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Linux "is not piracy" Says Microsoft Lawyer 735

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

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  • full text (Score:2, Informative)

    by trollercoaster ( 250101 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:50PM (#3429592) Homepage Journal
    Jane Wakefield
    BBC News Online technology staff
    Tech industry leaders gathered in Brussels have reiterated the growing threat of piracy to the software industry in Europe.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Organised crime is giving the BSA the biggest headache.

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

    Tightening legislation

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Change of attitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

    It is forecast to grow from £35bn in 2000 to £67bn by 2005.
  • BSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:56PM (#3429635)
    I heard a radio commercial for the Business Software Aliance this morning while driving into work. This was a first in the Jacksonville, Florida area. I suppose the BSA will start harassing businesses in this area now.
  • by AKAJack ( 31058 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:59PM (#3429657)
    I know that our cost for MS software is going up at least 25% because of their new requirements for "software assurance" (basically upgrade insurance.) Our company bought into the FUD of the Microsoftie sales guy. That and no more upgrade licenses available as of July will cause our software costs to rise dramatically just to maintain the status quo.

    So I'm not really sure if I belive that "sales" are increasing. In all reality the cost of standard software is going up and therefore so are "sales."
  • Re:Well Duh.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by quinto2000 ( 211211 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:12PM (#3429758) Homepage Journal
    This is another one of those "We'll look like we're compromising on this minor point so that people can buy into our other major point" things.
    It's bigger than that. All that MSFT needs to do is associate the word "Linux" with "piracy," and the innuendo is enough to scare off many businesses.

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

  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:16PM (#3429787)

    I can do a search for "warez" right now and probably come up with at least a million sites. These guys are so full of shit it should be criminal. They are deliberately misleading people about this issue. So, is anyone standing up to call them on it? Who has the clout to be heard there?

  • by stevenj ( 9583 ) <stevenj.alum@mit@edu> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:17PM (#3429798) Homepage
    It is only illegal to copy it if you have specifically given up that right. As the GPL says, "Most [licences] are created with the purpose of taking away your rights..."

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

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

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

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

    Smith graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he received the Class of 1901 Medal, the Dewitt Clinton Poole Memorial Prize, and the Harold Willis Dodds Achievement Award, the highest award given to a graduating senior at commencement. He was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar at the Columbia University School of Law, where he received the David M. Berger Memorial Award. He also studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He has written numerous articles regarding international intellectual property and electronic commerce issues and has served as a lecturer at the Hague Academy of International Law.
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:49PM (#3430043)
    Ok, we're going to take words away from you now, because they mean things, and you don't want to acknowledge that. We're going to use math instead. You can't argue with math unless it's added up wrong. Here we go.

    Software company 'A' sells a piece of software for $159.95. User 'Bob' doesn't have $159.95 to spend on software. Now, if we take the amount of money that company 'A' has when 'Bob' doesn't buy the software, and subtract it from the amount of money that the company 'A' has when 'Bob' pirates the software we get the indisputably correct amount of money that company 'A' has lost from 'Bob's piracy. I hope you can add, because here we go:

    $0 - $0 = $0.

    That's right, the company lost $0. $0. That's it, just $0.

    I'm a professional software developer. That's what I do for a living. I fully understand that software piracy is bad, but to say that every pirated copy is a loss of money is just a lie. Some are, some aren't. I just showed you the math to prove it. Stop spreading you BSA marketing department lies.

    If you want people to listen to you, more importantly if you want to influence people, then you have to tell the truth. People aren't stupid, and they can tell when you are lying to them. If you want to convince people to stop pirating software, you will have to find honest arguments, and you should know that there are many of them. Even 'Bob' the hypothetical software pirate can add, so your arguement won't work on him.
  • by VasilyPupkin ( 525738 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:26PM (#3430845)
    Let me reply to this :)

    Here are some examples of (IMHO)successful russian software companies:

    http://www.kaspersky.com/ "Kaspersky labs". Antivirus software.
    http://www.1c.ru/ "1C". Office, Educational, games, and localized distributions.
    http://maddox.1c.ru/ "Maddox Games", now part of "1C". Il-2 Sturmovik.

    the list goes on. Just see here [google.com] at Google
  • Re:News To Me (Score:3, Informative)

    by cmckay ( 25124 ) <cameron.mckay@NoSPam.colorado.edu> on Monday April 29, 2002 @10:58PM (#3433629) Homepage
    it takes an honest effort and lots of digging to come up with sites that actually have anything

    This is true for the web, but there are other ways that require much less effort... *cough* IRC *cough* :-)
  • by bobv-pillars-net ( 97943 ) <bobvin@pillars.net> on Monday April 29, 2002 @11:58PM (#3433826) Homepage Journal
    The homeless person shouldn't HAVE to steal his food in the first place.
    The proper adjective is DESTITUTE, not HOMELESS. There are many people who have enough money for food, but not enough money for rent.
    He should be able to walk in the doors of any religous organization and get help.
    I take it you've never run a soup kitchen before. Not every religious organization has the resources to operate one. As far as I know, there is only one soup kitchen in my city, but over 2000 churches.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein