BSA Piracy Study Deeply Flawed

Wednesday, June 15th 2005


I've been saying it forever, and this sums it up.

...They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms.

Although this article focuses mainly on software, the same applies to music and movies. I may have to pick up this copy of The Economist.

Comments on BSA Piracy Study Deeply Flawed
Comment Wednesday, June 15th 2005 by tagger
In years past, a lot of software piracy was caused by the software companies themselves. In the case of Microsoft, you couldn't buy a copy of MS-DOS without buying a computer. It was printed right on the box - "For distribution only with a new computer." MS-DOS Version 5.0 was the first one you could just walk into a store and buy. How did we get, say, DOS 3.3? We copied the floppies, that's how.

Other vendors, such as WordPerfect Corporation, seemed to think that anyone who owned a PC was rolling in dough. The MSRP for a WP license back in the 1990s was $500. Street price was around $250 - still way too much for the typical home user, especially considering that the original license was for one computer. In other words, if you had a machine at home and one at work, you needed TWO licenses, even though you could only use one PC at a time.

Such licensing and pricing is encouragement to steal. (WP changed the terms of their license and lowered the price, shortly before being bought out by Novell.) The concept of shareware, one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century, did much to alleviate theft because it gave people a chance to test drive products before spending any money.

How much vendors lose as a result of theft is, IMO, an impossible question to answer. Most Microsoft software, for example, is not sold at list. MS sells discounted licenses to schools, system builders, resellers and a host of others. So, what prices does one use when calculating loss?

Fair licensing and reasonable prices would go a long way toward reducing theft. Just as it would with music and videos.
Comment Wednesday, June 15th 2005 by Greg
Thank goodness for OpenOffice
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