BSA Tries To Exploit Somali Piracy News In PR Campaign Against Software Sharing

from the great-moments-in-dumb-marketing-campaigns dept

We already wrote about how ridiculous it is to compare Somali high seas pirates with music, movie and software fans downloading an unauthorized copy of something off the internet -- and even the press is starting to question the wisdom of calling unauthorized file sharing "piracy." Yet, that hasn't stopped the BSA, masters of misleading through questionable stats from ramping up a marketing campaign that purposely tries to compare software file sharers with Somali pirates. As Gordon Haff at News.com notes:
"This has got to be one of the most tone-deaf and cynically opportunistic PR pitches I've seen for quite some time. It's one thing to figuratively equate piracy with making digital copies of software, music, movies, or books. We can debate endlessly whether such actions are truly stealing or not. But that's not the point. It's that to literally and deliberately equate the two in the wake of pirates taking a ship's crew hostage and the US Navy subsequently killing three of the attackers...Well, words fail me."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 7:44am

    Privacy smiracy. Can't someone drop the semantics for a second and please think about the poor corn farmers! Sure "real" piracy costs lives, but software and content piracy are destroying an entire way of life. The American dream! Our nation's breadbasket. Our nation's future. For every movie you steal, you're depriving a child of a nutritious home grown meal. Think about it!

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    :Lobo Santo, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    Re:

    I hear, in those third world countries, you can feed a child for a month on just $0.25 a day.

    Thus, logically, if there are American children starving in America who cannot be fed on several dollars a day, then let's ship them to that cheap food 3rd world country so they can be fed.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Dumb BSA

    I think someone else predicted this...

    Have a look:

    http://techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20081119/1256502889#c285

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    I think it is to desensitize the masses. That way when the onerous IP loving orginizations get their pet representatives in DC to sign off on having Navy Seal Sniper teams take out copyright criminals with a hole in the head it will not seem like it is a bad thing... Pirates are bad MMMMMkay???

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    WeirdHarold, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Of course the two can be equated, they are both called the same thing, piracy. Software pirates destroy the lives of all code farmers by stealing their work. Im sure some of those code monkeys commit suicide too.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    It seems the "Pirate Act of 2004" may be worth looking into. From what I heard, US armed forces are killing teenage Somalis.

    Sounds like a great idea for the BSA to sign on to, but I doubt they'll get any new customers.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Celes, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    I've been looking at the campaign in question, and even though I'd love to get up in arms about it, I can't find anywhere they directly equated software piracy with the Somalian pirates. Is it just because they're using the word pirate? (Though it's tragically poor timing, I can think of at least 87 things they're doing that are worse...) Or does someone have a link to a page that I missed?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Yes, let us stop referring to those who upload and download unauthorized content as "pirates". In accordance with the views recurringly expressed on this site, the term "content distributors voluntarily supporting new business models for the 21st century" seems more apt.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    Somali Pirates

    It's sad that the industry has nothing else to to equate vilification of the USA's children to.

    Perhaps it's time to change the law? Revisit and DCMA in the reality of 2009? How does DCMA protect the people of this country? The children?

    DCMA seems to do the opposite.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Poor PR

    "This has got to be one of the most tone-deaf and cynically opportunistic PR pitches I've seen for quite some time."

    Apparently you missed the republican echo machine calling obama a socialist for raising the top marginal tax rate 3% LOL.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    PUH-LEESE!!!! Honestly, who didn't see this coming? Come on, keep your hands up so I can count.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Erv Server, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    Pirates

    It seems the recording industry has run out of arguments

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Gordon Haff, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    The original BSA email

    @Celes

    My comment wasn't about the campaign site itself--typically over-the-top though it may be. Rather, I was commenting on the email that the BSA's PR firm sent me that started off: "We've all been following the events of the past week of the pirates off the Horn of Africa. Piracy takes many forms, some more violent than others. I wanted to let you know that the Business Software Alliance is launching a new campaign today "Faces of Internet Piracy" that shows the real-life impact of software piracy--from hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines to jail time."

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: The original BSA email

    Gordon you get props for not just blinding regurgitating their statements like so many weak minded journalists seem to do these days.
    Good work.
    =)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Celes, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Re: The original BSA email

    Aha. I knew there must have been something else there. That's just... disgusting, really. No other word for it.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:48am

    You mean file sharers don't sit in their basement wearing funny hats and muttering "arrrrr" while they search for software and music to download?

    That kind of ruins the whole thing for me. Kind of like finding out that the easter bunny in fact, does not exist.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Matt, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    PR suicide

    Really, this will kill PR so bad, what are they thinking?

    Oh, and it gets better, check this disclaimer at the bottom of their campaign webpage: "* These individuals are not actors. "

    I wonder how many of these individuals supposedly consented to having images of themselves being accused software pirates on their homepage?

    I smell a lawsuit.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    DS78, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:56am

    Name Change

    I say we drop the term "pirate" as related to unauthorized digital downloads etc. Henceforth, I will be adopting the term "ninja". From now on please refer to me as a software ninja or music ninja.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Cynical, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:57am

    Re: stupid comment

    @WeirdHarold

    Are you trolling again, my friend? Not surprising you'd take Big Media's side again no matter what, now is it?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:58am

    Re: Poor PR

    You're right, he's not a socialist. He's a communist.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:13am

    Why is the BSA involved?

    Shouldn't the Boy Scouts of America stick to the basics, like training our boys to be productive members of society, and basic wilderness survival tactics? Taking them out on the open seas to face pirates just sounds like irresponsible parenting and adult leadership to me. Think of the children!

    ...what do you mean, not that BSA?... Oh...

    Never mind...

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:14am

    Matt,if you have ever been involved with BSA issues, you would know that the people charged with violating the law will sign agreements that allow these kind of things.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    jprlk, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:17am

    movie 'piracy'

    just about every time i hear the term pirate for movie and music copiers, it reminds me of the clip from the movie 'amazon women on the moon' where ricardo mantelban is an actual pirate (eye-patch pirate) who sails the seas laughing at fbi warnings and making copies of his favorite laserdiscs.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092546/

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    Uh, if we were actually "stealing" their work, they would be deprived of it, making copies is not theft. And another thing to note is that these companies are still making more and more money off the games, not less. So where is the damage you speak of? Some of the most successful games on the net are free, and use ads and paid extra's in game to support their craft successfully making a living by changing their tactics to comply with the internet culture of free. Find me ONE software company that has been destroyed by piracy... and we all know that music sales have only gone UP in the last decade... your arguments hold no merit.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Role Reversal

    I don't know about you, but when it comes to holding someone's life hostage demanding large sums of money, I think the RIAA fits better than any teenager sharing music at college.

    Who are the pirates again?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Stute, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    I have a collection of funny hats.

    Though I never say arr..

    Nor do I download things illegally.

    But I still have the funny hats!

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Copyright Supporter, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Piracy

    Hijacking ships and killing people isn't nearly as bad as software piracy. They eventually get the ships back and you can always replace people but it costs money to develop software.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Sean, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    The thing is the fishermen who have become pirates did so because of over fishing in other areas and the dumping of pollutants in the water. They might be able to feed kids but the food it nearly toxic.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Re:

    Ha! You need hands to count.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Matt, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    its pretty easy to renege on this in many ways, also remember: this is the BSA not the RIAA. So don't assume that these people have signed such a waiver. BSA typically goes after enterprise, where the lawyers snipe this crap out of the agreements. Not laymen.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates/

    Yep, here's the article I read on it. Sounds like they're desperate and everyone is turning a blind eye to the real problem. I imagine if I were in their shoes, I'd do the exact same thing since I'm not going to quietly let my family die in starvation to uphold international peace, especially if my entire community is dying as well.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    DanteZCO, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Piracy by Chris Wright

     

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  33.  
    icon
    bikey (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:19am

    BSA

    BSA will do anything and everything they can to control, scare, intimidate. Seehttp://www.statewatch.org/news/2008/oct/eu-datret-bas.pdf
    for their lobbying paper to back the EU Data Retention Directive. People were asking "what's BSA got to do with lobbying for data retention"... As they say, duh. Latching on to Somali pirates should come as no excuse to anyone.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    lulz, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:42am

    Re: Piracy

    It costs money to pay for a Navy SEALs' salary.
    It cost money to buy weapons and ammo.
    Money which we as Americans pay as taxes.


    Everything costs money. Buying a computer costs money. Paying for electricity costs money. Keeping a computer on and seeding costs money.

    So yes, thank you for pointing out that developing software costs money. So does everything else.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Mike Rotch, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    No its, "if you file share you will be killed my snipers in on a boat."

