back to article Software pirates put sizeable dent in UK economy

The UK is missing out on more than £1bn in lost taxes and the creation of over 13,000 new high-paying jobs over four years if we all took software piracy more seriously, according to a new report. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) claimed today in its annual "Global Software Piracy Study" – which was carried out by analyst …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Prove the figures

    Who is to say that if they were forced to that they would pay the full price anyway?

    If someone has the choice between photoshop and GIMP they'll go for Photoshop. If someone is forced to pay for Photoshop or use GIMP for free they'll most likely adapt to using GIMP.

    All this "we're losing money to pirates" is all estimated. The money not spent on the software gets spent elsewhere. There is only so much money in the economy and where one industry gains another loses.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Martin Owens

    All that money!

    Imagen if that 54bn could be spend on getting something useful done for our economy than spending it on Microsoft, IBM, Novell and Adobe. I wonder if the BSA will ever point out that you could save twice that by switching people to open source and make piracy an irrelevance.

    I also have to laugh at reports that think money will suddenly pop out of thin air, because that isn't how money works. Besides I'd rather over pay a team of uk employees to use Linux than send my money over sea's to prop up the USA.

  4. Andy
    Paris Hilton


    The best argument I've seen the BSA use is that piracy funds terrorism. Or it could have been FAST. You know that ad where the porker is stoking a fire.

    Your pirating is contributing to the war on America!

    Now, how much is Open Source robbing the UK economy of? Surely if Linux had to be licensed and you had to pay the BSA for Open Office there would be "high paying" jobs created? I'm sorry for using Firefox and other open source projects - I'm directly supporting terrorism and contributing to global warming unless I buy American products.

    Anyway, piracy makes baby Paris Hilton cry so I think we should all just stop. For the sake of the children.

  5. Jolyon Ralph

    Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

    I wonder why The Register keeps reprinting these pointless stats from The Register.

    Fact of the matter is - highest percentage of pirated software is developed outside of the UK, so although there will no doubt be some jobs created in distributors, support, etc, the majority of jobs would be created overseas.

    Whereas, imagine if you will, those people who save their pennies by pirating software decide instead to go out on a bender with the proceeds. That money goes into the local economy, creating a much larger number of jobs in bars, clubs, breweries and brothels nationwide.

    I would not go as far as to say that piracy is good for the economy, but the obvious scientific conclusions from the statistics are that a decrease in software piracy will inevitably lead to more unemployed bar staff, strippers and BSA software piracy investigators.


    ps. Piracy is bad kids, don't do it.

  6. Jolyon Ralph

    Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

    I wonder why The Register keeps reprinting these pointless stats from the BSA.

    Fact of the matter is - highest percentage of pirated software is developed outside of the UK, so although there will no doubt be some jobs created in distributors, support, etc, the majority of jobs would be created overseas.

    Whereas, imagine if you will, those people who save their pennies by pirating software decide instead to go out on a bender with the proceeds. That money goes into the local economy, creating a much larger number of jobs in bars, clubs, breweries and brothels nationwide.

    I would not go as far as to say that piracy is good for the economy, but the obvious scientific conclusions from the statistics are that a decrease in software piracy will inevitably lead to more unemployed bar staff, strippers and BSA software piracy investigators.


    ps. Piracy is bad kids, don't do it.

  7. James Carter
    Black Helicopters

    Say what?

    So counterfeit software costs the economy how much?

    What about the artificially high costs of retail software? How much money and how many jobs were lost to finance the licensing of MS products? Office 2003 still retails for over $300 US. Of that, I would conservatively estimate that $250 is pure profit and the cost is supported only by the monopoly that MS has in the corporate desktop sector.

    I would like to see the BSA study that captures the amount of money lost to crashed files, malware attacks, and patches or updates due to the poor software quality. I'll bet it makes the amount claimed for "counterfeit" losses look quite diminutive...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you name British made boxed software?

    Come to think of it, can you actually name a major boxed product in any category that's made in Britain?

