Bogus Stats Again: BSA Puts Out Its Yearly Propaganda About Software Piracy

from the aren't-we-done-with-this-yet? dept

For the 9th year in a row, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization that mainly represents Microsoft's interest, has put out its ridiculous "Global Software Piracy Study", which argues that tons and tons of software is being pirated, and if only people paid for it, there would be $63.4 billion more going to software companies. We've been criticizing the ridiculously laughable methodology of the report since it began, and even have seen the company that does the research, IDC, admit that the BSA exaggerates what the report actually says. We've done multiple detailed analyses of how the BSA's stats are misleading (or just flat out bogus). And yet, because there are magical numbers involved, the press just loves to parrot the claims without any skepticism.

This year's report is no different. It's more of the same ridiculousness, with a clueless press reporting (totally inaccurately) that the study says that software piracy "costs" the economy $63.4 billion. That's simply not true. What the report did find was not actually surprising or even very interesting. It's that people in developing countries tend to infringe more often. You probably knew that already, but if you wanted evidence for that, you shouldn't look to the BSA and its bogus stats, but a thorough, comprehensive and independent review of the market, such as the one done by Joe Karaganis and SSRC last year. That report found the reason that there was increased piracy in developing markets was because clueless companies don't realize that people aren't going to pay a month's salary for a single digital good.

Of course, rather than recognize it's their own business model failings at issue, the BSA is once again using this report to call for "tougher penalties" for infringement. This despite the fact that no study has ever shown that such penalties actually drive more people to buy.

Thankfully, at least some people are calling the BSA out on its bogus report, such as by noting that it's political propaganda designed to get legislation like SOPA and PIPA passed. The reality, of course, is that it shows how out of touch the BSA is with the innovation economy today, instead working to lock up and protect the interests of its major funders: Microsoft, Symantec and Intuit. Those companies are threatened by upstarts with better business models, and the best they can do is to support legislation that will lock down the internet, causing more harm than good for true innovation.

The "Bogus Stats Again" report from the BSA isn't about dealing with piracy. It's a way of white washing an agenda of protectionism for some large software companies who don't want to compete or to adapt.
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Filed Under: bogus stats, bsa, pipa, software piracy, sopa
Companies: idc, intuit, microsoft, symantec


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2012 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Any thoughts on how to make it work?

    Simple....switch from basing your business model on products, and start basing your business model on services. A lot of the software that gets released (and then pirated) is based on the fire-and-forget model; the company puts the software out there to buy, the user buys the software, and that's the last contact that the company has with the user. If a user pirates the software, they're skipping the second step, but they aren't really missing out on any added value from buying the real product. This is why software giants like Microsoft have such a large issue with piracy.

    As a trivial example, try comparing Google Docs' spreadsheets with Microsoft Office's Excel. They're both spreadsheet programs. Google gives their version away for free, at least for casual users. Microsoft sells Office for somewhere between $100 and $400, depending on the version that you want. Google doesn't get pirated at all -- there's nothing to pirate. Microsoft gets pirated constantly, because lots of people don't want to drop that much money just to open a spreadsheet. And, based on recent trends, Google is taking an ever-increasing amount of market share away from Microsoft, by releasing a free product.

    Obviously, one of the major advantages of MS Office is that you can work offline with it. That being said, though...how many people actually produce and update spreadsheets purely for their own use? Most spreadsheets are intended to be shared with someone else. One of the main services Google provides is the ability to share the documents with other people, quickly and easily. Google figured out how to monetize the sharing process, rather than the creation process, and that's how Google makes money off a free product without having to worry about piracy.

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