Should Proprietary Software Companies Be More Concerned About Open Source Or Piracy?

from the take-your-pick dept

We see various software companies and their representatives like the BSA complaining constantly about the damaging impact of piracy on their business, but reader Jon sent in an article that explores how piracy of proprietary software often does just as much, if not more, harm to open source alternatives. So, for example, when people make an unauthorized copy of Photoshop, doesn't that hurt open source providers of the GiMP just as much as Adobe? And an unauthorized copy of Microsoft Office hits the Open Office crew.

Of course, this inevitably raises the question: should proprietary software companies be more worried about piracy... or open source competitors? After all, if the proprietary companies crack down on piracy, it often leads potential buyers to simply switch to open source providers instead. So, cracking down on piracy actually helps open source providers, while piracy hurts them. So, wouldn't it make more sense for proprietary software companies to stop worrying about piracy and focus on competing with open source providers?

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  • identicon
    Mark Regan, 29 Oct 2008 @ 2:05pm

    That is not the problem

    The REAL problem is the MINDSET of the proprietary software companies. They think that because they have hired programmers that somebody besides them, the customers, for example, should have to reimburse them for the expense of hiring those programmers. This is a faulty business model.

    It would not be so bad if the proprietary companies hired the BEST programmers, who used modern, up-to-date technologies, or if they had GOOD customer service (or in most cases, ANY customer service) to help their customers RESOLVE problems created by their inept programmers, then the current model would be beneficial to all parties.

    Instead, the proprietary companies are not customer-centric. They are stockholder centric, and abuse their programmers and their customers.

    The new model is FREE and open source software. This way ALL programmers can compete to have the BEST, latest, up-to-date products, and the vendors can cut the high-overhead manufacturing and distribution and retailing processes out of the loop, and become customer and problem resolution centered.

    Who will pay for all this? Advertisers, we need exposure to the customer base. Or those companies who offer more sophisticated commercial products wanting a foot in the door to all prospective customers. THIS is the business model of the future.

    Microsoft, Adobe, and others can waste their time and energy and money on chasing counterfeiters who will always be with us, and SLOWING down their processes with "Genuine Advantage" and spyware and trackware, and falsely accuse their customers of not having legitimate products, and devote NO resources to customer service, while the Google's and Sun Microsystems of the world pass them by.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2008 @ 2:52pm

      Re: That is not the problem

      I remember hearing about this several years ago, it was supposed to be the wave of the future. But then again...

      I don't want to see ads, in fact I am SICK of ads. I am willing to PAY to not see an ad. I pay for premium cable TV to avoid advertisements. I am sick of ads before movies, product placements in movies, etc... If that is the software model of the future I should throw away my computer.

      I think you will see a backlash in coming years. People will get tired of the ads and ignore them, the advertisers will realize that the ads aren't driving the sales and you will see the number of ads decrease. You might even see some web sites change their business model because ad sponsored web sites may become unprofitable.

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

  • identicon
    JamesC, 29 Oct 2008 @ 2:20pm

    Very good point, and in fact I've always thought of it that way. Most people my age simply don't see themselves paying for software or digital goods at all, unless they have a very good reason to do so. For me, a legitimate copy of Windows is *not* a competitor in the OS market. If I am somehow forced to pay for an OS, I will simply start using Linux. Windows should be glad I at least *use* their product, even if I didn't pay for it.

    Just like the paperless office, I think we'll have to wait a few more years before we see more people grasping what technology really is about.

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

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 29 Oct 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Wrong Question Being Aksed

    From a strict utopian free-market economic perspective, proprietary software companies should be more worried about open source software since it could displace them (take away their business and bankrupt them).

    However, we don't live in a utopian free-market system. We live in a world of politics and perception. Loudly claiming with much fanfare that piracy hurts the poor programming grandmother putting her disabled daughter through college elicits much public sympathy. With appropriate "donations" politicians will swoon at the chance to pass laws to protect the so-called intellectual property of the poor hardworking grandmother. The end result, a protected business model.

    Since we are supposed to live in a free-market society, a proprietary software company simply can not argue against "competition". So even though open software may be a greater threat, the posturing of the proprietary software company has to create the "red-herring" of piracy in order to "force" the creation of a favorable business environment "protected" by public perception and the legal system.

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

    • identicon
      Kiba, 29 Oct 2008 @ 3:16pm

      Re: Wrong Question Being Aksed

      I don't their anti-piracy effort does much of anything, to be honest. If anything, it is a waste of money.

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

      • icon
        Steve R. (profile), 29 Oct 2008 @ 3:55pm

        Re: Re: Wrong Question Being Aksed

        Correct fighting piracy is a waste of money. What the piracy fight promotes is the passage of laws that protect so-called intellectual property so that the company can use it to shut down the open source competitor by claiming infringement.

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

  • identicon
    NullOp, 29 Oct 2008 @ 2:47pm

    Worries

    If I were marketing a high-end software product I would worry more about piracy than open source. Open Source software, for the most part, will always be a "step below" commercial products. For example: GiMP is not Photoshop, by any means. Open source is simply not profit driven which means its development lacks that certain "urgency" that drives commercial software features. Of course none of what i've said is meant to say that open source software is less than commercial software. I use a lot of open source warez myself.

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

    • identicon
      Kiba, 29 Oct 2008 @ 3:14pm

      Re: Worries

      Wrong. Open source is a development model. It is not driven by "profit" or "voluntarism". If anything, FOSS projects are increasingly funded by commercial entities.

      Plus, we linux users get some crazy graphic bling and the capability of upgrading thousand of software at once. :D


      Window Vista? That's 2 years behind.

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

    • identicon
      Alan, 29 Oct 2008 @ 5:31pm

      Re: Worries

      Is that the same 'urgency' that saw Vista released with so many bugs and driver probelms that it was mainly unusable?

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

  • identicon
    josh, 29 Oct 2008 @ 3:31pm

    niether

    They should be more afraid of earlier versions of their software that still work sufficiently. I'm sure XP is doing a lot more damage to Vista sales than piracy or open source.

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

  • identicon
    Reed, 29 Oct 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Open source is closing the door on software development

    I think Mike has a real point here. Proprietary developers should be far more worried about open source than pirates.

    As long as people buy their software it really doesn't matter if some people pirate it. On the other hand if people don't buy their software at all because of an open source solution they are out of a job.

    Open source is insidious this way to proprietary developers. Sure I could spend several hundred dollars on Photoshop, but GIMP can do a awful lot and the plugins make it fantastic. Same goes for Microsoft office. Great product, but at a price that is hard to swallow.

    I think propietary developers and marketers are then ones at fault for the whole open source movement. If they had reasonable prices and good customer service (that includes actually modifying the code when prudent)then open source would not be a viable alternative.

    Due to their poor business practices and Nazi-like use of patents, copyrights, and trademarks they have created a backlash that can't be stopped.

    The real heart of the matter is freedom. Freedom to do what I want with the stuff I paid for. Proprietary vendors have failed to grasp this very human concept of ownership.

    Instead, they have relied on people's ignorance that they are paying thousands of dollars for a "license" to use the products. The more computer savvy our society becomes the more ridiculous their business models seems. It really is a doomed enterprise.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2008 @ 6:59pm

      Re: Open source is closing the door on software development

      " think propietary developers and marketers are then ones at fault for the whole open source movement. If they had reasonable prices and good customer service (that includes actually modifying the code when prudent)then open source would not be a viable alternative."

      I disagree.
      First - there is no "fault". Open Source is not the result of bad decisions. It is the result of good decisions.
      Second - with the exception of Photoshop, Open Source is better even if the closed source were free.

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

      • identicon
        reed, 30 Oct 2008 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re: Open source is closing the door on software development

        I don't agree with the "no fault" point you made. The reason the GNU project was created was due to proprietary developers not fixing problems and not sharing the code to allow someone else to fix them.

        The idea of open source was created in direct opposition to the proprietary model for ideological reasons.

        With your second point I also don't agree. Open source is a superior way to develop software, but many open source projects aren't as polished as proprietary projects. This may change in the near future, but for right now I think closed source wins for features and usability (at least for now).

        I think that it is just a matter of time before open source surpasses closed source in all respects.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2008 @ 11:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Open source is closing the door on software development

          "many open source projects aren't as polished as proprietary projects."

          ....... Like Apache vs IIS ?

          "The reason the GNU project was created was due to proprietary developers not fixing problems and not sharing the code to allow someone else to fix them."

          ........ What about BSD ?

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

          • identicon
            Reed, 30 Oct 2008 @ 2:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Open source is closing the door on software development

            Apache and IIS are one example and I am sure there are many more, but they still don't outweigh the majority of closed sourced projects.

            What about BSD? It isn't even open source, although it is somewhat compatible with it. Its original focus was to develop proprietary software under permissive licenses that did not expose the source code.

            Not sure what your point was there...

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 29 Oct 2008 @ 7:18pm

    Does It Matter?

    Sure, piracy of closed-source software actually boosts sales. But the closed-source companies cannot freely admit that. So they will keep pounding their heads against a brick wall and suing the pirates, resolutely ignoring the fact that they could be putting off some potential customers in doing so.

    So open-source companies have nothing to fear. They just have to sit back and watch the closed-source companies cut off their own nose to spite their face.

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

  • identicon
    Twinrova, 30 Oct 2008 @ 4:06am

    Piracy and open source isn't the problem.

    The problem is believing software is a tangible item that's "proprietary". Every single piece of software sold has been built from the foundation of others.

    For example: Photoshop wasn't developed by Adobe (per se) without first using other development tools such as Borland's C app (long ago, folks). Borland's app allowed many to build applications to their heart's content.

    Back in the day, I was often asked "what's your hourly programming rate?". My reply was simple: "I don't charge by the hour. I charge based on the complexity of the application to be developed. Anyone can code. It's the skills and experience of getting the code working in your environment you will pay for."

    Many didn't understand this back then, and they sure don't understand it today.

    Take the internet, for example. Hell, HTML is the easiest "language" to learn to create a website and any monkey can do it, but newbies can't take HTML and attach it to a database without knowing additional skills.

    Enter open source. By far, the best damn thing to happen in the programming world since sliced bread. Open source finally takes in the concept of sharing ideas to build upon the existing code of others to build better software.

    These proprietary software keepers feel their business model is threatened because they have nothing else to offer.

    Taking the cue from the Adobe reference, this company hasn't done anything new for years except pad their software with so much overhead, it's worse now than what it was when it was first released.

    So Adobe has quite a bit to lose due to piracy but at the same time, it's their fault for remaining stagnant. Their PDF reader is "successful", but at what cost?

    Their recent acquisition of Macromedia was to help boost sales, but this backfired because many people didn't want the Adobe name on their product of choice (I'm one of them!). Since Adobe has nothing new to offer, it gave GIMP a chance to flourish.

    If you compare the changes to Photoshop vs. the changes to GIMP, you will clearly see who's innovative and who's stagnant.

    Maybe it's time these companies start realizing software isn't "theirs" to lock away from others and begin working on ways to improve their products and focusing on introducing new software.

    Hell, I can name many software companies that folded over the last decade because of remaining stagnant. Fools.

    Before I go, I'll tell you the true definition of software piracy: When companies force you to "upgrade" your software every 2 years when it really offers nothing better than the previous version.

    Isn't that right, Ipswitch, Adobe (formerly Macromedia), Microsoft, and others?

    Damn Vista. >:(

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

  • identicon
    iSaac, 30 Oct 2008 @ 5:21am

    (josh) is correct too...older product concerns...

    he lists the excellent example of XP vs. Vista

    but this is true especially in the case of CADD software.
    Small to medium sized companies will pay the high price of
    a CAD program (AutoCAD / Microstation) and hold onto that
    particular software for YEARS...w/out falling prey to the
    "upgrading-to-the-LATEST-version!!!" syndrome.

    So Autocad 2009 or whatever has been released...but really,
    i would wager 6 out of 10 firms is still operating on
    ACAD 2006 or earlier....and doing just fine.
    Hell, at my firm, we still have R14 across the company save
    for a precious few PC's with 2000,2002 & 2004 on them so we
    can edit newer AutoCAD files. It serves us well too.

    PEACE
    ISAAC

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

  • identicon
    wesley a. alexander, 6 Nov 2008 @ 6:38pm

    tfor quote to build contest and dating site

    Wesley A. Alexander
    Alexander Unlimited
    November 07, 2008

    To whom it may concern:
    I would like a quote of a customization of a dating site with multiple domains and/or sub-domain. The dating site(s) will be customizing to a contest site and speed dating site. The quote must be itemizes. This project should take around 40 to 60 hours to be completed. That I will be purchasing one to two sites and have they joined together. The person who gets an interview and then do the project should have 3 to 5 years of programmer experience.

    These are some of the features that the dating site will include these functions:

    1. regular dating site
    2. speed dating
    3. contest
    4. webcam with live web shows by members
    5. chat room
    6. a fetish section with every know fetishes like the religion section
    7. teasers for the contest

    I would like the site front page to be like this site www.sexdatenetwork.com and this site is part of this site with a different sub-domain name www.bbwsexdates.com, by the end of next week. I just want the front page to show what my site has to offer and picture to show off the features and you click onto.

    I want these formats on the front page with nice heading to get the new members to become a member. I also want if they type in like bbw.com they go to the big woman section automatically for each feature or categories.

    Then it is the regular dating site and function like a dating site with multiple languages for these groups:

    • The users will be single woman meeting woman, man meeting man, woman meeting man,
    • And the couple’s users will be 2 women meeting 2 women, 2 men meeting 2 men, woman and man, meeting woman and man, or one woman, or man
    • International mail order bridge and grooms
    • Inmates dating
    • Single, couple Sex on webcams
    • Sexual Seduction
    • Extreme Hardcore Porn And Amateur Videos
    • Bi Sex Orgy
    • Kink Inc A Couples and Singles Playroom
    • Videos and chat voice rooms
    • Speed dating parties for members free and non-members a fee to use this feature until they become a member.
    • Contest
    • Amateur videos

    The contest will have this format and if so it must be in writing what you are going to do to make the contest section of the site be right.

    Contest Site will contain the following:

    A. Simple sign up form for people that want to enter the contest. User :

    • Name,
    • password,
    • email,
    • image or video upload
    • And of course payment link.
    • Contestant entry form
    • and release form,
    • and disclaimer
    • Will be part of the signing up process using the contest form which will include.

    B. Then for the contest this is expected of the members :

    • and I want the members who is not contestants,
    • The members will be the judges and will view and vote on the contestant entries.
    • They too will pay a membership to view the contest.

    The members will do this as judges:

    • Search form as where members can browse and vote. 1 vote for each entry per member
    • Members can only vote a (Maximum of 5 to 10 entries at one time) and can’t vote but once every 24 hours.
    • Under each contestant entry will show how many votes they received
    • and on top their user name and contestant entry number to be used for voting
    • And tallying votes.

    The contest site will show the top 10 contestants.

    Users can be members of the dating site and have free access to the contestant site or users can be members of the contestant site and become members of the dating site as well.

    C. Then it is the admin section which I must see how to do and you will help me make sure it is right and I can work it. Even so I want the admin section to be able to do this for the contest.

    • Admin:
    • payment details
    • Set up contests,
    • time
    • and category
    • then the Library will to hold all old images and video in a data base and
    • I will provide you with the legal agreement, being over 18, consent to be on the site, at time of programming.
    • I will become the own of the material, etc.

    D. This is what the speeding dating site format will be like, and if so it must be in writing what you are going to do to make the speed dating section of the site be right.

    SPEED DATING SITE FORMAT

    E. Site will contain the following:

    • Would have the dating site structure
    • registration,
    • profile
    • questions,
    • photos,
    • time frame
    • webcam and etc

    F. the admin section will be able to do this

    • Admin which will enable add events
    • Charge for the event or make it free
    • Events start and gives each user between 1 to 6 minutes to chat with opposite or same
    • sex,
    • single or couple,
    • Then the program would disconnect the chat
    • And would move the user to chat with user 2 and so on.
    • Can have a minimum of 100 parties and unlimited max.
    • Site will have the option to make sure if it’s enough members that the site can randomly place site users to new parties.

    • The users will be single woman meeting woman,
    • man meeting man,
    • woman meeting man,
    • And the couple’s users will be
    • 2 women meeting 2 women,
    • 2 men meeting 2 men,
    • woman and man couples, meeting woman and man couples, or one woman, or man
    • again in groups of 30
    • and minimum of 100 parties that will be decided by me
    • And how long each groups of parties.

    When party is over:

    • Each user is prompted an electronic page to enter
    their matches.
    • The program would check for compatibility
    • and send the matches to their counter part for contact like a regular dating site
    • To let each person know who like them and they can contact them back at another time.

    While the party is going on:
    • Chat would show user name,
    • picture,
    • webcam,
    • Available and the option to click on the detailed profile.

    I will need all this in writing:
    • I need to get what you plan to do for me
    • To make sure we are on the right page.

    It will be for music and animals which will have another sub-domain name and the adult section will have another sub-domain. I just can’t have adult and kid stuff every mix for legal reason.

    I want all this in that contract and I want the contact listed as for Alexander Unlimited and address to me Founder and owner Wesley A. Alexander for tax purposes.

    If you have any questions, please let us know.

    Regards,
    Wesley A. Alexander

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


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