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The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World 252

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-a-whole-world-more-than-world-two dept.
RockDoctor writes "Dark Reading carries an article by one Nathan Spande who works in Cambodia. Locally he finds that OpenOffice.Org and MS Office are the same price ($2), or $7-20 by downloading. He discusses why the economics of OpenSource don't work in this environment, and how it contributes to global computer security issues through the "little extras" (trojans, spambots and other malware) that typically accompany such "local editions" of software. The economics of software outside the west are very different to what most people are used to."
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The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:40AM (#17972600)
    Most of the big group releases do NOT have Trojans and other crap inserted. the big release groups pride themselves in having a clean release.

    I love how the article has BSA FUD stuck in to add that little flair of "security problems".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by reynaert (264437)
      Most of the big group releases do NOT have Trojans and other crap inserted. the big release groups pride themselves in having a clean release. Right, but he's not talking about big release groups. He's talking about cd's sold on Cambodian markets. I can quite imagine one of those vendors wanting to operate a spam network on the side.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I can quite imagine one of those vendors wanting to operate a spam network on the side.

        I'm in Thailand, and I assume the situation is pretty similar. Copies of new release software go for about the same price here anyhow. What you're saying is possible, sure, but I think pretty rare. The guys who sell this stuff are just not that sophisticated - they download it all from the net and burn the CDs on a handful of PCs. Some places burn the CDs on demand - you have to wait 10 minutes for an unlabeled disk w

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by kingduct (144865)
        The street vendor is just a poor person trying to make a buck. He or she almost surely doesn't even own a computer. Now, the person pressing the CDs is another matter altogether -- there I could imagine trojans. Certainly in Ecuador computer viruses are out of control, but I've always attributed that to the fact that since fewer individuals own computers, many people are sharing each machine.
      • by Vexorian (959249)
        Nah, the CDs sold in the streets are warranted to be 100% virus free, they are generally the same you could get in torrents, there is no a big conspiracy to turn comps into zombies that way, it is easier to just exploit the windows vulnerabilities so you don't even have to depend on piracy
      • by kamapuaa (555446)
        The parent is imagining something that just isn't true, and shouldn't be modified +5 informative.
      • by dave420 (699308)
        So people imagining it makes it true? Does that excuse the opinion presented as fact? Nope. That's FUD.
      • Parent is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ernesto Alvarez (750678) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:54PM (#17974258) Homepage Journal
        And I'm talking from experience here.
        10 years ago Buenos Aires was in the same situation as described in TFA, and the pirated software sold in stores was mostly clean. I know there was no market for zombie machines, but there were lots of (very good) viruses around. Selling infected software would hurt sales REALLY BAD. Especially since it would only take a seasoned pirate, hacker or technician to notice (and the latest antivirus was also available from most local pirates).

        Most pirated software salesmen are interested in selling software, so they won't do anything to threaten their own income. The only thing some pirate shops would do is to add some intro/advertisement (and they were treated like scum for that). Most viruses came from diskettes from unknown sources.
      • More probably... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrYak (748999) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:56PM (#17974808) Homepage
        The few times you encounter a virus-ridden pirate CD, it's surely because it was burned on a machine that was already infected and the virus managed to slip by.
        (Just exactly the same as it happened for virus infected Ipods and similar players, which were infected because the XP machine on which they were tested as part of the development process was infected and droped virus on each tested ipod)

        But that would happen nonetheless very seldom, because most of the software that is sold in this way is already downloaded in ISO form from the torrents and is directly burnt this way, and very few virus are able to injects themselves inside an ISO (althrough, a hacker could instruct remotely a trojanised PC to do so, and he would have the very obvious motivation you stated above). Very seldom are several different software unpacked, and all the SETUP.EXE from several different apps burnt together on a CD/DVD.

        Most of the pirate CD you may find on those markets are produced by people genuinely interested in the fast money then can make with the small margins they have on the media they sell you.
        (The complexity of managing and selling a botnet is beyond the interest in earning quickly 2$ for selling you a CD that costed them 0.02$ to burn)

        The "All pirated spftware contain virus" is BSA propaganda. If you spend your whole time on "astalavista.box.sk", you may end up on some exploited web-page or downloading some trojan. But most of the pirated softwares you find in torrents are clean.

        (My advice : switch to open source. You drop the whole stuff al together and get software that are both clean AND legal)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mpe (36238)
          The "All pirated spftware contain virus" is BSA propaganda.

          IIRC there have been cases of "legitimate" software containing viruses. Thus it's possible that any pirated version originating from the same source. The ultimate irony would be if the "pirate" version had been cleaned in such a situation...
          • by DrYak (748999) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @07:42PM (#17976998) Homepage

            The ultimate irony would be if the "pirate" version had been cleaned in such a situation...

