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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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  • funny thing is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jacer ( 574383 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:54PM (#3429623) Homepage
    for each new copy protection scheme, you'll have ten ways to circumvent it from release groups (fleet, razor, ect.) and most of the people who pirate would never buy the software in the first place (like me for instance) so, i'd be a wise choice on their part to drop the charade on fighting piracy, pocket the money they save by not actively persuing it, and enjoy the software growth
  • Well Duh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adam613 ( 449819 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:59PM (#3429652)
    Of course Linux isn't piracy. It would be extraordinarily difficult for me to pirate RedHat when I can get it legally from their website.

    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. Linux may not be piracy, but it is viral and anti-capitalist and bad for consumers because it's supported by hobbyists with PHDs in CS rather than a major company whose tech support knows as much as their average supportee (is that a word?).

    What is the market for Linux like in Europe? Does M$ have any more reason to be worried over there than they do here?

    (sorry if this is a dumb question, but I'm an American so I have no clue what goes on outside of my own country)
  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @12:59PM (#3429659) Homepage
    No... Piracy should be defined as 'breaking the license the software was issued under'.

    If they get away with defining 'piracy'=='copying', even in people's perceptions, the main distribution method of linux will be severely hampered. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone receive a burnt CD with 'Red Hat xx' scribbled with a magic marker, and they ask something like, "is this legal?". It just 'feels' like you are doing something dirty.

    It is only illegal to copy it if you have specifically given up that right. As the GPL says, "Most lices are created with the purpose of taking away your rights..."

  • Eastern Europe? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:02PM (#3429683) Homepage
    If anything, I believe piracy has progressed the software industry there, atleast the MS-centric part of it. If they didn't have illegal copies of Windows and VC++ to develop on, there is no way they'd be able to afford the real thing. So in a way, pirated software helps Microsoft, because then more people are able to develop Windows applications.
  • by Chewie ( 24912 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:02PM (#3429689)
    My favorite part was the quote from the story:
    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.
    Anyone want to wager what the odds of BSA members dropping their prices will be? I'm guessing something involving a snowball and Hell.
  • by elflord ( 9269 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:03PM (#3429696) Homepage
    How anyone actually associates Linux with Piracy is beyond me and reflective of a lack of understanding the spirit of MSFT's gripes.

    The problem is that you have software like Napster that represents the freeloader movement getting confused with the free software movement. Popular websites like slashdot do more to hurt than to help with this problem. A lot of people are under the false impression that Linux and open source are about "free beer", and if you believe that, then it's not an enormous stretch to conclude that Linux is about piracy.

  • Eastern Europe ?! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:04PM (#3429704)
    "If there wasn't piracy there would be more software companies in Russia and Eastern Europe,"

    This has nothing to do with the piracy. This guy knows how is in E Europe or Russia ? There are no money for food, let alone software. The water and heating for a small apartment (for one month) is more than half of a monthly salary for a University teacher. Do you resonably expect any individual to buy ANY software ? An for the companies, if they had money, they would first give more money to their employes (the usual monthly salary beeing 40-60 $).
  • by 56ker ( 566853 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:06PM (#3429719) Homepage Journal
    I would say that part of the secret behind Microsoft's success is that there are plenty of people out there running pirate versions of Windows on their desktop. Without these - Microsoft would have far less of a monopoly.
  • Opportunity cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kris Warkentin ( 15136 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:07PM (#3429724) Homepage
    Lots of money will continue to be made in software simply because piracy is a pain in the tuckus. If you come right down to it, most software hasn't really gotten that much more expensive over the years.

    Take games for example. They still usually cost around $50 bucks, just like they have for years. I pay $50 dollars for my tax program every year now because, after all, what's $50 bucks? 10 years ago it cost the same and we used to get 5 people together and pay $10 bucks each. Now we just buy it because it's more of a nuisance to pirate than it is to just pony up the cash.

