Every so often the Business Software Alliance comes out with a press release, based on a study they paid IDC to do, where they misrepresent the issue of illegal software copying. They make huge claims that anyone with half a brain can see is incorrect. The problem is that this makes the BSA look untrustworthy. If the organization was actually willing to take a more balanced view, perhaps they would be a lot more effective. As they did earlier this year, the focus of the latest announcement is on how cracking down on illegal software copying would stimulate the economy -- and from what they're saying, they're making the exact same mistakes they made half a year ago, even though they were widely trashed last time around. Even IDC, who does the study, has said that the BSA is misrepresenting their results. The BSA pretends that every copy of software would have been bought if the copy wasn't available. That seems to be their basis for saying it would help stimulate economies. They say things like: "Some companies know they are losing 40 percent of their business. If they could recoup that, they could employ more people." Indeed, any company would like to sell more product -- but many of the people copying software could never afford it, and never would buy it -- so it's pretty difficult to say they're really "losses." At the same time, the BSA seems to completely discount the other side of the equation. That is, companies who are illegally copying software are saving money that they can then invest in hiring more people. Also having the software often makes companies more productive, thereby helping the economy. This isn't, in any way, to condone illegal software copying. It's just to point out that there are two sides to the question of what it's doing to the economy, and by completely pretending the other side doesn't exist and that every piece of copied software is a lost sale, the BSA is making an argument that everyone (except much of the press, unfortunately) knows is ridiculous. It doesn't do their argument any favors. If they were willing to study the real impacts, both pro and con, and came out with a balanced report, that would be very interesting and might give everyone some real insight into how to better stimulate economies. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to happen.
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