back to article Developing world buoys up software pirates

Software piracy in the UK has fallen for the first time in three years, albeit slightly. However, the worldwide counterfeit software rate climbed to 38 per cent in 2007. A survey conducted by analyst firm IDC on behalf of The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has shown that, despite huge efforts from the likes of Microsoft and …


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  1. Goat Jam
    Thumb Up

    I'm rooting for the BSA

    "We expect this trend to continue, meaning industry and government must increasingly focus their efforts on combating piracy in these emerging economies,"

    Let's hope so. Anything to further accelerate the adoption of open source software . . .

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I think El Reg should start calling them BS All.

    After listening to recent comments from them it makes sense, doesn't it?

  3. Mark
    Gates Horns

    "61 million PCs shipped last year"

    But Brazil is big on open source as is India (not sure about Russia). So why are the BSA figuring each PC sold should be a microsoft license purchase?

  4. Mike Crawshaw

    Numbers Game?

    "The BSA welcomed the drop but admitted more needs to be done to curtail the counterfeit software industry in Britain, where it claimed losses hit £925m in 2007"

    So.... that is definitely the "lost sales" value, right? Mr BSA, you've taken account of the fact that people will happily pay £30 for Dodgy Software X from E-Bay, but isn't prepared to pony up £200 from PC World for Official Software X because it's simply not worth that much to them, right? We're only talking about the people who bought a dodgy copy, who would, of course, have paid full retail otherwise?

    Right? I can't hear you, Mr BSA...?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well someone's got to code it

    Commercial software and open source are a bit more linked than most would like to admit. They are generally the same developers.

    Windows is not pirated as much as say Photoshop, or MS Office. The CAD stuff probably gets a bit of a hammering as well.

    Really, I think most developers hope the commercial field in unix will open up for the medium and small enterprise. The home user is a bit of a sacrifice in getting to that ground. No one codes the big business applications without wondering where the money will come from. Open source is useful to a degree but only to developers and those wishing to wade through the code. I think most users equate open source with free as in zero cost to them to install, the source code is just not accessible even though it is open.

    Drivers, development tools, hard to configure network tools, those will always be open - interesting to see what happens to the cash cow projects of knowledge systems that some people rather foolishly tried to make open source. Quite a lot of those you don't hear about anymore, and where is the advantage in looking after those unless you have a support contract setup.

    So, personally I am rather looking forward to more commercial apps but on the unix platform, so if MS would just start to think of moving over to unix and ditch their OS, which by now most be more of an Albatross around their necks and come join the party I think that would be great.

  6. Andrew


    You seem to be confused a little, they are quoting the figures of PCs shipped to illustrate the growth in the PC market in that country not directly linking them to Microsoft licence purchase.

    It's perfectly possible to pirate a lot of software on open source operating systems as more and more companies are producing commercial software for them. That said it will only account for a tiny fraction of the counterfiet and pirated software products being used.


  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Who cares what the BS All. say?

    26% of new PC's in the UK did not have to have the Microsoft virus removed before installing linux. No wonder Microsoft's BS All. has to spin these figures hard.

    (2/3 most wished for laptops on Amazon do not come with MS bloatware ;-)

  8. Steve Woods


    "Open source is useful to a degree but only to developers and those wishing to wade through the code".

    That sir, is what is technically known as complete tosh. I use Open Office for my word processing and other business requirements, Firefox for my web browsing and Linux as my operating system. All these are free/open source. However, I'm neither a developer nor do I have a desire to examine source code: I'm a freelance translator with a business to run who wants stuff that works for me, doesn't cost the earth and keeps the BSA's software police from my door because it's all legitimate.

  9. Henry Cobb

    Isn't Open Source piracy?

    Doesn't Steve Ballmer (than thou) carry a list of 235 communists in the State Department, er I mean patent violations that M$ claims are somewhere in the Linux sources that they have full access to but are just lacking the time to spell out?

    Shouldn't every intel and AMD CPU come with a bill from M$ to pay them for the use of their property? (Especially if it will be installed in a Mac.)

  10. Mark


    OK, but how does that number equate to more piracy? It doesn't.

    Unless there's information missing from the article. Or the BSA study.

  11. Dunstan Vavasour

    First one's free

    I would have thought that the pushers of proprietary software must be delighted at the high adoption rates of their products in the fastest growing markets. Most companies would give their right arms to have such a rapid expansion in their installed base, not to mention that they are denying market share to their free (libre) alternatives.

    Let's hope that they misguidedly start to disincentivise their new users by making more strenuous efforts to couple use of their software with licence fees.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Brazil right now...

    and MS Windows costs 50% more than in the U.S.

    I'm trying very hard to convince my counterparts in the Brazilian arm of our organisation to stop installing pirate software... but with prices like that it is hard to make the case that paying for software is fair on the manufacturer - when that manufacturer's pricing is patently unfair.

