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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Over $50 Billion NOT Lost due to Software Piracy : IT News Today

Over $50 Billion NOT Lost due to Software Piracy

Piracy is obviously a huge concern in pretty much every function of IT, and to make matters worse report released this week claims that over $50 billion was lost due to piracy last year, and includes piracy rates broken down by location with Asia unsurprisingly leading the pack when it comes to software counterfeiting. Are these claims true? While it’s no question that Asia has a piracy problem, I highly doubt it.

I have a lot of pet peeves, and people wanting things without paying for them is near the top of my list. With my side business, a great amount of calls I get are from people looking for a “cheap copy” of Windows or other kinds of software (despite the fact that I advertise that I don’t sell software). When computers are brought to me for repair, I have to turn some of them away if they have bootleg copies of Windows installed. My personal favorite is when I get a call from someone saying that a “Genuine Advantage” popup keeps appearing, and if I can make it go away if they slip me some cash. I turn them away, but it is a very annoying thing to deal with that I’m sure a large number of freelance technicians deal with.

There is one thing that annoys me even more than freeloaders blowing up my phone whenever I advertise my computer repair services; stupid reports like the one released this week about piracy that I mentioned above. Where do these clowns come up with their facts? Do they have any actual practical computer industry knowledge at all?

If you’ve been paying attention to the IT industry for the last year or so you probably already know where I’m going with this: Making a claim that $50 billion was lost last year due to piracy is a very bold claim, and cannot be proven. That number would definitely be true if you multiplied the cost of your software by the number of times it was illegally downloaded, but that math just doesn’t work.

If Joe User was unable to illegally obtain that copy of Photoshop he downloaded last week, would have have instead given up, ran to the store and purchased it? I highly doubt it. Joe probably would have moved on to stealing something else. Not only that, how does anyone know exactly how many times someone acquired a piece of software illegally? Are they assuming that “X” number of copies were stolen because their sales dropped by a certain percentage? If they did have accurate download numbers, how do they know who would have bought the software if they couldn’t steal it, and who would have stolen something else instead?

Skipping on down...

Perhaps software sharing becoming so popular is a testament to why open source software is catching on so well. Most people don’t understand proprietary software licensing, and given the perception of the free nature of proprietary software packages, it’s no wonder. As Microsoft and other companies come up with more stringent methods to thwart piracy, more and more people are aware of the reality. You have to pay for proprietary software, and you have to pay (in some cases) more than your computer costs for a single program.

With desktop Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora, there is no licensing agreements you have to read through, no activation, and overall just no BS. You don’t have to be a victim of software piracy, nor give rise to the BSA’s statistics, in order to use your computer. As more and more people are made aware of software piracy and the heavy rules associated with proprietary software, the faster they will leave the platform. Afterall, Windows users have been getting their software for free for many years, why stop now?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting piracy here. It is illegal and is not something my business is a part of. However, one has to wonder, as the BSA and other companies make more and more people aware of piracy and proper licensing, are they going to instead have the opposite affect and push people away to other platforms? Current events tell me that this is likely the case.

Read on...


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