    Games are relatively cheap too. If you use a pirated version, half the time you're having problems like, "I need the latest 1.09 patch for such and such bug/feature but it breaks my 1.07 pirated no-cd version". It's just easier to buy it than it is to go surfing warez sites/kazaa, etc. My time is more valuable than that.....surfing for warez takes time away from gaming. ;-)
  • by johnburton ( 21870 ) <> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:10PM (#3429739) Homepage
    Well even the GPL license states that you can't just copy the software without agreeing to the license agreement, and so it's pretty safe to assume that unless you know otherwise that it's "piracy" to just copy the software. That's true for both "commercial" and "free" software - you need to agree to the license (including paying any fees etc.) to be able to copy the software legally. As most "non-computer" people have little idea about how their software is actually licensed, it's probably fair to assume they don't know the difference between free software and pirated software. We might not like that level of ignorance, but I suspect it's true.
  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:11PM (#3429752) Homepage
    Why do they insist on equating an illegal copy with a stolen copy. The "thief" in the stolen copy case has not deprived the owner of the copyright of anything, the victim still has everything he had before the "theft"

    Here we go - in very tiny words for you, ok?

    You go into a store. Software Product A is sitting on the shelf for $10.

    You go around to your friend's house. Software Product A is copied to you for free.

    Producer of Software Product A has now lost a $10 sale.

    Whether you would have bought it for $10 or not is irrelevant - you made a copy, so it obviously has value to you.

    Therefore, you are depriving the software company of their profit on that product.

    If you disagree with this, then fine, disagree with the software company too - and DON'T USE or COPY THEIR PRODUCT.

  • Yeah, industry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:12PM (#3429761)
    For Microsoft the "industry" probably consists of sales centers. I'm romanian, Microsoft employs lots of romanian software developers, but not in Romania. They have to go to the USA.

    Don't get me wrong: piracy is bad. On the other hand, Microsoft should keep a low profile when talking about software industry in Eastern Europe.
  • Re:Eastern Europe? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:13PM (#3429767) Homepage Journal
    Your right.
    You know how MS got so popular? People took copies home from work, installed it on ther machines so they could 'work' from home.

    My 98 system went down this weekend, lost everything. I went to reinstall Ofice 98. Turns out there where in the box that got lost when we moved. You think I'm going to buy my next copy?
  • Re:full text (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:14PM (#3429772)
    I would rather refer to it as "The day the U.S.A finally fucking woke up and realised that the rest of the fucking world hates them"

    Calling it "nine-one-one" is also as retarded as the USian ass-backward date system. To the rest of the civalised world (The part of the world that fucking hates the U.S.A), the date was 11/09/01.
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:23PM (#3429844) Homepage
    "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.

    I assume here they are referring to "warez". And yes, you will get a LOT of hits if you put that into a search engine. However, before you get TOO excited about it, understand that 99 times out of 100, you're more likely to find porn than pirated software if you actually visit any of those sites. Its a completely meaningless association.

    The majority of "warez" trading is done through IRC or usenet. Yet those who are striving to rid the internet of piracy rarely mention these treasure troves. Certainly they get mentioned as the breeding ground for evil "hackers" and for child porn distribution, but as far as piracy goes, they tend to stay rather mum about it.

    Could it be that their only real mission is one of sensationalism? They know for a fact that the average clueless newbie will do a hunt for pirated software on the web (because as far as they know, the web IS the internet), and will be disillusioned by all the porn websites, banners, and popups that they will figure its more trouble than its worth. They might trade with their friends and download some mp3's off Morpheus, but that will be the limit of their piracy activities.

    However, if lots of news articles spent a great deal of time complaining about the rampant piracy on IRC and usenet and other places, then that clueless newbie might actually decide for once that a clue isn't such a bad thing and venture into that world. "What do you mean that IE can't go there???" But once entrenched in that world, they'll be very difficult to "retrain".

    The public at large has been convinced by and large that child pornography and hacking are indeed "Bad things (tm)" and will probably avoid those places that distribute them. But software piracy hasn't reached that degree of evil in most people's eyes. So they will to some small degree actually seek it out. And deep down, there's probably an even bigger fear. Their preverbial sheep might stumble across something dangerous. "What's this here linux thing all about???"

    ok. Fine. Mod me down. :)

  • by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:29PM (#3429900)
    Comments like yours do more to hurt than to help with this problem.

    Ok, if you're going to mark /. as the root of all evil then at least explain yourself.

    Secondly, Yes, a lot of people are under the impression that open source means "free as in beer" because it DOES! Look at Freshmeat or SourceForge and try to find some pay products. The percentage probably can't get measures in whole numbers.

    Lastly, who the hell that reads /. or knows what open source is, doesn't know that Linux is an OS and not an idea or an action.
  • Re:full text (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:32PM (#3429917) Journal
    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

    Downright misleading. Search for "warez", get a million hits, trumpet about how software is being stolen. "We can't estimate...but we found". If you can't estimate it, why are you spitting out these meaningless figures, other than to feed the press? I think the best counterclaim would be to have people follow the top, say, hundred links and see what percentage of those pages *actually* contain links to pirated files. Be interesting, actually.

    There are legitimate numbers that could have been given. The number of Hotline servers serving files containing given strings. The percentage of computers without licenses found when MS audits are conducted. The "number of times transferred" statistic some IRC file serving bots put out. Number of napster or gnutella hits for a search for the name of a piece of software. Call me naive, but it seems that if piracy is as big a problem as the BSA is telling everyone, they should be able to come up with some meaningful statistics.

    I also love the BSA's emphasis of organized crime. Most software is pirated through organized crime? Please. Oh, maybe in China or Russia, and I don't live in eastern Europe, so I can't really say there. But in the US (and, I would assume, western Europe), the BSA likes holding up the Mafia on one hand and asking legislators "Don't you want to stop this?" Most software pirated in the US is from casual copying, end of story.

    Now, all this doesn't mean that piracy isn't a real, legitimate problem. But that release has as much spin on it as I've ever seen.

    As for the token handed to Linux, I don't know why that was in there, unless it was to try to split up the groups of people (pirates, OSS folks) who don't really approve of the BSA.

    I don't know if Microsoft is evil, but a search for "microsoft evil" on google spits out a quarter million results...:-)
  • Funny numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:35PM (#3429941)
    "The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost $3bn to pirates."

    I am always curious where they actually come up with these numbers. Some kid in his basement downloading a $3,000 software package hasn't actually cost the industry anything b/c he wouldn't have bought it anyway. Now if a company like IBM bought 1 copy of office and installed on every corporate desktop then I think that is a real problem. The real question is how many companys are really in gross violations of the current laws?
  • You missed a step (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:35PM (#3429942) Journal
    You go into a store. Software Product A is sitting on the shelf for $10.

    You decide that Product A isn't worth $10 to you. (The step you missed)

    You go around to your friend's house. Software Product A is copied to you for free.

    Producer of Software Product A has now lost a $10 sale.

    Oops, except that the producer wouldn't have had that sale anyway. So while the revenue lost to unauthorized redistribution is probably non-zero, it is ceratinly not the total retail value of the number of unauthorized copies.
  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:45PM (#3430014) Homepage Journal

    Why does the Topic say the lawyer said "is not piracy" when the text of the submission does not use these words? In fact, the text says: "Brad Smith as saying: 'Linux is a way of developing software whereas piracy is copying.'"

    Could be just me, but I don't see the words "is not piracy" in there. We couldn't be bothered to use the actual words I suppose?

  • My Favorite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pb ( 1020 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @01:46PM (#3430021)
    "A healthy market leads to more attractive prices for consumers".

    By this standard, I suppose the music industry and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the software industry are "unhealthy". In fact, this makes piracy look pretty attractive, unless these "attractive prices" are cheaper than "free".

    Obviously, the reason we have piracy is *because* the current prices aren't "more attractive". Also, not everyone who pirates a program really needs it, especially not for the price that it is selling at.

