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 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.”

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Companies: bsa

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Comments on “BSA Tries To Exploit Somali Piracy News In PR Campaign Against Software Sharing”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

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!

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

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.

Michael says:

Re: 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.

Celes says:

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?

Gordon Haff says:

The original BSA email


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.”

Matt says:

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.

Yakko Warner says:

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…

lulz says:

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.

bikey (profile) says:


BSA will do anything and everything they can to control, scare, intimidate. See
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.

RomeoSidVicious (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Dale Curtis says:

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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