            I've actually seen it done.
            There are a lot of pirate groups that try to polish their release : at least put in some cheats or trainer, in case of games, up to completly re-write the installer for some edition of pirate XP.

            Never the less, viruses on the pirated CD tend to be rare (never saw any on the few I've encountered in eastern europe a few years ago).
            I think the problems that TFA's author is complaining about, mainly that some developing countries are filled with zombie botnets, is not as much due to the few rare virus-containing pirate CD, as it is from :
            - Microsoft trying to detect and lock out pirate versions from updates. (And thus some holes - that aren't considered as absolutely critical and auto-downloaded in background - aren't patched)
            - The technical skill to control virus infection isn't as common as in countries where computers are widespread.
            - When your small 32 kbits ISDN / Analog line costs a significant part of your salary, you only get on-line for very short periods of time, just enough to send your mails (and the one with advertisement for p3n1s enhancements that the trojan on your computer wrote). *You* can't afford to stay hours online to download megabytes of patches (and your machine is vulnerable), whereas, because of the distributed nature of a botnet, it's perfectly OK for the spam busyness, if only 1 or 2 mails are sent per day. When you multiply by the size of the zombie-net, the total number of mails sent in a day is enough.

            And given the poor security on Windows XP, this lack of hole patching is enough to turn a huge percentage of the computer population into zombies spitting each one it's three daily mails about "ch3ap f4rm4cy m3dZZ !!!".

            As TFA's autor said, only ISP are in position to help.
            By filtering computers' access to the net, they can help stop zombies sending spam.
            And, although it's hard to spot on Zombie from the computer it-self (it only sends a few mails per day), it's possible to spot a part of bot-net from the ISP level (if a group of 1'000 clients suddenly all send almost the same single mail, maybe they're part of a bot net. Or replying to some successful stupid chain mail).
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @08:08PM (#17977210)
        He's talking about cd's sold on Cambodian markets. I can quite imagine one of those vendors wanting to operate a spam network on the side.

        You can imagine it. I can't. I live in Hong Kong, I've bought a lot of bootleg CDs here and in Thailand. Never, ever have any been infected with viruses.

        It makes no economic sense. The vendors make a couple of dollars per disc. They'd make at best a few cents per spambot. (And spambots in Cambodia? Give me a break. They don't have the connectivity.) But once the word got round that thay were selling infected softweare, they'd lose all their sales. These are people selling from market stalls; they stick around in the same place for months usually. If they sell bad products, they lose. Customers demand refunds. I have a few times when a disc was bad; a lot less hassle from these guys than legit dealers..

        Every time you read an article quoting the BSA and such groups about software piracy they make this claim. It's just FUD. Note this writer never said he found viruses on his software, just that he was afraid of it. That's the "F" in FUD.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by brouski (827510)
      That's great for the people that get them first-hand from the group's FTP server.

      What about the schmoes who have to wait until the release has changed hands dozens of times before it hits a public site or the newsgroups?

    • by repvik (96666)
      So what if the big groups do "proper" releases? It's not harder than getting their release, adding a trojan and putting it back online with the same name. There is no way to verify the name.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by orkysoft (93727)
      They forgot to mention that most Microsoft products come with their own security problems built in!

      Of course, it is entirely possible that the pirate sellers add some extra nasty stuff to their warez, I wouldn't know, I've never bought software from pirates.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cursorx (954743)
      True, at least of Brazil. Pirate software always comes clean, and tech support is usually stellar (I'm not kidding, some of these guys will give you their phone number and walk you through any problems you might have).
    • While most of the comments about this original article are concerned with the possible presence of viruses and trojans in copied disks, no one seems to be asking the real question.
      Why would there be viruses and trojans in copied 3rd world CDs? The purpose of this renegade code is to collect passwords and account information and send it to a criminal organization that will use it to defraud the software user without their knowledge. But if someone is paying $2 for a copy of MS Office, then t
      • by shmlco (594907)
        Since they're buying software, they own a computer, don't they? Put it on the net and you have a 'bot.

        Besides, your "nothing to steal" argument doesn't hold up. Just because they bought it for a couple of bucks doesn't mean they're broke. How many well-off American college kids who could afford to pay retail still download software, movies, and mp3s off the net?
    • Did you actually read the article? Yes? Then notice how he says it is actually more expensive for him to download a program then to buy it. That is pure download. With the "modern" distribution method of bittorrent he is probably going to have to do some uploading. Wich is going to cost him even more.

      So he is NOT going to get proper releases by proper groups who do it just for the thrill of it. HIS pirated software comes from pure and simple profit motivated criminals.

