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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 Anonymous Coward
      "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 b
    • 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.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        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.
        • 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
      • 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 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?
    • 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.

      • 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.

        Most wouldn't download Gimp, they wouldn't know what Gimp is. They would stop using their PC for photo editing. And as their PC would become progressevly useless they would stop using it at all and wouldn't

        • by linvir (970218) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:04PM (#15417917)
          Worse even than choosing to live without their PC, some even turn to MSPaint.
        • 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.

        • 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 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.
      • 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.

        Enter Photoshop elements - it's cheaper ($90), works similarly to PS, and is limited in ways that are likely only important to graphic artists, who can afford a copy of PS along with Illustrator, Maya, etc.

        • 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 Buran (150348)
        I'm sorry but the average home user doesn't have the cash for a copy of Photoshop, so yeah, they pirate it.

        Or maybe they go and buy a copy of Paint Shop Pro or GraphicConverter or one of the other quite-capable yet reasonably-priced alternatives that do everything that most home and many business users want?

        The simple fact that someone chooses not to buy Photoshop yet has a potential valid use for it doesn't mean they pirated Photoshop. That kind of argument doesn't account for the fact that alternatives ex
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        I had a pirate copy of photoshop. The I noticed the Gimp was near as good. Had a pirate of MS Visual Studio - until I picked up Dev C++. Sure, the open source stuff is sometimes a bit less functional than the commercial - but me? I implement the features I want.
    • 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.

      Ahh! But were the CDs blank?
    • 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.
      • 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)
    • It's a bit of both. Sometimes people who could easily afford to buy a copy of some software will still pirate it "because everybody else is doing it" --- The fact that microsoft officially winks at pirated copies doesn't quite help reduce the volume. Microsoft knows that if they were to press too hard on pirated copies, people would simply go to cheaper alternatives (including Free and Open Source) that do a completely adequate job.

      Having "everybody" running MS software is to MS's advantage -- especially when they're trying to talk MA out of going with ODF.

      Where the real falacy is is declaring these theoretical sales to be money "Lost to the economy" -- when the truth is that most of the hush money people pay for software immediately leaves the country (going to the Bahamas, or Ireland or wherever it is the gives Microsoft the best discount on income tax).

      Countries like Canada don't even have the advantage of a significant income from R&D spending to offset what is actually lost to the national economy from via Microsoft Software sales.

    • I agree with you. I'm from Pakistan and would like to meet ONE person of the 14% who buys software legally. There arent even that many branded computers out there that came with a legal Windows XP.

      However they wont BUY the software. Its way too expensive for what it is in Pakistani currency. Implement sophisticated authentication mechanisms to prevent piracy and watch Linux boom. I'd like to see that happen. Less software will be pirated, and even less will be bought.
  • Easy answer (Score:2, Funny)

    by mfh (56)
    That's an easy one because 15% of all software is just garbage. The rest is open source and you can't pirate that.
    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:29PM (#15417762)
      The rest is open source and you can't pirate that.

      That sounds like a challenge, and I accept.
      • by jesdynf (42915) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:46PM (#15418455) Homepage
        Hah, already beat you.

        I ran #gnuwarez on EFnet for a year or so. Zero-day Debian releases, FreeBSD -- you name it, I had a vast network of affiliate networks capable of getting it out to you. Mad greetz to the SourceForge guys.
    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:37PM (#15418428)
      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. Even more hypocritically, you'll often hear that piracy isn't theft, but when a GPL violation is reported, it is referred to as "stolen code." Also, people act as though it's wrong for the RIAA or the MPAA to go after individual infringers (never mind that this is exactly what Slashdotters were calling for during the Napster lawsuit), but when there's a GPL violation, the EFF should get involved and sue the infringers. I just don't understand the disconnect. I have a feeling it really just boils down to money--people want to preserve the means to get stuff for free without having to pay for it. It has nothing to do with morality or ideals at all.

      I also don't get TechDirt's hostile opinion towards the idea that--gasp--piracy is wrong and shouldn't be happening, and that it costs people money. Of course it does. The idea that some section of the economy is magically enhanced because they got to use pirated software ignores the section of the economy hurting from lost sales. And none of it matters anyway, because you don't magically have the right to pirate software just because it would enhance your company. What a selfish and amateurish opinion to have. My company would do better if we could hack into competitors' computers and copy their valuable trade secrets for ourselves, but we don't have the right to do that just because it would enhance our business.