    This goes double for programs that have free alternatives; most people don't really need that new copy of Photoshop 6, but why bother learning about The Gimp when you can just pirate the industry standard? Actually, bundling free alternatives to commercial software would be a good way to decrease piracy, but I doubt that most companies would agree to this, because it might also decrease *SALES*, which is all they really care about. They don't care about their customers, just their money...
  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:01PM (#3430110) Homepage Journal
    Oh, and you can be sure that they think that a machine with Linux preinstalled is an OS-free machine.

    ...but as Linux users, we know better. It is, in fact, a free OS machine.
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:01PM (#3430115)
    Micro$oft has a monopoly. What's worse is they use those powers regularly in a way that is not productive to the consumer or, IMO, the computer industry. However, /. cannot get into the belief that software piracy is *not* a bad thing. Especially when it is commercial piracy (shrink wrapping copied/conterfeit products). The observation that sales are increasing has nothing to do with whether piracy is good/bad or affecting/not affecting the market.

    I'm surprised that the /. community gets up in arms over gpl violations but thinks piracy against the evil empire is somehow less bad. There are better ways to work for a better (more fair) computer industry.

  • Re:So did you (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:04PM (#3430129) Homepage
    If it's not worth $10 to you, why are you making a copy? What possible value could that copy have to you?

    Clearly, less than $10, but more than nothing. But if I have already decided not to pay for a copy of the software, then logically no action on my part can possibly lose the firm in question a sale. This is self-evidently true. Of course, it depends on whether I would have bought a copy if I was unable to make a copy illegally.

    I bet you go to car dealerships and drive cars off the lot that are 'too expensive' for you too.

    An imbecilic analogy. If someone steals a car, someone loses a car: a zero-sum game. If, however, someone copies information, the original copy still exists.

    Whatever. I thought Adam Waring was funnier anyway.
  • by peddrenth ( 575761 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:09PM (#3430160) Homepage
    Or as the shareholders would say:

    "You say you lost $3 billion to piracy eh?
    Can we see this figure on your balance sheet?
    Let's see how your share-price reacts to the loss of so much money.
  • by gdyas ( 240438 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:10PM (#3430166) Homepage

    To sum up the numbers from the article, the Euro software industry currently makes about 35bln pounds ($51bln USD), and say they're losing about 3bln pounds (4.4bln USD). So, about 8.6% is going down the drain, theoretically, due to piracy, putting aside quibbles about how they did the numbers, etc.

    What I want to consider here are two things. First, the cost v. benefit of pursuing pirates, and second, the likelihood of cost improvement for the general software-buying public if piracy were eliminated.

    As far as piracy is concerned, once you get past business-level piracy of software and get down to kids in their rooms trading programs, I'd say it becomes impossible. You simply can't police everyone all the time. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing -- maybe today's pimple-faced thief is tomorrow's well-off software purchaser? Software companies, none of whom are hurting, shouldn't let their lawyers obsess about kids in front of their computers.

    Second and last, does anyone really think that if they were able to truly get rid of piracy across the board that they'd lower their prices to give you, the honest software buyer, a better deal? Even if they did, that discount in price would never be lower than the amount of piracy currently projected, meaning that a $50 program would only become a $46 program.

    Software companies are stuck in a situation where they have to make their product both useful and try to prevent people from stealing it because it's easy to steal. Most people are honest, though, and because of this they make money. Basically, none of them were ignorant of the piracy situation, which has been the same since Win3.1, so they should quit their whining about how the market should be and work in the market that is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:19PM (#3430223)
    Only if by 'free marketplace of ideas' you mean that you get to use everyone else's ideas while providing none of your own which is what the average software pirate is.
  • Re:News To Me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:22PM (#3430243)
    ("Eight bucks for a Kiss album? Fuck that, man!")

    Man, I totally agree. They're not even worth the diskspace.

    Obviously, you've never seen the LP version of the double album "Kiss Alive II". I still have the copy I bought 25 years ago. It folds out to show a vivid color 24x12 inch live concert photo with the band raised on hydraulic platforms in front truly impressive array of fireworks and huge orange fireballs. It contains a 12x12 inch book detailing the "Evolution of Kiss". It has two nice big 12 inch vinyl platters. I think it came with some 24x24 inch Kiss posters, but I've lost those over the years.

