back to article Much of the human race made up of thieves, says BSA

Almost a half of all PCs in operation worldwide use pirated software, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The industry body came to the number after tasking research firm Ipsos Public Affairs with a poll of 15,000 users in 32 countries, albeit a tiny fraction of the more than one billion clients used across the …


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  1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


    "The highest instances of pirated software were in China, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Ukraine, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea."

    So far so good.

    "The evidence is clear: the way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal – and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace."

    Wait, what?! How the hell are they going to deter a Nigerian 419'er from downloading a hooky copy of Windoze then? Oh, education, of course. Make them learn proper English grammar, that way they'll be more successful in their scams and can therefore afford the software.

    1. Elmer Phud


      ""It took hundreds of millions of thieves to steal $59bn worth of software last year. Now we have a better understanding of what they're thinking," said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman."

      Hmm, I wonder what the average is? I'd like a better understanding of what they are thinking, too. Please

  2. Bumpy Cat

    Bad news for BSA members

    If you gave the really big software players - especially Microsoft and Adobe - the option of instantly deleting all their pirated software across the whole world, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't take it. If people were forced to pay for the commercial software, they ... wouldn't. They'd find a free alternative, and the massive take-up of Linux or Gimp or whatever would destroy the lock-in effect of the big players. When a critical mass of people are using free (as in beer) software, the market share of the big companies would collapse.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Much the sames as the big-boys mess about with students as such, leaving them alone and offering extremely silly discounts. MS, Adobe, etc, need all those "virgin" app users to feel comfortable with their software packages so they will head out into the workplace and recomend their use!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Spot on

      Having received a load of phishing letters recently from the BSA, I have asked myself: am I 100% sure all my software, on all my 10 machines, is licenced correctly? The answer is no, only 99% as these machines have been moved around, re-puposed over the years. Although they were all completely legit when bought can I prove it?

      So I just spent 2 hours trying to find out how much it would cost for 10 copies of MS office (value licence) and move them all onto the same platform. I failed as no proper prices are avilable online, but I am sure it will be thousands. Or I can scrub it all and go openoffice for zero outlay, and guarantee no further internal compatibility problems, no bother from BSA, free future upgrades.

      I am sure others in small businesses will be thinking the same, for all sorts of other software. Yes there will be internal disruption, but it's a one time hit, then the pain lessens.

      If BSA/MS has any sense they will be backing off the gas pedal on this one.

  3. nematoad Silver badge


    "The evidence is clear: the way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal"

    Yes, I agree, just use Linux, then you can show these characters the door.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Enterprise support costs an arm and a leg and quite often costs more than a proprietory package that comes with support

      PS: That isn't a dig at linux, I really like it and use it. It's just some of the people who shout loudest about using linux for everything have no idea what TCO means

      1. kissingthecarpet

        Maybe so, but..

        in the context of the BSA etc., using Free software (not necessarily GNU/Linux) means that you never, ever have to worry about licences, whether you've got enough bleedin' CALs or whatever. Imagine if everyone was doing it - the competition would drive support costs way down, & software quality/feature set would improve likewise.

        I'd also like to say "$59bn worth of software" should be "$59bn price of software" - its pretty debatable that some of those licences are worth more than $0.

      2. Big-nosed Pengie

        Not free: Free

        There's a difference.

      3. Vic

        Re: linux!=free

        > Enterprise support costs an arm and a leg

        It doesn't have to.

        This is part of the point of Free software: if everyone can see, modify, and redistribute the source, then you end up with a competetive market for support. Costs go down if you shop around.

        > quite often costs more than a proprietory package that comes with support

        You do, of course, need to make sure you're comparing apples with apples. IME, the support bundled with many of these proprietary packages is rarely worth that title; for real support, you generally have to pay extra.

        > some of the people who shout loudest about using linux for everything

        > have no idea what TCO means

        That was a Microsoft marketing campaign of a few years back. And what came out of it was that the TCO of Free software is generally much lower; Micrososft's figures took the tack that users of Free software would need mahoosively expensive training courses to get up to speed, whereas users of Microsoft products would not need to spend anything ever on support costs. This is, of course, utter bollocks.


        [Disclosure: I make my living supplying support for Free Software.]

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


        And what are the enterprise support costs for running "pirated" software?

        Can we have a strawman icon?

      5. sisk

        Re: Linux != Free

        A lot of enterprise software charges extra for support. Microsoft is one of the biggest offenders here. It costs us $250 every time we pick up a phone to call them. EMC, Cisco (yes, they have software), Adobe, and basically every big education software company (I work for a school district) have support contracts that cost just as much as support contracts for Linux. Support is only free with the proprietary software for consumers. Enterprises pay out the nose for it.

        Besides, an average Linux geek is able to get free support by hitting a chat room or IRC channel populated by above average Linux geeks quicker than some of those companies can return your call.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Piracy != theft

    In order for theft to occur someone must loose something. The 'lost sales' argument doesn't hold up under scrutiny, therefore piracy is NOT a form of theft but is a seperate crime altogether (and make no mistake: it is, and should be, a crime). I'd say that the first step to reducing it is to treat it as such instead of trying to treat it the same as shoplifting a copy of the software.

