BSA: Bogus Stats as Always

from the why-won't-the-press-report-it? dept

Ah, it's the middle of May, and that means it's time for the Business Software Alliance to come out with their bogus yearly stats on how much unauthorized copies of software are costing the industry. Two years ago, after the numbers came out, even the company that did the research for the BSA (research firm IDC) publicly said that the BSA was trying to mislead the public by claiming that every unauthorized copy was a "lost sale." Even having said that, it didn't stop the research firm from doing the same research again last year, only to see the BSA again misrepresent the results. At least last year, a few commentators called on the BSA to stop the scaremongering. It appears such calls didn't have any effect. No wonder we thought that the BSA representative at last month's CATO Institute conference wasn't listening to what everyone else said. It's becoming clear that the BSA is focused on saying whatever it wants to say -- and facts just get in the way. So, it's no surprise to see the reports coming out with this year's bogus stats claiming that losses due to unauthorized copies continues to rise (once again, the numbers were compiled by IDC, who seems to have no problem with the BSA misrepresenting their work year after year). Of course, what BSA representatives are out saying about the results makes this even more ridiculous. The BSA claims that all of these "lost sales" represent real harm to the economy. It's the same bogus argument they've trotted out before, which is easily debunked. Much of that unauthorized software is being used to make firms much more productive than they would be otherwise -- probably benefiting the overall economy quite a bit. However, it's no surprise that a firm that won't recognize that not every copy is a lost sale won't recognize that the economy may be impacted in other ways.


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    thegc, May 23rd, 2006 @ 3:44am

    Me First

    The BSA is a bunch of douche bags. I felt that they were full of crap oh so many years ago when they tried to make n00bie computer users believe that they were some sort of government recognized agency or arm of the law. BSA is RIAA without the flash...still stupid, still slants things to their favor, and still picks on the little people.

     

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    I, for one., May 23rd, 2006 @ 3:48am

    Many a true word...

    "how much software is costing the industry."

    So much truth in that Freudian mother.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2006 @ 4:20am

    Does anyone else remember the good 'ole days when software came with instructions for making backup coppies?

    Or when shareware authors were happy that people were trying their product?

    Or when you could go to a movie without wanting your money back at the end?

    *AA,et al like to compare IP to physical property, yet have you ever tried to get a refund for IP? I have never been anywhere where you didn't have at least 30 days to take it back becuase it didn't live up to expectations. But you buy a software title, and no matter how missleading the advertising, stores offer, at best, exchange for the same title only.


    Whats next, car dealerships claiming a stolen car every time someone takes a test drive?

    Not that I care much for comparisons between IP violations and physical theft, but alas, I am not the one publishing the numbers.

     

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      Brian A., May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:57am

      Re: IP Refund

      This may be a little off topic, but I'm more inclined to buy the "try it before you buy it" mentality given that there is in fact no refund for crappy software you buy. Even if software is viewed as a "service" and not a product there is still a serious lack of consumer service.

      If I pay a guy to come out and paint my house and he does a crappy job obviously he can't take the time and materials back. However we can come to an agreement about possibly remedies to the problem. He can either redo the work, or cut me a break on the price or some other deal.

      As it stands now if I install Microsoft Windows or some other 3rd party package on my computer and it blows up or doesn't work I am SOL. MS isn't going to take back the product, and they sure as heck aren't going to refund my money. Most software makers want to end the relationship the second you accept the EULA and authorize the product. Need extended tech support? It’ll cost ya. Need a backup copy? It’ll cost you. Need to upgrade because your old product is horribly incompatible with core features of the OS? It’ll cost ya.

      Granted, to some software providers credit they DO allow trial runs, and I’m much more likely to use their products than some locked down, “you’re all criminals”, software company’s product. But I’m also not surprised that folks installed unauthorized copies of software for trial purposes and don’t register them, small businesses especially. Cash flow is at a premium, and most people don’t want to waste time and money on a product that isn’t going to work as advertised. The BSA is barking up the wrong tree. What they should be doing is trying to convince some of these fly-by-night software firms to clean up their act and better serve their customers.

       

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    Tom Alison, May 23rd, 2006 @ 6:27am

    lies, damn lies and statistics

    And your question was....?

     

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    nline, May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:56am

    So theft is ok?

    Much of that unauthorized software is being used to make firms much more productive than they would be otherwise -- probably benefiting the overall economy quite a bit. However, it's no surprise that a firm that won't recognize that not every copy is a lost sale won't recognize that the economy may be impacted in other ways.
    So the pirate gets to benifit and improve the economy and his sales of his product but a software publisher is supposed be denied this simply because his product is easier to replecate then say a table, a car, or a chicken sandwhich? It is hard for me to do my work without a desk, that I must purchase, a computer, who's hardware I must purchase, and the software that runs on it, which I am able to replicate but not create. No one complains about the need for me to purchase 5 desks for my staff nor the need for me to buy 5 computers. So why do people complain that I have to buy 5 copies of Excel?