      Finally, I don't get why so many pro-piracy opinions exist in Slashdot comments, invariably with some mention of the "MPAA/RIAA," as though scapegoating some lobby group somehow justifies making sure some musician or filmmaker or software engineer doesn't get paid for something they worked hard on to release and make a living from. I think rooting for piracy is a weak, lazy mindset. It's the easy route to take, and illustrates that one has not thought through it at all. They likely are high school or college students who haven't had to go out into "the real world" and perform work in exchange for income. They're used to running Kazaa and eMule all day long, downloading everything they can find, and they get so used to such convenience that they get bitter and defensive when the free ride is taken away.

      But, I don't expect the amateur opinions around here to change. People will continue to scapegoat the RIAA and MPAA as a lame justification--"The RIAA made me download System of a Down's latest album!" "The MPAA made me download a camrip of X-Men 3!" Slashdot will continue to post vaguely pro-piracy articles such as this one, while ignoring its own Slashdot heroes like John Carmack (id Software was estimated to have lost millions of dollars when Doom 3 was leaked the weekend before its release date). Outside of the green and white bubble of this website, the rest of the world will continue to run on capitalism, the least bad economic system on Earth, and the antithesis to the pseudo-socialist worldview of "share everything and worry about the consequences later" that permeates the discussions.

      Just my two cents.
      • 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!"
      • 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
      • 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
  • If the software is making firms more productive, then they should pay for it instead of stealing it.
    • No shit, sherlock. The point TechDirt is making is that it's still better that they run warez than nothing at all. You can preach morality all you like, but the guys struggling to keep their businesses afloat from day to day don't give a shit about what you think is right. And their productivity is a lot more important than your indignation or the potential profit of the software industry.
  • At least 35% (Score:4, Informative)

    by Winckle (870180) <mark.winckle@co@uk> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:25PM (#15417741) Homepage
    Personally I think 35% is a very conservative estimate.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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 m
    • 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 linvir (970218) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:40PM (#15418251)
        Now that's a proper proof by contradiction.
      • 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!!!

        To give you a clue on how rich Microsoft is:
        Let's say it's a 150MB CD. Let's also assume that we have a 3Gb/s (but 10 bytes with error correction, so 300MB/s) SATA controller and a RAID array to saturate it. At that speed, copying 150MB takes 0.5 seconds. In one week (604800s), you would be a
  • Numbers are skewed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902)
    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.
    • by jxyama (821091)
      > I'd probably run GIMP or Picture Publisher or something that doesn't cost $500 a license.

      So why don't you?

    • There's at least 4 different types of situations I can think of.

      1. Lost sale - piratee would have bought the software
      2. Lost lower sale - pirate would have bought a cheaper version of the software ie Photoshop Elements
      3. Lost competition's lower sale - pirate would have bought Ulead PhotoImpact
      4. Lost nothing - pirate would have used GIMP or Picasa or nothing

      You would have to do a large survey to figure out the "real" cost of pirated software.
  • Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WinterSolstice (223271) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:27PM (#15417752)
    I suspect most of that is Windows software... I think that for Mac software it is probably a bit lower. Most Mac users I know are full on legit. There are a couple... but every Windows user I know has TONS of illegal crap. I wonder - is there a bounty?

    -WS
  • by aychamo (932587) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:28PM (#15417756) Homepage
    I can't believe the US is doing so poorly in their rate of piracy. I guess I'll have to start pirating twice as much software just to help us make up the slack on the rest of the world!
  • free advertising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657)
    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

    • In the early days, Microsoft turned a blind eye to piracy in US / UK / Canada because "borrowing" the disks from work to install at home was the gateway drug that lead to the rise of Word as the dominant word processor. (WordPerfect Corp dropping the ball with WP for Windows didn't harm it either)
    • 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 sc0p3 (972992) <jaredbroad@gmNETBSDail.com minus bsd> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:30PM (#15417764) Homepage Journal
    New Zealand (23%),

    Yeah we have too many sheep here in NZ.. of course we have a low piracy rate.. That'd require people to know what a computer was :|
  • 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.
  • 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.

    • Re:bah (Score:3, Informative)

      by datasetgo (751392)
      Well turn that around a bit. I HAVE been in the graphics professional industry for a long time and I have to say - the largest amount of piracy I have ever witnessed has always taken place within ad agencies and boutique design shops. When I've found this happening, I've always raised hell about it.