    1. mark 63 Silver badge

      bad example

      Isnt shoplifting a copy the same as downloading it from a torrent?

      apart from the cost of a disk and some cardboard ( 50p) ?

      sorry to be pedantic )

      true the lost sales dosent hold up completly, but if there are 100 pirate copies then maybe that represents 10 people who would have actually paid for it if there was no chioce.

      1. Steen Hive

        Excellent example

        ... of pulling figures from your arse.

        "true the lost sales dosent hold up completly, but if there are 100 pirate copies then maybe that represents 10 people who would have actually paid for it if there was no chioce"

        Prove even ONE copy out of '$59bn of "stolen" software' represents a lost sale.

      2. Al 24

        @bad example

        No, it's not the same.

        If you walk into a shop and steal a copy of a software product it's the shop owner who takes a loss not the vendor. Eg if I stroll into Woolworths and steal a £40 Xbox game woolies have just lost £25 (or whatever they used to pay for games, no idea what the margins are on xbox games).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The 'lost sales' argument doesn't hold up under scrutiny"

      huh? run that by me again...

      1. Angus Ireland

        RE enigmatix

        Simple, they never would buy the pirated goods. It's pirated or nothing for them (or Free alternative, of course).

      2. AdamWill

        it's simple enough

        the BSA likes to imagine that, in an ideal world in which piracy was somehow impossible, every single person who in the real world pirated a piece of software would buy that piece of software instead.

        this is generally considered to be extremely unlikely; most people who aren't the BSA expect that a lot of the pirate downloads are by people who, if they didn't have the choice to pirate Photoshop, would not pay $1,000 for a legit copy, but would use a free alternative or simply live without.

    3. Andy Mac


      I thought it was a civil offense.

      1. Vic

        Re: Crime?

        > I thought it was a civil offense.

        That depends on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the infringement.

        In the UK, for example, it becomes criminal[1] if the copying is performed in a commercial setting; the penalty can be up to ten years inside...

        I still have loads of customers who ask me for unlicenced copies of various bits of software, and most of them get extremely put out when I tell them - yet again - that I will not do that for them.


        [1] See section 107 of the Copyrights Designs and Patents Act 1988

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Big Brother

          Re: Crime?

          "In the UK, for example, it becomes criminal[1] if the copying is performed in a commercial setting; the penalty can be up to ten years inside..."

          ...or transportation to the colonies.

          Oh wait, I made that last bit up. But then the Tories are in power...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            Oh wait, I made that last bit up. But then the Tories are in power...

            Thank god for that; if the zanuLabour party was still in power you'ed probaly be arrested and locked up in a cell without ever seeing a court room, solicitor, or even any evidence!

          2. mark 63 Silver badge


            I could do with transporting to the colonies, I'm gonna hve to £1000 for someone to fly me later this year

    4. Nick Pettefar

      someone must loose something...

      You mean, like, a wild animal or something... Like, wow!

      Most people only use something if it's free or close to. Otherwise the lowest common (working) denominator wins i.e. OpenOffice, which is unfortunately Oracle's baby nowadays.

      If people had to pay for an OS then most would be running Linux, FreeBSD or even Solaris!

      Cheers from the front-line of human knowledge!

  5. Marco Mieshio
    Big Brother

    Developing Countries Pirates - No way

    In order for developing countries to get on they have to beg, steal and borrow so it is no suprise this report shows them to be the worst pirates. If large corporations and western civilizations showed more respect to these people (i.e. treated them as fairly as their own) then they would not need to pirate in the first place.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    The evidence is clear

    The way to stop piracy is to have appropriate pricing models. People recognize that the software development costs are the same whether a million copies are sold as when 100 million are sold. They also have an idea in their head, rightly or wrongly, about what a "fair" pricing model for a specific piece of software is, and when they believe the pricing model is too high, they are much more likely to install or "loan" one license to more PC's than the license is for. When the pricing is perceived to be "fair", then they usually respect the license restrictions.

    1. pitagora

      how do you know how much is fair?

      The problem is: what is a fair price? How does the user know what is fair? I mean yes, the development cost is the same when selling 100 million copies or selling 1 copy, but how do you know how much we sell? Did anybody bother to calculate how much it would cost to develop that software? Did anybody ever think that for each sale made there is a cost in support and in the sale it's self? Sometimes up to 50% goes to the person/company that sold the product, not to the one that made it. Did you know that? Does that go into your fair price too?

      I have a software company in Eastern Europe (where price are considered to be small and everybody outsources). A programmer costs about 3000$ a month with salary/taxes/social security. Developing a small application (like dentist office management tool) needs a few months and a team of a few people to develop. For a 6 month of work and 4 programmers we already have 72000$ just in development costs.

      Now what is a fair price for the application? What do you think is fair? 200$?'ll does more and costs less. Unfair! Lets steal it instead. Well it's all about volume. My case there is a small target audience, reached hard. We are not expected to sell millions of copies. In fact in order to break even (and not make any profit at all) we are going to need to sell 360 copies at 200$. But oh wait: the application doesn't sell it's self so put some marketing in it. Selling 360 copies requires finding 360 doctors and convincing them to pay 200$ (if they think it's fair), and don't already use another app. For each sold application you'll have a cost in marketing. Then you realize that with the cost of sale you need to sell about 500 copies to break even.

