rights which can be violated. Paternalism is pretending the other agent isn't a rational agent, ignoring their will, and choosing their ends for them. Authorities often do this to individual citizens with things like nanny laws, and I think that it is deeply troubling that as a society we are becomming more comfortable with proscribing what is in another's "best interest" even when it is against their actual consent.

    I want to be clear that I'm not trying to be self righteous here. I pirate software and I fully intend to continue to do so. However, I think it is very important to realize that this is a moral failing on my part. To pretend that it is not my moral failing, but wholly the failing of the developer to not recognize his own best interest that causes me to pirate software is to commit a crime far wose than theft. It is to essentially deny developers as rational entities. Another way to put it is to deny that they have rights, or they have personhood.

    It is not a counterargument to say that these decisions are made by corporations and not by actual human beings. All decisions made by corporations are made by beings who are at least somewhat rational, their executives, etc. To disrespect the basic rights of a corporation and to deny it's entityhood, isn't to deny the entityhood of an artificial social construction, but to deny the entityhood of the particular persons who made particular decisions. Similarly, to deny that the results of a popular election is the actual will of the people because the election polled a large group of people who is not an actual individual rational agent is to deny the personhood and natural rights of all of the individuals polled. Arguably (although this seems to me to be on less stable ground), it eve
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:51PM (#15418477)
    The real hypocrisy is when copyright law gets bashed into oblivion by people who fail to realize that the GPL is completely and totally unenforceable without it.
  • Re:Easy answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ElleyKitten (715519) <kittensunrise@nOSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:05PM (#15418524) Journal
    That's the difference between Free software and Open-source software, isn't it? That'd be perfectly okay if it were Free.

    Actually it's the opposite. I can take open source software like OpenOffice and rebrand [comparesoft.com] it as my own, even sell it, and it would be perfectly legal for people to "pirate" it. However, when it comes to free but not open software, like Zone Alarm's free firewall, I'm not even allowed to mirror it on my website without their permission, let alone rebrand and sell it.
  • by PhoenixOne (674466) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @10:05PM (#15418526)
    "Most wouldn't download Gimp, they wouldn't know what Gimp is. They would stop using their PC for photo editing."

    Huh? If there was a market for a cheap/free photo editing tool, somebody would fill it. In fact, there are several lower cost (and free) photo editing tools made by small companies that sell to people who don't need/can't afford Photoshop. And *these* are the companies that get screwed over when people warez software.

    Joe six-pack may not spend $600 on Photoshop, but he would probably buy a $19.95 alternative (or his buddy might show him where to find Gimp). But if he can just get the top-of-the-line product for free, why the hell would he bother trying anything else?

    In short, it isn't Adobe taking the lose as much as the independent and Open Source developers.

  • Re:Quaint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:50PM (#15418868) Homepage
    A code of conduct that says "using pirated business software in your business is wrong."

    It just doesn't work in the non-western world.

    Who cares, we couldn't afford it anyway is the usual answer....
  • by Stonehand (71085) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:45AM (#15419018) Homepage
    What if the choice is between unlawfully duplicating a $700 program, buying the $700 program, unlawfully duplicating a $70 program, or buying the $70 program?

    The cheaper, perhaps less-feature heavy but perhaps perfectly adequate program might genuinely be losing sales and market share to unauthorized copies of the more expensive program. After all, how many people infringe Photoshop vs. infringe Paint Shop Pro, even though most people can perfectly make do with the latter?
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:38AM (#15419174)
    What I mean is, if there was no way to pirate high price commercial software, Linux and other FOSS software would have gotten much much more widespread. Piracy for commercial use (i.e. companies making loads of money with pirated sw) are ones which probably would have the money to pay but they don't so that could be called potential sales (and _not_ lost sales), but piracy for home use is nothing else than free promotion and advertising - it's not just about buying the software, it's about people gathering knowledge of use of these software and the potential sells for them later on. I think they just make too much fuss about this whole sw piracy issue. I'm not saying they should charge less or null for their software, but claiming that every pirated copy is a lost sale is just stupid and ignorant.