      In one small shop I had just joined a few years ago, I demanded that we get legal and it cost nearly $45k to do so - with just 12 people. That's not an insignificant amount of potato chips to Adobe, Quark, Macr
    • That's FUD! (Score:3, Funny)

      by ichigo 2.0 (900288)
      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 (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.

      Cease your pirate propaganda, slashdotters are too smart to fall for it. There's been credible studies that have come to the conclusion that piracy costs $11,440,939,650,000 [donnysblog.com] per month. In fact,
    • Re:bah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LetterRip (30937)
      "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 legal
  • 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?

  • by EZLeeAmused (869996) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:36PM (#15417802)
    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.

    That's B.S. So a firm might be more productive (and profitable?) using a software package, thus contributing to the general economy. No argument with that. But I fail to see how this debunks the BSA's arguments. Is techdirt (or Mike, or whoever) arguing that the same firm would be less productive if it had paid for instead of pirated the software?


  • 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.
  • Deal with it. What happens when replicators are invented? You gonna arrest me for creating "pirated" food instead of making it for free?
  • 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.
  • Fight!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by s7uar7 (746699) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:41PM (#15417826) Homepage
    I pirate my software and spend the money I save on CDs. I'll let the RIAA and BSA fight it out between themselves.
  • 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).

  • Doh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slackmaster2000 (820067) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @06:55PM (#15417876)
    I've heard a lot of arguments about why software piracy statistics are bogus, but none as *dumb* as saying that companies using software illegally will be more productive because of the software, thus contribute more to the economy.

    Despite the fact that it represents some pretty screwed up values, it just doesn't make much sense. If a company can experience growth related directly to the stealing of software, then they could have purchased the software, and they still should have grown. Buying software is just a cost of doing business, and shouldn't be having that much of an impact on the bottom line all by itself. Perhaps we should all just start bending the rules and pirate and steal our expenses away because hey, we're hiring more employees, we're paying our investors, and we're making more profit, which is good for everybody, right? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me.

    When it comes piracy on the private, home use level, I think that the piracy numbers they always come out with are ridiculous. Just because the software is installed and being used does not mean that a sale was lost. This isn't a defense of piracy, just a reiteration of distinction between piracy and theft. They are not the same thing. But if we decided to treat them as the same thing for the purpose of creating an accurate yet misleading argument, then oh no, Software Company X is out a gazillion billion dollars!
  • 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.
  • Microsoft makes it almost impossible to figure out how licensing should work if you are a small or medium size business running their servers (outside of sending them blank checks every year for Software Assurance). I would venture a good portion of the "pirating" the BSA is complaining about involves confusion about regarding how many CAL's, and what kind of CAL's a business should have. Even Microsoft admits that CAL licensing can be a complicated area. [microsoft.com]

  • "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"

    What is this software, and why isn't it available for Windows?
  • 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 sl4shd0rk (755837)
    all they did was read the pole. http://slashdot.org/pollBooth.pl?qid=1342&aid=-1 [slashdot.org]
  • by fermion (181285) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:12PM (#15417948) Homepage Journal
    I think that the real harm depends on what you are measuring.

    For example, piracy may help the economy achieve a kind of uniformity of software that is very easy to work with. For example, even is a small firm cannot afford a copy of MS Windows and Autocad, they can always pirate a copy. We benifit because the draftperson does not have to learn multiple systems, and, as the skillset is much easier to garner, can be hired much cheaper than a traditional draftsman. OTOH, as Autocad has no compitition, they probably charge quite a bit more that market, and can continue to do so as they do not need to cater to the small shop.

    So, the primary harm that piracy exacts is probably in terms of promoting high prices and reducing the responsiveness to consumers. In competative markets, like the database, there is an effort to get versions out to users that are either low or no cost. This allows the student or amatuer to gain the experience with product without paying professional prices. This is similiar to what once would happen with equipement, such as typewriters. One could buy an old selectric and gain expereince.

    In noncompetatve markets, however, the only way to get a low cost version of many applications is to pirate. MS would like us to believe that we can buy a used PC, but we must buy a new license to the OS. The student edition of MS Office is $120, which is already way too much, but to get access it rises to $200, which is really a joke. They are charging more for Access than Foxpro! Autocad is little better charging $150 per year. Mathematica is little better. Labview shows what can happen when a competitve market exists, with a version at $80.