    People here feel trapped by the Windows+Office monopoly; they know they're being exploited and they feel justified in retaliating by declining to pay for that software.

  13. Daniel B.
    Gates Horns

    In Mexico...

    I am surprised Mexico isn't one of the "top countries with pirated software". Pirated stuff is so common, it kind of has blended with the culture, as you can see with tons of "Aypo" players (if you read that out loud in Spanish, it sounds like "iPo"), businessmen carrying "Monlblanc" pens and the massive pirate music CD market that put P2P "illegal downloads" statistics to shame... taking in mind that this CD market actually *profits* from it. (I remember distinctly that "piracy" was *selling* duplicated CDs for a profit. P2P doesn't fit there, does it?)

    Thing is, most tech stuff is actually more expensive than in the US, sometimes being even 200% higher; and this effect is also seen in software. Mix that and piracy culture, surprise! Most people I know have either a pirated Windows XP copy, or pirated MS Office. With $300 price tags on software, and basically $500/month average income for *entire families* nationwide, you aren't going to spend those amounts on what basically has become a commodity.

    Actually, people who buy *original* software (non-pirate) for personal/home use are usually called some equivalent of "paytards", as the mindset is "Why pay $300 for something you can get for $1?".

    I'm all for stricter piracy controls ... 'coz that means we'll be switching pretty fast to non-Windows platforms! ;)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Woods

    Actually, Steve, it's not tosh at all. For people like you and me, with no interest in wding through source code (or claiming we do,) it doesn't matter whether the code is closed or open. I think people are confusing free/low price with open source. They're not necessarily the same thing.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I might be a pirate but...

    ...I would never run a dodgy copy of an OS.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    I do feel sorry for the program writers but it is not their fault, it is the companies that control them, they are not getting their percentage.

    I live in Asia and we cannot buy their software, eg. Nero 8.0, I tried to buy it from their main website £40.oo , but they will not sell it me here, so if I want a decent cd writer program then I either fly to Europe and buy it £800.00 or pirate it and pay £1.00 to an internet cafe or buy "gold" disk from the local market.

    And most software that is available legit is nearly always a version behind the latest, but at full price, which costs in most cases is a months wage for the locals, so why should we bother???

    As for the loss of revenue for the big companies, all I can say is tough shite, its what you deserve when your greedy and rip of 3rd world countries.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    the truth

    I think the BS All really mean:

    "We are targeting developing countries because they do not have a truck load of lawyers to throw at us. Therefore when we go after them, they will not fight back. Damn developed countries, we cannot bully you out of your money".

    Paris, cause she can bully me into anything!

  18. Andy Worth

    The reverse psychology of software pricing

    That's the problem, that many people have touched upon here - the price of these software applications is just vastly overinflated, especially for the home user. Developers seem to be under the false pretence that they will make more money by selling their software more expensively where in fact the opposite would likely be true.

    Why would I want to pay big bucks for more or less any application where its use would be purely personal? Simple answer is that I wouldn't. If I want to design an animated e-card for a friend/relative/partner, my personal choice would be Flash, but it wouldn't be worth me paying £300 (or whatever the current licence cost is) for a legit copy of the software. If a home licence was say £40 instead, for a fully functional version of the same software (but with the understanding that it is purely for non-commercial use) then I am more likely to buy it.

    Most legitimate companies would still pay for the commercial licences (at least the ones who already do) as they cannot afford to be caught out on software licencing.

    People at home naturally want to use the same software they get comfortable using at work, but cannot afford to pay the ridiculous prices charged for some of it. By changing their psychology over pricing and selling themselves more cheaply, I think the software companies would find that they turn a much greater profit in the home market.

  19. The Other Steve

    Ah, so it seems...

    ... that given the choice between free Linux (or BSD, let us not forget) and "free" Windows, the developing world still fancies a bit of billg's finest.

    Interesting. Of course, I only mention this because so far no one has used the word "Freetard" and the FOSS advocacy comments have been very level in tone. Perhaps all the linux jihadi are off trying to get some Summer Of Code action ?

    @Andy Worth

    Totally agree, unit pricing on software is, quite literally, laughable, in that many people when confronted with the actual price of an application they wish to buy, will respond along the lines of "HAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA, fuck right off!" and hit up Pirate Bay for a copy that doesn't require them to sign up for another credit card.

    And particularly so in developing nations, where the asking price just for a copy of an Operating System is more than enough to feed a family for a considerable length of time, and that's before you even start thinking about applications.

  20. Paul Kruger

    Stop Piracy...use Linux

    Perhaps Microsoft should start to promote Linux in those countries. They are not going to pay Bill Gates his big fees, so if the use Linux they may find they don't need to pirate MS Software at all.

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