    And of course they know this all too well, since you can't sanely think these companies employ and rely on stupid people. But they just love to talk about big number of hypothetical fairytale lost sales money to impress sixpacks and politicians.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:25AM (#15419265) Journal
    However, I think it is very important to realize that this is a moral failing on my part. To pretend that it is not my moral failing, but wholly the failing of the developer to not recognize his own best interest that causes me to pirate software is to commit a crime far wose than theft. It is to essentially deny developers as rational entities. Another way to put it is to deny that they have rights, or they have personhood.
    Whether they have right to monopoly over their creations is a debateful point. If you are in a pro-copyright-as-it-is camp and pirate software, then you're obviously being morally inconsistent. But keep in mind that copyright is not an intrinsic right, it's granted by the people in the interests of the people. Some believe that it is now being abused, and piracy is just a response to that, in which case it is not necessarily unethical. Some go further and believe that "copyright is theft"; from this point of view, piracy is outright beneficial.

    In short, noone argues that copyright violation is illegal. But it is not universally unethical - it depends on where you stand on other issues.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:35AM (#15419287)
    I discover that Gimp is supposed to be easy... If Photoshop can be complicated, Gimp is worst. There are some open-source program that are easy to use (Firefox, OpenOffice etc.) but Gimp is simply not.
  • GIMP - yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CypherOz (570528) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:51AM (#15419319) Journal
    Most wouldn't download Gimp, they wouldn't know what Gimp is. They would stop using their PC for photo editing.
    Necessity is the mother of invention. Assume all SW is now pirate proof. People would find out about GIMP real quick. In fact enforcing anti-piracy will help the FOSS movement imensly.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:02AM (#15419342)
    It is possible that I have misjudged the intentions of your post, but I hope that you will excuse me in this instance since the pirated copy != lost sale argument is frequently used here on Slashdot as a justification for the act of piracy and being a content creator myself, I have some rather strong feelings on this subject. I did not mean to suggest that you personally do these things and I apologize if it came out in that way, but please allow me to respond to some of your other points, if I may...

    These companies are some of the wealthiest in the world, I have not seen a single case of any of these companies, not a single case where a software engineer was let go because of poor sales and lack of profitablity.

    The amount of the loss is debatable, but is it reasonable to suppose that piracy has no impact on the software engineer? It is difficult to quantify unrealized gains, but neither can we say with certainty that there are none. As for companies being wealthy, does that mean that their property rights are any less valid?

    One company has even had a judgement or two against it for how onerous its "terms" are

    This is probably true, but as both you and I have said we chose not to use their product because we don't like their terms. It is unfortunate that the terms suck sometimes, the old "I am taking my ball and going home if you don't like those rules" reaction by some companies, but I cannot expect others to respect my rights if I don't respect theirs.

    I'd consider (my opinion) this guilt money, considering how Gates has amassed his wealth.

    The poor people who benefit are happy whether he gave the money out of goodness or guilt; it is all the same to them. As for Gates using it to promote Microsoft products with freebies...well he has a ways to go with meeting the basics before he can begin to do that. If he does eventually give them free computers with Microsoft software in order to "get them early" then you can chalk it up to his reward for helping them get that far with the basics.

    The BSA is making claims about lost sales that really aren't, and getting leverage with this bogus saber rattling

    The BSA is playing up their side and others are downplaying their arguments because that is how politics works. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. The BSA is not completely right but neither can it be proven that they are completely wrong.

    But if every single piece of "pirated" software were somehow magically able to be taken from users today, the net result would not be additional revenue and sales, quite the opposite in fact could and would likely (in my opinion) occur.

    Fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion, but people should consider the consequences of not paying for their software if the license does not make it freely available. The world is interconnected and my ability to pay my bills is contingent on my employer being able to pay me and their revenues are contingent upon people paying for the products and so on. I am not convinced that a reduction in piracy would NOT result in some more sales, but I suppose that on that point will we simply have to agree to disagree.
  • by toriver (11308) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @06:51AM (#15419787)
    the fact that the software, music, or other intellectual property was stolen.

    If I walk into a store, nab a CD and run, then I stole it. If I download some binary data somewhere, it's not stolen. Can people (including BSA and *AA) stop mis-applying the term? It's illegally copied, a violation of a totally different part of law than the one that governs theft.

    Someone who downloads and uses digital "intellectual property" (a term invented when they stopped making works of art) does not misappropriate one of the publisher's physical products. That product is still in a store ready to be purchased. However, the person is "leeching" the service that consuming the product is, without having paid the rights holders for that privilege. Violations of copyright are closer to taking a bus ride without paying the fare.