      You sell your 500 copies and you notice that your phones are ringing all the time. There are 500 users that need support. You hire some support people to answer the phone and assign a developer or 2 permanently on dealing with bugs and issues, and offering patches to customers. Just supporting your small application costs about 10000$ a month.

      In the end you realize you can't sell more then 500 copies because there aren't enough dentists around you that need it. Most of them already use a competitor product (or if your product is truly good - most of them will use a pirated copy of your product) or some simply use Excel (most likely pirated). Your own pirated copies become your competitor. You can't sell because they already have it for free.

      Now the above is just hypothetical. It's just an example. We sell a different kind of application with a different (unfair) price. The hard truth is in our case that we know there are about 3 times more copies in use then we sold (we have some callbacks in the app). We are at the point where we haven't even broken even yet and I think it's unlikely to. We are about to discontinue the application ironically not because it isn't needed or used but because of people steal it instead of buying it.

      As for difference between piracy and theft: is there any? If you shoplift a dvd/cd with my software from the store or download it from a torrent do you think it makes any difference for me? The dvd it's self only costed 50 cents. I don't even care about it. The real value was the software in wich I invested possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why is it any different that you go shoplifting for software in a store or download from torrents? From my perspective the difference is 50 cents. Why does somebody go to jail for this 50 cent difference if he steals from the shop around the corner and just a file (perhaps) if he downloads it? I don't get it. I go out of business anyway....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dear pitagora

        We're not talking small niche software makers making specialised enterprise applications for small specilalised markets here. FWIW, just about everyone who's thought about it for a bit understands the tendency that the more bespoke, the more expensive. You may in fact be pricing your software a tad too cheaply. Not because you're not making a profit (that too of course) but because "everybody knows" your software /is/ a niche product, and is comparably cheap for such a specialised product/.

        Let me give you a real-world example: Someone I know makes clay cups and dishes and such by hand, and tried to sell them at faire. Priced at five euros a mug, they didn't sell. Priced at fifteen euros, they sold in large quantities. Apparently five was just too cheap.

        Of course physical objects don't copy as easily as software, unless it can be done by the chinese in plastic, but that doesn't mean price elasticity doesn't translate. I could be horribly wrong in my analysis, but the point is that you may have to rethink your pricing. Clearly, it is not working for you right now.

        The BSA, OTOH, has been "studying" large-scale piracy because that's where the money is for their backers. They're very much a shill for big software. Windows may be far too expensive at $200, and not merely (but also) because they make obscene profits selling millions of copies, but moreso because "everybody has to have a copy"* and thus doesn't really have a choice in buying. The market mechanisms are a tad different at that scale.

        But even if that wasn't the case in the western world, there's still the problem that the BSA is conveniently overlooking and that's that while $200 for a copy in "the west" is about what we've come to expect from vendors now becomes horrible price gauging in less developed places. And even in the west, "everybody knows" that with the huge profits they're making (picture somewhere over 90% margin on each copy sold), micros~1 could drop the price to $20 and still make a profit.

        In fact it would be better if they did for them too because it'd force them to bleed so much on the unprofitable parts of their company that they now can just keep and prop up with the old money makers, windows and that office suite.

        So instead of trying to squeeze $200 out of people who don't make that a month, or to take failing to do that as an excuse to double up the legalistic squeezing of people here, as the BSA is advocating with this "report" again, they ought to think more about what the would-be buyers think it is reasonable to pay. That's quite a different take from the current marketeering efforts that entirely centre around figuring out what is they think is the maximum that same buyer can be made to pay. They're squandering the trust in their market position that way, and it's only because they're so big that they can get away with it.

        The thing is that this is about big software makers, not small ones. The same thing, by the by, is true for big media. I recently heard about a small film maker in I think it was Kenya, where the market for one dollar black market DVD copies is far, far larger than the market for twenty dollar official big name DVDs that nobody can afford as the average buyer doesn't make that in a month, who made a film and distributed it himself for a dollar a piece, and made reasonable money out of that. Instead of trying to sell it for ten and still see no monies from the black market copies at all. The point is that you need a strategy to match the market. The BSA doesn't do that. They just demand more legislation and more enforcement and that is that.

        Oh, and it is "itself", not "it is self", just as "it's" is short for "it is", and is not a possessive. No, I'm not a native speaker either. This is a hint, not critique.

        * I don't use their software, but I digress.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge


        Just to explain my downvote - you missed the point of this article. As the commenter above me very eloquently said, this is not about specialist programs but about programs with huge sales volume and making vast amounts of money.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So the ludicrous conclusions of BSA presume that people in developing Thailand would be willing to pay a years salary for a piece of software that cost a Brit / Yank / etc a weeks salary... if only they were better educated about the law.

    Also, the estimate "Almost a half of all PCs" seems a tad optimistic. Generally the sort of people that fill in "Are you using illegal software?" questionnaires are only the ones who aren't doing it. From my experience the estimate ought to be "Almost all".

