BSA Releases BS Numbers Yet Again, Then Says Don't Pay Attention To The Numbers

from the funny-stuff dept

Well, it's the middle of May, and that means (like clockwork) the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC have come out with their annual bogus numbers about software "piracy." They do this every year, despite the fact that their numbers have been totally and completely debunked for years. Last year, they were kind enough to call to discuss my concerns, but stood by the idea that every unauthorized copy can be reasonably counted as a lost sale.

This year, they didn't bother to call.

Instead, it looks like they sought out other publications to pre-publish an attack on anyone who would criticize the numbers. This is pretty funny stuff, actually. They release the totally bogus numbers year after year (even though even the mainstream press has started questioning the ridiculousness of it), and then rather than actually responding to the criticism and perhaps trying to come up with more reasonable numbers, they slam those of us who point out that the BSA is flat out trying to mislead people into believing the "problem" of unauthorized copies is a much bigger issue than it really is.

Meanwhile, Michael Geist digs into the numbers that the BSA has provided, and notes that even if you believe the numbers, they don't seem to support the BSA's own position that countries need to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty to decrease the unauthorized use of software. So, we've got bogus data that doesn't even support the BSA's own position.

Why does anyone actually take anything the BSA says seriously?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 13th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Con Artists

    A fool and their money are soon parted.
    That is why this, the RIAA, MPAA, and all other similar groups exist. They are con artists. They convince the weak minded that they need to give their orginzations money to help fight for or against something. Then the organizations hand over lots of money. These groups then get to sit around and barely work for that money. Overall they really accomplish nothing except maybe to make the public like them and their clients less. What do they really care though, they are getting paid to do said nothings or negatives.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    this guy put it best

    http://tapthehive.com/pirates_cost_software_industry_50_billion_in_2008.tth#c282

    he dug through their report and found that the BSA actually believes that a pirated copy means MORE than one lost sale at full retail price.

     

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      TheStupidOne, May 13th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

      Re: this guy put it best

      Obviously ... because the software is going to need to be supported which costs dollars. But since pirated software doesn't get official support then they lose that revenue as well

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Radio Ads have started as well...

    In the Phoenix area, the radio broadcasts have just started a new round with the million dollar offer. I wonder if I can turn in myself and get the million bucks!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:41am

    Fuzzy Math, Voodoo Economics and an Example of BSA Extortion

    They must be using mark-to-mark valuation methods.

    I could say Neil MacBride owes me $3 Trillion dollars if I wanted under mark-to-mark valuation, doesn't mean the item is worth $3T or I'll even get $3T.

    Actually, I just changed the formula in the Excel Spreadsheet. Now, Neil owes me $7T! Payable in non-serialized bills by this Friday. Leave the cash in an unmarked 747 on Runway 4 at LaGuardia, Make sure the tank's full, and keys in the ignition.

    Yeah, their Threat-Alert Reporting is really that superficial, and that much a joke. When you report your own numbers, you can say whatever you want.

     

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    Ryan, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Has anybody pointed out that the position that each unauthorized copy equals a lost sale is completely at odds with the basics of economics? The number of unauthorized users is basically just the quantity sold when the price is zero. If the price is greater than zero, then the quantity sold is necessarily less according to the supply-and-demand curve and economic equilibrium. To claim otherwise means that either:

    1) The demand for this software is perfectly inelastic. Beyond the fact that this assertion is laughable prima facie, we can observe that this is not the case or else price cuts would be pointless.

    2) The first assumption of economics, that price and quantity sold are inversely related, is wrong.

     

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    Matt, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    BSA = intel and microsoft

    did you expect anything less?

     

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    Mr Big Content, May 13th, 2009 @ 4:58pm

    Focus On The Message

    The trouble when you pay too much attention to the nitty-gritty of the figures, is that you lose sight of the important message, which is that piracy is costing the industry billions each year. Do you hear that? Billions. You just can’t ignore figures like that.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

      Re: Focus On The Message

      ...but it is so much easier to rant against the "big guys" than to sit back for a moment of quiet reflection.

       

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    cram, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:28pm

    "...but stood by the idea that every unauthorized copy can be reasonably counted as a lost sale."

    I hope you aren't implying that no unauthorized copy CAN be reasonably counted as a lost sale. If you are not, then surely the true number lies somewhere in between. Perhaps in the order of billions, or maybe only millions.

    As far as Asia is concerned, I think the BSA is reasonable in being concerned about the loss of revenue, because the piracy problem is really huge. I think software vendors would do better to adopt a different pricing strategy for Asia, instead of merely multiplying the US price by the local exchange rate.

     

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      Mike (profile), May 13th, 2009 @ 11:26pm

      Re:

      I hope you aren't implying that no unauthorized copy CAN be reasonably counted as a lost sale.

      Did I say that? I was only commenting on the fact that the BSA counts a 1:1 ratio of unauthorized copies to lost sales.

      But if you want to argue it, then you'd have to argue that any time someone installs Linux then Microsoft and Apple "lost a sale." Yet, we don't consider that illegal or a problem, do we? We consider it competition.

      And that's the point. This is not a legal problem. It's a business model problem for the software companies to solve.

      As far as Asia is concerned, I think the BSA is reasonable in being concerned about the loss of revenue, because the piracy problem is really huge.

      Uh, no. It's not. The mistake you make here is calling it a "problem." Microsoft actually recognized long ago that software "piracy" in Asia is no problem at all, because it made Microsoft the de facto standard, and made it easier for them to upsell later on in the cycle. That's called properly responding to the market.

      It's not a problem. It's an opportunity.

       

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    Techsupoort, May 13th, 2009 @ 11:01pm

    RE:

    I just changed the formula in the Excel Spreadsheet. Now, Neil owes me $7T! Payable in non-serialized bills by this Friday. Leave the cash in an unmarked 747 on Runway 4 at LaGuardia, Make sure the tank's full, and keys in the ignition.

    Yeah, their Threat-Alert Reporting is really that superficial, and that much a joke. When you report your own numbers, you can say whatever you want.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    cram, May 14th, 2009 @ 1:37am

    "I hope you aren't implying that no unauthorized copy CAN be reasonably counted as a lost sale.

    Did I say that? I was only commenting on the fact that the BSA counts a 1:1 ratio of unauthorized copies to lost sales."

    I knew you'd say that:) Surely the actual number is somwhere between the BSA's figures and what the industry is actually losing.

    "But if you want to argue it, then you'd have to argue that any time someone installs Linux then Microsoft and Apple "lost a sale.""

    That makes no sense, Mike. We are talking about a company's authorized sales and unauthorized copying that's eating into its sales. But, of course, to you Linux, Apple AND all MS pirates are MS competition.

    "Yet, we don't consider that illegal or a problem, do we? We consider it competition."

    Good lord! That is not illegal because it does not involve any piracy or unauthorized copying. It is considered competition only because everyone is operating under the law. Law, remember?

    "And that's the point. This is not a legal problem. It's a business model problem for the software companies to solve."

    It's easy for you to say that, because you are not in the business of selling software. It is very much a legal problem, and in markets like Asia, a pricing problem too.

    "Uh, no. It's not. The mistake you make here is calling it a "problem." Microsoft actually recognized long ago that software "piracy" in Asia is no problem at all, because it made Microsoft the de facto standard, and made it easier for them to upsell later on in the cycle. That's called properly responding to the market."

    Just imagine if all the piracy had translated into actual sales for MS. And MS did not "recognize" that piracy was an "opportunity" and not a "problem" as you put it. They had, and still don't, have any choice in the matter because law enforcement is lax in the big markets like China and India. MS is the defacto standard here in Singapore too, but there is practically no piracy here...and MS isn't complaining.

     

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    Anders, May 17th, 2009 @ 6:28am

    Another interesting point in counting "illegal copy = lost sale at full price"

    In Denmark Microsoft had a "get the first fix free" campaign aimed at middle and high school teachers. The campaign went well with free copies mailed to teachers until the danish IRS made clear that it was a "taxable gift" which the teachers had to declare and pay tax from. Microsoft then supported the interpretation that it was impossible and "a personal question" to determine the value of the gift and that MS would not assign the copy of office any value that was taxable.

    http://www.folkeskolen.dk/ObjectShow.aspx?objectId=18997

     

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