    We have Office made in Redmond. Photoshop, PDF etc. made in USA, Visual Studio etc. USA, OS, Server etc. USA. McAfee USA, SAP Germany, Sybase USA, Siemens Germany, etc. Dr Solomons stuff was made in Britain for a while before Symantic bought them.

    I'm pushed to think of even one major boxed package (the stuff that's likely to be pirated) that's actually made in the UK at all. UK was capital starved for the formative years of that market.

    What we lead the world in is bespoke software, one offs written for major clients.

    Still, interesting to see BSA trying to drive policy with fear again. Wondered what happened to them

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This sounds like bull ocks...

    this is called collecting all the pennies cos UK is hitting hard times.. and blaming the poor for the rich getting poor ye right..

    As soon as new laws come out to clamp down .. the sooner people will move onto Linux as a desktop and hey presto £0.0 for all the tax collectors..

    bring it on ... or find something else to collect money from how about raffle tickets ? a new national Lootery ? lol

  10. steogede

    So basically, piracy makes little difference to the economy

    >> The UK is missing out on more than £1bn in lost taxes and the creation of over 13,000 new high-paying jobs over four years if we all took software piracy more seriously, according to a new report.

    Don't they always say that piracy increases the cost for those who buy software legitimately. Therefore you would think that less piracy would equate to lower prices and no change in revenue or taxes.

    The maths is interesting (and pretty much backs up what I said) as they expect the taxes per year levied on the software industry to be £32.5 billion - and they are currently losing about £0.25b per year (£1b/4 years) - and 27% of software is pirated. That means by reducing piracy of 27% to 0% they can increase tax revenues by about 3/4 of a percent.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Once again, I presume these guys are counting a 12-year-old leeching a copy of some $25,000 video editing package as $25,000 in lost revenue, as if Mr. Tween would've gone out and bought one if it wasn't on alt.warez.0-day.avid.bork.bork.bork.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah Right

    India will do better if we take piracy more seriously! Not condoning piracy, but with the out sourcing trends I cant see that money would be in our pockets.

  13. paulc
    IT Angle


    If it wasn't possible to pirate big ticket software packages, then perhaps the lower priced shareware and also the open source stuff would have a better chance of penetrating the market... Piracy indirectly benefits Adobe and Microsoft and the other big companys... otherwise, they'd have to compete on merit...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with Giles Jones

    Plus, if there was no piracy, all the related programming jobs would be gone, as would FAST, there'd be a reduction in fraud investigator jobs, etc, etc. And think of the advertising money El Reg is earning on people viewing this article, all that would be gone too.

    In fact, I'll pull some numbers out of my arse (as per the article) and state categorically that employment figures would drop by 2% and the UK economy would suffer to the tune of 2 gazillion pounds if the software pirates stopped. Yaar.

  15. yeah, right.


    Would this author and others please refrain from reprinting, almost verbatim, press releases by organizations that have been known to fudge their numbers to make them look better?

    As the commenter before me said: prove it.

    The fact is, they haven't been able to prove it in the past, and they can't prove it now, because they're pulling numbers out of their arse and they know it. Their methodology is crooked, their arguments are exaggerated, and someone from the Reg should damn well know better.

    If you're going to print an article, at least TRY to make it look like you're doing SOME research on the subject before acting like a BSA mouthpiece.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parallel Imports & UK Competitivity

    That reminds me, isn't it time we got rid of that parallel importing ban that exists in UK copyright (and nowhere else in Europe)?

    The one that means we get ripped off when it comes to buying US software? You know 200 quid for Vista in Blighty, $200 for Vista in USA. And you can't just go and buy the USA version because UK law has this clause stopping parallel imports. It's a copyright violation under UK law to go buy the real software from the USA producer at the USA price even if it's cheaper.

    So we are less competitive because we're forced to pay more for software as a result.

    Kind of dumb, it should be fixed.

    "The software giant has scored £35,000 in damages against an internet trader for copyright violations and illegally importing cheap American software to Europe."

    Yeh, heaven forbid we should pay the world price instead of the local inflated UK price.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Software pirates put sizeable dent in world economy

    is this problem UK only ?


    Is Other countries moving an eyelid ?

    "The UK is missing out on more than £1bn in lost taxes and the creation of over 13,000 new high-paying jobs over four years if we all took software piracy more seriously, according to a new report."

    Surely if the organisations pay out this license fee that they apparently aren't it would actually reduce the amounts of jobs due to higher business costs?

    Or are we talking about the jobs of 13,000 developers cos if thats the case 99% of the software is not even UK based their all from USA India etc.. hence this is all a fabricated story to probably push out a new legislation keep clown and his boys busy....

  18. John Macintyre

    I agree....

    Shoot the pirates. that will get the £1bn back.

    Then get a bunch of twits in (probably find a very large number huddled together in cabinet meetings or at their relating golf establishments) and pay them the sum total of £1bn (so it makes no bloody difference)

    Then in a bizarre twist to look productive, lose a bunch of laptops with personal data. spend over the £1bn saved on looking for them all with now joy, thus resetting the balance with current climate.

    perfect. I'll get my coats, the govt's come a knockin'

  19. JimC

    > Only so much money in the economy

    Not really no, and even iif there were it could circulate faster...

    But an awful lot of the money wouldn't be spent in the UL, it would be spent in whichever cheap to sell out of country the major vendors were operating from anyway...

    But yes, I too have my suspicions about the acccuracy of the estimates...

  20. John Macintyre


    find out what the hell the government waste our money one, what with being over budget in 9 months of a 12 month budget... I think mister brown is the biggest dent to our economy there's ever been.

    but who cares, he'll just raise taxes again, we're just cash monkeys.

    hmm, now the feds are kickin in the door...

  21. david mccormick

    The software industry does itself no favours

    If the software industry wants to increase circulation of legal programs, perhaps not ripping the british public off would be a good idea. Adobe photoshop cs3 £569.99 in UK $649 (£330.83) in US :MS Office 2007 £405.98 UK $399 US (£203.74) and the list continues. If you are a small business with small margins, piracy looks good. If you make piracy less attractive, you reduce it. Doesn't seem particually difficult to me.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Absolute nonsense

    The figures quoted are almost certainly nonsense numbers based upon the total value of unlicensed software. I would be willing to bet large amounts of money that a large percentage (>80%) of 'pirated' software would simply not be used if users had no option but to pay full price.

    In terms of business (a popular target for anti-piracy organisations) using unlicensed software can be the difference between being profitable and competitive, or not being. Many small businesses especially simply cannot afford to fully license ALL of the software they use, I'm not saying at all that this isn't in some way morally or legally dubious, it's just a plain fact.

    The money the BSA reckons would be pumped into the software industry by fully licensing all software in most cases simply doesn't actually exist, and where it DOES exist it would be channelled from other industries and areas of the economy instead. It's a classic example of the 'broken window fallacy' (see Wikipedia).

    Were software licensing to be rigourously enforced, as the BSA advocates, many businesses would face serious difficulty and the real possibility of going bust, with the attendant job losses and economic damage that entails. The economy in fact would probably SHRINK, and could certainly not grow by anything approaching the amount quoted.

    In terms of personal software use, strict licensing enforcement would take software out of the hands of many of our truely 'creative' people (I thought the government was supposed to be very keen on the 'creative economy') and could therfore nip in the bud many of our future sucessful entrepreneurs/artists/musicians etc. How good would this be for our economy in the future?

    How many of our graphic designers cut their teeth on pirated copies of Photoshop or Corel Draw? How many of our engineers gained their valuable first experience on dodgy copies of Autocad or Orcad? I could go on.

  23. Mage


    piracy is wrong.

    But number of pirate copies is NOTHING to do with what would be purchased.

    Turbocad instead of Autocad (1/20th the price)

    Paint Shop Pro is fraction of Photoshop, but x10 easier than Gimp

    And if the SW was bought indeed less money spent elsewhere.

    A meaningless report.

  24. Eddie Edwards
    Black Helicopters


    "IDC's chief research officer John Gantz said that reducing PC software piracy would benefit small business owners by cutting back the legal risks associated with using unlicensed software."

    What risks? The risk that someone in your small business is using unlicensed software without your knowledge? Surely that doesn't go away?

    Or do they mean, if there was less piracy, no-one would bother policing it any more, so using unlicensed software would then be "fine" ... thus increasing corporate piracy and bringing us back to square one?

    I think we should be told.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you hear that ?

    It's the sound of axes grinding......

  26. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Like I believe them...

    They don't say it but by "software piracy" they really mean all those pirates who write their free communist software and all those pirates who do not buy Vistas preferring to use their XPs and 2000s instead.

    One third of all PCs in the country runs on pirated systems? What a load of crap is that? Or if it's true - the Govt should tax the PC manufacturers and commercial software makers as they must be grossly overcharging their customers (to be able to prosper when one 3rd of their market is stealing their product).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes but.....

    That is only 4 copies of photoshop at the over-inflated UK/European price.

  28. Dunstan Vavasour

    Software can be over licensed as well as under licensed

    Of course, if many organisations took a closer look at their software licensing compliance they might well find that there are areas which are over licensed as well as under licensed. As an industry lobby group, BSA are only ever going to see one side of this picture.

    Ensuring correct levels of software licensing is getting much more difficult as applications are being deployed into virtualised environments: every manufacturer has a different view of whether the license is per system, or per CPU, or per CPU core, or per CPU thread, or by capacity allocated to a virtual environment. Getting the correct amount of licensing for software deployed into a resource managed zone in a Solaris instance running on a system with an 8 core processor, with 8 threads per core is not simple. Far more software needs to be licensed per employee, or per customer, or on some other form of "all you can eat" license rather than ending up as an expensive game of datacentre cops and robbers. Better still, follow the Sun model of allowing free use of the software, and basing your business on support and other forms of value rather than straight software royalties.

    So taking the approach that all software licensing problems can be solved by hitting users with a stick is pretty unhelpful. While there clearly are straightforward cases of people and businesses running unlicensed copies, producing "funny money" estimates of losses is at best over-simplistic, and at worst disingenuous.

  29. alex dekker

    Business Software Alliance == BS Alliance

    Sometimes the jokes just write themselves, don't they?

    But seriously, it's not like the billions of pounds [or whatever number they've pulled out of their fundament this week] that hasn't been given to the cartel that the BSA represents has just evaporated into thin air, is it? If it was spent on software from the BSA members then the chances are that 90% of it will have disappeared overseas to the American companies that bankroll the BSA.

    So, what exactly does the UK have to lose by pirating software?

  30. The Cube

    It has to be said

    BSA > Bull - Shit - Alliance?

    I know many many people with unlicensed software on their machines, when they are forced to license, either through commercial / legal implications or simply because the next version of the copy protection is too much of a pain to break, they dump most of the software instead.

    This is just another example of what has happened to the RIAA, MPAA and other cartels, if you give people WWHP - What they want, Where and How they want it for a Price they are prepared to pay, they will buy your product. If you rip them off with absurd prices for products they don't really need and will never use 90% of anyway they will either rip it off or not use it.

    Pay for Photoshop? Nope, they'll just use Picasa instead, it does most of the things they actually did in Photoshop regularly, many of them more intuitively, requires a tiny fraction of the system resources and it free.

    All the BullShit Alliance are doing is pushing people toward running Linux and signing up to the Google Hegemony. If people are not paying for their products they need to stop and ask themselves the unpleasant question, why? Of course, admitting that your product is actually not very good and massively overpriced because you blew your development budget on a bunch of 'features' that the product manager heard that one customer might want may be difficult but it is ultimately necessary.