      It is the difference between free sof

  • Way I look at it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldcd (587052) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:43AM (#17972624) Homepage
    is that it creates a level playing field.
    Both MS office and OpenOffice are available at the same price and with the same level of support (precisely none apart from what google'll provide you with).

    I'm not quite sure why there's any kind of surprise about this information. In the western world where you have to pay for MSOffice and Open Office is free, MS Office is still winning - why you'd expect a different result in an environment MS Office is free, is beyond me.

    In my humble opinion the best thing to increase the penetration of Open Office around the planet (along with linux and every other OSS product that competes with MS) would be if MS introduced a completely secure DRM system to ensure that not a single un-licensed copy of their software was unable to function anywhere on the planet - forcing those that couldn't afford it to switch to OSS.
    Always amuses me when people here bitch about WGA, as it has the potential to be the greatest force in switching people to OSS.
    • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:54AM (#17972712)
      WGA and other drm does not work with slow links. How can you sell apps that need to be online for checking if they are legal and licensed with forced big updates / patch downloads when you need to pay $0.10 or more a mb.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jackharrer (972403)
        Point is that WGA was made not to disable the software. If you disable it, people will go somewhere else. Main point is to remind users they're running pirated software. Switch off features that aren't necessary, and hook them up on windows not Linux (MacOS is out of scope, if you don't have cash to buy Win do you have cash to buy Mac?).

        MS knows that piracy exists, but at the same time piracy creates a lot of well skilled users.

        • by goldcd (587052)
          First office suite I pirated was MSO. When I got a job and they used licensed MSO, I knew how to use it.
          My mum wants a word processor, I'd give her a pirate MSO as I know how to use it - and if she has any problems, I can help. If I can't help, she can buy a book to help (much easier for MSO than OO).
          You've really got to applaud MS, they've simultaneously managed to make MSO ubiquitous whatever the depth of your pocket, whilst managing to derive a stonking great income from legit software.
          Look at the oth
          • My point, exactly.

            Plus MS can consider pirating of their software as a marketing tool - an easy way to get to millions of people without investing anything.
            • by shmlco (594907)
              "Plus MS can consider pirating of their software as a marketing tool - an easy way to get to millions of people without investing anything."

              Ummm... isn't the idea behind marketing getting people to buy your product? If the end result is millions of thieves and few to no sales you're not going to stay in business very long.
              • by chrisv (12054)

                The short-term result is millions of people who pirated your software, the long term result is millions of people who will ultimately purchase your software. See also, Microsoft loses a little money from someone not purchasing the upgrade copy of Vista, but it comes right back to them when that person goes out and purchases a new machine with (guess what) Vista installed on it. So, at least in the case of Microsoft, pirating their software is a marketing tool - rather like a drug. The first hit is always f

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:57AM (#17972738) Homepage
      In the western world where you have to pay for MSOffice and Open Office is free, MS Office is still winning - why you'd expect a different result in an environment MS Office is free, is beyond me.

      I also bet you believe we are winning the Iraq war, GW saved us from WMD's and the easter bunny is real as well.

      Here are some major facts. Microsoft products have a earth sized avalanche more marketing than Open office does. If you go and ask 100 random people chances are that less than 3% will know what open office is. Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering "office suite classes" that are nothing more than a 10 week marketing class they get people to pay to go to( in college).

      Do the same in businesses, survey 100 CEO's and CTO's less than 10% will know what Open office is. Business leasers also feed the marketing themselves.. Where is that powerpoint(tm) your excel(tm) or word(tm) file?

      So by your logic, people are choosing Microsoft office because it is better while in reality most people do not even know a choice even exists.
      • by tepples (727027)

        Where is that powerpoint(tm) your excel(tm) or word(tm) file?

        OpenOffice.org can produce files that are compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint brand software. I had a contract job where my boss used Excel, and she had no problem reading and printing .xls time sheets that I created with OOo Calc. If preserving formatting is more important than editable text, then OOo can print to PDF. But yes, you're right that OOo needs more promotion.

        • If you need to do any real work with Microsoft file formats, OpenOffice won't work for you, and Microsoft intends it to stay that way. You can get by with simple files that don't need to be edited in both programs, but it isn't a long term solution. If you want to use OpenOffice, you need to commit to not using Microsoft formats.

          Oh, and OpenOffice does more than just print to pdf, it exports, which retains meta information (like the table of contents).
      • by goldcd (587052)
        and quite frankly pathetic to say that the reason MSO succeeds where OO hasn't is merely down to MS's marketing budget.
        CTOs know what OO is. If an enterprise CTO deployed OO and saved their company millions, they'd get a big gold star. The reason OO isn't deployed so widely is because if it were, stuff would 'stop working' and cost the company more.
        Now you could argue (rightly) that there's nothing wrong with OO, but if you deploy it in an MS ecosystem (both your own systems and the stuff that'll come in
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by FallLine (12211) *

        I also bet you believe we are winning the Iraq war, GW saved us from WMD's and the easter bunny is real as well.