    The industries' mistake is that they have both licensed content (music, movies, software) and physical product (disks), and try to get the "advantages" of both (advantages for them and not the customers), while denying consumers any of their rights (like the "first sale doctrine" - second-hand market is destroyed by using online registered keys). With the politicans firmly in the lobbyist pocket, the angry consumers resort to the only path available to protest: "civil disobedience" against the corporations running the country. So piracy of these industry-work-for-hire products is akin to the Boston Tea Party in a way...
  • by toriver (11308) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @07:13AM (#15419832)
    I'm desperately trying to figure out when Slashdot became pro-piracy.

    There's a difference between "pro-piracy" and "anti-equating-illegal-copying-with-theft-or-pirac y". Why can't people be allowed to point out fallacies in the BSA and *AA's arguments? Or attack the mis-appropriation of existing terms (theft and piracy) that obviously are used to manipulate opinion?

    Is this another one of the "those that aren't with me are with the enemy, the terrorists" ploys?
  • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:09AM (#15420097)
    I'm desperately trying to figure out when Slashdot became pro-piracy. It's really become quite a pro-piracy haven these last few years. People think it's perfectly all right to steal software and not pay the author for it. They actually believe it's okay to download, for instance, Doom 3, and not pay John Carmack, even though he spent five years of hard work to release it.

    I wouldn't call it pro-piracy as it is as much as Anti-BSA or Anti-Microsoft or Anti-establisment.

    Personally, I buy all my games because I have the money and I often feel like giving back to indie developers. (Go Darwinia! Go Red Orcherstra!)

    But! I am highly suspicious of BSA's tactics and their claims of monetary loss which companies will use for tax purposes which I suppose directly is akin to "Tax Avoidance" which of course means it costs me indirectly anyways through higher taxes (Yeah I know it is a stretch)

    They assume that if a person pirates software, they would have bought the software if they couldn't have pirate it. For some reason they cannot comprehend someone just doing without and finding something else to do.

    If nothing else... Piracy hurts FOSS more than pay proprietary because with piracy there is no need for a free alternative, hence the lack of interest in those programs and hence less development. But I digress...

    My second point I would have to raise with the BSA is how in the heck do they know that there is all this piracy in the first place? From my understanding they aren't going around house to house doing polls or making phone calls to everyone in the world and saying "Do you pirate software?"

    Even if they did, no one in their right mind would say "Umm... Yes, I pirate software!"

    Do they base this on figures of how many people they caught and then through a random multiplier with a dice roll and say "Here is our loss! Now give us a tax break!"

    This is why I think most people on Slashdot appear to be pro-piracy.

    And the fact these are faceless corporations or wealthy individuals aren't helping either.

    A 14 year old kid won't stop to think as he is downloading Doom 3 torrent that John Carmack and go "bless his soul for his hard work in the 3d industry and without his hard effort we'd never have all the 3d games we have today", but rather "Gee... That man has 3 Ferraris! I'm sure this won't hurt em!"
  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:13AM (#15420108) Homepage
    Agreed but calling OS X or Linux alternative choices is a bit unrealistic since they can't do what Windows can.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:57AM (#15420239) Homepage
    I'm desperately trying to figure out when Slashdot became pro-piracy. It's really become quite a pro-piracy haven these last few years.

    Moving from "when" over to "why", I imagine because it's gotten really convienient. For example, a few clicks away there are TV shows for download. Didn't have to know what channel they're on or how to program my VCR/PVR, they'll download faster than I could walk over to a buddy and borrow his tape. Not that they actually air here anyway. They're also free of ads, though we already have that luxury (only ads between programs, thank you government regulations), but we do get annoying "See what's up next" promos. Also you can keep them around, even build up a library, like an iPod for videos. Zero cable/premium channel fees, sero ad revenue, zero DVD renting/buying price - obviously no legitimate content could compete with that.

    At some point, it just becomes so convienient that you're doing it anyway, even though you feel it's wrong. However, most people don't cope with that kind of internal inconsistancy very long, and over time you just ignore or explain away those thoughts to make your life "right" again. For a broad part of the population that started around Napster ended not so long ago - it doesn't happen overnight. You still see it with wildly unreasonable demands, they just make up a "I want 96Khz/24bit FLAC for 5 cents and a free pony" so they can go back to pirate because "they don't deliver what we want".