     

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  36.  
    icon
    James (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    The British navy understood how to deal with Pirates. Also, ask Tripoli about Piracy and amphibious landings fro Marines.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    Here

    Where the Internet is called “Somalia of unregulated theft and piracy” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    I say we do change the name from piracy. I say we start calling it copyright infringement.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    PETAphile, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Great, toxic food means no more pirates. End of problem.

     

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  39.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re:

    #37 Chrono:
    That would be logical. And since when have the BSA, RIAA or any of their ilk done anything even remotely logical?

     

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  40.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: stupid comment

    Based on the lack of space in the name, and the wrong link, that is not Harold.
    That is just somebody making fun of Harold since Harold is not currently here acting as flamebait.

    I found the post to be kind of funny.
    It was not as serious (aka stupid) as Harold's posts.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    SteveFoolery, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    My 2c

    Hey Mike! As always, I love reading Techdirt! I cover this story lightly over on my blog today. Keep up the good work!
    http://www.stevefoolery.com

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    robin, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    Re: My 2c

    wh's nonsensical trolling aside, this sort of trolling is starting to get on my nerves as well.

    while it's not out and out 'bot generated spam, there's zero contribution to any conversation in linking to one's own site in search of eyeballs.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Hey, why not come up with a new name for piracy? You refuse to call it theft, so lets get rid of piracy also.

    Call it what you will, but if you do it, you are a CRIMINAL.

     

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  44.  
    icon
    RomeoSidVicious (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:57pm

    Re:

    That's part of the problem...

    In very few cases is copyright infringement a criminal offense and that's why we argue the use of the word "theft" in relation to the common teenager downloading songs for his/her iPod. The likelihood is that they are not criminals but rather breaking a civil law. None of the RIAA cases will end up on someone's criminal record but they might make it on their credit report. So while the copyright infringement done by the average person may be morally wrong it is not criminal. So nope, not a criminal if you do it, guilty of copyright violation? Possibly.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Dale Curtis, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

    Hey, everybody, cool your jets. BSA is not equating or even comparing software piracy to what is happening off the coast of Somalia. Our pitch to reporters said, Piracy takes many forms, and here is one form that bears more attention. Downloading or purchasing software from unauthorized sources is not an abstract problem; it creates real risks for consumers and for those trying to make an illegal profit. For consumers, the risks include (at best) not receiving what one paid for or (at worst) infecting one’s computer with malware. For the five pirates featured in our videos, the risks included serious fines and prison sentences. And regarding the use of the word piracy, it has used to refer to copyright infringement for years and is even a term of honor for the Pirate Bay guys.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    another mike, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Why is the BSA involved?

    I mind. We need to stop referring to the Business Software Alliance as the BSA and sue them for trademark infringement. It's the very least they deserve.

    /be prepared

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 11:28pm

    Re:

    Hey, everybody, cool your jets. BSA is not equating or even comparing software piracy to what is happening off the coast of Somalia.

    Right.... that's why you started your pitch off with:

    "We've all been following the events of the past week of the pirates off the Horn of Africa."

    Talk about tone deaf.

    To compare the two is just ridiculous and exploitive.

    Our pitch to reporters said, Piracy takes many forms, and here is one form that bears more attention

    Again, that's comparing the two. I mean, it's your own damn words comparing the two. If you don't see the incredible difference between the two, you guys are really, really confused.

    Downloading or purchasing software from unauthorized sources is not an abstract problem; it creates real risks for consumers and for those trying to make an illegal profit

    Uh huh. And yet you guys ignore all of the points we've raised on a regular basis. I'm sorry, but the BSA has no credibility on this issue. For years you've lied and falsified your claims, exaggerating the extent of the problem, ignoring any counter points altogether.

    And then you compare file sharing to real piracy. It's really sickening.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Piracy

    WHOOOOOOSH!

    BTW, that was the sound of the joke going over your head, not an expensive attack helicopter chasing the pirates.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    nasch, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    OK, fine, you win this round. Call it what you want, but if you do it, you are a CIVIL.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    hmm, Aug 17th, 2009 @ 2:15am

    Hold on a second..doesn't your BRAIN keep a copy of anything you've watched....OMG!!!! everyones a pirate....quick get someone to invent that brain-wiping device from men in black.....(or force everyone to sit for an hour watching mtv which has the same soul leeching, numbing effect)

     

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


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