    This package had real value that is still interesting today. I think that side IV even has some good music on it.

    I'd bet if you bought the CD version today, you'd be lucky to get 4 inch sheet of paper with the list of titles on it.

    I think the record companies hurt themselves when they started selling $17 products that have almost zero value-add over a bootleg copy.

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:26PM (#3430264)
    My argument is the same no matter the size of the company. The fictional 'Bob' does exist, bot 'Bob' is different depending on the price of the product. 'Bob' for "The Sims" might be a 10 year old who's mother won't buy the software for him, where 'Bob' for something expensive like "Photoshop" might be a 30 year old guy making $10 and hour who wants to edit a picture or two in his spare time, but can't spare the $600 for the commercial product. There's no difference between software form a large company or a small company in this respect.

    My reasoning is math. The numbers add up. Yes it's wrong to pirate software, but the software companies are only loosing money on some pirates, not all of them.

    I'm not saying you should be sympathetic with software pirates, and I'm not saying the BSA shouldn't go after companies that are pirating software ('are' should be emphasized in that sentence). I'm just saying that it's lying to say that software companies are loosing $x times the number of pirated copies of their software where 'x' is the amount of revenue they take in on each copy sold.
  • by Boulder Geek ( 137307 ) <> on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:29PM (#3430278)
    A number of people are answering this with the "I wouldn't have bought it anyway, so no one lost a sale" argument. That's bullshit and it's an attempt to justify piracy -- I'm not going to do that. Piracy is illegitimate and it is freeloading, there's no legitimate excuse for piracy.
    I believe your analysis is flawed. All anyone is saying is that each act of "piracy" does not represent a lost sale. Key phrase (which you conviently ignore): I wouldn't have bought the thing anyway, at least not at that price. I haven't noticed anyone saying that it is ok to illegally copy software, just that it doesn't cost a sale. I happen to agree with this position, even though I do not illegally copy software. Well, most of the time: occaissionally I've been forced to make what is technically an illegal copy of Windows. But I fixed that by going to Linux for most of my day-to-day work.

    The case of mass illegal copying of software in China (AFAIK, the worst case) is a different matter, as is the practice of buying a limited number of licenses at a business or government office and then using far more copies than are licensed. In the first case, revenue is being generated, but the developer is not getting paid. In the second, the organization has a contract that they are violating. There are laws against both cases, and the BSA is trying to enforce them. Although I disapprove strongly of their tactics, I believe that they are well within their rights to attempt to enforce licenses. After all, even Evil Empires should be paid for their products.

    #pragma old_geezer_mode=on
    Way back in the old days, Borland had a product called "Turbo Pascal", when it came out it had copy protection and a horrible license agreement. After getting raked over the coals by lots of people, they cut the price, dropped the copy protection and horrific license and TP became one of the most popular development products of all time. I actually worked in support for TP, and the official company position was "We don't condone illegal copying, but at our price point we feel it doesn't matter." We'd even answer support calls from illegal copiers, but it was always fun to refer one of these guys to a particular page in the manual, and listen to them squirm ;-)
    #pragma old_geezer_mode=off

    "Pirates" are generally customers who's price point you haven't met (who said that, anyway?). This is the problem that many BSA members need to address. On the flip side, any educational/non-profit organization that doesn't switch to open source solutions will likely run afoul of them, with extremely negative consequences.

  • by Banner ( 17158 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:38PM (#3430343) Journal

    They go on about how 'teenagers in bedrooms' are 'selling' other people's software. This is such a distortion of the truth.

    The 'Hacked' versions aren't being sold by anyone, they're being given away. If they were being sold that would be an even more serious offense.

    Secondly, MOST of the 'pirated' software wouldn't have been 'purchased' if it wasn't free! Most people downloading this stuff would NEVER EVER buy it, they DL it, look at it, and maybe use it. But if they had to PAY for it, they'd just do without. So the lost sales estimates are probably about 90 percent off.