        This is basically a lame implied ad hominem argument. Don't listen to him! He believes in the easter bunny!

        Here are some major facts. Microsoft products have a earth sized avalanche more marketing than Open office does. If you go and ask 100 random people chances are that less than 3% will know what open office is. Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering

      • by westlake (615356)
        Hell they even get high schools and colleges to market it for them by offering "office suite classes" that are nothing more than a 10 week marketing class they get people to pay to go to( in college)

        Look at the want adds in your local newspaper. The posts on the library bulletin board. Visit your state employment office. Talk with those who work with the disabled. MS Office skills are marketable.

    • by morleron (574428) *
      It seems to me that the real problem here is that people continue to be confused by the use of the word free. Somehow we need to make clear that, when we speak of "Free Software", we are not talking about an item which costs little or nothing. Instead we are talking about the ideas of freedom of use, freedom to make changes we want to the software, and the freedom to give the software to others. It's this dual meaning of the word free that continues to hobble the spread of FOSS, not only the use of the s
    • by Eivind (15695)
      Not that level. There's still the network-effects. If MS-software is what you and/or your friends know and what most people around you use, it makes sense to use that even if there is another equally-good alternative available under the same terms.

    • OpenOffice.org has the advantage of providing much more support for scripts that aren't supported by MS-Office, because they're used in country which aren't economically interesting.
      (As already reported several times on /.)

      MS-Office has the advantage of brand recognition. Surely the percentage of people to whom "Windows", "Office" or "Word" means something is lower in those countries, but still significant.

      So they're not exactly even.
  • Yayyyy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:44AM (#17972634) Homepage Journal
    Open-source trojans.

    Can somebody point me to the repository so I can include them in my projects?
  • From the information in the article, it appears that the economics of open source work much better than the economics of closed-source, proprietary software. The business model of OpenOffice.org is perfectly happy when local vendors sell their software at $2 per disk. The business model that Microsoft Office is based upon is violated when that happens.

    • by richg74 (650636) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:34AM (#17973020) Homepage
      What we are seeing here, actually, is that Economics 101 works. In a free, competitive market, the theory says that the equilibrium market-clearing price of X is equal to the marginal cost of supplying X. It seems likely that the (small) marginal cost of producing an OpenOffice CD is about the same as that of producing an MS Office CD. So it's really not at all surprising that they sell for the same price.

      The "business model" of MS Office (as well as that of DRM'd music, for example) is based on attempting to engineer a way around this reality -- trying to create an economic perpetual motion machine.

      • by Tim C (15259)
        It seems likely that the (small) marginal cost of producing an OpenOffice CD is about the same as that of producing an MS Office CD.

        It would cost me about 20p to produce a CD copy of MS Office for someone. It cost MS millions of dollars to produce the first copy of MS Office.

        That's the real issue here, and one that's not easily solved; the first copy of any major software application costs an incredible amount of money to produce. You either have to find people willing to work for free (and supply most of t
        • Well then, there's no reason to produce proprietary software for consumers then, is there?

        • by mpe (36238)
          That's the real issue here, and one that's not easily solved; the first copy of any major software application costs an incredible amount of money to produce. You either have to find people willing to work for free (and supply most of their own tools, etc), or work out a way to recoup the initial investment.

          Or you have whoever wants the software written or altered pay the full cost.
          Something which works with a tertiary business model and dosn't work with a secondary business model.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by kripkenstein (913150)

      From the information in the article, it appears that the economics of open source work much better than the economics of closed-source, proprietary software. The business model of OpenOffice.org is perfectly happy when local vendors sell their software at $2 per disk. The business model that Microsoft Office is based upon is violated when that happens.

      Well said. But there is another perspective on this: the economics of FOSS and the real economics of Microsoft share some things in common. Both are based on

  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2@earthshod[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:48AM (#17972678)
    This is exactly how Microsoft kills off the competition.

    They tolerate piracy because it has benefits for them. If people are pirating MS software, they are learning how MS software works, and they aren't using competing software. They can catch up later and demand their money; by which time, they're betting, most people will already be so used to Microsoft that they will pay up rather than go for a cheaper / free alternative.

    If MS clamped down on piracy right now, then people would switch to cheaper / free products in a heartbeat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)
      In addition to this, of course, is the fact that legal users of MS software pay a premium high price that finances those that use pirate copies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'm not sure this reasoning makes sense; There is no material difference to Microsoft between one pirate user and one non-user. This isn't like a retail store that sells goods, where stores raise prices to cover a certain percentage of shoplifting. If someone pirates a Microsoft product, Microsoft is harmed in the "lost sale" but they still make money on their other sales. And in a region where basically ALL software is "pirate", Microsoft can essentially forecast zero sales and be done with it.

        Anyway, t
        • by cduffy (652)

          There is no material difference to Microsoft between one pirate user and one non-user.

          You're forgetting about network effects.

          More userbase (either paying or otherwise) means more documents created in Microsoft formats, more potential employees who are highly familiar with Microsoft software, etc. All these factors increase the incentive to use Microsoft software in the future, when piracy may no longer be an option -- as well as the incentive for other parties for whom piracy is not an option to use Micros

        • by mpe (36238)
          I'm not sure this reasoning makes sense; There is no material difference to Microsoft between one pirate user and one non-user. This isn't like a retail store that sells goods, where stores raise prices to cover a certain percentage of shoplifting.

          Much the same applies to music and video piracy".

          Anyway, the so-called "economics of open source" obviously won't apply in a region where none of the "economics" of software apply; as someone else mentioned it's really Microsoft's business model that falls apa
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      If MS clamped down on piracy right now, then people would switch to cheaper / free products in a heartbeat.

      They are here in the developed world by turning off automatic updates and further locking down their products while going after small businesses that aren't using officially licensed products.

      Yet, no matter what, people are not going to switch en mass to the free alternatives because they aren't ready for the desktop, people aren't comfortable with them, and the interoperability (while better) still is
      • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:13PM (#17975540) Homepage Journal

        (Background: I live and work in what the UN classifies as a Least Developed Country. Everything I offer below is based on my experience here, building ICT capacity in this country and the region.)

        They are here in the developed world by turning off automatic updates and further locking down their products while going after small businesses that aren't using officially licensed products.

        The same thing is happening here. But when I brought this issue up in a national-level mailing list (to which the majority of IT professionals in this country are subscribed), the issue was treated as a technical one, not a moral or ethical issue. Put simply, the debate went only as far as how to stop WGA, but did not extend there. Pirated software is a fact of life here, and given that this country hasn't signed the Berne Conventions on Copyright yet, people have no compelling legal reason to change.

        That said, geeks here know what FOSS is about, and they're very interested in it. I recently did a demo of XGL/Beryl, and everyone in the room was lusting after it. On the server side, people recognise that if you don't have Linux on your resume, you aren't competitive. So where the geeks are concerned, Linux is the New Frontier, and they really like it. It's quite interesting that there's a direct correlation between Internet access and interest in FOSS. It more or less parallels our experience in North America and western Europe.

        And now, management are beginning to feel the pressure to move to FOSS. More on this below....

        Yet, no matter what, people are not going to switch en mass to the free alternatives because they aren't ready for the desktop, people aren't comfortable with them, and the interoperability (while better) still isn't good enough to allow for people to "switch in a heartbeat".

        You're overestimating the problem. I can tell you from experience that some of what you say is true, but not nearly to the degree that you assume. Geeks here actually really like Linux, and they love to get a chance to use it. I'm working a lot of overtime here providing Linux training to the people who run the government's IT infrastructure. Their intention is to reduce their dependance on Microsoft specifically because of licensing and support issues.

        See, a Microsoft rep arrived recently and shook the government down. That is to say, he threatened to require that the government pay full retail for all its licenses unless it came to some terms. In the end, an agreement was reached wherein the government pays a flat fee for access to a number of supported applications, and it is required to buy an OEM OS license with every new PC.

        Moving some of the servers from 2003 is seen as a gimme; the planning for that is already under way. There is a recommendation in place to move all standard workstations to OO.o, with exemptions being given to those who specifically require Microsoft (i.e. those who run VBA-powered automation utilities, or who create very sophisticated documents whose compatibility cannot be guaranteed).

        Just about every business in town either has or is planning to integrate non-MS software into their systems. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the biggest one is cost.

        So Microsoft is driving people away using exactly the tactics described in the GP post, and people are moving away, but you're right to say that there are interoperability issues (no thanks to MS), and that there is some trepidation. It's just not as bad as you seem to think.

        People are planning the transition, and they are content to do it in small, achievable steps. But they are moving to FOSS.

        • by mpe (36238)
          I'm working a lot of overtime here providing Linux training to the people who run the government's IT infrastructure. Their intention is to reduce their dependance on Microsoft specifically because of licensing and support issues.