    These companies operate in a market economy, if that market is telling them that their product is not viable they need to listen, or maybe they would like to government to take a Stalinist approach, take the market economy away and select some software companies to recieve government grants to develop 'The People's Software'? No? Didn't think so.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    See a previous post...

    about Policy-Practice synergy compared to Policy-Practice divide.

  32. Shane Kent

    Prove the figures - I second that

    Money not spent on software disappears into a black hole leaving a void in the economy.

    I would guess that piracy affects U.S. and India with little affect to U.K., Canada, etc. I would think more money stays in the U.K. and less to US and India. Actually, I would say more to China and less to India (don't buy software chances are they buy more hardware).

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just because...

    Just because someone is using/listening to something that is pirated, it doesn't mean they would have paid for it.

    Also do they take into the account the huge amount of our money that would LEAVE our economy going over to the ueber capitalists... America?

  34. John

    I wonder.. many jobs would be created if we just permitted piracy as a national pastime.

    Think of all those extra nurses if hospitals weren't making Microsoft even richer, all the extra teachers in schools instead of funding the Bill Gates retirement plan. We would have the extra bonus of making people at the BSA and FAST get real jobs.

    On the flip side, sure outlaw piracy (you know, because it isn't already) or rather force people harder towards open source and cheaper alternatives :]

  35. Paul

    marginal cost of production is near zero

    Software costs almost nothing to churn out extra copies. So where exactly are those new jobs coming from? Sell twice as many copies and you don't magically need 2x as many programmers, just extra duplicators. You don't even need 2x the sales drones, PC World staff aren't exactly busy most of the day and there aren't usually queues to worry about.

    More industry bullshit, any extra spending on IT will end up where it always has - snorted up some PHB's nose.

  36. Mike Powers
    Gates Halo

    Yeah, but what about the FREE ADVERTISING?

    That's always the justification I hear for piracy. "It's like FREE ADVERTISING, man!" Right, because God knows that NOBODY would EVER hear of Microsoft Windows if it weren't for all those people flogging their OEM copies.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Inquiring minds must know

    Did they get the widdle piwates to check the box that says "I'm a widdle piwate, here's my spouwt"??

    C'mon get real Bollocks, Smells like Arrogance. Your figures are as overvalued as a US president's usefulness.

    Here's the real kick in the pants: the UK govt probably believes the figures as given. The US court system (while certainly more corrupt and witless) are already at "pants down, bent over" position for Big Money; now lets see if the UK govt takes the same stance.

  38. Mark

    Is this via BSA's counting method?

    Where if you don't have a receipt (the certificate of authority isn't good enough!) then the copy is pirated?

    Well I think I can see where the 1Bn figure comes from.

  39. LaeMi Qian

    What is the cost of the BSA?

    I assume the BSA doesn't do its works* out of the goodness* of it's collective heart*. Exactly how many m/billions of member-company-$$$ are drained into that particular black hole that could be more productively spent in local economies?

    *for very loose definitions of 'work', 'goodness' and 'heart'

  40. Richard
    Gates Horns


    The title should be "Companies with business plan which defies reality lose money".

    Red Hat are doing OK, and everyone's copying their software.

  41. Martin Usher

    Bizrre logic

    This whole "costs us x million which translates to y high paying jobs" is so 1970s. Assuming that the piracy numbers were realistic and that everyone paid full retail for their code -- two very big 'ifs' -- then all that would happen is that certain companies would make even more money. They're not going to employ more people because they already have the product ("think about it").

    If there wasn't a billion in piracy then the BSA would be out of a job.

  42. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Just a number plucked from the air !

    Now who was it that said repeat a lie so often that eventually all but the most cynical believe it to fact !

    Thus the 21st Century has become the new age where both lies and propaganda rules the limited and heavily censored mass media with a Gestapo like vice clamp at our throats !

    But Paris knows all about numbers !

  43. Ben Norris

    land of make belief

    And even assuming that all acts of piracy were a lost sale where do these people think the money is going to magically appear from? There can be no boost to the economy whatsoever because people paying more for software means they are paying less for something else.