  • by kingbill ( 562267 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @02:53PM (#3430476)
    I want more anti-piracy protection on Microsoft software. I have several friends I've been trying to convince to use Linux for a while now. The problem is they already know Windows and they all got it for free.

    I try to tell them it would be better not to pirate, but they don't listen. None of these guys would buy Microsoft products. They're all poor college students like me. Software piracy is the only thing keeping Windows alive with college and high school students. If anti-piracy methods became really effective, Microsoft products would lose the rising generation. That would be swell. Microsoft being able to enforce anti-piracy measures is the thing that will make Linux a viable alternative on the desktop.

  • Re:Funny numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:09PM (#3430618) Homepage
    "The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost $3bn to pirates."

    I am always curious where they actually come up with these numbers. Some kid in his basement downloading a $3,000 software package hasn't actually cost the industry anything b/c he wouldn't have bought it anyway. Now if a company like IBM bought 1 copy of office and installed on every corporate desktop then I think that is a real problem. The real question is how many companys are really in gross violations of the current laws?

    I have no idea how they arrive at that number, but in reality ever copy of software that is downloaded (and used, so they people that just trade software and never use any of it don't count) usually costs someone something. If someone needs a photo editing program and they d/l a cracked copy of Photoshop, they most probably would not have paid for Photoshop, so they rightly did not cost Adobe $500 (or whatever the going rate is). Of course this is not always true, but in a general sense. It is the makers of the Gimp and small apps like Paint Shop Pro that have really lost the money (okay, Gimp lost users not money, but they still lost something). These people probably can't afford Photoshop and probably wouldn't have bought it, but they probably can afford a cheaper app (or a free app) but they don't use it because they can pirate Photoshop for free. If they need a photo editing app, they may not have bought Photoshop, but they would have bought something if they really needed it. But instead they bought nothing, choosing to get a pirated version instead. So no, ever person who d/ls and uses a cracked copy of Photoshop is not costing Adobe $500, but they are costing the smaller companies and free software instead.
  • Re:News To Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Afrosheen ( 42464 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:10PM (#3430634)
    A million sites, 999,999 of which were links to other links with porn popups and redirects to another link page with 'vote for top 50 to continue' that takes you to another porn site. Yeah, great research fellas. Anyone can type 'warez' in a search engine and come up with crap, but it takes an honest effort and lots of digging to come up with sites that actually have anything.
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:13PM (#3430657)
    " It has actually gotten more expensive."

    Prove this statement. I dare you.

    Go back and check the price of the original DOS, the original Windows... Windows 95 and so on. The price of the OS has remained almost constant as long as I can remember.

    Then if you go and compare the price of Microsoft's offerings to other comparable products in the industry you'll see software has gotten drastically cheaper because of Microsoft.
  • by zangdesign ( 462534 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:15PM (#3430685) Journal
    Negotiable price? What, are we back on the barter system (I'll give you one hog for your software product)?

    The price is negotiable in the sense that market demand will either force a price downward as demand decreases or upward as demand increases. Whether or not "Bob" can afford the software has nothing to do with it.

    Macromedia has specified that their selling price is $499 and just because Bob cannot afford the cost of Flash then he is certainly not entitled to copy or steal the product.

    Again, "justifiable" price is a subjective term. But the price, according to the law, is the value of the product, and therefore the loss is equal to the number of pirated copies times the price.

    By your argument, I would be justified in taking your car if you refused to negotiate on a price I could afford.
  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:25PM (#3430820)

    The beef isn't that IE is bundled with the ``desktop''. It's that IE is being pushed as part of the operating system.

    And your KDE comment is wrong as well for a couple of reasons:

    1. The browser may be ``bundled'' with the desktop but I am not forced to use it. I can delete it. I can remove the icons. I can remove the references to it from all of the desktop menus. Try that with IE and Windows; it's difficult.

