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BSA Says 41% of Software On Personal Computers Is Pirated 569

An anonymous reader writes "Individuals are turning to P2P networks and auction sites in staggering numbers to acquire or transfer illegal software and in doing so are harming the economy whilst exposing themselves to malware, identity theft and criminal prosecution, according to a report from the Business Software Alliance. Beyond P2P and auction site piracy, the report also draws correlations between Internet piracy and the spread of malware such as viruses, trojans and spyware, which often exploit vulnerabilities in illegal software that does not benefit from security updates provided by manufacturers. Although the correlation is not universal, geographies with high instances of software piracy suffer from high instances of malware."
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BSA Says 41% of Software On Personal Computers Is Pirated

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  • 41? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:00AM (#29717547)
    While you're guessing with such precision, why not choose 42% and grab more nerd eyes?
    • Re:41? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:05AM (#29717597) Journal

      Well I'm actually surprised it's only 41% pirated software on personal computers, considering it's not often that people buy software applications for non-work purposes and most are free or have alternatives.

      But it's true that piracy is hurting the industry (be that software, games, music or movies). Yeah it would be nice if all of that would be free, but it's not a good model to sustain the development and producment. You can always argue that those who like doing it "just for the fun of it" will keep doing so, but it's not going work. The quality suffers and there wont be as many different options or products. There's a reason why everything isn't free already (because it could be - there's nothing to limit it). Market and income is how world works and is needed to produce products, in a way or other. Either by user directly paying for it, or from ad revenue ala google (and losing some of your privacy in the trade) or by other means like open source with support and sponsoring from other companies.

      And it's not really a surprise that you might get infected with malware when downloading from warez sites.

      • Re:41? (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:15AM (#29717687) Journal

        >>>But it's true that piracy is hurting the industry (be that software, games, music or movies)

        No it isn't. See my signature. One study estimated 5000 downloads per 1 lost album sale, and another study estimated 2500 downloads per 1 lost album sale. I took the more-pessimistic estimate. Both studies were done by college universities with no bias, unlike the studies coming from RIAA and BSA. (Use google to find them if you're curious, same way I found them.)

        • Re:41? (Score:5, Informative)

          by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:16AM (#29717699)

          So it is hurting the industry, but not as much as the industry claims.

          • Re:41? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:39AM (#29717961) Journal

            Yeah just like getting bit by an ant "hurts" me, but not really. It's just an ant. Nothing to have a hissy-fit over like IRAA and the BSA seem to be having.

            BSA: "Oh noes! We've been bit an ant. The end is nigh"
            US: "Stop being a wuss."

            • Re:41? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:50AM (#29718087)

              But 2500 is far less than multiple millions. I don't believe the "pirating" of songs and videos has a large impact on the bottom line of these companies, and I wouldn't care if it did, to be honest, but to say it has no impact is just not true. The question of whether that impact is good or bad is simply a matter of perspective.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                Don't miss the fact that their biggest out and out, completely undeniable, absolute lie, was that piracy was hurting the economy. The truth is, when the money is not spend on licensed content it still ends up getting spent on others things in the economy, like food, clothing, accommodation etc. often things in the economy that are locally produced, have a much greater impact on employment within the local community and are often of far greater 'real' value.

                Technically speaking of course piracy is often f

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards ( 940851 )
            Yes, but so are the people that use open source, the people that refuse to use software that's overpriced and under featured. And of course you'll notice that they're whining about those bastards that buy software second hand as well.

            The BSA is every bit as corrupt, ignorant and greedy as the RIAA and MPAA, the difference is that they've got a pretend right to demand access to business networks to look for "pirated" software.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

            So it is hurting the industry, but not as much as the industry claims.

            Suppose a record sells 1,000,000 copies. In order for that to drop to 999,000 copies, there would have to be about 2,500,000 unauthorized downloads (by the worst estimate offered). So, record companies still make 99.9% of their "owed" income as long as downloaders only outnumber purchasers by a factor of 2.5:1.

            The RIAA member corporations want to assrape the constitution for this? To hell with 'em.

      • Re:41? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:52AM (#29718141)

        But it's true that piracy is hurting the industry (be that software, games, music or movies).

        [citation needed]

        I'm sure it was the pirates. The global recession had nothing to do with it.

      • Re:41? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Znork ( 31774 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:56AM (#29718193)

        But it's true that piracy is hurting the industry

        Piracy may be specifically hurting IP industries, but it's a net win for the economy. The dead weight loss [wikipedia.org] caused by monopoly rights damages the economy as a whole, probably by amounts that dwarf the whole revenue of those industries, and only piracy mitigates that damage.

        but it's not a good model to sustain the development and producment.

        At the efficiency levels seen in the monopoly industries it's obvious that neither is monopoly a good model to sustain development and production. At about 5% efficiency, as in the music industry, it's even worse than the worst of government run programs. Others, like productivity software, have a level of fungibility which has at least had some competitive effect. None, however, demonstrate anything remotely like what an acceptable overhead should look like in a competitive industry and together the IP industries are an albatross around the neck of todays western economy.

      • Re:41? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Monday October 12, 2009 @12:00PM (#29719807) Homepage Journal

        But it's true that piracy is hurting the industry (be that software, games, music or movies). Yeah it would be nice if all of that would be free, but it's not a good model to sustain the development and producment.

        So if Jimmy the Geeklet pirates Windows and Photoshop and MS Office, and then when he grows up to be James the Geek with a real job he already knows Windows and MS Office and Photoshop and expects to be able to use those at work and maybe even buys copies (err, licenses) for his own use at home, this is a net loss to the "industry" compared to his knowing and wanting to use KDE and the GIMP and Open Office?

    • Re:41? (Score:5, Funny)

      by suso ( 153703 ) * on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:18AM (#29717741) Homepage Journal

      While you're guessing with such precision, why not choose 42% and grab more nerd eyes?

      Because pirating software is not the answer to life the universe and everything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Calydor ( 739835 )
        I disagree.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        >>>Because pirating software is not the answer to life the universe and everything.

        Are you sure? On that somewhat-popular alternate universe called "Star Trek" TNG/DS9/&c, piracy is how everything works. People work and produce goods, and everyone else just takes them for free. They don't even use money anymore. That culture seems to make out okay so perhaps piracy is the answer - the path towards Roddenberry's utopia.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          It's called communism, and it fails because humans are lazy and greedy. If you can somehow persuade humans to stop being lazy and greedy, then pretty much any system of government will suffice.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            If you can somehow persuade humans to stop being lazy and greedy, then pretty much any system of government will suffice.

            To be fair to Star Trek, it wasn't a change in human nature that brought about their Utopian society, but the discovery/invention of a way of having practically unlimited resources. Redistribution of wealth will work just fine when the total available wealth is far beyond what the entire population could possibly use in their entire lifetimes.

      • Re:41? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kirijini ( 214824 ) <kirijini AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:08AM (#29719109)

        While you're guessing with such precision, why not choose 42% and grab more nerd eyes?

        Because pirating software is not the answer to life the universe and everything.

        No no no no no.

        42 is the answer.

        Pirating software is the question.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhilJC ( 928205 )

      Sixth Annual BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study (2008), Page 17, when describing how they calculate piracy:

      1. Determine how much PC packaged software was deployed in 2008;
      2. Determine how much PC packaged software was paid for/legally acquired in 2008; and
      3. Subtract one from the other to get the amount of pirated software.

      To calculate "deployment" they asked 6,200 people (p.17 of above report) how much software they install in a given year. Take into account that these 6,000 people are
  • by ValentineMSmith ( 670074 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:02AM (#29717555)

    are true. We'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:03AM (#29717565)
    I won't repeat previous postings on /. and CNET and PCnews and... and ... which have debunked BSA's "statistics."

    Their first graph (which is in percentages, but they don't label the scale LOL) shows remarkably low rates of malware, and an alleged piracy rate (whatever that is) that is 4-10x higher.

    Maybe they should check out http://garwarner.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    BSA+RIAA+MPAA=organizations that make up stories and wait for their fake "facts" to be reused by their legislative bought henchmen.


    • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:13AM (#29717671) Homepage

      Maybe one reason for such a poor correlation between alleged copyright infringement and malware rates is that most who engage in and enable copyright infringement actually do have higher ethics than some companies which deliberately add creepy spyware and malware-like features to their applications in the name of controlling what user's do. Indeed, I wonder if some even explicitly choose copyright infringement sources simply to get spy and malware disabled versions of certain applications.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Carewolf ( 581105 )

        I wonder if some even explicitly choose copyright infringement sources simply to get spy and malware disabled versions of certain applications.

        I do, but they are not copyright infringement sources. If I already own a license, they are simply enhanced methods of distribution or a convinient malware-cleansing caching proxy.

    • Bull. Shit. Artists.

  • Then far be it from me to not meet their expectations.

    "Hey kids! Remember that new game you wanted? Well, I need to get us up to quota!"

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:04AM (#29717583) Homepage
    Because malware never comes with legal software...
  • Not 42%?

  • by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:04AM (#29717589)
    Speaking as an MBA, their unsubstantiated numbers and pretty graphs is good enough for me. I'm going to delete 41% of the software on my machines to make sure I'm not a crook!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peragrin ( 659227 )

      Start with c:\windows. As 95% of all malware hides in there. Bonus it ismost likely pirated anyways.

  • Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:04AM (#29717591) Journal
    If the BSA was genuinely concerned about software piracy, they'd be actively promoting free and open alternatives.
    • Re:Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:12AM (#29717667) Homepage

      They aren't, and so they won't.

      What they are concerned about is losing market share to open source, so they'd rather pretend it doesn't exist and try to eradicate the philosophy of free software in the public mind.

  • Most Americans live on McDonalds and foods filled with chemicals.... because no one has given the public anything else on such a large scale that is easily accessible and affordable in a timely manner.

    and McDonalds still makes a shit load of cash...

  • Here's how I read the summary:

    "Retail software is so full of bugs that you should run out and buy it immediately!"

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:10AM (#29717647)

    What a lousy article - all puff and no content:

    - The FA discusses online auction sites as a "hotbed" of trading illegal software. But it doesn't say whether the BSA distinguish between online auctions offering cracked copies for download, pirated installation media or perfectly legitimate resale of software which the seller has no further use for.
    - There's no real explanation of how they reached this figure - do they assume a single person using a torrent installs the software once? Twice? Never? Once then decides they don't really need it so uninstalls it?
    - Even if the BSA did explain how they reached this figure, how do we know that their methodology is sound and gives reasonably accurate answers? AFAIK there is no methodology that is generally known to give accurate answers to the question of "how many PCs have application X installed, where X may or may not phone home and there may or may not be cracked versions of X in the wild which modify any existing phone-home functionality?"

    Thing is, the BSA must know that these numbers are not reliable and that they can't get reliable numbers. I think the reason this article exists is the BSA are seeding the news wires. Who wants to bet that the next thing they'll do is lobby representatives in governments around the world using these bullshit figures and that's the only reason the figures exist?

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by XMode ( 252740 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:14AM (#29717673)

      They simply live in a world where all second hand software sales are piracy. Its the only possible way this figure could even be remotely correct.

    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Informative)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:22AM (#29717781) Journal

      But it doesn't say whether the BSA distinguish between online auctions offering cracked copies for download, pirated installation media or perfectly legitimate resale of software which the seller has no further use for.

      Well, from the PDF of the actual report, they run through a bunch of 'case studies' which are by and large about who they targeted on these auctions sites like iOffer:

      In August 2009, BSA announced that its members won a $210,563 judgment in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against Matthew Miller of Newark, Del., who sold illegal copies of software through an Internet auction site. Software programs published by Adobe, Autodesk, and Microsoft were at the center of the case, which stemmed from a 2008 investigation by BSA. US District Judge Susan Illston awarded the plaintiffs $195,000 in statutory damages and an additional $15,563 for filing costs and attorneys’ fees. Miller was barred from committing future acts of copyright infringement involving Adobe, Autodesk, and Microsoft software products, and was ordered to immediately destroy any and all infringing copies of such software in his possession or control. According to legal documents filed on behalf of BSA member companies, the defendant “admitted he had ‘downloaded software, burned and copied CDs, and sold about 200 to outsiders for $8.00 to $12.00.’” Records in the case also describe how Miller used the popular iOffer Web site to sell unlicensed copies of BSA member software. In one particular instance, Miller was accused of offering approximately $12,000 worth of software to an undercover investigator for just $52, with an agreed price of $45 after some haggling.