          There's also the matter of being pushed around by a bunch of foreigners, something that dosn't tend to go down too well with most national goverments. Especially where there has been some kind of "occupation" in the recent past. (That these foreigners are from what is most likely
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by indraneil (1011639)
      I kinda support this poster.
      I stay in India and out here a Microsoft employee would be looked up to, a Google employee would be recognized and a RedHat employee would be given condescending looks for not having been "talented enough to get a job with MS" :-) I pretty much do not know a single person who runs no non-pirated software in their home PCs. Heck my 1st computer came with Win2k preloaded for free. On the other hand, getting opensource stuff is harder. Infact I bought Fedora 4 CDs on EBay. So I go
      • "I stay in India and out here a Microsoft employee would be looked up to, a Google employee would be recognized and a RedHat employee would be given condescending looks"

        How does one go about spotting RedHat employees in the street. What are the significent telltale markings ?

        "was Re:How Microsoft Kills Competitors (Score:5, Interesting)
        • How does one go about spotting RedHat employees in the street. What are the significent telltale markings ?

          The red fedora of course.

    • by master_p (608214)
      That's why Microsoft let msdos, Win 3.0/3.1/95/98/ME and NT 3.51/4.0 and its other flagship products to be easily copied around. And then they got XP out with product activation once their kingdom was established.

      If, by a magic way, no Microsoft product could be pirated tomorrow morning, by the end of the day usage of Linux would be at around 50% on the desktop.
  • by TavoX (962277) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:49AM (#17972682)
    I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I can say that although it is somewhat easy to find a shop that sells legal copies of software, most people just buy a pirated copy... why? because it's 1 dollar per disk, and the worst thing is that people do not see this as a bad thing... Personally, I don't agree to pay loads of money for legal software, I just use Linux and OSS, as most people would do if pirated software didn't exist here, but it does, so OSS has not much sense here anyways.
    • In Russia, they are starting to throw pirates (even teachers) into Siberian prison camps. If they started doing something like that in Argentina, do you think everyone would buy Windows, or switch to Linux? Or would most people just take the risk?

      I'm curious to know what the opinions on this matter are from Slashdotters who happen to live in these developing countries where piracy is rampant. Anyone from such a country, please respond.
  • I've run into third-world stealware before. A friend of a friend recently managed to get one of her kids out of a muslim country, green card and all. One of the guy's teenage sons found a PC in the house running WinME and decided to upgrade it to Win2k with a CD he brought from home. The end result was spyware city, plus nothing worked right (probably due to drivers being misloaded or something). I reformatted the box afterward and promptly destroyed the kid's CD collection, before he mucked up anything els
    • by MooUK (905450)
      ME, or malware-filled 2k? I'm not sure there's a lot to decide between them, really...
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:51AM (#17972694) Homepage
    god and all that is holy and sacred on the planet ...

    Free Software is not, repeat NOT, about cost. It's about liberties that accompany the software. For instance, in these poorer countries they're free to choose the hardware/software combos that suit their budget and economy, and not what Redmond wants them to use.

    It also gives them access to the formats and internal workings. Meaning local jobs supporting the tools [ports, language packs, addons] are possible organically without having to first sign your soul over to msft [or whomever].

    Tom
    • by ardor (673957) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:57AM (#17972740)
      You didn't read the article, did you.

      The poor DO NOT CARE about free-as-in-freedom. OpenOffice does not give them the chance for getting a job, MS Office does. So MS Office wins.

      You can start thinking about free-as-in-freedom once your belly is full.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by WS Tu (1045270)
        And we can think it in another angle...
        The software in Combodia is not scarce, therefore it is almost like water or somthing very cheap there.

        And now the only scarce thing for them is the job. I would never suprise people want to use MS office since the employers (may be they never heard about OpenOffice) would like to give offer to who know to use MS Office.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis (446163)
        And that's the largest failing of the FSF and FLOSS as a whole.

        If the message was more about "hey you can really do what you want with this" and not "hey it's cheaper than Windows lol!" they'd be better off.

        Tom
    • At least here in South America, when you buy a pc, it comes loaded with software, from windows and office to games, photoshop, autocad, etc (you name it they install it, of course they don't know anything about OSS).

      People barely can decide by themselves, mostly because if it's their first pc, they don't know anything about software so just try to get everything they could possibly need from start. If it's not their first pc, then all they know about software is what came with the first one, and ask for the
    • Small economic cars about freedom too, not costs. The freedom to use your hard earned money on other more important things. The freedom to not be a slave to the petrol tank. The freedom of your entire nation not to be slaves to the oil producing countries. Hell, even Bush gets this.

      Want to count the number of SUV's on the road? and if you think the US is bad check europe, in a place like holland were american style SUV's are impractical (too big to fit), not needed because the journey time is shorter and f

  • by fbhua (782392) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @10:53AM (#17972706)
    This means fundamentally changing the way people live.

    Let's take the case of Bangladesh. We have about 150 million people here, although a large chunk of that figure aren't your potential customers.