    Plus, it does help that the producers of mainstream content hasn't collapsed like the 1929 stock crash, which is what you'd believe if you listened to them. Let me take a quick Econ 101 on why their claims are so absurd:

    Imagine you have a price-quantity graph (ok, slashdot is not the best medium for this) with price on the Y-axis, quantity on the x-axis. Now let's say you have the prices p0, p5, p10, p15 for 0-15$, and the respective quantities q0, q5, q10, q15. Note that q0 is going to be a lot bigger than any price higher than zero, giving it away is going to be a huge boon to "sales". The square between 0,0 and p,q is the revenue you could get without price discrimination. Even with price discrimination, the most you could get is the entire area under the graph. Let me try to draw it: Anti-ASCII code, I hate you:
    15 fill o p15,q15
    .. fillfill
    10 fillfill fill o p10,q10 RIAA MPAA RIAA MPAA RIAA MPAA RIAA MPAA o p10,q0
    .. fillfill fillfill fill
    .5 fillfill fillfill fillfill o p5,q5
    .. fillfill fillfill fillfillfillfill
    .0 fill q15 fill q10 fillfill q5 fillfillfillfillfillfill fillfill q0
    Alright, that turned out only semi-lame. Their actual income is the area between 0,0 and p10,q10. Even if they were able to price gouge everyone perfectly, they'd only get the area under the graph (marked with "fill"). However, what the wonderfull RIAA/MPAA math does is take the retail price p10 and match it with the pirate quantity q0, and claim their total losses are everything between 0,0 and p10,q0. Obviously this is complete and utter bullshit and could never be actually achieved, even if piracy was impossible. Doesn't stop them from claiming it though.
  • by blackest_k (761565) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:09AM (#15420283) Homepage Journal
    I feel I should respond to some of your points, incidentally written on a laptop running ubuntu, and using firefox.

    Firstly antipiracy opinions are not modded down automatically I read your post at +5 (although I do upgrade insightful and interesting posts and downgrade unfunny funny posts).

    Propiracy opinions exist on slashdot so do proponants of free software and people who think everything should be properly paid for and licienced. ...Maybe like my ubuntu install:) finally a linux version that is easy to use

    There is a whole spectrum of opinion here, but how can anyone support the actions of Sony in creating a root kit on millions of peoples computers or the actions of the RIAA and MPAA victimising some grandma or a teenage kid.

    When someone gets forced to sign an agreement to pay the RIAA 15,000 dollars or face being landed with a legal bill even if successfully defended against. In reality your taking thier life away. Because this huge debt now has to be serviced- ahead of everyother thing in life. Grandma might now have to skip buying the medication she needs, the kids clothes will just have to last them just that little bit longer because of what a desire to listen to some muusic watch a film.

    Now if you have ever been in a law court the sentence that is passed quite often will take into account the circumstances of the person charged with the offence. I mean what would be reasonable a $500 dollar fine and confiscating the computer equipment used in this kind of case. It depends on the circumstances, and thats not what the RIAA or MPAA take into account.

    When an artist creates a piece of work they do it for what the money or to bring some joy into the world? making people's lives a misery isn't what Music, Films or software is about. I don't think anyone other than a lawyer would stand up and say they support the RIAA/MPAA distroying someones life for the sake of a few songs or movies...
    Art in general is about appreciation if someone feels the need to reward an artist they can, generally by buying the product that they enjoy.

    iTunes works well because it lets people pay for the tracks they personally enjoy and not buy the ones that suck. It would be even better if it wasn't restricted by DRM but then people would just pirate the music, some might say. Wake up!
    Every track thats on itunes is freely available in a DRM free format somewhere on the internet and available to you on your computer within minutes in some cases but people still buy music from itunes, why ?
    perhaps its because they see a value in the service that the musicians have performed in bringing that sound into thier lifes...

    On the otherhand when someone or a company is profiting out of someones work without compensating them for it now thats wrong. Feel free to bust the market traders, offices and companys that are doing this.

    Lets address another issue here as well, You do realise that the clothes you wear the food you eat a large proportion of it is produced by people in grinding poverty working on minimum wage in western countrys and far less in other countrys. Maybe we should be paying a bit more for the things we consume. It is not like they can just press copy on a CD burner or download another shirt or duplicate another bunch of banana's. Replicators are still only in Startrek.

    One more thing i have problems with is what producers of software do to the people who buy thier products.

    A case in point Techland produces some some software called English Translator 3 I have use for this program although no perfect I bought it, without saying anything they used product activation which ties in with the serial number of the partition of the harddrive its installed on.
    Reformatting the hard drive resulted in it being impossible to reinstall and all corrospondence with the company goes unanswered and basically I as a paying customer get the shaft.

    I appreciate the product, I do not appreciate the company and so thanks techland incident

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