     

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      Ben, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:58am

      Re: So theft is ok?

      The reason no one complaines about buying "5 computers" or "5 desks" is because Unlike IP you can't just push Ctrl-C and remake a desk 100 times in a few seconds for the cost of the electricity to run a computer. IP isn't physical, therefore someone stealing it doesn't deprive someone else from buying it. I agree that people should be paid for there work, but supply and demand don't work the same way with IP as it does with physical products. Now i do pay for all my software, but i understand the difference between IP and Physical property.

       

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      Oliver Wendell Jones, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:07am

      Re: So theft is ok?

      Why? Why do people complain about having to buy 5 copies?

      Imagine a world with Star Trek type matter replicators where you could create desks or computers out of thin air for nothing more than say $3-$5 worth of raw materials and energy.

      Now imagine that the desk and computer manufacturers want to charge you the same price for the desk and computer as they did in the pre-replicator days - their excuse now is that it takes a lot of mental effort to design a desk and/or computer and they should be equally compensated for their effort.

      Sound like BS to you? Well that's exactly what the software, music and movie industry are claiming - the cost to make an extra copy of software, music or movie is insignificant but they still think it should have a very high price because "back in the day" they charged a high price when it was too difficult to make copies (required special equipment not available to the average consumer) and they still feel they should be able to charge equally high prices.

      I refuse to pay high Microsoft prices for my software - I have my college friends buy me copies from the campus bookstore or take advantage of the "Microsoft-At-Home" purchase deals that many large corporations offer to their employees - why should I pay $300 for the latest version of Office when other people can buy legitimate copies for $15-$20?

      If instead of charging half the population $300 and the other half $15, maybe they could charge everybody $150 and then the prices wouldn't seem so bad? They might even sell MORE copies...

       

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      Jezsik, May 23rd, 2006 @ 11:20am

      Re: So theft is ok?

      No, theft is not OK. Deceiving the public is not OK either and that's exactly what the BSA is doing.

       

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      Adam, May 23rd, 2006 @ 12:11pm

      Re: So theft is ok?

      It's not that this is ok, it's that this isn't as bad as the BSA is saying. This is like saying that people who are speeding are more likely to hit a pedestrian and kill them, so people who are caught speeding should be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Speeding's still illegal, but it isn't murder.

       

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      BSD Zealot, May 23rd, 2006 @ 10:30pm

      Re: So duplication is ok?

      I'm allowed to make my own table from blank wood planks, grill my own chicken sandwich from a raw chicken breast, print my own calendar on a blank sheet of paper, why is it suddenly "theft" to burn my own CD?

      On a similar note...
      If I install OpenOffice on five desktop PC's running FreeBSD, I am depriving Microsoft of the opportunity to sell me thousands of dollars in software and support. According to the BSA, since I don't have a Windows license for each of those unix workstations, I must be guilty of theft.

       

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        dazed and confuzzled, May 24th, 2006 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re: So duplication is ok?

        I'm allowed to make my own table from blank wood planks, grill my own chicken sandwich from a raw chicken breast, print my own calendar on a blank sheet of paper, why is it suddenly "theft" to burn my own CD?

        If you actually thought up and created what ever your burning to your CD it wouldn't be theft. You own the wood, chicken, paper and CD but you don't own the IP your burning to the CD.

        On a similar note... If I install OpenOffice on five desktop PC's running FreeBSD, I am depriving Microsoft of the opportunity to sell me thousands of dollars in software and support. According to the BSA, since I don't have a Windows license for each of those unix workstations, I must be guilty of theft.

        FreeBSD is an open source free OS and most of the programing if not all is also open source and free. I really don't think BSA is saying because you own a workstation you should have a windows license, although I'll have to look that up.

         

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          Jeff Obranovich, May 24th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: So duplication is ok?

          "I really don't think BSA is saying because you own a workstation you should have a windows license."

          That is exactly what they've been saying. Please, do look it up.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2006 @ 7:53am

      Re: So theft is ok?

      The point is that NOTHING was stolen.

      If you steal, you take something someone else owns, now you have it and they don't. In this case, the origional owner still has the property. What really happened is that it was copied without the 'owner's' permission.

      The real 'crime' here is copying without permission. Calling it theft is dishonesty (yet another crime). As long as the legal attempts are based on a false premise, there will be continued problems with the enforcement. People know they are being lied to about this, that makes them against the 'owners'.

      As long as you continue to propigate the lie that this is stealing, then you are part of the problem.

      Should copying without asking for premission be equated with murder, rape, looting and destroying very expensive ships?

      That is what we are doing by calling it 'piracy'. Everybody knows it's a lie. Nobody believes it's really worse that murder. Yet the false claims go on.

      That said, it's still not right to copy without permission. So, we do have a problem, we are just not approaching it honestly. We are trying to solve the wrong problem. Maybe Stallman is right here.