    1. Zack Mollusc

      WTF are they pirating ?

      I ( by dint of collecting the old computers that others throw out ) have more license keys for windows 2000(still the best windows), XP, Vista and 7 than I actually use .

      What software is there that is worth pirating? I gave up on office when it failed to properly run the text through the paragraphs of a pamphlet ( yes, version umpteen of commercial software from the industry leader had a stupid bug in it ) and now I use open source because I am less annoyed with problems with a free product than problems with something that cost me money.

      Transcoding, disk burning, remote login, web browsing, hard disk utilities and anything else I need I do with open source.

      1. Big-nosed Pengie


        Read the license. Getting a 2nd hand computer with a copy of Windoze on it doesn't give you a valid license - it's non-transferable.

        1. Peter Simpson 1


          From the "Microsoft Windows License guide":

          "Q. I have acquired a used PC with the original manufacturer’s

          Windows desktop operating system COA on the computer’s case

          and the matching copy of the original OEM recovery media disk

          or recovery media image that came with the PC when it was new.

          Is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Windows desktop

          operating system on this used PC properly licensed?

          A. Yes, in this case it appears that you have the genuine OEM

          Windows desktop operating system software which is designed

          exclusively for computer manufacturers to preinstall on their

          computers. "

          //Though Linux is still a better choice for a used PC, IMHO

  8. John Robson Silver badge

    $59bn lost sales?

    Don't believe you.

    Maybe $59bn "marked retail price" but most of those wouldn't have resulted in a sale, and the user would have learnt another (free) piece of software to do the same job.

    Cryptographic licensing ins't that hard, but none of the major software only players use it - because a pirate copy still has positive value on their business plan, it promotes the software, and perpetuates lock-in.

    1. Matt Piechota

      There are some problems with your post.

      "Cryptographic licensing ins't that hard, but none of the major software only players use it - because a pirate copy still has positive value on their business plan, it promotes the software, and perpetuates lock-in."

      Exactly. That's why in the good old days, 1234-1234567 was a valid product key for Windows NT.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Thieves not liars

    if they actually confessed to using pirated software... so not entirely that dishonest..

  10. Anonymous Coward

    It's not about price

    "The way to stop piracy is to have appropriate pricing models."

    Evidently not.

    If software is pirated because it is overpriced, there would be no Adobe or Microsoft, they would have filed for Chapter 11 years ago and everyone would be using OO, Gimp etc on Linux.

    So it isn't about price.

    1. Daniel B.


      They keep MS and Adobe afloat because they get audited every now and then. If people didn't have pirated MS warez, they would've gone down the Linux path, thus depriving MS from adopters, which will in turn recommend whatever they use at their workplaces.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      The way to stop piracy is to have appropriate REGIONAL pricing models

      Microsoft and Adobe price their software at the maximum level that the developed world can take. They then force that price level on third world countries where the dollar level purchasing power is much lower.

      Take a look at The Economist's Big Mac Index for an example of what I mean.

      There's a strong correlation between the countries at the bottom of the BSA list and the countries with the worst index score on the BMI.

      1. Microphage

        Mars Bar Index

        There's also the Mars Bar Index that depicts the true historical rate of inflation.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        2 words

        online sales


      3. Anonymous Coward

        Thanks for that

        "The way to stop piracy is to have appropriate REGIONAL pricing models" and give my employer yet another incentive to outsource my job to somewhere cheaper ... cheers

    3. kissingthecarpet

      O rly?

      So if all Windows editions were £5(say) for a legit copy on a DVD with massive discounts for bulk & you could install on multiple machines, you think people would still bother to pirate them as much in the UK? Maybe some would on principle, but businesses wouldn't - the same goes for any other software.

      If its cheap enough, surely anyone would rather have a legit copy with all extras & manuals & no malware risk, than say a torrented cracked copy.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Another One To File Away Under...

    "But they would say that, wouldn't they."

    Organisation that needs to justify its existence issuing press release, justifying its existence. I suggest that the bin is a better place for these things.

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    The easiest way to lower the 'piracy' figures is to stop making them up!

  13. Ru

    The evidence is indeed clear, but the conclusions are tenuous

    The way to deal with piracy is to give everything away for free.

    (Or ensure everyone in the world is on an even economic footing, of course. But lets be reasonable here)

    Any other suggestion is merely discouragement.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "The highest instances of pirated software were in [some others] Saudi Arabia."

    how you gonna type without any hands, sparky?

    risky business

    1. mark 63 Silver badge


      I dont know if you'd get the hand treatment for stealing software from the western infidels , only for eastern things, like letting your wife go to school, or out in public

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The bullshit of "lost sales"

    MS Office is a good example of pirated software not being a lost sale.

    I know many people who have downloaded and use pirated versions of MS Office because that's what they’re familiar with from work but they would all soon learn to use one of the free alternatives like open office if confronted with a licensing fee.

    1. pitagora
      Thumb Down

      letters and/or digits

      and why don't they? MS Office has a licence fee, while Open Office is free. I'll tell you why: because the latter is full of bugs and issues. Try use it instead of the pirated MS Office for a change.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Are you saying you've never had an large excel file consistently just cause the gui to disappear after you only just saved it on the same machine, or Word utterly fail to reproduce the paragraph formatting across page breaks after saving and reopening a document?