  44. Steen


    .... used to shore up Northern Rock, billions wiped off the values of shares, billions written off in credit crisis......... with that kind of perspective I don't think I care much about the effect that piracy of software has on the economy.

    Going for broke.

  45. Pete mcQuail
    Paris Hilton

    I suspect

    that the answer to this is report can best be summerised as being spherical and in the plural.

  46. Dale Morgan

    I wouldn't buy it

    I hate these people saying their loosing money because of piracy, these people assume that I would buy their product, thats where their wrong.

    All piracy has done for me is allow me to use over-priced software that doesn't do much different than open source software.

    If there was no piracy then the open source sector would be seeing massive usage.

    The UK economy hasn't lost anything, because it had nothing to gain

  47. Dale Morgan

    Its FACT not FAST

    Just thought I'd clarify that the Federation Against Copyright Theft is called FACT.

  48. TheHempKnight
    Thumb Up

    Can you name British made boxed software?


    Little company here in Nottingham called Serif. Make various programs for DTP, photoediting (think most of the features of Photoshop, fraction of the price), and other stuff. All sold in PC World.


    I firmly believe that (I also believe this is the case with music, videos, anything that gets pirated) if you bring down the price so that it is within reach of more people, more people will BUY and less will need to pirate. I'm not saying it would STOP piracy, but I bet it would bring the numbers down a bit.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Oooh ooh can I play

    Lets see..

    -£1bn could be saved to the tax-and-revenue service (thus more available -public- money) by simply shutting down the BSA offices and selling the land underneath to nuclear development plants.

    -£500mil could be saved by eliminating frivolous lawsuits raised by the music and movie industry, in cases they're ill-equipped to prove.

    -£500mil could be made instantly by forcing Microsoft to obey the law and pay up their fines. Additional jobs, in the form of regulatory inspectors would bring in extra revenue via taxes, and fines for every infraction Microsoft are guilty of.

    -£450mil could be saved INSTANTLY by canceling all Microsoft licensing agreements and going open source over the next two years.

    Oh my, there's £1.5bn right there just by exercising the people's will and following up on cases already won. And a further 1bn to be made getting rid of the bottom feeders that cause this crap in the first place! Can I get commission on that??

    Thanks for playing "make up new numbers to shock! awe! shame! the public",

    I'm your host Anonymous Coward saying Goodnight Everybody!

  50. Scott

    Stop the trains

    I just saw some figures that showed 270,000,000 passengers on public transport in a year.

    If we remove public transport each of these 270,000,000 passengers would need to by a car. That is $4,050,000,000,000 that our automotive industry is missing out on each year. Ban public transport immediately for the good of the economy.

  51. Svein Skogen

    Another study would be more interesting

    How about a study on how many jobs could be created if the greasing-money used by the lobbying groups had been invested in company startups?


  52. Gleb

    The Wise Rabbit Says

    What's wrong with you people saying the same lines over and over? Some original thought please. Here's my take:

    Someone has already mentioned licenses being somewhat of a gray area when considering code execution methods (multi processor/core/thread) - But what if you pirate something, but you are unintentionally covered anyway? For example most PCs made by an OEM come with a windows license, and many students are covered by tricks such as MSDNAA.

    On the other hand, I do agree with the "free advertising", but find it in very bad taste that most software makers don't offer a free development/non-profit/student license. As someone has mentioned, wouldn't Autocad, Matlab, Mathematica and friends win a lot of hearts and minds by offering people a free chance to use their products? I guess the argument people make that it's not a valid business model.

    In the end, I'm against piracy - because it feels like saying "I like your product, but not you personally". And you can do slightly more than everything using OSS anyway.

    PS. I would promise to do something really embarrasing on national television if BSA presented any kind of proof...

  53. herman Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    BSA agression boosts Linux

    Cool. The more obnoxious the BSA gets, the better.