       

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      Adrian, May 30th, 2006 @ 12:16am

      Re: So theft is ok?

      So theft is ok? by nline

      Firstly most of the software copied comes from a couple of big, wealthy companies. Now I know Microsoft are struggling and down to their last $50 billion, but I think they'll manage. Secondly most of the companies using this copied software are small fledgling companies that not even exist if they paid for all their software. Thirdly software is vastly more expensive that hardware and furniture. Fourthly, and most importantly, most of the software is being copied in poorer countries where people literally can only just afford to get together the money for hardware.

      No sympathy for excessively wealthy software companies that still want their pound of flesh.

       

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    charlie potatoes, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Five words for you...

    JUST FUCK YOU, TOWEL HEAD.

     

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      Ben, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:51am

      Re: Five words for you...

      so much anger.

       

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        I, for one, May 23rd, 2006 @ 7:35pm

        Re: Re: Five words for you...

        "so much anger."

        Come on Charlie sing along with us...

        I feel pretty,
        Oh, so pretty,
        I feel pretty and witty and bright!
        And I pity
        Any girl who isn't me tonight.

        I feel charming,
        Oh, so charming
        It's alarming how charming I feel!
        And so pretty
        That I hardly can believe I'm real.

         

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      pf, May 27th, 2006 @ 4:25pm

      Re: Five words for you...

      or, you know, nine.

       

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    Silver, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:47am

    I would have to agree that software publishers should get money. I also agree there should be a "trial period" Everyone has gotten software that runs poorly (if at all) or else does not do what they claim. I know a lot of people that go pirate software just to try it and then decide if they need it or not.

     

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    FM, May 23rd, 2006 @ 8:50am

    Consumers Rule

    So where's the problem? Consumers have been using Microcrap software since the days of the Commodore 64. It's our own fault, because we keep supporting the giant. There are plenty of free or low cost software packages we can use.
    It's kinda like our insane dependance on oil. Look at the alternatives people, revive consumerism, the BSA will then have to report lost sales due to, well, lost sales.

     

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    Anonymous Surfer, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:08am

    try it ??

    Just wanted to point out to the "try it out" people that most software you might pirate has a trial version of for free. So the try it pirate really doesn't float that well.

     

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      Xanthir, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:30am

      Re: try it ??

      A lot of software does *not* have a trial version.

      A lot of software that does have a trial version *actually* has a severely crippled version that they let you try in return for demographic information.

      If you want to know if your company can actually benefit from the software, you often need the full version, or at least more of it than you can get in their 'trial'.

       

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      Andy, May 30th, 2006 @ 12:51am

      Re: try it ??

      It floats extremely well. Much trial software is crippled, often in ways that make it impossible to evaluate the product. As a rule I do not even try such software, and I'd never pay for it.

      Furthermore trial versions often have extremely short trial periods. I need at least 60 days to truly evaluate whether a product is useful.

      Finally trail versions invariably put trash in your registry in some misguided attempt to prevent copying. Like all copy protection it doesn't work.

      In the end I use cracks on all my purchased software so I am not saddled with dongles and other pointless rubbish.

       

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    Tyshaun, May 23rd, 2006 @ 12:25pm

    try it out, yeah right...

    I've heard people use the "Oh I try something out and if I like it I'll buy it" arguement time and time again. If that were TRULY the case then groups like RIAA and BSa wouldn't be whining like babies because they would actually be selling more copies, not less. The truth is, the advent of easy file sharing has led to most people simply getting the software/media they want without paying. I know there are ethical people that don't fit this mold, but I would dare say that's the minority. If file sharing is truly a net positive for record companies and software houses, how come almost all of them are recording sales losses every year (aside from the obvious crappy product arguement, but that isn't the sole reason).

    Just playing devils advocate for a second,

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:15pm

      Re: try it out, yeah right...

      I've heard people use the "Oh I try something out and if I like it I'll buy it" arguement time and time again. If that were TRULY the case then groups like RIAA and BSa wouldn't be whining like babies because they would actually be selling more copies, not less. The truth is, the advent of easy file sharing has led to most people simply getting the software/media they want without paying.

      The truth is that people are trying before they buy and are still buying what they like. The difference is that now they are handing a member of the band a fiver and recieving a cd in a crappy paper case, not going to the mall and spending $30 for an album from an inferior (but much wealthier) artist that only has one or two good songs.

      Illegal copying costs them some money. This is obvious, but not as much as freeware and open source alternatives. Four years ago, everyone I knew had an illegal copy of office. Most of them used notepad. Now Everyone uses Open Office.

      The same thing applies to the music industry. File sharing has made it possable for a lot of bands to make a living from album sales, because people can now hear them. That is what is really costing the RIAA, and what will cost them the most in the long run. They are still trying to sell an inferior product at a much higher price, even though people now know better.

       

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      Andy, May 30th, 2006 @ 1:51am

      Re: try it out, yeah right...