    Facts:

    - All foreign-produced movie DVDs and audio CDs are pirated. Yes. All. You can't legally buy legit copies of this stuff there.
    - All home / office use software is pirated, unless you're working for a top multinational company. Purchasing a computer implies that it would come loaded with whatever software you prefer.
    - All games are pirated

    The prices are astonishing. It costs about 1 USD for CDs, 2 USD for DVDs. It doesn't matter what's the content.

    How do you promote any software when Adobe Photoshop is the default image editor? When a software developer can choose any tool he wants with zero licensing and distribution costs, guess which platform wins out.

    People want the best software and want access to the latest music and movies. It's been very low priced since forever. I can't imagine how would anyone go about asking them to change their consumption habits.

    No "piracy is theft" argument doesn't work here. People feel that they have the right to rip-off any foreign-produced stuff because those companies are profitable anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by owlman17 (871857)
      This means fundamentally changing the way people live.

      That's right. It all boils down to mentality. I live in a 3rd world country as well. I make enough to get by (it's downright pathetic by 1st world standards though). However, I always make it a point to pay for non-FOSS software I buy, even though, yes, I can get the disks for $1-2 or just download them off warez sites. Those I can't afford, I make an effort to look for a FOSS equivalent/alternative.

      I also buy legit CDs and DVDs. If I can't afford someth
    • by grcumb (781340)

      How do you promote any software when Adobe Photoshop is the default image editor? When a software developer can choose any tool he wants with zero licensing and distribution costs, guess which platform wins out.

      In the LDC I live in, it's getting to be a crap-shoot on the server side, and just about every geek I know (and that's a large percentage - I'm secretary of a national IT society) has a liveCD in his/her CD pouch. People aren't ready to move to it wholesale, but they like what they see, and everyon

  • Broadcasting??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:00AM (#17972766) Journal
    One of the interesting things about Open Source is the completely unlimited distribution rights.

    Besides putting it on the net, and distributing CDs, and USB driver, there's also the possibility of broadcasting it... A few minutes on a TV channel, either terrestrial or direct broadcast satellite, and you can transfer an entire CD. Just mux in some open source software into your DVB broadcast, perhaps only during times when the video can do with a lower bitrate, and some quite inexpensive equipment, that takes just one-time investment, can pick it up.

    Also, in most of the underdeveloped parts of the world, I have to wonder if 802.11 isn't the perfect answer to all of this... Even if only a few people in all of the country can afford to download something, it may be able to be pushed to everyone else with 802.11 cards, through P2P apps such as Gnutella, (bittorrent is woefully inadequate here... and on unreliable networks in general).

    And for the first open source program to be widely distributed through Asia with one of these methods... I nominate ClamWin.
  • by cathyy (120691) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:04AM (#17972788)
    He's right about the difficulty in getting legitimate copies of software. He's right about there being a virus, trojan, and spyware problem, too. He's wrong about the reason. It's not infected pirate copies of software. As the previous poster said, those copies are clean.

    It's the people who buy the latest best copy of Norton anti-virus...pirate...and never get a virus definitions update because they can't register their program. They think they are safe and protected, because they are running an antivirus program.

    It's the people running pirate Windows and IE and Office with no updates or patches, because even if they can register them (and typically they can't), they don't have the bandwidth to download security updates.

    And I'm not talking about mere individuals. I have observed the counterfeit Windows version message on the computers in hotels, and not a cheap ones, either. What else are the corporations supposed to do when legitimate software can't be had, and your English isn't good enough to make calling Microsoft to buy a license to legitimize your pirate copy a viable option?

    How do I know all this? I, too, live in a third world country, specifically Thailand. I have looked for legitimate software. I have seen pirate software in major foreign-owned stores like Tesco and Carrefour, as well as in the well-known locales for pirate software like Chatuchak and Pantip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cbhacking (979169)
      My family are slowly travelling the world (5+ years so far) and I'm currently visiting them, in Malaysia and Thailand. We don't do hotels (for staying at), but hotels, resorts, and Internet cafes provide our connectivity (usually via WiFi). Despite all the nice services installed (Skype is very popular), I would never use one of the computers here for anything serious... forget online banking; I probably wouldn't even check my email on one.

      Even if one assumes that the owner of the establishment doesn't have
  • by denoir (960304)
    The feasibility of open source and the problem of pirated software does not really qualify as a relevant issue in the third world.

    For instance the wide spread lack of fresh water seems like a more relevant problem.