        I guess you either don't use Office as much as you profess, or you haven't looked at OpenOffice in the last decade. I'll concede that Powerpoint appears to work much better.

        (Should also point out that both of those are bugs I've seen multiple times in recent versions of Office which can easily be fixed by opening the offending file in OO and just saving it again.)

  16. David Eddleman


    "The evidence is clear: the way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal – and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace."

    Um, no.

    The way to lower software piracy is twofold:

    1) Offer competitive pricing. Why is it that every new game that comes out is $60 and every new movie is $30? Make them competitive. Obviously you need to make a profit and pay your workers, get funding for your next release, etc. But why are distributors still using this static pricing chart? It seems like Valve have their heads out of their asses by charging a variable amount on games (they didn't charge $60 for HL2: Episodes 1 and 2! Still too much IMO for what you got, but it was far more reasonable.) based upon how big and the re-playability of games, and regularly run specials where they're discounted. And this competitive pricing works around the world, where instead of charging the same $200 for a copy of Windows 7 (which exceeds the annual salaries of some people in some countries), offer a stripped-down or reduced-use model for a lower price, or work on some deals with the government there to distribute them at a lower cost to the citizens.

    2) Quality control. I certainly wouldn't pay $60 for some games or $30 for some movies, simply because they're of so poor quality. It forces the studios to present works of quality. I'm not talking about regularly producing epics, I'm talking about making them well worth the money. If I don't know if a product is going to be worth the money, you can damn well be sure I'm not going to shell out for it unless I know I'm going to be satisfied with the purchase. To use a particular parlance in some circles: vote with your wallet.

  17. Neil Brown

    Developing countries and copyright

    Alan Story, at the University of Kent, has lead some truly excellent work in this sphere - for a detailed but accessible study of the issues of western models of copyright in the "South", I can highly recommend the "CopySouth Dossier":

  18. PyLETS

    redefinition of theft is evil

    As AC points out breach of copyright != theft. But making rioting yobs think that removing physical stuff from people (which few people do) isn't any worse than copyright breach (which everyone does) by pretending these 2 seperate actions are morally equivalent is evil.

    Copying stuff in principle is an ancient and natural right anyway - it's how kids learn, though I don't mind commercial beneficiaries having to pay royalties or sales commissions to content creators.

    1. pitagora
      Thumb Down

      theft (stealing a cd) = pirating + 50 cents for the cd

      If you shoplift a dvd/cd with my software from the store or download it from a torrent do you think it makes any difference for me? The dvd it's self only costed 50 cents. I don't even care about it. The real value was the software in wich I invested possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why is it any different that you go shoplifting for software in a store or download from torrents? From my perspective the difference is 50 cents. Why does somebody go to jail for this 50 cent difference if he steals from the shop around the corner and just a file (perhaps) if he downloads it? I don't get it. I go out of business anyway....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Please explain more

        I don't understand that the difference is 50 cents from your perspective. I'm not a professional like you, so I must get something wrong and I hope you can correct me.

        Here is how i understand things. Let's suppose I shoplift your software (I did not). 50 cents is how much it costs you to produce an extra DVD. But that's not the price the shop-owner paid you for the DVD, otherwise you could not make any profit at all. Presumably, the shop-owner paid 200$ (since this is what you said you needed to make for each copy in your other post), and sells it with some benefit, say 210$. Now, if i shoplift it, the shop-owner doesn't have a copy to sell anymore. And if the shop-owner still wants to sell your software, he has to buy another DVD from you. He can't just give you 50cents and get another DVD for sale, can he ? No, he can't because he can't prove to you that he did not sell it. So, you still got the 200$ and the shop-owner lost 200$, as well as 10$ of "lost benefits" (i.e 10$ which never existed). So that's stealing : I have it and he does not have it anymore.

        So how is there a 50cents difference between shoplifting and downloading from your perspective ?

      2. ~mico

        It's simple, really.

        First of all, you make it sound like shoplifting a blank DVD is legal. A shoplifter will go to jail even for stealing a blank DVD. Or a box of matches, for that matter. So yes, those 50 cents, or rather, a physical, tangible object, that was owned by the shop and is now owned by the thief, is what matters.

        Secondly, the price of a DVD with your software might be just 50 cents for you. It isn't for the shop owner - he has to pay you whether he sold your DVD or lost it to a shoplifter.

        Thirdly - and here's the interesting part... Suppose your software costs 100$ to buy legally. This means that for shop owners to make any profit, you have to sell it to them at, say, 80$ apiece. Guess what losses the shop owner can legally report when he's shoplifted? Right, he lost only 80$, not the 100$ he sells the DVD for. Guess what losses could you report if someone stole that DVD out of your factory? What makes you believe it's 100$ ?..

        I'll get my coat, cause i make software for living myself.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BSA CEO certifies himself disconnected from reality

    "The evidence is clear: the way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal – and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace."