      "The truth is, the advent of easy file sharing has led to most people simply getting the software/media they want without paying"

      Contrary to popular myth it was easy to get copied software long before broadband.

      Also don't forget that broadband potentially leads to downloading and hoarding, just because it is there. These are not people downloading for use. I keep encountering people with high speed connections who just download everything they encounter with no thought for whether they might even use it. Maybe 1% of what they download could represent lost potential revenue, but that is probably an extremely high estimate.

      "how come almost all of them are recording sales losses every year"

      Music - because they've reached saturation. Their sales were inflating by the switch to CD over the last decade. That's over and quite possibly unlikely to be repeated. Same applies to the VHS to DVD switch.

      Software - I'll consider Microsoft since they're the obvious candidate. Also saturation. I know many people who bought Windows 2000, but never bothered to XP because they could see no compelling reason. This is going to get worse over time as they run out of useful features to add. Even worse for Office. Most people I know still use the 2000 version because it has all the features they require.

      And there is spending spread - there are more and more options for spending your discretionary income.

      These organisations are whining because they feel they are entitled to make more money. They are asking goevernment to give them something amounts to nothing more than welfare. Extend our copyrights because we're too lazy to make new things. Make laws that force the public to pay us every time they use a product. On and on.

       

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    anonymous coward, May 23rd, 2006 @ 12:55pm

    the BSA is the RIAA without the motivation. they just whine about "the horrors of piracy". at least the RIAA is out there suing its industry's own customers!

    if i ran the BSA i would steal a couple of attorneys from the RIAA and really start raising a ruckus! wait until someone's grandma was sued for using a pirated C++ compiler! then the world would really sit up and take notice!

     

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    Brian, May 23rd, 2006 @ 12:57pm

    If they paid the same, I'd rather be a software pirate than a lying-thru-my-teeth industry spokesperson.

     

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    Joe Smith, May 23rd, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    Public fraud

    I don't believe in software piracy and I don't think that it can be rationalized. If you want to use a program but not pay for then look for one of the open source alternatives.

    On the other hand: the BSA is making deliberately false statements when they say that every pirated copy of a program is a lost sale. It should be illegal for those companies to make such false statements through their trade organizations, just as it would be illegal if the individual companies made the same statements in their annual reports to shareholders.

     

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    Brian, May 27th, 2006 @ 3:57pm

    I'm supposed to buy what?

    the reason i dont buy software (minus a few small programs every now & again) is because most of them are COMPLETE PIECES OF SHIT!!!

    I am supposed to pay $400 for an unsecure, bulky,buggy copy of Windows XP? An os that has destroyed several partitons of data during instalation despite the fact that i never told it to do anything to the partition..... who constantly comprimises my data because they cant seem to get their security flaws fixed before they release their OS to the public........
    I am supposed to pay for the infamously buggy Word? A program that doesnt do what its supposed to do half the time & does many things that you dont want without asking you?
    Am I supposed to pay for a copy of Finale? A program so badly written that it makes word look good?
    Am i supposed to pay for Norton Antivirus? A program that uses so much cpu time & memory (especially if you install the entire suite) just running basic processes it might as well be a virus.........
    There are far to many programs that are simply badly tested, buggy programs put out (knowingly) before theyre ready & because theyre ok enough to make some money off some computer illiterate consumer.....


    Do I own copies of Photoshop, The Propellerhead Suite, Sonic Foundary Software, Nod32 (antivirus)? Yes i most certainly do.... their software is well tested, well written & ulitmately useful......


    Will i ever pay for a copy of windows or norton or finale or the myriad of others? Not until they ditch the buggy pieces of shit they call attempt to call "programs" & rewrite them from the ground up so they work......


    maybe this is the reason why people dont like buying software not just because they can get stuff for free........ maybe its just the same as why the movie & music industries are loosing customers..... its possible that on some level people realize what theyre being sold......... & people dont like paying for (artificially inflated) overpriced garbage.....................

    all you antipiracy people....... stop wasting your time & efforts justifying companies that are putting out horrible software......... stop wasting your money buying this crap out of some moral richeousness.... & ultimately think before you talk...........................

     

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    Jim Hartley, May 27th, 2006 @ 4:10pm

    ET Phone Home

    There is a persistent rumor going around that the phone number for the BSA

    is 1-800-GET-LINUX

    (Well, if it isn't, it SHOULD BE!!)

     

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    Booba, May 27th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    Buy Windows XP for 2 months wage ??? I think NOT!

    Who the hell would pay a couple of months wages for Windows XP ??? This is what is costs in some of the countries where piracy is high. If they weren't using these software for free, they wouldn't be using anything at all so how is it a "lost sale" ??? What a load of crap!

     

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    anonymous coward..., May 27th, 2006 @ 5:16pm

    sure

    Sick of it.
    Let's take MS word. MS said recently that most users used only 20% of its features.
    LEt's do it. Tomorrow, only legal software can work on people computers. What will happen?
    Someone will sell you software for dirt cheap that can do those 20%. Nobody will buy a full licence. Same for windows, photoshop, etc.
    The problem is that right now there is no market for such software. Let's face it: it's so easy to find a key on the web so why would you buy software, even cheap?

