Autodesk CEO Trots Out BSA Line On Software Piracy

from the not-very-useful dept

Following the patent panel discussion at the Tech Policy Summit, Autodesk’s CEO Carl Bass took the stage and was able to trot out the BSA’s BS line about how every pirated copy is a lost sale, claiming that if he could get everyone who used his software to pay for it, he’d double the size of his company. He made this argument as if it’s a policy issue that his company should be doubled in size — ignoring that many pirated copies would never be paid for no matter what or the economic impact of the companies that use unauthorized versions of his software. He also claimed that, while DRM wouldn’t stop unauthorized copies and he didn’t want to make things “inconvenient” for his best customers, he had to make life more difficult for “casual copiers.” It’s not clear how he threads that needle, though. He also claimed that companies using other’s intellectual property and seeing what they could get away with would be like him deciding that he likes the hotel that we’re in now and just started using it as his office and holding a few board meetings here to see if anyone caught him — apparently not recognizing the difference between a scarce resource and a non-scarce resource. The one interesting part of his talk was in discussing what the situation is like in places like China. He says that they tried two different strategies to get China to take IP issues more seriously — and neither worked. The first was appealing to their tax revenue needs, saying that companies that pirated software weren’t paying taxes. The second was to put pressure on them via the WTO. In both cases, China didn’t care. What did make China take IP issues more seriously was the realization that the country wants to have its own software industry — and so suddenly took a more serious interest in intellectual property laws. Of course, again, what no one brings up is whether or not putting in place strict IP protections actually does help the domestic industry — but everyone just assumes it must, even if there’s some evidence that it may not.


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Comments on “Autodesk CEO Trots Out BSA Line On Software Piracy”

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33 Comments
WhomTAZ says:

Make the software affordable

If they made the software affordable, they wouild sell more copies and bypass some of the piracy issues. Supply and Demand does not work for software on the one spectrum.

If you make it more affordable then more people will buy it rather than pirate it.

On the other hand, too expensive, only deep pocket companies will use it, other companies may pirate it or will go to competition.

Wake up Mr Bass….. We are not a society with unlimited spending as you think otherwise….. I’m suprised Mr Bass did not say his revenue should be 1/10 the GNP (gross national product) of the whole nation…… Mr Bass is a Gates wannabe…..

Oh on the other hand, he probably wants the gov’t to subsidize his product so every citizen has a copy at the exorbant price to 5,000.00 per copy….. Dream on Mr Bass and wake up from your fairy tale……

WhomTAZ says:

Make the software affordable

If they made the software affordable, they wouild sell more copies and bypass some of the piracy issues. Supply and Demand does not work for software on the one spectrum.

If you make it more affordable then more people will buy it rather than pirate it.

On the other hand, too expensive, only deep pocket companies will use it, other companies may pirate it or will go to competition.

Wake up Mr Bass….. We are not a society with unlimited spending as you think otherwise….. I’m suprised Mr Bass did not say his revenue should be 1/10 the GNP (gross national product) of the whole nation…… Mr Bass is a Gates wannabe…..

Oh on the other hand, he probably wants the gov’t to subsidize his product so every citizen has a copy at the exorbant price to 5,000.00 per copy….. Dream on Mr Bass and wake up from your fairy tale……

Dustin (user link) says:

AutoCAD… great products but unless you’re independently wealthy or in charge of purchases for your company don’t expect to be able to afford them.

Sorry Mr Bass, but I’m not going to spend $800 on a piece of software to help me draft my new house… no matter how handy it might be. Drop your prices and I’d buy in a second; most people aren’t friggin millionaires or drafting company purchasing officers.

BlackCow says:

From a High School Student

Their software is so expensive that only big companys can afford it but the problem is those companys need people who can use the software. If students, especially high school students who have no money, didn’t pirate it less people would be familiar with it and his software would be less popular. I think companys should turn their cheek to piracy if people are pirating it to learn how to use and not for profit. Once someone profits from it then its ok to get angry.

-BlackCow
A high school student

Grad Student says:

Re: From a High School Student

You hit the nail on the head. I bought a computer and ordered a student copy of Maya so I could work at home rather than going to the computer labs at my school every day. About two weeks later, I found out the school had upgraded to the “new” version making it impossible for me to open files from the new version on the one I had just purchased.

I contacted Alias (at the time) about the problem and explained that the software I had was still unopened in the shrinkwrapped box. I wanted to return it or get an upgrade. They stated there was nothing they could (read:would) do to help, but would be happy to sell me the new version… at full price, of course.

