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BSA Piracy Study Deeply Flawed

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the losing-money dept.

Patents 437

zbik writes "Corante reports that The Economist has blown the lid off the BSA's recent report on software piracy (covered by Slashdot), referring to their methods as 'BS'. 'They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms.' The BSA has complained that the article is offensive but does not dispute their analysis. Score one for common sense."

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Of course their methods are BS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817630)

BSA is the 'BS' Association.

Re:Of course their methods are BS (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817855)

No, BSA is the "Boy Scouts of America" [google.com] . The fear shouldn't be of them, but the Hong Kong Scouts Association [thestandard.com.hk] ; they've already created an anti-piracy merit badge.

Re:Of course their methods are BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817999)

Buncha Sleazy Attorneys, I'd say.

OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817632)

Your Rights Online: The Sun is Hot
Your Rights Online: Osama Bin Laden Not a Nice Man
Your Rights Online: Some Politicians May Be Influenced By Money

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817669)

Some Politicians May Be Influenced By Money
Okay, that WOULD be news - I was under the impression it was ALL politicians are influenced by money. Or booze. Or drugs. Or cheap hookers. Or all of the above.

If you've managed to find some that aren't yet, quick - post their names here. There's bound to be a few lobbyists willing to try their luck in virgin territory.

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817739)

If you've managed to find some that aren't yet, quick - post their names here. There's bound to be a few lobbyists willing to try their luck in virgin territory.

More likely they'll send out a hit squad.

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (2, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817932)

Actually, without cameras and recorders about, the one or two politicians I've encountered off the record turn out to be reasonably intelligent people, who genuninely want to try to do what they perceive to be the Right Thing, for the country, their constituents, and themselves.
None of them are as miserable and corrupt individually as all of them are together.

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817981)

quoth smitty_one_each, "politicians I've encountered [aren't] as miserable and corrupt individually as all of them are together."

Not all of them, but where there's a bell-curve, there's always got to be outliers. Some of the folks who are sent to Washington are truly scary people, all politics aside.

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818129)

Like her? http://www.cynthiaforcongress.com/ [cynthiaforcongress.com]

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (2, Interesting)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818004)

I was under the impression it was ALL politicians are influenced by *

I share your disappointment with most of our elected officials, but there are exceptions [senate.gov] . Russ Feingold was the only senator to vote against [archipelago.org] the PATRIOT Act in 2001. He's truly an admirable leader.

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (5, Funny)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818042)

Okay, that WOULD be news - I was under the impression it was ALL politicians are influenced by money. Or booze. Or drugs. Or cheap hookers. Or all of the above.
Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to make my own political party! With blackjack! And hookers!

On second thought, forget about the political party and the blackjack!

Re:OTHER HEADLINES TODAY (0)

TrekCycling (468080) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817742)

In Soviet Russia Studying BSA Piracy is deeply flawed.

YARRRRRR!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817913)

Piracy is a serious issue. [wanadoo.nl] We don't appreciate you BSA folks downplaying the importance of actual killin' and stealing of booty. YARRRRRRRR!!!!

Lest test this theory... (0, Offtopic)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817637)

ok, cool.... Now, anyone got a torrent of MAC OSX 10.4 for x86? We need more data to test.

Boy Scouts of America? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817652)

But I thought "trustworthy" was one of the parts of the scout law! Was I mistaken? Is there some sort of mix-up here?

I'm so disillusioned just now...

Boy Scouts of Hong Kong... (2, Interesting)

viva_fourier (232973) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817774)

actually, the Boy Scouts of Hong Kong are now being encouraged to become anti-pirates: [com.com]

Claims (5, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817654)

For any company confident enough to claims they have lost 100,000 copies in revenue. They need to also claim they have increased their market share by 100,000 users.

Re:Claims (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817850)

They need to also claim they have increased their market share by 100,000 users.

Who says they don't? Market share figures are often over-inflated so as to make a company seem more important. If I were you, I wouldn't underestimate the ability of most companies to make the best out of the worst.

I just like to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817915)

ooohhh, B$A is hte sux0rz!!!!!11

Re:Claims (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817965)

As a recent Slashdot story highlighted market share and installed base are two different things measured in two different ways.

The very argument that piracy causes harm is based on the idea that the increase in installed base is done at the expense of market share.

KFG

And this is a surprise because? (4, Interesting)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817667)

We all know that their method of determining loss is flawed. Let's say I'd like to play with a program called A, I don't really need it in my business or at home, but it looks nice and maybe I'd use a part of it once. I would never have bought program A at $499 for a one time use and to play around with. I rather download it from somewhere and install it. This would count as a loss of $499 but this is flawed. I would never have bought the program in the first place if I had not gotten it from the net. Why? I can't defend spending $499 on a program I have virtually no use for.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (4, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817753)

We know it's true, what's news is that The Economist has said so. Normal people and perhaps lawmakers are more likely to listen.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (5, Insightful)

Bedouin X (254404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817755)

Just about every piece of software that I use professionally now - Photoshop, Visual Studio, Oracle, SQL Server, NT Server, Netware - I pirated as a teen. I probably wouldn't have learned them otherwise. What is wouldn't - not couldn't.

Now that I am gainfully employed, I am very vigilant about making sure that my employers always keep me equipped with the very latest versions of them all, even if I don't use them.

I'm not saying that what I did as a teen was right, but I know for a fact that a few pirated copies in 1996-1999 have resulted in thousands of dollars in purchases over the past 6 years or so.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (2, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817877)

...I know for a fact that a few pirated copies in 1996-1999 have resulted in thousands of dollars in purchases over the past 6 years or so.

It's funny how this is never included in any industry estimates of "losses" due to piracy. About 90% of my video game library is a direct result of the software piracy I and my friends engaged in. I also noticed this law at work: when I don't pirate games, I don't buy any.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (2, Interesting)

Bedouin X (254404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817925)

Yeah me too. I pirated Doom, Descent, Quake, and many other games when I was younger. But those games are the very reason why I bought Doom 3, Doom 3 ROE, Far Cry, Half Life 2, Halo, and Final Fantasy XI just within the past year or so - I've been legit since Quake 2 ;-). I wouldn't dream of pirating a game these days.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

chez69 (135760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817761)

not to troll, if you don't want to buy the software (assuming the software you are talking about is non free beer software), why should you be able to use it without cost? what is the threshold of use that determines whether you should have to pay for software?

Re:And this is a surprise because? (4, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817802)

No reasonable person is arguing that you shouldn't pay for software. The argument is simply that not paying for software doesn't always hurt the company that makes the software. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't make it legal. But, when some 15 year old pirates a copy of Oracle, the company hasn't lost any money.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (4, Interesting)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817923)

That was not a good example, Oracle offers all their software free of charge as long as you don't use it in a commercial setting. Go to www.oracle.com and download the Enterprise version of the database and use it as much as you like on your own private box. If you are going to use it in a business, you have to pay for it. Quite reasonable I would say...

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817851)

If the professional* software isn't doing anything to put money in your pocket, and thus justify its purchase, why should you pay for it?

The second your hobby/tinkering/curiousity results in income greater than the cost of the software, you've got a point.

Not a strong one, because a copy still isn't theft, but a point.

*To draw a distinction between Photoshop and World of Warcraft, for example.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (2, Insightful)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818067)

On what grounds do you draw such a distinction between "professional" and non-professional software, and then suggest that the only possible justification for purchasing professional software is to earn money with it?

An enthusiastic amateur photographer, for instance, may benefit enormously from a capable package such as Photoshop even if he's not making any money from it. He can do batch processing, decent conversion between formats, build profiles for his monitor and printer so that his prints come out as expected in terms of color accuracy, work with more bits per channel so transformations lose less detail, use his favorites from the huge library of plugins made for Photoshop... for all the reasons that it's the premier package among professionals. It may be well worth it for him to purchase it instead of Paint Shop Pro or PS Elements, or to fuss with the Gimp.

Moreover (1)

lilmouse (310335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817782)

Because it's software (information), you haven't prevented them from selling it to anyone else, either! They've lost no assets - they can still sell it to anyone else they want!

--LWM

Re:And this is a surprise because? (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817796)

That is more or less why non-commercial copyright infringement was not a crime up until the 70's. More important in this particular study, however, is that they are just guessing how many pieces of software are on an average computer, multiplying by the number of known computers in operation, subtracting purchases known to the BSA, and claiming that is the amount of pirated software. Then they multiply by the average cost of software.

So where does the copy of FreeBSD I downloaded and installed on a computer without an OS fit in? It's easy, I didn't buy the OS or any of the software so this is counted as one whole computer worth of pirated software. Where does the Windows machine I have sitting here only to run Firefox, IE, and Cygwin fit in? It is probably considered by their study to be half a dozen pirated programs. All freeware, small shareware, or just computers that don't run as much software as the BSA thinks the do (should?) are counted as piracy and lost revenue.

This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to lie to the public and to many governments in order to provide justification for their unjustifiable actions. Sad and sickening.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (4, Insightful)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817838)

We all know that their method of determining loss is flawed

it's all about elasiticity. anyone who has taken a 100-level course in economics (as have apparently the editors of "the economist". big surprise there) should know. a quick rundown is here:

http://www.quickmba.com/econ/micro/elas/ped.shtml [quickmba.com]

most software is highly elastic to most people. playing with this or that nifty piece of software may be fun for an hour or afternoon but unless it's a killer app, they would, given the choice, opt to not use the program rather than pay.

it's like the classic example of the pay-for park. a hundred people go to the park on a sunday afternoon, so a government beurocrate determines that if the city charges a $10 admission, the profit will be $1000 every sunday. the toll gates go up but, to the surprise of the beurocrat, nobody shows up to buy a ticket.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817867)

It's probably not a big surprise to the Slashdot crowd, but we don't exactly pull alot of weight here.
When the Economist calls BS on a report like that, it disrupts not only software piracy litigation, but also MPAA and RIAA litigation and hurts there chances to change laws in their favor.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817891)

Actually, that use wouldn't count in this study. They estimated piracy based on surveys of how many people said they used the software. If you're not using it, it doesn't count as a pirated copy of the software, even if it's on your disk ready to be used.

That doesn't mean the study isn't stupid and wrong, but I'm just saying your case doesn't count.

Many companies offer some sort of time-locked "try before you buy" for precisely this reason: let the user figure out if they want it. Unlike with, say, a car, it costs them nothing to let you use it for a while.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817894)

OTOH, if that program is Photoshop (as an example) and you only need it once in a while on an occasional image, then you are using it, and more to the point, the fact that you have it and use it means that you didn't purchase a cheaper program like Elements or Paint Shop.

It may not be that you ever would have purchased PS, but as long as you have it and use it you're not purchasing a cheaper alternative either.

And besides, if you have no use for it, then why do you have it?

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817899)

You could have payed somebody who has legally aquired the means of production $X/hr to do so. By pirating the software for one time use you ensure that the guy who would use it all the time can't find work and he too can not justify the cost.

It's THAT easy to justify copying?? (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817903)

So basically you can justify copying ANY piece of software by simply stating that you wouldn't have paid for it anyway??

If everybody thought the way you do, there wouldn't be a software industry.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (2, Insightful)

blibbler (15793) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817950)

If have virtually no use for it, then why did you bother downloading/installing it? If you only have use for a small/insignificant part of it, then why not use another program instead. A typical example is using the Gimp rather than pirating Photoshop. Sure the Gimp's feature set is much more primative than Photoshop, and its interface leaves much to be desired, but it does most things that people pirate Photoshop for.

I agree that the numbers that some software companies quote as losses are bullshit, but the justifications that most people use to pirate software are equally bullshit. If you choose to pirate software, don't try to justify it by saying that you are not stopping them selling the software to other people, or you would never had bought it anyway, just acknowledge what you are doing, and choose to do it anyway, or not.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

notfancy (113542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818108)

Furthermore, it is usual to inflate costs by not taking amortizations into accout. That is what happens when, for instance, US media quotes the material costs of hurricane devastation in the nine figures: if living in Florida were that costly, the area would be deserted and/or inhabited by very precarious settlements. Whereas the truth is, all costs are already taken into accout by insurance, fixed costs, &c.

In other words, fraudulent accounting practices.

Re:And this is a surprise because? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818131)

I've always considered that sort of arguement bunk.

I'm sorry, but using the price of the software as an excuse to steal it is like telling the police "Well, if the speed limit in this residential section wasn't so low, I wouldn't have been going over it by so much."

Using the high price of something is a valid excuse for boycotting it, for going with a compeditor, even for creating your own version. It is NOT an excuse to steal it.

Once you've stolen something you have lost all right to complain about the price IMO. If you and the rest of the world actually played by the rules, they would work and the price would either come down or someone else would pop up with a cheaper product that did what you needed. Instead, you steal it, get locked in and purchase it later on when you decide you can't live without it, and propigate the whole problem of high prices that you were complaining about.

Why does The Economist hate America? (2, Funny)

disposable60 (735022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817670)

If you prove the antipiracy studies' use of bogus assumptions, the pirates WIN!

Re:Why does The Economist hate America? (3, Funny)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817789)

If you prove the antipiracy studies' use of bogus assumptions, the pirates WIN!

No no! The pirates are really a front for terrorists. For every pirated copy of Office/Windows/etc, Osama Bin Laden gets $10.

Re:Why does The Economist hate America? (1)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817856)

Oh shit! That means that if you offend the BSA, the terrorists have already won.

--grendel drago

indeed bs (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817677)

if all those people couldn't have found a .torrent of photoshop cs 2, i'm sure they would have bought it...

BSA Acronym (2, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817678)

The Economist has blown the lid off the BSA's recent report on software piracy, referring to their methods as 'BS'.

BSA = 'BS' Analysis ?

BSA PSed off (4, Informative)

Bedouin X (254404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817679)

SIR - Your article on software piracy was extreme, misleading and irresponsible ("BSA or just BS?", May 21st). The headline was particularly offensive. The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous. The problem is real and needs no exaggeration.
Beth Scott
Business Software Alliance
London


Boy these people's heads are stuck so far up their asses that they can see through their mouths... you just can't make this stuff up.

Re:BSA PSed off (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817749)

Dear Madam:

The 'BS' in the headline was simply referring to your initials...

No harm done.

The use of the word 'Madam' in our letter, on the other hand, is deliberate.

Sincerely,

The Economist

Re:BSA PSed off (3, Funny)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817769)

> The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous.

You're right, to propose that they inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit political aims is rediculous. We do it to increase profits!

Re:BSA PSed off (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817931)

SIR - Your article on software piracy was extreme, misleading and irresponsible ("BSA or just BS?", May 21st). The headline was particularly offensive. The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous. The problem is real and needs no exaggeration.
Beth Scott
Business Software Alliance
London

I am honestly curious how people who are this stupid can even live. Do they set themselves up an Outlook reminder that pops up every ten seconds to tell them to breathe? I'm just stunned.

Re:BSA PSed off (1)

Interrupt18 (839674) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817948)

To make it easier, here's [economist.com] the source

Wow, that is shocking.. (2, Interesting)

suresk (816773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817686)

It would be interesting to see a real estimate of the 'costs' of piracy, compared to the benefits companies reap from their products being pirated. It would be extremely difficult to accurately measure, but I bet the results would be that piracy just doesn't cost that much.

Not that I in any way condone piracy :)

Re:Wow, that is shocking.. (1)

over_exposed (623791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817817)

The problem with that is the same as the original study - you can make it sound any way you want just by changing a few key assumptions up front. All your study would do is make some research firm some dough.

I don't condone "piracy" either... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818017)

...but I do believe that there are many cases where copyright infringement is quite justified and also quite harmless.

In fact, the attempts being made to stop copyright infringement are far more economically and personally harmful than the copyright infringement itself. You know...kinda like chopping off your arm to cure a hangnail.

But nobody cares what I think. Especially not the decision-makers.

Referer blocked (4, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817703)

The economist is refusing connexion with Slashdot as referer. Simply copy/paste the link in a new tab.

Re:Referer blocked (1)

macaulay805 (823467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817813)

The economist is refusing connexion with Slashdot as referer. Simply copy/paste the link in a new tab.

Is it me, or is that one smart way of trying to mitigate a /. effect to your server? It seems these people had a gameplan from this happening before.

Re:Referer blocked (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817869)

It seems I was wrong, "Connexion refused" might have been caused by gazillions of slashdotters trying to connect at the same time, and it just worked coincidentally when I tried by pasting the link...

Much as we might laugh (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817721)

Much as we might laugh at the BSA's (don't they make guns and motorcycles?) figures, illegal software distribution (I refuse to call it piracy until is bad for open source. Every low budget company that copies top-of-the-line software that it can't afford is the loss of another business that might be persuaded at the cost efficiency of a Free Software solution.

Re:Much as we might laugh (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817756)

illegal software distribution (I refuse to call it piracy until is bad for open source
should read :

"illegal software distribution (I refuse to call it piracy) is bad for open source"

Re:Much as we might laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817805)

Arrr, the laws of the keyboard be a harsh mistress!

Re:Much as we might laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817995)

I can tell from your comment that you did not RTFA.
BSA stands for Business Software Alliance.

Yeah... (1)

Frankensloot (751352) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817724)

I can see why Beth Scott would find that headline offensive.

Free Software Contributes to Piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817735)

"IDC estimates the average amount of software that is installed on a PC per country ... That figure is then reduced by the known quantity of software sold per country-a calculation in which IDC specialises."

So every time I choose OpenOffice rather than Microsoft Word, I bump the piracy losses a little more? (+1 installed, +0 sold) Good show...

Re:Free Software Contributes to Piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817895)

Yup, that's funny, isn't it?

I just discovered that the computer I'm using right now is probably contributing thousands of dollars worth of pirated software to the BSA statistics.

After all I'm using an operating system, an office suite, a database, a program to manage bibliographies, photo manipulation software, a vector graphics drawing program, programs for web development, a personal finance manager, etc and didn't pay a dime for them.

Funny thing is though, all the sofware I use, I'm using legally, because it's free software.

While we're at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817738)

Could someone pirate the economist article for us? :-D

Then stop exaggerating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817747)

The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous. The problem is real and needs no exaggeration.

then stop exaggerating putz!

Old news. We knew that for ages. (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817751)

I was at the AppleFest Boston in 1983, where Steve Wozniak brought up that point in the piracy debate/round table. Of course that was after he ducked under the table to put on his eye patch and hat. Before that he was quoting BSA type figures while being interrupted by the phone where he answered "just type BRUN CHOPLIFTER"

BSA (1)

mjh49746 (807327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817758)

I'm not too suprised that they were so thoroughly proven wrong like that because imo, their claims were totally illogical and unprovable to begin with.

Yes. Definately score one for common sense.

My view (3, Insightful)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817770)

1. The general public who uses "pirated" software wouldn't have bought it anyways, hence there's no loss of income. Moreover, they pretty much act as free beta testers.

2. Most companies who use commercial software do pay the licensing fees, so no loss of income. However, companies that decide to switch to cheaper, possibly opensource solutions are in fact loss of income for the software vendors. Nonetheless, switches like this are completely legal. So again, no loss of income due to illegal actions.

The BSA is full of it.
Those who use pirated software wouldn't have bought it anyways and even if forced (as in bigbrother) to not use a certain piece of software without paying, they would have found alternative applications and still not pay up.
Those who do pay are getting fed up with the EULAs, crappy software and prices then turn to cheaper alternatives.

Re:My view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818001)

The general public who uses "pirated" software wouldn't have bought it anyways, hence there's no loss of income.

This is such a key point and I'm surprised--or disturbed--that more media aren't emphasizing this.

There is a school of economics that actually treats piracy as evidence of overpricing or monopolization in a market. I.e., the extent of piracy is a direct, quantifiable indicator of the extent to which pirated goods are seen as being overpriced for whatever reason. The argument is that people go through trouble to create a black market, and they wouldn't do so if the cost of the goods in the legitimate market weren't prohibitive.

I'm not sure why this perspective has gone so unexplored in mainstream media. Maybe they're just not that intelligent, maybe this is just one of those subtlely profound manifestations of corporate influence on media, maybe all of the above.

I'm glad The Economist is at least recognizing the problems with the BSA's position; I'd like to see the argument taken even further to its logical conclusion.

Piracy is good for business (5, Insightful)

parvenu74 (310712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817787)

Just ask Microsoft -- if not for so many pirated copies of Windows all over the world they would have lost market share to Linux or something else. They just settled a piracy dispute with the government of Thailand. THOUSANDS of government computers had pirated copies of Windows and Thailand settled with Microsoft for $1 per computer. The last time I checked on NewEgg.com, an OEM copy of WindowsXP Pro costs $140. Therefore, it's worth $139 / machine to Microsoft to make sure Linux is *not* installed...

Brazil's Response (5, Informative)

Trinition (114758) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818087)

You've just gotta love Brazil's response [technologyreview.com] :

"We're against software piracy. We believe Microsoft's rights should be respected. And the simplest way to respect their rights is for Brazilians everywhere to switch to free software."

Re:Piracy is good for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818088)

Wasn't that Indonesia?

Does not dispute?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817791)

Slashdot quotes the BSA as "not disputing" the Economist's analysis.
The BSA has complained that the article is offensive but does not dispute their analysis. Score one for common sense.

The BSA says:

The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous. The problem is real and needs no inflation.

The BSA spokesperson claims the numbers are not inflated; the Economist says they are.

That sounds like dispute to me.
--
AC

Re:Does not dispute?!? (1)

zbik (194004) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817920)

The BSA spokesperson claims the numbers are not inflated; the Economist says they are.

That sounds like dispute to me.

No it isn't. It's just a contradiction.

Re:Does not dispute?!? (3, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817921)


The BSA spokesperson claims the numbers are not inflated; the Economist says they are.

That sounds like dispute to me.
It sounds like dispute, but it isn't dispute. She didn't say that the numbers weren't inflated -- she just said they didn't need to be, and by doing so avoided any actually substantive discussion. It's called "weasel words", and it's something PR flacks are quite good at.

What do you mean Flawed ? (4, Insightful)

My_guzzi (306998) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817804)

The people (guess Who) that paid for that report got the report that they want. Just what is new about that.

"Offensive" (1, Troll)

hpa (7948) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817812)

Sounds a whole lot like the Bush Administration being taken to task over internment camps... just say "offensive" and pretend it's not true.

Linux and Openoffice are a loss according to BSA (4, Insightful)

lugar (561993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817843)

Let's see...

They estimate the amount of software on each PC and then subtract sales revenues. What is left is pirated software? Talk about a loophole in their logic! Based on their logic, any piece of freeware that is installed on a computer is revenue that BSA considers lost.

Though if you consider who is partners with the BSA, it's not surprising they'd consider Linux and Openoffice to be "warez"!

Piracy until something better comes along... (1)

gmikej (856115) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817846)

Many pirates that steal software only do it because the applications are really easy to get (if you know where to look).

If these companies came down HARD on Joe User and really scared these pirates I'm sure many of them (not all- not even a majority of them, actually) would just:

1) shrug their shoulders
2) install Linspire or Ubuntu, Openoffice, Firefox, Thunderbird
3) call it a day

If pirates were REALLY scared of being caught they would see the benefit to just loading their computers full of FOSS (and burning the many dozens of CDs that contain W@R3Z!1!).

Truth is there is no fear of being caught.

Re:Piracy until something better comes along... (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817904)

They're already burning dozens of CDs of warez :)

Re:Piracy until something better comes along... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818005)

If these companies came down HARD on Joe User and really scared these pirates I'm sure many of them (not all- not even a majority of them, actually) would just:

1) shrug their shoulders
2) install Linspire or Ubuntu, Openoffice, Firefox, Thunderbird


Not likely. There are bugger all "hot titles" for Linux...

Let me sum up the feelings here... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817847)

Studies that are dubed bullshit or fit an agenda; anything that doesn't support piracy/warzing of games/music/movies/etc.
Studies that are not dubed bullshit or don't fit an agenda; anything that supports piracy/warzing of games/music/movies/etc.

Time for a separate "copyright" section (2, Interesting)

Rattencremesuppe (784075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817865)

Why doesn't Slashdot have a separate "copyright" section?

It's kind of weird that all copyright/piracy/P2P articles show up in the "patents" section,

How odd... (4, Interesting)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817868)

From TFA:
To derive its piracy rate, IDC estimates the average amount of software that is installed on a PC per country, using data from surveys, interviews and other studies. That figure is then reduced by the known quantity of software sold per country-a calculation in which IDC specialises. The result: a (supposed) amount of piracy per country. Multiplying that figure by the revenue from legitimate sales thus yields the retail value of the unpaid-for software. This, IDC and BSA claim, equals the amount of lost revenue.
So, if there's 3,000,000 people with an operating system, but our members have only sold 2,000,000, that's 1,000,000 pirated copies of our member's operating systems! Call the police/FBI/attack-squads!!!

Surely that can't be how they work it out. Anyone ever had one of these IDC surveys? How specific are they, would they allow them to filter out software by publisher/developer so that for instance GIMP and Photoshop don't both show up as "Graphics Tools"? If not, that means every copy of GIMP would be a loss to Adobe!

(Note - it wouldn't surprise me if that is exactly how it works, and that it was entirely deliberate, but that's a different matter...)

Once in a while... (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817879)

... some Microsoft (related?) sales person calls my company and asks me about any plans for upgrading to whatever it is they are trying to sell at that moment. I get the pleasure of stating, "we're attempting to reduce our use of Microsoft software" and when asked, I explain that the BSA audit our company went through some years ago soured many people on Microsoft so badly that we're steadily seeking alternatives.

It's not a full or heavy press at the moment, but I believe there will be a day...

Movie about this one too? (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817910)

The Economist.

Deep under cover, the Economist works hard to blow the lid off the scandalous BSA.

But the BSA has a few tricks of their own, and their own army. People around the Economist mysteriously start dying and/or disppearing.

The Economist is determined... to blow the lid off this story.

And then the final scene - it's revealed to the Economist that he's really a warrior from god, and that the BSA has been heavy into the occult and needed the lies of humanity to feed the gate to revive Satan (played by TV's Patrick Duffy).

Fuckin BLOCKBUSTER.

So don't copy... Don't copy that floppy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817912)

http://fnarg.com/floppy.html [fnarg.com]

Did I hear you right, did I hear you sayin'
That you're gonna make a copy of a game without payin'?
Come on, guys, I thought you knew better don't copy that floppy!


Remember kids, only copy this video if it's for educational purposes.

Firsthand Experience (4, Interesting)

AgentStarks (569112) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817945)

A company I worked for went through a BSA audit including Microsoft Office among others. When figuring their "penalty" for office, they used a 2x multiplier on retail cost. Of course they did it seperately for a full copy of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc... making each copy of Office to be $2400.

Too bad.. (-1, Troll)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 9 years ago | (#12817970)

I can't read TFA.

While the numbers are likely inflated, the problem of software piracy is still a huge one. In some countries, the majority of software being used is pirated! This certainly translates into significant losses for the software industry.

Let's debunk a few myths:
1)"I wouldn't have paid for it anyway, so it's not a lost sale"
OK, so let's say I go in to get my car's wheels rebalanced (or some other service). When they're done.. I just drive off without paying. Have I done anything wrong? Well, what if "I wouldn't have paid for it anyway"? So it's not a lost sale!

2) "The software is too expensive"
So perhaps you wouldn't buy product A which is overpriced for your needs. But by pirating A, you rob product B and C - competing products that are much cheaper with limited functionality compared to A that still meet your needs - of market share.

The fact is, if you don't pay for the software (unless a license is given for free), then you have no right to use the software. Period.

Re:Too bad.. (1)

iamsure (66666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818063)

Tires are a concrete good that you cant reproduce at zero cost. Me taking them costs you profits. Software, however, does not cost you a potential sale if I was not going to buy the product. You can still sell "the tires" to someone else even if I drove off with them - because you can make an infinite number of tires *for free*.

As to market share, there are many markets in software that have *no* alternative with identical functionality (or even comparable). Closest alternative to Visio? A joke. Closest alternative to Windows? Incompatible. In a market where there are no acceptable alternatives, and the price point is unbearable, piracy has occured.

As to the right to use it, that much we agree on. But we're not arguing about the right to do it - we're discussing the reasons people *are* doing it, and what impact they have.

Re:Too bad.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818078)

Argument 1 is really weak. In your description, the auto shop lost time and money by having a worker take the time to rebalance your tires. You stole his work effectively. No such thing really results if you download software illegally. If you download "photostore SC" from a torrent, everyone sharing on the torrent was providing their bandwidth for free. Argument 2 is far streonger.

Wha? (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818082)

Let's debunk a few myths:
1)"I wouldn't have paid for it anyway, so it's not a lost sale"
OK, so let's say I go in to get my car's wheels rebalanced (or some other service). When they're done.. I just drive off without paying. Have I done anything wrong? Well, what if "I wouldn't have paid for it anyway"? So it's not a lost sale!


Umm, what the hell? That made zero, and by zero I mean none, sense. The analogy is too terrible to even examine.

2) "The software is too expensive"
So perhaps you wouldn't buy product A which is overpriced for your needs. But by pirating A, you rob product B and C - competing products that are much cheaper with limited functionality compared to A that still meet your needs - of market share.


Now here I can only conlude it should be illegal to buy any software at all, for everytime you do so you are depriving any computer of companies of revenue. I suggest you write your senator right away and demand that all software sales be outlawed on these grounds.

The fact is, if you don't pay for the software (unless a license is given for free), then you have no right to use the software. Period.

Now that part I agree with. You have no right. What is in question is how much harm it does, which depends entirely on the circumstances of the pirating and cannot be assigned a simple number. If a baby is given a pirated copy of Photoshop for teething is that really a loss to Adobe of $600? Please justify a yes response. The BSA would say yes.

Arguing against windmills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818097)

Ah, the joys of the kinds of arguments you use. Build up an imaginary foe and than attack it mercylessly. :-D

"1)"I wouldn't have paid for it anyway, so it's not a lost sale"
OK, so let's say I go in to get my car's wheels rebalanced (or some other service). When they're done.. I just drive off without paying. Have I done anything wrong? Well, what if "I wouldn't have paid for it anyway"? So it's not a lost sale!"

Ok, so let's say I get the opportunity to "pirate" photoshop and play around with it. Does that translate into a loss for adobe of whatever photoshop might cost today?
No, of course not, as I wouldn't have bought it anyway. It's just the fact that I can get it for free that makes me use it.

Now that's the argument people are making and you should address, unfortunately you instead opted to babble about something totally unrelated.

"2) "The software is too expensive"
So perhaps you wouldn't buy product A which is overpriced for your needs. But by pirating A, you rob product B and C - competing products that are much cheaper with limited functionality compared to A that still meet your needs - of market share."

I agree with you, however I don't see many people if anyone at all make the argument that "software piracy" is legitimate, because of software being to expensive.

So again you chose to attack windmills instead of addressing what people are actually saying.

SIR -- Your Mother (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12817988)

Should have swallowed. The problem is real and needs no exaggeration.

Kofi Anon Coward
Bullshit Alliance
New York

BSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818020)

The implication that an industry would purposely inflate the rate of piracy and its impact to suit its political aims is ridiculous.

No its not!
don copy that floppy

Yeah, *RIGHT* (2, Funny)

mister_llah (891540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818034)

Oh come on, like this is even a believable article! Next they'll tell us the RIAA inflates their claims in the same fashion!

Article (3, Informative)

timothy_m_smith (222047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818040)

BSA or just BS?

May 19th 2005
From The Economist print edition

Software theft is bad; so is misstating the evidence

IT SOUNDS too bad to be true; but, then, it might not be true. Up to 35% of all PC software installed in 2004 was pirated, resulting in a staggering $33 billion loss to the industry, according to an annual study released this week by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a trade association and lobby group.

Such jaw-dropping figures are regularly cited in government documents and used to justify new laws and tough penalties for pirates--this month in Britain, for example, two people convicted of piracy got lengthy prison sentences, even though they had not sought to earn money. The BSA provided its data. The judge chose to describe the effects of piracy as nothing less than "catastrophic".

Intellectual property

But while the losses due to software copyright violations are large and serious, the crime is certainly not as costly as the BSA portrays. The association's figures rely on sample data that may not be representative, assumptions about the average amount of software on PCs and, for some countries, guesses rather than hard data. Moreover, the figures are presented in an exaggerated way by the BSA and International Data Corporation (IDC), a research firm that conducts the study. They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms.

To derive its piracy rate, IDC estimates the average amount of software that is installed on a PC per country, using data from surveys, interviews and other studies. That figure is then reduced by the known quantity of software sold per country--a calculation in which IDC specialises. The result: a (supposed) amount of piracy per country. Multiplying that figure by the revenue from legitimate sales thus yields the retail value of the unpaid-for software. This, IDC and BSA claim, equals the amount of lost revenue.

The problem is that the economic impact of global software piracy is far harder to calculate. Some academics have shown that some piracy actually increases software sales, by introducing products to people who would not otherwise become customers. Indeed, Bill Gates chirped in the 1990s that piracy in China was useful to Microsoft, because once the nation was hooked, the software giant would eventually figure out a way to monetise the trend. (Lately Microsoft has kept quiet on this issue.)

The BSA's bold claims are surprising, given that last year the group was severely criticised for inflating its figures to suit its political aims. "Absurd on its face" and "patently obscene" is how Gary Shapiro, boss of the Consumer Electronics Association, another lobby group, describes the new ranking.

"Pirated" copy of the article (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12818041)

See how you like it, Mr Economist!

http://mushroom.atspace.com/bsa.html [atspace.com]

A funny scene just came to mind (3, Funny)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12818056)

Bilbo What have I got on my PC?

Gollum Not fair! It isn't fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it's got in its nassty little PeeCeessssssesss?

Bilbo What have I got in my pocket?

Gollum Sssssss. It must give us three guesseses, my preciouss-three guesseses.

Bilbo Very well! Guess away!

Gollum Photoshop!

Bilbo Wrong! Guess again!

Gollum Sssssss. Autocad!

Bilbo Wrong! Last guess!

Gollum Sssssss

Bilbo Time's up!

Gollum DOOMIII!-or nothing!

BilboBoth wrong!

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