  54. Andy Worth

    Made me laugh

    This report is just as "true" as the myth that the government raise all motoring related taxes in order to keep less cars on the road. They've been using that excuse for years, yet the number of cars just keeps going up and up, and the number of untaxed, uninsured cars keeps rising too.

    The whole argument is ridiculous, just like with pirated films. They say it loses them so much money per year but how many people would bother to buy half the shit they pirate? Perhaps the people coming up with this crap should speak to JK Rowling as she's made a fortune out of writing about fantasy.

  55. Kaal Alexander Rosser

    FAST also exists...

    @Dale Morgan: Yes there's a FACT, but there's also a FAST:

  56. Mike Crawshaw

    £1bn / 1300 Jobs?

    That'd be 1,300 consultancy/outreach/project manager jobs at FACT, BSA and New Labour priced at >£750,000pa each then?

    The one with the handcuffs on the sleeves, thanks, there's the door...

  57. jai

    legalise it

    surely if they legalised software piracy, that would generate far more jobs and taxes

    you could then set up YTS courses to teach people the fine art of bit-torrenting and hacking serial keys

  58. Neil Docherty

    Majority is MS, Adobe and the like anyway

    They are saying that it could create thousands of jobs but that's not true. Most pirated software is probably Microsoft's Windows and Office products with Adobe and the like picking up the slack.

    I suspect smaller companies don't have a major problem with piracy as they either sell specialised software or low value software which people are happy to pay for. I own about 15 small applications costing between £5 and £25 and have been exceedingly happy with all of them at doing the job I bought for them.

    In case you're wondering, I have legitimate copies of MS Windows and Office but I do have a big problem with the high prices of the retail versions compared to the OEM versions and companies like Sony not shipping the install (rather than recovery) disc for Windows with their £1,400 laptops!

  59. Ian

    £1bn is that all?

    Just think how many more billions are gained from piracy from British software companies not sending their money abroad for extortionately priced software, the amount of developers who now have the right tools for the job and the massive increase in education and hence a better skilled workforce as a result of people having access to all the educational material and media they need. Think how many more jobs are created as companies can afford to employ staff and so forth and how many of the better educated through piracy citizens are employable.

    It's not a one way street, piracy helps the economy as much as it hurts it. The default of "OMG we're losing £1bn and it's bad" seems to have been decided by the BSA, I don't recall there being a discussion of whether piracy really is actually a bad thing, it just seems to have been decided for us without any true factual evidence to back it up.

  60. Colin Jackson
    Paris Hilton


    I just brought a new laptop that came with Vista Home (and a licence). It was so shoddy I wiped it and put XP on, for which I don't have a licence. Technically, I'm pirating, but what exactly have MS lost? I paid for one licence, I'm using one instance of their OS. It's not my fault that Vista sucks ass.

    In the end, it's pretty much a zero-sum game (not quite, maybe, but mostly). There's only so much that businesses and individual users will spend on licences. If the price gets too high they'll do without or find cheaper alternatives. MS, Adobe et al rely on a tendency to want to standardize (that is, wanting to have everybody using the same software and the same file formats) to prop up their businesses. But if the cost gets too high, that tendency won't stop individuals and businesses from finding other methods. Conversion software for file formats isn't generally hard to write, even when the 'owners' of the file-formats aren't being cooperative (I speak from personal experience).

    On another point, another cost to companies if licensing is strictly enforced is the cost of training (which could amount to several times the cost of the actual licence). How many companies can actually afford to train ALL their employees in Office, or Photoshop or whatever? That's the logical consequence if new users don't have access to cheap ways to self-train.

    I worked in the games industry years ago, and I remember when expensive dev-kits for consoles came along (including the cartridge bays which you needed). These couldn't be circumvented. So all that happened is we had to train everybody. Whereas for PC games we could rely on newbies having done quite a lot of self-training, they COULDN'T self-train on the consoles, so our dev costs sky-rocketted. Many industries are founded on self-starting 'creatives' - does the BSA really want to throttle that?

    I chose Paris Hilton because even she is capable of more incite into how the creative industries work than this article shows.

  61. James Anderson

    Baseless Statistics Association.

    Well among all the minor flaws in thier ananlysis tow major flaws stand out:-

    There is no "British Software Industry", apart from a few nich products Britian does not make any software that anyone would want to pirate -sad but true.

    So a complete end to software piracy would result in perhaps 13 new jobs.

    An increase in piracy would result in a net gain to the British economy as we would be shipping smaller barowloads of money to Redmond, Cupertino etc.

    The only people who lose out are Microsoft resellers who, surprise, are all members of the BSA.

  62. Peter White

    Open source alternative

    Why pay expensive licences when with a bit of adjustment you can be just as productive on an open source platform. With the exception of gaming an open source platform can be just as productive.

    I recently bought an Asus eee for my wife and it toally fits her needs, Linux based OS with a simple GUI, Internet and Email with Mozilla, Office with Openoffice, Media with VLC and Itunes... Its a no brainer.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Define "Piracy"???

    I always thought piracy was defined as "stealing for profit".

    If you copy something but leave it in the possession of the rightful owner - say you photocopy a mate's book then give it back to them - then you haven't stolen the book, your mate still has it. If you then read what you've photocopied but don't sell it to anyone then you haven't make a profit.

    Copying and installing software on to your PC is exactly the same deal: nothing is stolen, no profit is made, therefore it's NOT piracy.

    Is it copyright infringement? Is copyright infringement illegal?


    Is copyright infringement law fair? Is it realistically enforceable in the dot com age?

    Open to debate.

  64. A J Stiles

    It's all bollocks

    If piracy hurts businesses at all, it does so in a different way than you'd think.

    Suppose we have a small outfit, let's call them Cottagesoft, who sell something called CheapOffice -- a simple office suite which is more than capable of writing letters, doing accounts and keeping track of your CD collection, and which can read and write Microsoft Office files as compatibly as anyone can manage without actually having any help from Microsoft. CheapOffice retails for £50.

    Now John Thomas Luser is looking for something to help him write letters, do his accounts and keep track of his CD collection. Microsoft Office sells for £500, which is more than J.T.Luser can afford. So what is he most likely to do: (1) Buy CheapOffice from Cottagesoft, and save £450. (2) Get a pirate copy of CheapOffice from the Man In The Pub, and save £50. Or (3) Get a pirate copy of Microsoft Office from the MITP, and save £500?

    The end result is that Cottagesoft end up going out of business, and it's entirely due to piracy -- though nobody need ever make a single pirate copy of CheapOffice.

    Microsoft have never given a flying one about rampant piracy in the past, because hey, at least people who were pirating Microsoft software were learning how to use Microsoft software. Now the competition has been eliminated, they're suddenly bothered.

    I've met FAST. They visited our place of work (probably on a tip-off from a disgruntled former employee, or maybe from our main hardware supplier) trying to flog a "solution" to "prevent staff copying software from workstations". You should have seen the bloke's face when I told him that not only did we have *no* measures in place to prevent staff copying software from their workstations, but in fact we would positively encourage such behaviour! (Of course, all the software on our workstations was Open Source, but I had forgotten to mention that upfront.)

    If you really want to stick it to The Man, don't use pirated Microsoft software -- use Open Source software. And if you get busted by FAST, give serious consideration switching to OSS or even manual methods.

    PS. When I was at University, our AmigaSoc had an amusing alternative expansion for the acronym FAST :)

  65. Alan Plastow

    And the Stats Become Laws!

    I've read and can agree with nearly every comment about this study. The thing that interests me the most is that it's virtually impossible to find a definitive copy of the study process. There are plenty of "here's the overviews" but no details.

    The key that we should ALL be VERY worried about is that a vast majority of global copyright laws and regulations are using this series of studies as the definitive basis for legislative action.

    We all better wake up or what is being done out there in the so-called anti-piracy land is going to wind up being done to us!

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