SmartAssWhizKid says:

Re: Re: From a High School Student

“I bought a computer and ordered a student copy of Maya so I could work at home rather than going to the computer labs at my school every day. About two weeks later, I found out the school had upgraded to the “new” version making it impossible for me to open files from the new version on the one I had just purchased.”

How is it Aliases fault you failed to coordinate your upgrade with the schools? Plan man.

Michael Long says:

Exceptions

I once worked for a software company that had its sales triple on a $99 product when, on a new software release, they added a network check for duplicate serial numbers running at the same time.

It was truly amazing how many companies, many quite large, rather sheepishly called to order a few more copies.

When someone steals a program like Photoshop, Adobe may or may not have been able to make a sale, but smaller companies selling other “competitive” products at $99 or $49 didn’t make a sale either. Nor did shareware authors selling $20 programs. Heck, even OSS lost a “supporter”.

Sorry, but the “no one get hurts” line may be popular… but I don’t believe it for a second.

the architect says:

Gates gave Bass his firstborn

in Bass’ defense (i can’t believe i’m writing this) they do sell student versions for a fraction of the price through some of the online ‘student version’ software sites. not that students can afford to buy his products anyway, it’s more about the depth of their parents’ pockets, and the legitimacy of intellectual property as a concept.

but realistically, students today (as early as grade school) have been raised to share music and viseo digitally, and have already been desensitized to software sharing. are these same students more apt to cheat on their exams?

My main gripe about Bass is that he & Gates must have some kind of arrangement that keeps all of us architects married to Windows. The truth is, if they released AutoCad for Mac, Windows would lose at least 25% of the AEC industry, (and the whole shebang would be more stable.)

This may help explain why architects are so pissy.

Tommy 2face says:

The Truth about Pirated Software

When you are 16 through 24 and you are trying to educate yourself with things like design one may go out and find pirated version of the Adobe and Macromedia suites. Once you get into the real world you always buy a legitimate copy of the software its like a stepping stone. If pirated software did not exist than a large percentage of users would not learn how to use the software. Its like what Microsoft did to elevate their business, they put their software into the school so you grow up using their products and services. People resisit change.

Matt says:

Autodesk's long history with the BSA...

Back 20 years ago, Autodesk was using the BSA “snitch line” to come down like a ton of bricks on companys that were using illegal copies of their software.

A small company that I knew of was put out of business when a former employee used the call-in number to tell them that they were using 10 copies of Autocad on one license. The fines were more than 10x the cost of the licenses, totalling over 100k!

SmartAssWhizKid says:

Re: Autodesk's long history with the BSA...

“A small company that I knew of was put out of business when a former employee used the call-in number to tell them that they were using 10 copies of Autocad on one license. The fines were more than 10x the cost of the licenses, totalling over 100k!”

Any company using 10 illegal copies of software should be fined. And deserve to be put out of business. I worked for a company that used at least 5 illegal copies of Autodesk Mechanical Desktop. At the time I thnk the price was around $4000 a seat. I routinely designed $500,000 pieces of automated equipment. How much money do you think they made off those 5 illegal copies? Don’t know, don’t care. They were fined too. They lost the business, I lost my job. fuckers.

fewquid says:

Autodesk forgets its roots...

Some long time ago I worked for Autodesk.

Back then, they estimated that there were at least 10 pirated copies for every legit copy out there.

It was an unwritten internal policy that this was actually GOOD for sales as the company made it easy for non-legit users to “upgrade” whenever a new release came out.

Or, if you prefer, pirated copies were a handy viral marketing tool and the company made it easy for users to go legit.

This was never “formal” policy, but it was something I heard repeated on a number of occasions.

The base of AutoCAD users increased nicely and the number of sales increased nicely too.

But I guess they’ve changed their minds. Perhaps falling from their place as the world’s 5th largest software company to wherever they are now was a tough road to go down (at least in the ego department).

ogman (profile) says:

You gotta be kidding...

Let me stop laughing long enough to try and understand what this idiot wants us to believe: Every person browsing through P2P files who downloads a piece of software would have purchased the software, if they hadn’t been able to download it???

Yeah right!!!

More likely, three-quarters of the people who download a pirated copy of AutoCad never even use the software. So, should that be counted as a merchandise return?

Nick D (profile) says:

How can a western company possible understand the intricacies of incentive of a culture so different as China and make such a big bet on it? Seems silly.

Here is one for the “lost sales theory”: let’s say you make a demo version of your software that times out after 30 days. Lets that you are getting 10% of the demo downloaders to upgrade to the full version. Are you going to claim that 90% of you market is gone because you lost that sale? Wake up and make real value for paying customers, damn it, and shut up!!