    I think it's been discussed on here, as elsewhere, that losing the get-paid-for-your-software battle is easily explained by you overasking, like how asking the prices asked "in the west" just is not anywhere near realistic in those places where "piracy is rampant".

    Thus above quote is getting close if not already into "I'm not crazy, everybody else is wrong!" territory. Then again, perhaps that's a necessary trait for someone making a living out of specalising in finger-wagging at your own customers' customers. It's no coincidence it's the BSA that does this as well as lobbying for more power to sue end users and such much like big music is using any of a whole collection of "industry bodies" to influence politicians and ask for laws and enforcement.

    Thing is, this sort of shop specialises in the sort of report they put out with regularity. Reports that often contain made-up numbers and even more often are disagreed with by independent studies not paid for by "the industry". As science goes, the conclusion seems clear.

    Guess which The "policy-based evidence" Government is likely to listen to?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more expensive in developing countries

    Can someone from the BSA explain why in Brazil a Windows license costs twice as much - in dollar terms - as in the USA?

    Never mind that average income is much lower than in the first world (legal minimum wage is about £200/month).

  21. Hatless Pemberty

    Will no one rid me of these turbulent wankers?


    I don't pirate software. I really don't. But these BSA guys _really_ get on my tits.

    Kill it with fire, that's what I say.

  22. BinaryFu

    The best way to prevent piracy is...

    There's NO way to prevent piracy. That's reality. There are those who will claim ignorance - so ignorant they figured out how to pirate something?

    There are those who will claim cost - but if you make it cheap, they'll still prefer free. Will you then make it free?

    There are a lot of people in this world who would and do pirate software. That will never change. It started in the 80's and it is still going strong today. There are kids who were raised by old school pirates of software. You're not going to change a mindset.

    You will never stop piracy. DRM has failed time and time again. Encryption won't work - pirates will crack it. Validation checks don't work - they'll crack that too. Whatever you make to lock down your software tighter - will only piss off your legit purchasers and make the pirates laugh.

    Case in point - I have a legal copy of a certain game (I won't bother with the name here - it's unimportant) and it checks for the DVD before loading - EVERY SINGLE TIME. So, since I play it a lot, what did I do? Found the pirated crack to make it possible to load the game without the DVD. Why? Because their security check to prevent piracy impeded my enjoyment of playing their game. So I fixed it - via piracy.

    That tells me that a pirated game will most likely play better than the original. So, which one am I more inclined to look for the next time I want a game?

    Sometimes I hear programmers say, "Wait, so you think it's okay for someone to STEAL MONEY FROM ME???" No, I do not. I also do not think it is reasonable to count money as your own until it's in your pocket. If they aren't paying now, what makes you think they'll pay if you change XYZ?

    I've heard programmers also say, "Well, if we can't stop pirates, how am I supposed to make money with my programming degree I just got???" I have a solution that has worked for YEARS for programmers - McDonalds is hiring.

    1. Deano2099

      Not binary

      It's not a binary thing though. No, you won't stop piracy completely. That doesn't mean you can't significantly reduce it.

      It's a sliding scale, dropping the price will convert some pirates to customers. The question is exactly where on that scale you make the biggest profit.

      Both the music (iTunes) and the PC games (Steam) industry have demonstrated how piracy can be massively reduced by offering a convenient service.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    Honestly sometimes companies make piracy seem easiest.

    Case in point when I was recently fixing my friend's Vista laptop. Hard drive failed, the recovery partition containing Vista install/recovery files was lost, and did I have a DVD of Vista for reinstallation? No. If it wasn't for The Pirate Bay and a Vista ISO some kind soul had uploaded, I would have been stuck. In half an hour I had it downloaded and burnt to a DVD-R.

    In contrast, the "legal" route would have involved me begging my mate's laptop manufacturer for some disks, paying them more money and waiting for weeks for delivery. Ridiculous.

    Anon in case the BSA see this (you'll never catch me alive, suckers!) ;-)

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Error number one - piracy is not Theft!


    I have something you take it I don't have it any more...


    I have something you copy it we now both have it.

    Simple isn't it but quite a major difference...

    As pointed out in most studies, where a sensible price and a legal way of obtaining stuff is available, it is used. When some one can't get what they want/need legally either they can't afford it or some Muppet think it would be a good idea to release an item in one geological area but not another (totally idiotic if it is digital) then the area they don't release it into will acquire it and the Muppet loses out...

    There are no boundaries on the net, there are no marketing zones for digital products there is the www, once companies realize this and make use of it rather than paying off governments to try and police the internet as if it conforms to old world rules, then those companies will make their money again. From what studies have said music piracy is lower in areas where things like iTunes/Amazon and others offer suitably price legal ways of getting content.

    The average Joe on the streets will, when given a choice to pay a sensible fee to get a legal, guaranteed quality item as opposed to a pirate version, which even though quality is no longer a problem, backdoor/Trojan/Bot-infections type payloads are, they will pay the fee... but the fee has to be sensible, and what is sensible in Europe/US is not sensible in other areas. Its a challenge to suppliers and vendors... but not one that should have been attacked with silly over regulation by governments, especially in the countries where the problem isn't even that bad... you don't see video game companies targeting secondhand sales as illegal and yet that costs them many times more than piracy, no they found other ways to steer the market... so to should others.