    Piracy protects the interest of large software companies by preventing competition.
    If large corporations really think that they are being robbed because 35% of the world software is illegal, why don't they spend real ressources to prevent piracy? Why is all their software only protected by serial numbers (+ an activation number generated by the keygen)? Come on, get some real stuff going to protect your interests: trusted computing, hardware keys, etc.
    Go ahead, make it a hassle to use pirated software.
    Promote competition that will bring software price down.
    It's sickening.

     

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      Dan, May 30th, 2006 @ 2:30am

      Re: sure

      "Come on, get some real stuff going to protect your interests: trusted computing, hardware keys, etc.
      Go ahead, make it a hassle to use pirated software."

      I think you mean make it a hassle to use legal software.

      Also all that protection adds to the their costs which they pass onto the poor suckers dumb enough to buy their software.

      Meanwhile the protections get removed anyway so those using illegal copies get to use the software without worrying about failed dongles, hunting for CDs or software that won't run because they might have some other software that might possibly allow the use of copied software.

      A few years ago I had potentially four weeks of downtime due to a failed dongle. It took two weeks to get a replacement, which didn't work, and another two to get a second replacement. I don't even know if that one works because after the first week I had a friend find me a crack. When the first replacement arrived I removed the crack and tried the dongle, when the second one arrived I locked it away and just stuck with the crack. No more downtime. That week of downtime cost me $50,000. The software company's attitude was tough, not their problem, they need the hardware protection because it prevents copying. I laughed in their face, and informed them I'd never buy their products again.

       

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    anonymous coward..., May 27th, 2006 @ 5:16pm

    sure

    Sick of it.
    Let's take MS word. MS said recently that most users used only 20% of its features.
    LEt's do it. Tomorrow, only legal software can work on people computers. What will happen?
    Someone will sell you software for dirt cheap that can do those 20%. Nobody will buy a full licence. Same for windows, photoshop, etc.
    The problem is that right now there is no market for such software. Let's face it: it's so easy to find a key on the web so why would you buy software, even cheap?

    Piracy protects the interest of large software companies by preventing competition.
    If large corporations really think that they are being robbed because 35% of the world software is illegal, why don't they spend real ressources to prevent piracy? Why is all their software only protected by serial numbers (+ an activation number generated by the keygen)? Come on, get some real stuff going to protect your interests: trusted computing, hardware keys, etc.
    Go ahead, make it a hassle to use pirated software.
    Promote competition that will bring software price down.
    It's sickening.

     

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    Daniel, May 27th, 2006 @ 5:23pm

    Where do you invest your time?

    There's a lot that can be done for open source projects: artwork, interface design, and yes, programming. Why not make the BSA irrelevant and invest time in making the software that's open to everyone instead of cracking and copying software? It's better return in the long run.

    I guarantee you that the companies behind the BSA are more scared of open source than they are of piracy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2006 @ 7:32pm

      Re: Where do you invest your time?

      "There's a lot that can be done for open source projects: artwork, interface design, and yes, programming. Why not make the BSA irrelevant and invest time in making the software that's open to everyone instead of cracking and copying software? It's better return in the long run.

      I guarantee you that the companies behind the BSA are more scared of open source than they are of piracy."

      Because some people just want their computer to work.

       

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    Tom T, May 27th, 2006 @ 7:52pm

    Protecting their turf

    BSA employees are forcing publicity... so they can go back to their (funding) member companies and remind them of what a great job they're doing. They get paid to protect the IP of people that sponser them. If they make up stats, that's OK (it's not like people take them seriously, except senators that don't have a clue).

    And their members choose to hire idiots.

     

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    A noni mus, May 27th, 2006 @ 7:59pm

    In My Humble Opinion

    where do I start?

    Software developers like people in any craft should be paid for their work. In the case of Software today though its very different.

    Big software companies have gained a major foot hold and an unfair advantage due to mostly savvy marketing (plus consumers swallowing their stuff up).
    After which they control the market for the most "widely used software" and therefore can charge whatever price for it.

    I know a lot of people who would PAY for said software at its current price if EVEN the licensing was more fair. It's true what Booba said I pay 2 months wage for 1 (ONE) license!!!??? Most people in the countries mentioned couldnt even afford 1 copy. Lost sales? Please! These countries mostly try the software get familiarized (in other words dependant) with it and when they need to, eventually they ARE GOING TO GET the licenesed expensive version so it translates into sales where there would be none. The people who get caught and fined exubarant sums are just for show. Then they do'nt have enough money to start up again and these software companies lose out HAH!

    Yes we are all contributing to this cycle. Realisticly people would love to use OS but they do'nt have a killer app yet. Make the next HL2 quality game for open source only and you would have a LOT of dual boot systems which could be a start....