Legally AutoCADed says:

AutoCAD pricing and licencing

I own two legal copies of AutoCAD, and wish I could SELL them both. For a CAD company, AutoDesk has lost sight of the main issues for users. The software’s basic functions SHOULD work, and all those ^%$@&(% bells and whistles should disappear. I want to produce a piece of paper that someone can build an article from, and I want to do it in the shortest (most profitable) time. Why cannot AutoDesk produce a product that works, and at a reasonable cost? Their R&D department gets too much money for shoddy and untested work. I should be able to receive compensation for the time lost using their product, or I should be able to sell it when it does not do its job. Piracy allows people to make informed decisions about the product instead of believing the sales pitch. If only I had been a pirate, I would be about AUS$20,000 better off. Give me ArchiCAD on the Mac anytime!!!

Jason says:

Affordable Software for Students

There seem to be two different discussions going on here. One on the affordability of software for students and one on the affordability of commercial.

Regarding the student side, Autodesk software is actually at a very affordable price: FREE. At http://www.students.autodesk.com students can download free student versions of all Autodesk 3D software.

I think it’s a great move on Autodesk’s part…

Jim says:

What I think

I own a legal student version of 3ds Max 2008, while I understand the price behind the software I don’t understand the why??

Why is it that, Autodesk continues to over charge its customers. Why are they worried about consumer sales if what they deal with is the industry and the likes??

My story is this I am using 3ds Max but not getting the most out of it, 2008 version is buggy and they don’t even have updates or fixes for Vista yet. So I was forced to download a trial copy of 2009 that I cracked only for the remainder of my school program, I am using it only because I cannot use 2008 because of its buggy nature.

I one day hope to own a legal copy of their most latest branch, but until they start supporting their releases and cut down a little on what their selling. As an investor I might have to take my business elsewhere, not saying their software is bad actually its quite sophisticated.

You would think a company that charges $3000 and up for a software would already own their own islands and beach resorts, to actually complain about something as small as piracy is nothing but greed at its best. This only increases the likely hood piracy!!

John says:

What is 4-8k compared to millions?

So it’s ok to use software that costs around $4,000 – $8,000 to buy when you’ll be designing houses, products, bridges, airplane parts , etc that sell for millions? AutoCAD is a small investment to the limitless potential it offers to the designer.

They do sell the student version of AutoCAD and it is however for only 11 months or so. That is somewhat a good amount of time to learn the software but it is also not enough to make anything portfolio worthy to show companies.

Neil says:

They're too greedy

I understand their pricing, and I have bought many student versions of software programs. I understand why they would charge $4000 for a commercial version and have no problem w. that. What I have a problem with is that they insist on putting out “new” versions every year. You should not have to spen 4 grand a year (per machine) on programs that are consistently being outdated for no apparent reason. Each successive year brings a stupid useless upgrade. Sometimes the icons are a bit different, sometimes they change the font, or add a nice little feature, but by and large, autocad 2002 is the same as 2009.

And as for those people who say “why not pay $4000, when the product you’re designing costs millions” (cough, cough, john).First of all AutoCAD is also used for much more simple products than advanced engineering systems costing millions. I use it all the time to layout and draw $5,000- $10,000 kitchens. so the software costs almost as much as that. Second, lets say I have my practice, I design a house worth $800,000, how much of that goes to the designer 8-12% maybe so I get $80,000 so lets say I’m running 2 machines (because of course if I have a laptop and a desktop, I will need 2 licenses from them) that’s $8,000
They have just taken 10% of my fee. That’a quite alot. It would be fine if this was a one time charge but, as mentioned before, they make you pay every year or get outdated.

So I hope they get pirated as much as possible.

Tikiwiki says:

Piece of Advice Autodesk slice prices by oh lets say $2k and get rid of your stupid subscription trap no one really cares to subscribe to a company already getting fatter. Dump Mudbox because it plain sucks, if you want to compete you are doing a horrible number on yourselves. Makes one wonder if you even care about competition considering those little fish are suddenly getting bigger and still far cheaper than your underscore bloatware.

I’m an angry Max user, I have formal training in the software package. I own an obsolete copy of the student version, to my surprise there was no upgrade path. Hell its not even allowed to be shipped to Canada wtf?! I got tired of this BS game Autodesk plays, I bought myself a copy of ZBrush 3.5 and have not looked back on Max for almost a year now. On top of that ZBrush is now coming out with a version 4 and you know what? I get it as a free upgrade can you believe that? Have fun catching up on the game Autodesk.

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