  25. Promotor Fidei

    To be fair

    There are businesses in developed nations who totally rely on pirated software.

    One of them tried to hire me for the IT position. I said: I'm not gonna be legally responsible for that lot. General manager told me in no polite terms to get my priorities straight and using 10s of k€ of pirated software in production every day is like driving 10km above the speed limit. You need to do it to get things done. You cannot start a business if you waste time and money on buying your tools.

    I did not accept any position or cooperation with that company but started my own business, since getting work is easier than getting a job. All software I work with is properly licenced, most of it GPL or similar licences. Photoshop is very very powerful but the prices are just too steep for me. By the time I can afford it, I'm probably not going to look back from Gimp, though.

    Funny thing - there was nothing in the company that could not have been replaced with GPL software except maybe one piece that needed to work with a special plotter - and even that is only a maybe.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Timing, The Target, The Truth

    Establishment is seeding cyber fear stories, all targeted at users.

    Don't forget they just did a bunch of secret backroom crap recently.

    (from infowars)

    The money masters have long profited from war and mass murder. Nathan Rothschild made a financial bet on Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo while also funding the Duke of Wellington’s peninsular campaign against Napoleon. The House of Rothschild financed the Prussian War, the Crimean War and the British attempt to seize the Suez Canal from the French and also financed the Mexican War and the Civil War in the U.S.

    In addition to worrying about Congress waking up to the Libyan scam, the global elite is also concerned about a diverse liberty movement that has grown exponentially with the help of an open and free internet.

    In response, the pocketed pawns in Congress have introduced a raft of bills over the last few months designed to take down the internet and blunt its impact as a medium for alternative news and information.

    On April 1, 2009, the Senate introduced two bills, endangering a free and open internet: S. 773: Cybersecurity Act of 2009 and S. 778 to establish a White House cybersecurity czar.

    In addition, on September 20, 2010, S. 3804: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was introduced.

    Early last month, an especially ominous bill was introduced in the Senate. Entitled Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, PROTECT IP for short, this legislation would use copyright infringement as a smoke screen to take down web domains and institute rolling censorship.

    On the international front, the European Commission gave a nod toward implementing the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a draconian measure that will subvert national sovereignty, trash Net Neutrality, consumer privacy, and civil liberties. In the United States, the corporate media has virtually ignored ACTA, but then key players in the Mockingbird media are often Bilderberg attendees and privy to aspects of the agenda.

    The above represent a small sampling of legislation and treaties that will be used to shut down the opposition under the cover of protecting copyright and preventing terrorism.

    (end of snippet)

    Yet still the slashdot crowd presses forward laughing all the way, at each step, troll bots justifying the new encroachment, since 911 is a new world, everythings changed.

    The truth of the matter is this is planned and timed. It's EXACTLY the way the establishment wants it, nobody has fought it besides the EFF, and nobody seems to take them serious anymore. Sales are crap since everyone's broke, so why wouldn't the masters crack down even harder, the next logical step is slavery.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      It's all true! Except you left out the bit about how they're all lizards in disguise, too.

  27. Michael 28

    19 sept 2011

    International "Talk like a pirate "day.

    "that be all"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >The hard truth is in our case that we know there are about 3 times more copies in use then we sold (we have some callbacks in the app). We are at the point where we haven't even broken even yet and I think it's unlikely to. We are about to discontinue the application ironically not because it isn't needed or used but because of people steal it instead of buying it<

    Why not send a popup to all those companies happily using your software (and I assume making money off the back of it), explaining your situation and how you might need to close. Ask for a donation in exchange for a legal license and any company that ignores you, send a kill code back thru the spyware / callback you wrote into the app.

    As for the title of this piece, 'much of the human race made up of thieves', just look at our politicians (expenses), police (citizen murder from Blair Peach to Tomlinson), our bankers (obscene bonuses whilst Rome burns), white collar crime baby, our youth (riots for a branded tracksuit), and realise... We're worse than fucking thieves...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like your girl but don't want to pay for sex.

    @ the freetards who use the "I haven't stolen it because you still have it" as justification for their actions not being theft and a crime.

    So if I had sex with your girlfriend or wife without her consent, I have not stolen anything, she still has everything and I have merely used it... But Rape is a crime. Piracy is a crime!

    1. Deano2099

      Yes but...

      They're different crimes aren't they?

      If you killed my girlfriend, I wouldn't have her any more. But you don't go around saying "rape is murder everyone, let's just call it what it is eh?"

      We've been down this road before, and hence we're now lumbered with the term 'piracy' for copyright infringement, even though it's nothing to do with attacking ships on the high seas. I don't understand this obsession with re-naming the damn thing. If copyright infringement is too many words can we not just have a new one for it? Instead of trying to use other words that mean other things that we still need to use for those things.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      "But Rape is a crime. Piracy is a crime!"

      Seriously? haahahahahahahah..bonk

      Come here luvvy, I want to initialise your I/O port, fnaar.