      And another:

      In early 2009, Timothy Dunaway of Wichita Falls, Texas, was sentenced to 41 months in prison by US District Court Judge Reed O’Conner for selling counterfeit computer software through the Internet. Dunaway was sentenced to two years of supervised release, ordered to pay $810,000 in restitution, and forfeit a Ferrari 348 TB and Rolex watch. From July 2004 through May 2008, Dunaway operated approximately 40 Web sites that sold a large volume of downloadable counterfeit software. He operated computer servers in Austria and Malaysia; US and foreign law enforcement agents cooperated in the investigation. Dunaway purchased advertising for his Web site on major Internet search engines and processed more than $800,000 through credit-card merchant accounts under his control. The software sold by Dunaway had a combined retail value of more than $1 million.

      There are more. I didn't see anything in the report about illegitimate versus legitimate resale and replication. I'm guessing they rely on the license terms to determine whether or not it's legitimate for me to resell my Warcraft 3 CDs or Windows XP Key. I'm guessing that Blizzard & Microsoft would be the ones informing them that's not legitimate.

      By and large, however, the report focuses on people who pretty blatantly violate copyright and sell them on auction sites. A guy I knew in college did this and made a couple thousand on eBay before getting a seriously nasty letter from Microsoft. This would have been in ~2001 I think. I'm sure the same crap goes on with more serious consequences.

      I'm not defending the BSA but they list case studies of the kind of piracy they are targeting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )

        A guy I knew in college did this and made a couple thousand on eBay before getting a seriously nasty letter from Microsoft.

        Whoah I'm in the wrong business.

        He made a couple of thousand on ebay and the only downside was a *letter*???

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

          Yeah, except you're about 8 years too late. I'm pretty sure you'd get a lot more than a "seriously nasty letter" now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by conureman ( 748753 )

      Why, yes, I distinctly recall, when I bought my last mainboard on the hotbed, er, Ebay, the pirates that sold it to me tried to offer me a CD of stolen drivers to go with it. Righteousness and morality took the field and I chose to download them legally from the manufacturers website. Thank the Gods.

    • Made up numbers (Score:3, Informative)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Hey, it works well for the *AA's in perverting public opinion and getting laws enacted so why should the BSA be any different?

  • Not one single program on my computer is pirated.

    It's all purchased (XP, MS Office) or open source (firefox) or free-to-use (Opera). I think the BSA's 41% estimate is brown and smelly due to having formerly occupied the lower regions of their bodies.

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:11AM (#29717657)

    Since the BSA is only concerned with business software, what they probably mean is that 41% of copies of MS Office on home computers are not legitimate copies, mostly copied from work. If those people didn't have a pirate copy of Office, that would probably be using OO.org or some other free equivalent, they wouldn't be paying for it.

    (I guess a lot of people have academic versions of Office, and other app;ications like Adobe's suite, and they no longer are students so I guess that makes them pirates too.

  • That the vast majority of PC owners I know go 'what's that?' when you mention P2P, torrents etc. Sure, there's a hardcore that use it heavily, usually younger sorts (get off moi laaaand!) but most people I know have nothing but paid for sofwtare or more usually, tons of 'free' crap they've downloaded from some pop up advert or got from a magazine cover disk.
    Even amongst the hardcore, I'd wager a fair chunk are moving towards opensource/free anyway. My laptop has OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Aptana, Ne
  • by Yacoby ( 1295064 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:15AM (#29717681)
    Maybe they have never considered the fact that there is a correlation between the state of the economy and the amount of pirated software. Maybe they should consider that their prices are far too high to be able to afford. As for harming the economy, my money tends to go towards food rather than software. It isn't like I am saving the money and pirating software, I don't have any money to save.
  • by dotfile ( 536191 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:16AM (#29717697)
    Oh, but wait... it's a BSA report, which means anyone with a brain already KNOWS it's bullshit. Unfortunately, that means most members of Congress thinking it's true, and I suspect that's their intended audience. It's certainly a not "report" aimed at us. Their goal is to get more laws passed to make them and their masters money, extracted by law from everyone whether they have ever used any of the software in question or not. Another tax on blank media, anyone? How about one on hard drives, CPUs and other components? Pay by the megabyte for connectivity, because obviously we're stealing software? All they have to do is convince Congress-critters it's a good idea, which seems to be shockingly easy to do if you supply enough cash.
  • Bloat (Score:5, Funny)

    by rant64 ( 1148751 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:17AM (#29717703)
    The other 59% of disk space occupied by legal software consists entirely of Adobe Reader.
  • None of the software on my computer is illegal, to the best of my knowledge and belief.

    Thunderbird, Firefox, Chrome, OOO3.1.1, NetBeans, no, none of it's illegal.

    And I have paid-for software too: SQL Server 2008, Toad, AVG...

    What do you mean, something's missing? Not that I know of.

  • I'm willing to bet that most of the people who are pirating software are doing so on Windows & Mac platforms. If the BSA wants to stop software piracy, why not promote Linux instead?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dotfile ( 536191 )
      Because RedHat, Novell and the others aren't paying them to shill their stuff.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sajuuk ( 1371145 )
      Because corporate America considers Linux to be pirated as well. As well as all FOSS software for that matter.
  • Even according to the UK Government's recent consultation [berr.gov.uk], about restricting Internet access of suspected filesharers, the figures of estimated damages due to software piracy is a staggering 144 times that of music, TV and films from filesharing:

    The BPI claim P2P file-sharing costs the UK music industry £180m pa (2008) while IPSOS gives a loss in the UK for TV and films of £152m (2007). ... Figures for software - the biggest of the creative industries - are difficult to obtain, but it is estimat

  • "...is the Online Auction Tracking System" previously used to prevent piracy of online FPS titles, software pirates have come to fear Quakers' OATS.
  • Depends.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thyamine ( 531612 ) <thyamine@NOSpAM.ofdragons.com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:20AM (#29717767) Homepage Journal
    I think it depends on the user. You have users who call their friend/family member/etc when they have a question, and clearly are not the ones pirating. Then you have the people who know what they are doing (and from my personal experience) quite often do. The reasons everyone gives are different, but there is often a good bit of it. And they are just as likely to install it on that friend/familiy member's computer when they call needing help with Office or whatever ('Oh, this is an old verson, let me upgrade you).

    I've mentioned it before. I have a friend that almost refuses to buy music when they can use whatever the current flavor of P2P is to get it. I had a different friend that gladly would download the newest games from torrents and play them. Not to mention the various other indiscretions I or other friends have done. Several people still will email me with a 'hey, do you happen to have a serial number for...' These aren't college students or poor workers from some low-end job. They are often well paid professionals (often in IT). They just don't want to spend the money. It's not some sense of 'information should be free!' or 'software shouldn't be patented!'. They just don't want to spend the money, so while these reports may not have numbers that everyone believes, I certainly have seen it day to day. Just without a metric that I can quote.
  • by sajuuk ( 1371145 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:21AM (#29717775)
    Correlation does not imply causation.
  • More like 0% here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thebrid ( 772919 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:23AM (#29717793)

    As a Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] user, I can say precisely 0% of the software on my PC is pirated AND I have no issues with malware, viruses, trojans, etc. (according to ClamAV [clamav.net] anyway). In fact, probably 99% of the software I run is free & open source. The only proprietary software I use for the time being is Adobe Flash and the ATI Radeon driver, both legally obtained.

    I know we'd all like to say that there is no link between illegally copied software (I refuse to use the word "pirated") and malware, but I'm sure we've all seen instances where relatives' PCs got infected by software downloaded from Kazaa, etc.

    What really surprises me is that, when given the choice between maybe catching viruses or getting prosecuted for downloading/installing illegal software and using the free and legal open source equivalent, so many people still choose to download their software illegally. I have to say, as a full-time user and software developer, Ubuntu's offering is really, really well put-together and a pleasure to use.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:27AM (#29717835) Homepage

    1) Can't measure it - you can't measure how many people downloaded your software through illicit channels because, by definition, those channels are usually unmonitored, don't keep logs, and aren't subject to easy investigation. You might be able to measure a particular computer at a particular point in time but any measurement being done on "behalf of" the BSA is going to be worthless. You'd have to randomly monitor thousands of PC's in dozens of categories (home, business, mobile, poweruser, etc.) and get permission to report on any "unlicensed" software there, and then chase it up with the company concerned to see if it was actually unlicensed (rather than just using the wrong VLK or similar for convenience).

    2) Can't compare it - the chances of those metrics being stable across such countries as Turkey and the US are unlikely.

    3) Can't correlate it - Just because malware goes up with pirated installations doesn't mean anything - it just means that the pirates prefer to download porn which may or may not introduce malware... it doesn't mean the malware is in the pirate software.

    Statistics are worthless quoted out of context. We have no idea what was measured, how, why, what bias was introduced by the measures, or anything else.

    To be honest, I imagine the percentage to be *higher*... I've seen dozens of people with Winzip on their computers who haven't actually bought it but they heard they needed it to open ZIP files. I've seen dozens of work laptops come back with full installations of football games, office, etc.... technically that's copyright infringement ("software piracy") because it's a breach of the license. I expect the true figure to be nearer 80 or 90%.

    But then you have the reasoning that it's somehow linked to malware in any way other than "people get malware too"... almost 100% of the home PC's I see have items of malware on them (again, depending on your definition).

    If you want to say "copyright infringement is bad and puts £5 on the cost of every game you buy, or £50 on the price of Office", people would listen. Making up bollocks statistics about nonsense correlations just makes me switch off and let's me know that, actually, you're just trying to scare me into buying things because you can't think any other way would work (and thus don't understand software "piracy" at all). I don't pirate, either at work or at home. I just move things to open-source if I can't afford the real package, and I never buy anything without a demo. No demo, no trial version, no purchase. I also don't buy anything with DRM that interferes with my usage of the product. I'm not alone.

    Stop spending your time analysing vague correlations and look at those statistics about why people pirate in the first place. Almost always it's cost, convenience and because a certain percentage of those "pirate" downloads are actually your own customers just trying to get the bloody thing working (I've had to break DRM schemes in work in order to be able to install compliant to our licensing - it was tons easier than our negotiating with the company in question to do the same thing). Be open with those stats and then things get interesting: How many pirates, on average, end up revealing upon further investigation that they *already* own the software in question, but the DRM got in the way? Or that they lost the install disk? Or that they needed original media to recover their PC's and it wasn't supplied by the manufacturer? I've seen all three of those and even done the second myself - I needed a particular install disk and it was an emergency and the person I was working for didn't have the original disk to hand. After I ensured that they were entitled to the licences, I just downloaded one and used that instead (after checksum verification). Does that contribute as being "another" PC with pirate software?

  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info&devinmoore,com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:34AM (#29717917) Homepage Journal

    " geographies with high instances of software piracy suffer from high instances of malware."

    Isn't this because the places you have to go in order to get free software aren't policed for malware? This really has nothing to do with the pirated software itself, but instead it has to do with the law preventing people from trading software for free in the first place. Software trading is outlawed == only outlaws will post software for trade (i.e. people already engaged in nefarious activities like malware).

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:42AM (#29718009)

    First off, aside from the questionable validity of this study, I wonder really just how much these guys are "harming the economy"?

    Personally, I've made an effort to avoid pirated software these days (I'll admit, I used some back when I was younger, but open source was less common back then and I had no money to spend anyways).

    I mean, almost everything has a free replacement available these days.

    Windows -> Linux
    Outlook -> Thunderbird
    Office -> OpenOffice.org (or actually Gnumeric and Abiword, which I actually kinda prefer myself)
    Photoshop -> GIMP
    Visual Studio -> GNU Compilers + lots of IDEs
    Numerous Commercial CD Burning Programs -> Numerous Open Source CD Burning Programs

    Don't get me wrong I know that for *professionals* GIMP often just ain't gonna compare to Photoshop. However, for personal computers at home, I think the vast majority of users are fine with the above. More to the point, I think that if the choice actually came down to paying retail price for the commercial versions or using free software (instead of their actual choice which was free pirated commercial software or free open source software), I doubt that very many at all would opt to shell out the cash.

    And therein lies the problem - if these people would rather use free software instead of paying when called on this, then the net change in income for the makers of the software is nothing. That's not harming the economy. Indeed, it's likely helping the economy as if more people were forced to use open source and free software at home, then when they got to work and their boss asked them what programs they need budgeted into next years budget, they might just opt to keep using the open source ones, which would result in a DROP in revenue for the commercial companies. Methinks they don't want to push home users too hard here.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @10:02AM (#29718285)

    Or, is the BSA just a bunch of extortionist thugs?

    From wikipedia:

    > According to an article in Mother Jones magazine,[4] the BSA discovered in 1995 that Antel, the Uruguayan national telephone company, had pirated US$100,000 worth of Microsoft, Novell, and Symantec software. The BSA's lawyers in Uruguay quickly filed suit, but dropped the suit in 1997 when Antel signed a "special agreement" with Microsoft to replace all of its software with Microsoft products. This has led to accusations that the BSA is a front for Microsoft, with its other members being enlisted purely to disguise Microsoft's dominant role.

  • Bloat & price (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dindi ( 78034 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @10:11AM (#29718401)

    While I am a programmer and try to buy all the software I use I find it difficult with some products to keep up with the upgrades.

    For example Word & Excel (Office) - to keep bashing M$ - is a bloat. There is not really a version which is minimal enough for my needs. I really-really do not need all the crap that ships with MS Office. I do not use their mail, I do not use anything other than Excel and Word. I would be happy with a minimal version, or a second hand version of Office 2003 (the one I use on my Mac). Still, document formats are forced on people and most people just HAVE TO get it, and then do not want to pay because they feel they are buying the same product over and over. Oh, did I mention SPACE? Yeah, to read a document I really need to have gigabites of crap installed on my systems? I know I can select packages, but they still install a crap load of libraries and all that what would not be needed by just e.g. Word and Excel.

    I use almost only free software to develop. Jedit, vi, whatever, but form time to time I need something that costs money. Most of the time I am faced with a price tag of $50-100 for an app I would use once (e.g. to decode a stored procedure or to save in a special format, or to repair an installation)....

    Version & function
    Here is Zend studio for example: I simply hate the new version, I cannot make peace with that eclipse bloated horror. I love the old version and the functions in it are more than satisfactory for my PHP needs. But can I buy it? No. I cannot/do not want to use the new version and I cannot buy the old version, so my option is: pirate it - since it is against my standards I am trying to use something else, but this old yet unavailable version is something I go back to from time to time.

    I think companies should have more options and combinations of their products, for the utility kind of things there should be a 10-day license too so people would more likely to buy the version they need instead of pirating it.

  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @10:57AM (#29718995) Homepage
    every time the BullShit Alliance releases its "piracy survey" I have to say this again:

    Their Calculation goes like this:

    piracy = software necessity per PC (estimate) * number of PCs - sold software
    (see: Wikipedia [wikipedia.org])

    as you can see, they just have to raise their estimates of "how much software a PC needs" a little bit to skyrocket the piracy... also they don't consider people using free software or older versions of software, so all in all their piracy report means nothing more than "we would have wanted to sell THIS much more software!"

  • I don't doubt it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:10AM (#29719133) Homepage Journal

    I don't doubt it, but on the other hand, Adobe, Microsoft, et. al really ought to lower their prices. Ever since Microsoft knocked Wordperfect/Corel Office and Lotus Smartsuite pretty much out of the market the price for Office Pro has quadrupled. Ever since Corel Draw became irrelevant and the graphics companies consolidated (Adobe buying up Aldus, Corel buying up Jasc, etc.) the Adobe apps have skyrocketed in price.

    They got where they are through piracy: if fark-reading college students didn't pick up photoshop off of "warez" sites and learn their suites, Adobe might not have been able to maintain such dominance in the industry. If every Tom, Dick, and Harry didn't "pirate" Microsoft Office, maybe the monopoly wouldn't exist. Maybe Microsoft just might be more interested in interoperability because it would benefit them. They got where they are through piracy, and then implemented strict "activation" schemes now. The thing is, activation schemes only penalize paying customers. People who run 'cracked' software don't have to deal with false positives. They don't have to call Microsoft and wait on hold for 20 minutes for manual craptivation after they've done their second semi-annual Windows reinstall or did their video card upgrade. "Pirates" just install their cracked and slipstreamed Windows and Adobe Creative Suite install and they're done. Activation and Genuine Advantage don't affect them in the slightest.

    It's pathetic when the "counterfeit" software is superior to the legitimate.

    What is the solution? When it comes to operating systems, there is Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, and other options - or even Mac OS X if you're adventurous enough to explore the hackintosh option (or just pick up a Mini). When it comes to office suites, download openoffice.org. With rare exception, the OpenOffice.org Suite will do everything you need it to do, and if you're an advanced user, you'll find that many features (such as integration with databases) is actually easier and superior in OpenOffice. Sure, the macro language is lacking in documentation, but if you're a coder, you'll be too busy appreciating knowing that your macro will actually work on a Mac to think about missing VBA.

    When it comes to graphic suites, unless you need things like layer effects, droplets, and other advanced features, gimp, inkscape, and xara extreme are very likely good enough for you. If you know what layer effects are, then no, gimp won't replace Photoshop, but your living probably does rely on Adobe product to some extent so go out and buy it; yes, it runs on Crossover Office (or even wine with some finagling).

    I run Linux about 95% of the time. F/OSS does it for me. Here is what I still need Windows for:

      * running my embroidery machine
      * Netflix (damn you, netflix! Bring the flash player back!)
      * syncing my iPhone (let's get with it, Amarok!)
      * several games that run on neither Crossover nor Cedega - and yes, a couple of them are Microsoft games

    Now, I had a really good Hackintosh install running for a while - but I had to wipe it to free up a drive for a job. When I go back to the Hackintosh I plan to install Snow Leopard. I would love to run OS X 100% of the time (Yes, it's legal. I do own a Mac but like PC hardware better; I use workstation motherboards and faster CPUs and video cards) but I find the KDE environment so productive with kioslaves in konqueror, it's hard to give it up and switch to the Finder. Most F/OSS software I run on Linux is also available on OS X. Worst case, it runs under fink.

    Seriously though: let's give companies what they want. They got where they are through "piracy" because tom, dick, and harry learned the apps at home and brought that knowledge to the office where it influenced purchase decisions. Download F/OSS instead, learn it, and bring that knowledge to the office. You'll see Adobe, Microsoft, etc. either lowering their prices or even "licensing" software free for personal use, much like the antivirus companies did.

  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:20AM (#29719225) Homepage Journal

    So they are counting "Used Software" as Pirated Software? Most software sold by auctions were used once and then sold via an auction to the lowest bidder. If one sold a book via an auction, it would not be considered pirated, but selling software via an auction is considered pirated? Some software sold via auction is still new and never used, is that pirated software as well? If so how is that different from a friend of mine buying the software new and then giving the copy to me to use as he bought two copies one for him and one for me to use. Is it pirated software then?

  • BSA credibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:46AM (#29719601) Homepage

    As always, it is unclear just what they consider "pirated". For example, if your company purchases 100% legitimate software via eBay, the BSA will not accept this as your software during an audit. They refuse to accept any and all eBay receipts. Hence, it is quite likely that they have counted all purchases via auction sites as pirated, even though this is clearly not true.

    This is only one of many "rules" they apply that make little or no sense. Did you know that possessing the complete packaging of a program, including the original CD/DVD and the enclosed license certificate is, according to the BSA, not proof of ownership? You must have an original receipt, with the company (or individual) name correctly spelled, which explicitly lists the product and version.

    The BSA may once have been a way to combat piracy'it has evolved into a monstrosity. Microsoft, Adobe and the other companies should terminate their relationships with it and start over.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.