     

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    Cal Little, May 28th, 2006 @ 12:01am

    Re: Re: Where do you invest your time?

    "Because some people just want their computer to work."

    Yes, and they are running one of the *nix variants. These, including Mac OSX, are your stable alternatives to the M$ bugfest. You most likely meant that they want something that will install any bad, buggy software you want easily and might manage to run it half a day without crashing. I have heard XP is better in this respect, but I doubt it can match the stability of my home server running SuSe Linux that I shut down for upgrades after 7 months of 24/7 operation. There is admittedly more work in the initial configuration of some applications in the *nix environment, but the trade off is well worth it. The problem in open source comes in the number of choices. There are too many available for most people. There are over 120,000 open software projects at SourceForge for *nix. M$ gives you half baked applets tied irrevocably to their OS. This is a great aid to the unthinking. Most people never need much more, so M$ makes tons-o-bucks for proving the old Russian proverb: Whether the water is salt or fresh, sh*t floats.

     

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    Coeurderoy, May 28th, 2006 @ 1:59am

    The real pb with conterfeited copies

    The real pb with "pirates" that use unpaid versions of software made by BSA clients is that they actually reinforce the monopolies of said clients.
    For instance today Vietnam used 90% of "stolen" copies of sofware, wich show how incredibly stupid they are.
    They could use free software but they are under the impression that a stollen copy of a "for pay" software has more value than a "free" software (not that they ever tried the free version).
    So when their economy becomes a little bit better they will HAVE to upgrade to "for really pay" versions of what they allready use.
    And today the BSA clients do not loose anything since they do not have the money anyway to pay.
    ---------------
    BTW what do you expect from an organization wich calls itself the:
    Bull S*** Association.

     

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    Modemac, May 28th, 2006 @ 6:08am

    Earlier this month, Hollywood used the BSA's scare tactics to claim that movie piracy (especially online file-sharing) is costing the film industry over $6 billion per year. Since the "official" stats show that in 1995, the total box office revenue was in the range of $8 to $10 billion, that means that Hollywood must be on the verge of bankruptcy -- they're losing over 50% of their revenue to piracy! IF the statistics are to be believed, that is.

    Maybe they hired the BSA to do their figures.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2006 @ 6:17am

    MS is BUILT on piracy

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2006 @ 6:35am

    MS is BUILT on piracy

    How do you think MS acquired the market share they have in developing countries and the third world? When Windows v3.xx came out, everybody wanted to have a look and got hold of a copy (pirated, 95% of the time), but no one could afford it in the private sector. In doing so they unknowingly (at the time) got more and more dependant on it. A lot of them might not have thought that it would be a problem for them to go back to whatever software they were using beforehand.

    But the landscape changed, and where they once could run their favourite DOS apps thru Windows, later versions of Windows made it more difficult to do that and they had to make a choice, and most chose Windows and stated getting locked in. Only then did Microsoft address the piracy issue, and many were by now so dependent in Windows, they had to buy a copy. The BSA is part of this strategy, backing up the logical (software key) security with a real world threat.

    In reality MS is a drug pusher, and relies on piracy to provide that first "free hit". When the user gets more dependent, the grip tightens and the price goes up. Some of us have been to rehab and stayed clean, some have been to rehab a few times already. Like a trapped junkie, we complain about the price, but keep using, even turning to theft (piracy) for another free hit, hoping to recapture that first euphoria.

    Would Microsoft have been where they are today without piracy? No chance. We just saved them billions in distribution and marketing costs with word-of-mouth marketing and piracy. That gave them market penetration in places they would never have reached otherwise.

     

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    Thomas, May 28th, 2006 @ 9:18am

    IP??

    First off, IP doesn't exist. Intellectual property really isn't property in the same sense as the computer I am using is.

    The problem with "IP" is that in all cases it goes back into public domain after some number of years. I am not aware of _any_ form of property that does that. Usually the owner controls it until a sale or utlimately the property disintegrates.

    Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks are more like state sanctioned monopolies over the covered item. In all cases, there is a way of invalidating them or using them without the owners permission i.e. fair use and similar.

    My parents own a house, The neighbor down the street doesn't have any "fair use" rights on the property. Which is why the only portion of the property that has a need for use by other people, the sidewalk, is owned by the city.

    I don't personally make use of software or music without having licensed it as appropriate, for the simple reason that there are almost always other options to proprietary software, or the makers of the software allow a proper trial period. I don't mind paying for software, I just expect that it will work reliably and not cost 6 times what it is worth.

     

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    Computer game cheats, hints and tips, May 28th, 2006 @ 9:30am

    BSA

    As poster #41 pointed out - without piracy of Microsoft's products we wouldn't be in the position we are today with a monopoly (which does more harm in the long run).