    So, what we have is situation in which piracy has lead to extreme economic damage by promoting monopolies in certain sectors. The vendors are perfectly happy to allow the piracy, as it is partially why they are succesful. I will always remember the time in the late 80's when my boss told me he was going to get his first PC because he would not have to pay for any software, unlike on the Mac where most of our software was properly acquired. However, a vendor cannot survive with no sales, so the BSA tries to create opportunity costs, at least for certain customers, that are higher than acquisition costs.

    As a student I got MS Office, Mathematics, Foxpro, etc, for a song, so I did not prirate. If I were a student, or new to the IT industry and just wanted to learn, I would think long and hard about buying the software at the offered prices or borrowing a copy.

    Ideally I would like to see most piracy stopped. I would like to see offer prices that are in line with what a competative market will bear. I also hope that the BSA pulls the rug on china and forces either the software vendors to cut thier price of the Chinese to find another solution. We will then learn hard and fast what it means to not communicate with an important trading partner.

  • 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 Weaselmancer (533834) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @07:50PM (#15418101)

    I haven't been there, so I have no way of actually knowing. But I'm sure it's true.

  • 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 exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:10PM (#15418155) Journal
    ...when I could have paid. If someone offered it to me for $10 I'd probably pay it. I might even consider paying $12.50. But any more and I'd use the Gimp. So when they do their figures I hope that the BullShit Association counted that as $12.50 and not the $1,000 or whatever ridiculous price it is that Adobe charge.
  • First error. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vo0k (760020) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:13PM (#15418166) Journal
    The stupid assumption: If I didn't pirate it, I'd pay for it. No. If I didn't pirate it, I wouldn't use it.

    I have about a dozen or so of good original games. The rest of my games is pirated, and you can be sure I wouldn't spend money on them. Legal? No. Fair? Maybe yes, maybe not. Harming economy? Total bullshit. The worst harm to the economy comes from me playing these games instead of working. If I didn't pirate them, the authors wouldn't see a single penny from me just the same. I just wouldn't play them.

    The situation about utility software is even more twisted - same "not pirated=never used" often applies here too. Except pirated means using the software for profit and eventually purchasing originals when you can afford them (earning money on the pirated version first). Means the authors WILL eventually get their fair share. If I'm too afraid of get busted for pirating the software to use it though, they won't see a penny from me.

    Last but not least, Postorder. Opposite of preorder. Preorder is when you pay now, get program later. Postorder is when you download the program now, pay later, at your leisure. Don't worry, Bethesda! I will pay for that copy of Oblivion I got... eventually! :)
  • by the_REAL_sam (670858) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:55PM (#15418298) Journal
    First things first, take back the name. It's not PIRATED software, it's duplicated, unlicensed software. Nothing was PIRATED, because NOTHING WAS STOLEN.

    The claim that the business LOST $34 billion is flawed, since, in fact, business cannot LOSE what it never HAD: the $34 billion.

    If we correct the grievance claim, and postulate that the business' suffered $34 billion of income deprivation, then that claim, too, is probably flawed. I suspect that most unlicensed, duplicated software is to the benefit of financially poor computer users, who might not otherwise have ANY access to the duplicated, unlicensed software.

    Therefore, I postulate that the only real cost to the corporate world is the tax deductible charity receipt for helping the poorest of the poor with their computers.

    If it were not for "piracy" laws, then they might be able to arrange for some kind of tax deductible charity receipt for unlicensed, duplicated software for low income computer users. But while such laws are in effect, it is unlikely that they will find low income users to be cooperative with any such effort.

  • 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.

  • Open Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrSteveSD (801820) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @06:52AM (#15419788)
    On the UK BSA website it says...

    Welcome to the Business Software Alliance UK website. We are here to help businesses avoid software licensing problems.

    If that is truly their aim, they should be pressing for businesses to use Open Source software. Searching for "Open Source" on their site reveals that the term occurs only once, in one document. They could also point out the dangers of investing your companies future in proprietary solutions. e.g. I work for a company that has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in Visual Basic (pre .NET) development and this investment has been blown away by Microsoft's decision to discontinue VB (VB.NET is not VB).
  • Reported to the SEC? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by goldfndr (97724) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:29AM (#15420154) Homepage Journal
    Have these losses been reported to the SEC? If they truly are losses, then the BSA members have an obligation to their shareholders to report these losses.

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