  • by exit3219 (946049) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:58AM (#17973234) Homepage
    Because everybody's using Windows around here (Moldova). And when things will become more "civilized" and software will actually be paid for, people will have nowhere to go and will buy their products. So in the long term, Microsoft would have nothing to win if they fight piracy here. That's why they don't.
    I use Linux because it's a better environment for programming. They use Windows for free, because they play games (for free). The "because it's free" argument won't convince anyone to try Linux around here. It costs more to download a distro via dial-up, then to buy Windows for $2.
    • by gr8dude (832945)

      First of all, I'm glad to find out there is another person from Moldova reading slashdot :-)

      software will actually be paid for, people will have nowhere to go and will buy their products.

      I cannot agree with this. Why do you exclude the possibility that they will switch to Linux? Taking into account the latest news about BSA and their checks that will soon encompass the offices in Moldova, many company leaders ask themselves what they will do if BSA knocks at their door. Several people asked me for advice

  • Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) * on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:20PM (#17973428) Journal
    The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World

    No, it is not a problem there at all. Pirated software is problem only in 1st World.
  • Revolution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kingduct (144865) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:21PM (#17973442)
    Essentially, pirating commercial software is a display of resistance against the concept and economics of intellectual property. The concept of "owning" ideas or things that can be "stolen" without taking property away from the "owner" is simply not inherent to humanity (compare that to stealing a car, where the person stolen from actually loses the car).

    However, the resistance that piracy implies isn't sufficient. Free software (and other free knowledge) is a revolutionary concept that turns the base structure of the new information economy upside down. It allows everybody to share knowledge and self determine what they can and will do (as compared to accepting the limits imposed by "owned" knowledge...like accepting that powerpoint is the way a presentation should be made). This is much more important for the poor, especially in the third world, who do not have the capital to access source code and thus see how software (and the world) work.

    When using closed source software, one is essentially giving up the possibility of determining how you communicate and think in relation to machines -- and other humans. Having spent the last several years in the third world studying this specific issue (in Ecuador), it is clear that the availability of commercial software for a dollar or two is very dangerous for those countries. Any country that doesn't have a policy of supporting Free software is essentially allowing Microsoft, etc. to determine how it thinks and produces. Big software companies have no problem with this, they know that they wouldn't be selling large quantities of their software in poor countries anyway. While they may care about the big markets (China), I think most of their complaints about software piracy in the third world aren't because they care about those areas, but because they want to make sure that Americans know that piracy is an evil thing that foreigners do.

    Unfortunately, most third world governments are so pathetically corrupt/incompetent that they don't take the freedom of Free software seriously. Some recommendations would be making all government sponsored software open sourced, requiring all government documents to use open standards, making public universities use free software, etc. There are several governments working on this, but they are few and far between. It is too bad, because the third world can benefit even more from Free software than the first world can.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The great majority of the planet is no where near the US economy, or even better countries like Japan, South Korea, or Germany.

    How is a business that pays its workers $2.00 US a day for 12 hours work supposed to buy Microsoft Vista in a $2000 computer?

    A 486 with xubuntu [xubuntu.org] Linux running
    enough power to keep records and communicate with the world by dial-up modem,
    and that business might be the most wired business in town!

    Not everybody can run out and buy a $500 iPhone with a $100 month phone plan (even if they c
  • The economics of software outside the west are very different to what most people are used to

    Actually it's not clear to me that most people live in the West. Nor is it clear to me that one can characterise the "rest of the world" so simply. There are whole Linux distributions aimed at (and developed in) India and China. And for that matter there are places in the West where pirated software is common. There have even been slashdot stories about it as I recall, e.g. in parts Europe.
  • I think the title "The Pirated Software Problem in the 3rd World" should be corrected:


    The problem isn't that of what you call "3rd World". Why would they have a problem? They are not producing that technology. Hell, their resources are robbed of them so fast, they don't have money to produce much of anything.

  • And that's why Microsoft Vista is so paranoid, and insists on talking to the mothership in Redmond regularly. Microsoft is gradually going to shut this down. Once the hardware changes to require Vista, and the monitors change to require HDCP, they just have to wait for the old hardware to die off.

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:58PM (#17975842)

    You know stories like this always make me kinda chuckle. The idea that people living in the third world have a "problem" with pirated software.

    First world problem: My SUV costs $57 to fill instead of $51.

    Third world problem: My water is dirty and the market has no meat left.

    First world problem: My son's team lost at their football championship.

    Third world problem: My son's school collapsed and 4 of his classmates died.

    First world problem: My baby formula might contain GMO products.

    Third world problem: My baby is dying because of malnutrition and lack of medication.

    First world problem: This war is expensive.

    Third world problem: My stepfather died in the hospital that was just bombed.

    I could go on, but there's no point. All of this to say that when you don't have any real problems, you make them up.

    The idea that intellectual "property" is on the same radar as food, drinking water, medicine, or hell even physical property in the third world is ludicrous.

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