     

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    nathaniel, May 28th, 2006 @ 9:30am

    pirating can also lead to sales

    Another point you have to consider is how many students and freelancers may be pirating and learning software early on, only to purchase legal copies when they have cash, wind up working for a firm, or can claim it back in taxes as money spent for work.

     

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    L, May 28th, 2006 @ 3:07pm

    numbers lie

    Let me tell you this: If I didn't pirate music, I wouldn't buy it, I'd listen to the radio. If I didn't pirate software, I wouldn't use that function. For the average person, who is not a professional that requires a computer, these things are luxuries. Luxuries that, even though they're nice when they are free, they are NOT NICE when they cost 300$. As far as I'm concerned, they haven't lost a dime when it comes to me, and I'm sure others feel the same.

     

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    Nathan, May 28th, 2006 @ 5:04pm

    Piracy is often a good thing in disguise

    What so many of the people replying to this article are failing to realise is that most of this pirated software was not going to be purchased anyway. If they can afford it, buying it is usually not an issue. Look at the proliferation of Windows, Photoshop, Office, etc. Do you think most of the people using Photoshop rushed out and bought $1000+ copies of Photoshop so they could do some photo editing? No. They got a copy of it and learned it.

    It's like a previous poster said. The proliferation of much of this software in the marketplace leads to greater adoption of the software. If I use and become comfortable with a partciular piece of software at home, chances are that I'll convince my boss to deploy the product in the workplace.

    I actually think that the fact that piracy continues in its current state is somewhat of a hidden bonus that I wouldn't be surprised if the software companies intentionally turn a blind eye to. Naturally they must put antipiracy measures into their products so that they're not blatantly asking people to pirate their software, but consider the previous Photoshop example. If there was no way to pirate Photoshop, all the graphic designers, artists, web designers and photographers wouldn't have learned how to use it back when they were amateurs and most likely would now still be unfamiliar with it. Instead, they'd be using something like The Gimp or Paintshop Pro in their workplace, simply because thats what they became proficient with. In the same way, if Windows was unpiratable, do you think they'd have a monopoly? Hell no. Every second person who had to install an operating system would have sought something they could access most conveniently, which would probably ended up being some version of Linux. Most students won't go out and buy a $300-600 copy of Windows. They'll grab a copy off someone else they know. If they do happen to have a copy, it's only because it came with the computer they bought.

    In summary, the official word and fact is that piracy is be bad for the software business when it's practised by those who actually could and would pay for the software in the absence of a pirated copy. The fact, however, is that most of us using this stuff had no intention of paying for the software in the first place and would simply use something else if what we were using were unavailable. As a result, the hidden truth is that the pirated software gets greater proliferation in the marketplace and probably ultimately makes more sales, despite what the BSA would have us believe.

     

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    Mjinga Wawa, May 28th, 2006 @ 6:01pm

    Salvage laws and "intellectual property"

    Does anyol'body have a clue why salvage laws and that sort of thing don't apply to "Intellectual Property"? If something is as thoroughly abandoned as Microsoft Windows 3.x, or DOS 3.3, or that sort of thing, why isn't it legal to just take it and share it around? Finders keepers, that sort of thing?

    After all, if you are renewing the usefulness of an otherwise unused products - and the same thing applies proving the usefulness of a completely new and therefore unused product - shouldn't you be entitled to full salvage rights with relation to that product's copyrights and other "Intellectual Property"? At least 25 % of its total value?

    If the BSA doesn't accede to this argument, it can only prove that fraud is their intention, not commerce.

     

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      Mjina Wawa, May 28th, 2006 @ 8:00pm

      Re: Salvage laws and

      Just an additional comment to the above: I've been chacking some of the documents on the Law of Salvage and the Law of Finds on the Internet, and this one is really interesting. it would drastically improve the computing world if the principles of Salvage it mentions were also in force for salvaging computers from malware:

      # Def: the rescue of property from maritime peril. Salvage req's maritime flavor. On ocean w/ a vessel etc. Salvage claim secured by maritime lien on property salvaged.

      1. Generally neither owner nor crew who negl cause a collision is entitled to salvage in saving vessels in peril for that collision.
      2. Cargo is liable for salvage award if it is on salved vessel.
      3. Life salvage: no recovery for life salvage, good Samaritan rule req's saving life at sea regardless of compensation.
      4. Gen M Law: makes vessel liable in rem for salvage award.
      5. Maritime Nexus: required for salvage. Can't salvage a house (Provost).

      What that means, in plain English, is that, as applied to computers and software, is that a company that permits serious losses to a customer due to negligence in securing the software, is not entitled to a payment for any software fixes and updates they release after the fact. As far as I understand "in rem", that would make malware-mauled software that is salvaged by a third party's own software, partially owned by the salvor, until redeemed by the original owner by payment of a salvage award. In other (legal) words, creating a (maritime) lien on said software.

      It gets even more interesting. Abandonware would fall under the Law of Finds:

      Atocha Case: Law of finds = abandoned property vests in the person who reduces that property to his or her possession. Fisher was the first to reduce sunken Spanish Galion to possession.