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corporate ethics are a dreadful role model

    More and more ordinary people see themselves as having been left way, way behind by corporate thieves and executive pirates whose goals are to "earn" billions of dollars in a few short years. They wonder why they have to respect the corporate intellectual property of some huge, wealthy company when that company and its leaders are as rich as Croesus, on money sucked (somehow) from ordinary people.

    This cartoon says it all:

  31. Dom 3

    Windows transferability; fair pricing.

    @Big-nosed Pengie: Full retail licences are fully transferable. OEM licences are 'locked' to the computer they were shipped with, but there's nothing to stop someone selling on the computer + licence:

    Here's an interesting case:

    Thanks to the NDA and out-of-court settlement we don't know what happened.

    NB that was for unused copies of OEM licences.

    And here's an argument that the Windows OEM licence terms are unenforceable in Europe:

    Strange how so many of these cases end up with NDAs and out-of-court settlements. Almost as if MS is frightened of the consequences of their licensing receiving a full legal examination.

    Oh - fair pricing - judging by what people are charging for GPL-licensed plugins for platforms like Wordpress (yes, you *can* sell GPL software) it'd seem to be about 30 to 50 dollars that people are prepared to pay to do the right thing...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    We are all criminals.

    To those people who think they are clean because they paid for all their software, please check some documents you can find on this page.

    Many of them are hilarious but I particularly recommend these two:

    New Software Check-in Checklist

    Software Disaster Recovery Plan Template

    For every item of commercial software do you have copies of the Quotation, Purchase order, Delivery note, Invoice, Licence agreement, Licence keys and the flattened box that contained the software all filed in an off-site fireproof, waterproof, lockable cabinet? Microsoft says you should.

    The insult is that this "Disaster Recovery Plan Template" tries to tell you that this is to protect your software investment in case of a disaster. This may be true for extremely high value software, but when the majority of your machines are just running OEM Microsoft Office on OEM Windows then the only disaster this exercise protects you against is a BSA audit. OEM software dies with the machine on which it is installed so after a real disaster your expensively generated and stored documentation isn't worth diddly squat. Never having experienced a disaster I would assume that insurers would at most want to see an invoice just to prove you have paid for something and how much you paid.

    Partly as an exercise I recently spent several hours chasing down the documentation, copying and filing it all for a customer who recently replaced all their computers. Each computer has its own file with all the purchasing information for all the commercial software on it (currently just Office and Windows) The customer would never pay me if I billed them for the total time this activity took me but at least I can sleep easily and would be more than happy if the BSA came to call. As all the software I documented was OEM it wasn't worth investing in a fireproof safe.

    I never noticed the cost of software compliance in Microsoft's TCO figures. I suppose that if you spend yet more money on another Windows server to run SMS you can at least cut down some of the ongoing costs of software auditing, but the grunt work of documenting compliance to a level where a BSA audit is not something to be feared is huge. In many cases it is probably cheaper to buy more copies than you need or use than to chase up the paperwork. Ker-ching.

    Compare and contrast with:

    step 1: Type yum install libreoffice*

    step 2: You're done.

  33. geeyore

    Last time is SE Asia was difficult to find a retail store that sold legitimate software. But stores that sold huge catalogs of pirated software openly were ubiquitous. I recall that at one mall in Jakarta, the police had shuttered two shops selling pirated DVDs, but the very next day both owners had opened small kiosks in the mall, directly in front of the very busy shop which was selling pirated computer software. Unlike the DVD shops, it had not even been touched by the police the day before. The ironies were endless.

    In downtown Saigon, customers would browse through large catalogs of pirated software titles, and then order those they desired. Within minutes a "runner" would appear at the shop with the pirated CDs or DVDs. So obviously they were separating the retail $$$ operation from the copying and production operations. But otherwise it was brazen and handled very openly.

  34. Armando 123

    Wait a second

    "It took hundreds of millions of thieves to steal $59bn worth of software last year."

    The average politician makes that looks like a hobby.

  35. ph0b0s

    50% of the world break a law, does that make that law meaningless

    With any law, how much of society does it take to ignore it, before it becomes meaningless. 50%, 75%, 90%. If everyone ignores a law does it not become meaningless.

    With the 50% stat does it not indicate that society has spoken and that they don't rate the laws on copyright? Governments can enact whatever laws they like, but if they cannot enforce it and huge numbers ignore it, what does that say about that law?

  36. AZComicGeek

    "The evidence is clear: the way to lower software piracy is by educating businesses and individuals about what is legal – and ramping up enforcement of intellectual property laws to send clearer deterrent signals to the marketplace."

    Or lower prices to a reasonable and affordable level. Really? $300 for an OS upgrade from a mistake like Vista? It should have been a upgrade, Win 7 is Vista 2.0, the way it should have been to begin with. Even us beta testers were told 'thanks for the help, now go out and pay full retail'.

  37. ■↨

    Missing the point?

    "illegal software purchases" is clearly an oxymoron. If you're a pirate and are buying the software, something somewhere has gone horribly wrong.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AL 24:

    You're aware Woolworths closed, right?

    And no doubt their greedy pricing structure was to blame. (£50 for one DVD box set? I'm not paying that!)

    That said, can honest, hardworking people really afford something like >$1,000 for Photoshop?

    I know I can't.

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