    2. The desktop is not part of the operating system. I can use something other than KDE. Or no ``desktop'' at all and still have the ability to use a browser. Heck, if I don't want graphics I can omit the desktop altogether and still browse. Try that with Windows; it's not possible any more.

    Don't try to equate Microsoft's comingling of IE and Windows with KDE's (or Gnome's, etc.) bundling. It's not the same thing.

  • by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @03:42PM (#3431015)
    Oh, this is just too good.

    "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.

    I believe the "code word" is WAREZ and I believe that the inference was that because there are a lot of sites advertising "WAREZ" there must be a lot of piracy.

    Yes, there are an awful lot of sites that try to sucker people in by having "WAREZ" in their site name. Most of these sites have a lot of shareware not actual pirated software. So the inference is total crap. Not that there isn't a lot of piracy just that the hit count for "WAREZ" is no proof of it.

    "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. "

    I thought they just said that "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net..." If so, how do the know that "the levels are unacceptable?"

    "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"

    Software piracy is already illegal. So what do they want to do? Make it REALLY, REALLY illegal?

    "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."

    Oh, so now we get to the crux of the matter. We're back on the "Kill Mp3s" track again. They want laws to take away fair use so that they can increase corporate profits.

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

    Then why mention it? "Look! Your shoe is untied!"

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

    Wrong again Bozo. Linux is an operating system. Someday Microsoft should try to create one.

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

    And why does he bundle the discussion of Linux in with the discussion of piracy? He's not using subtle association techniques is he?

    "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.

    So does the open source movement. You can't get a better price than free. The only problem that I see with open source is that society as a whole isn't mature enough to break out of the "take what you can get and give back nothing" attitude. We need to learn to do a better job of voluntarily supporting open source companies.
  • by extrasolar ( 28341 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @04:09PM (#3431284) Homepage Journal
    Actually, Microsoft has every right to dislike its greatest threat.

    The Linux kernal is more than just a better mouse trap. Its free software.

    I believe we are seeing the beginnings of the third and last stage of software. An age where software is largely mutually beneficial to everyone. Much as math and sciences are today and have been for a long time now.

    This stage is an unfortunate stage for software businesses. Because they can not continue to exist.

    And its not just the threat of GNU and the large body of free software either. Its economics. Even though software isn't scarce, lets assume it is for benefit of argument.

    What do you do when everyone has the software they need? This is the burden Microsoft has had for a while. So they play every trick in the book. Changing file formats -- more restrictive licensing -- regular upgrades -- huge marketing -- and the creation of new technologies. The hope is to obsolete the previous version of software.

    Problem is that this provides almost zero benefit for the customer. Sure -- every so often someone gets a fringe benefit from a new technology. But usually, people are happy with the software they have now.

    So, in economics, if the customer gets no benefit from a product, they won't buy it--right? And thats the future as I see it. "Piracy" is the least of their worries. Their business model is about to collapse upon itself.

    And the GNU/Linux operating system represents this collapse all too vividly. Microsoft, there is no hope for you.
  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @04:12PM (#3431306) Homepage
    That Microsoft could archly give a 5 month amnesty to Internet cafes in the Ukraine and Russia is shocking to me. If the governments of the Ukraine and Russia don't want to enforce IP, that's their business. If they want to grant amnesties for violations of law, that's their business too. Not Microsoft's.

    The funny thing is that so many of the fears of a World Government were that it would come from quasi-socialistic NGO's. But here, the multinationals are coming in and dictating the property model for other countries to use. What if a nation doesn't want to recognize IP as property? What does it cost Microsoft if an entire nation opts out? After all, most Russians and Ukrainians probably aren't getting *any* real benefit from intellectual property laws - how much Russian or Ukrainian-owned software do *you* use? (US companies employing coding sweatshops doesn't count - after all, the IP is owned and enforced in the US.)