      And by all means let us get into the Maritime Liens:

      VIII. Maritime Liens (82-107)

      1. Definition and Enforcement of ML's:
      1. ML: special property right in vessel given to creditor by law as security for a debt or claim arising from some service rendered to the ship to facilitate her use in navigation or from injx caused by the vessel in navigable waters.
      2. Claims that give rise to maritime liens include: wages, salvage, maritime torts, preferred ship mortgage, supplies, repairs, other necessaries, towage, wharfage, pilotage, stevedoring, cargo damages caused by carrier, ships claims for unpaid freight, breach of charter parties.
      3. In Personam Liability: ML can be enforced in personam in fed or state ct under saving suitors clause. Presumes SMJ. May be enforced by seizure and sale of the entire property of the judgment, his liability is unlimited unless jxd based on attachment of D's property and D made a limited appearance à then only enforceable against attached property.
      4. In Rem Liability: must be brought in fed dist ct in admiralty. Presupposes a res b/f the ct, and judgment usually only against the res. Liability limited to the value of the res. Available for enforcement of a ML. Person entitled to ML not necessarily limited to action in rem; maybe in personam à if so he can do both. Sometimes only one or the other.
      1. If in rem liability only must be brought in fed ct in admiralty.
      5. Functional Characteristics: Jxd is establ by having res b/f ct. Where only liability in rem (and not in personam) it is limited to value of the res.

      As I see it, the process of "pirating software" has served Microsoft immeasurably by increasing its market penetration. This increased market penetration has at the same time permitted Microsoft to be incredibly slack when it comes to enforcing elementary security precautions, and they still haven't got it right. Therefore Microsoft has created a situation which in maritime law, would be recognized as having created a lien on its entire software line, because of all the work, voluntary and otherwise, in salvaging Microsoft's "Intellectual Property". Under those terms, customers of Microsoft who have taken steps to salvage this "Intellectual Property" would be entitled to the value of that property, divided between the claimants.

      Hey, the law's the law, and it's an ass, but there's no reason why we shouldn't drive this "Intellectual Property" law to its fated conclusion.

       

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    avery, May 29th, 2006 @ 6:20am

    Are yoiu aware the BSA is offering a reward of up

    Stop bleating, get your reward here at http://reporting.bsa.org/usa

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2006 @ 12:58am

    I find the comment on lost sales ludicrous. In my view it's the same thing that happens with CD downloading, pirating games, and a lot more. People who do this try to find out what it's like. If they dislike the product, they toss it and it's never used again. Hardly a lost sale. Those who do find they like the product, like a CD, invariably purchase the CD to "help those who make them, make more". This however is based on the quality of the product.

    This kind of behavior is more often seen with better quality goods like CDs, books, and occasionally computer games. Unfortuantely, MS is so poorly done, and so highly priced, I don't think it deserves my money regardless of how much I use it.

     

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    Just a Nerd, May 31st, 2006 @ 8:34am

    Piracy gave me life

    Coming from a low income family, I admit that I have not paid for any applications since I purchased an HP with a Windows 98 license. Why? Because the added cost of paying for Windows XP, Office, Photoshop, Visual Studio, and the like would have been a sacrifice my family and I were unwilling to make. What is the result? A few lost sales? Yes. However, were I to have dismissed my interest in Information Technology and Programming because I couldn't afford it, where would I be today? Almost EVERY source of income has relied entirely on my familiarity with computers. Whether I am acting as a clerk, doing data entry, building a website, or troubleshooting a computer or network, all my skills were gained illegally - using pirated software I would not have been able to afford.
    How many others were in a similar situation? How many valuable contributors to modern society would have lost interest in technology were they to have to shell out so much money to tinker with and learn to work with the latest software? I would LOVE to see a survey of how many IT people started by using software they wouldn't have used were they forced to pay $100+ just to play with it? If office suites and other expensive applications were free or cheap, how many more members of society would be significantly more computer literate?
    The church who's website I created (being the only personal capable of it in my congregation), the small businesses I've networked, the family and friends' computer problems I've elevated....how much would change were I to have focused my interest elsewhere were IT to have been too expensive a field to explore? How much would have changed if others like me had chosen to take shop class or auto shop in high school because we were uncomfortable with computers and had no interest in IT or computer science?

     

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    Hodejo, Oct 5th, 2006 @ 5:52pm

    Another article on phony data

    Here is a great article on the subject from MP3 Newswire titled "Movie and Record Industry Piracy Figures Incendiary, But Not Fact". http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/6002/250billion.html

     

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    Cory, Mar 14th, 2007 @ 11:47am

    What bullshit

    I love how groups like the RIAA and MPAA assume that if you pirate a movie or song, you would have paid money for it if you didn't have the option to pirate it. Most of the shit I pirate...I would never pay money for, as people tend to capitilize on free things whether or not they actually need them. However, this just feeds these bullshit stats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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