  • by browser_war_pow ( 100778 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @04:24PM (#3431422) Homepage
    it sounds like socialism to the majority of people in the U.S. at least. It probably also sounds like that to those in the EU regimes that are socialists only so far as they can use socialist economics to control the lower and middle classes (ie the aristocrats that want to tax you and me 60-80% but want their yacts and porsches). And yes, I know socialism is not really the dirty word in Europe that it is in the US, but it can still influence center, right wing and the equivalent (if they even exist in Europe) of libertarians. Therefore insinuating a socialist connection with OSS can have an effective propaganda effect.
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Monday April 29, 2002 @04:33PM (#3431492) Journal
    I'm pretty paranoid about most things MS does, perhaps because of their record of back stabbing and this is no exception. In another article on one of MS' VPs in the court talking about how allowing competitors access to the desktop is not in MS' interests because "they might boot Linux" and in conjunction with the article on how MS wants the BIOS to be flashable from Windows itself, I suspect that MS has some trickery up it's sleeve. I really do suspect that MS is planning on releasing a future version of Windows or a SP that will actively prevent you from booting another OS on your PC and I think any "nice talk" from MS with respect to Linux is imply a means to an end.
  • press release (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @02:14AM (#3434217) Homepage Journal
    the article is one of those "got press release, changed a few words, printed it" pieces of "journalism". here's what I wrote to BBC in reply:

    Dear Jane Wakefield,

    In the article titled "Net pirates 'threaten software industry'", posted at 951000/1951231.stm
    on Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK, you write down a few items that I don't consider to be entirely correct, and even more that are very one-sided.

    Allow me to comment on some of these items:

    > 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.

    This sounds like an accomplishment with credits to the BSA, except that the BSA is funded by the firms mentioned, especially Microsoft. Once you check the speakers list against the BSA membership list, you realize that what appears to be a conference is, in fact, a PR meeting.
    Pointing this out to the reader would have enabled him to take the points made by these "delegates" with the grain of salt they deserve.

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

    I have always been interested in finding out just how BSA and other "independent" researchers arrive at these figures. They don't tell. Any credible claim should name its sources, shouldn't it?

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

    If I interpret "tiny fraction" as less than 10%, I'm at $30bn EVERY DAY, or about 11 trillion per year. The GDP of the UK in 2000 was $1.36 trillion. So these people are telling you that internet piracy is a business 10 times the size of the whole UK economy?
    Obviously that is, if you excuse the word, bullshit. The sentence does, however, create the impression that internet piracy is unbelievably huge.
    Even so, $30bn is more than Microsoft's worldwide net profits, and a considerable percentage of the total net earnings of europe's software industry. A claim of this size better be substantiated by serious facts and sources. Where are they?

    > "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.

    One of the "codenames" is "warez" and does indeed return about 4,230,000 hits when put into google.
    However, what kind of point does that make? "Buckingham Palace" returns 99,300 hits, but as far as I am aware, there is only one.

    More to the point, a search engine just tells you how many sites mention a given topic. Ironically, the BSA's own websites, both at and national sites such as or appear in the above-mentioned search for "warez", because they use the "bad word". A majority of the "real" warez sites are just traps with pornographic advertisement. A little research would have taken an hour or two and been quite revealing.

    Warez sites are very real. The BSA, however, having an agenda, is greatly exagerating both their number and capabilities.

    Finally, here are a few choice quotes that should have really ticked you off to the fact that the figures are made up:

    > The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe
    > lost $3bn to pirates.
    > Europe has a greater rate of piracy than the US - around 34%
    > It is forecast to grow from £35bn in 2000

    Maybe math works differently in america, but even without a calculator I can see that $3bn isn't 34% of $50bn.

    It sorries me when I see journalists lifting whole articles almost verbatim out of corporate press releases. It is especially not the kind of reporting I expect from a respectable news source like BBC.

    For the record, I am a computer security professional with a telco company. I have been working professionally on the internet for over 5 years, and I have seen the warez scene both from inside (when I was a teenager) and from the outside now that I deal with people abusing our computer resources for these purposes or help the law enforcement agencies to track criminals through our systems.

    Piracy is real, no question about it. The BSA, however, justifies its very existence by a gross exageration of the facts, and as a very interested party should not be believed too much.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments