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BSA's Latest Piracy Claims 'Shockingly Misleading,' Says Geist 277

An anonymous reader writes "This week the Business Software Alliance published a new study which purports to estimate the economic gain from a ten percent reduction in piracy of business software. For Canada, the BSA claims that the reduction would create over 6,000 new jobs and generate billions in GDP and tax revenue. But Michael Geist says the BSA claims are based on nothing more than the economic gains from a ten percent increase in proprietary software spending. The BSA now admits its estimate is based on the presumption that every dollar 'saved' by using unlicensed software would now be spent on proprietary software." Glyn Moody pointed out more flaws in the BSA's report.
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BSA's Latest Piracy Claims 'Shockingly Misleading,' Says Geist

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  • Re:Not Shocking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:26PM (#33612080) Journal

    The only shocking thing about this is that they admitted their fudging of the facts after they were called out on it.

  • BSA is biased anyway (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Halifax Samuels ( 1124719 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:27PM (#33612086)
    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d10423.pdf [gao.gov]

    Even the US Government Accountability Office has announced that you can not accurately make economy-wide estimations for this type of thing.

    Most experts observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts.

    Generally, the illicit nature of counterfeiting and piracy makes estimating the economic impact of IP infringements extremely difficult, so assumptions must be used to offset the lack of data.

    ...how did it go? Something about "making an ass of you and me"...

  • by Palestrina ( 715471 ) * on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:29PM (#33612112) Homepage

    It comes from reduced spending someplace else? Or increasing consumer or business debt, right?

    This is an old, old economic fallacy. I tried to debunk it once in a blog post: "Broken Windows and the Ghost of Keynes" [robweir.com] but you can't kill the undead.

  • by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:34PM (#33612184)
    Exactly. Nice assumption that it is businesses that can actually afford the software that are running the pirated software.

    And now that these businesses are being put in their place, they're going to rightfully pay their BILLIONS to the software companies. 6000 new jobs! Nevermind the BILLIONS in paycuts and thousands of layoffs that would be needed to pay for the software if the supposition were true...

    You aren't going to get money from nothing unless you're the Federal Reserve®
  • Where the jobs are. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:42PM (#33612264)

    Unfortunately, the new jobs will not be in product development, but rather in legal prosecution and defense, as companies spend more time hunting "pirates" with very little result per dollar spent, then are sued themselves by companies using the same tools they use to attack others.

    Oh, and the law teams will almost certainly end up costing far more per 'employee' than developers.

    The BSA is what you get when lawyers see how this cycle works, and band together to accelerate the process, while maximizing leverage against companies to keep the cycle going. It's like a union, without the meager shared humility of strenuous work to justify the pride involved - it's all union bosses playing with money here.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:57PM (#33612456)

    Alternatively, I dig a hole in some waste ground without anyone asking me to.
    I work very hard.
    I bitch and moan about how I worked real hard and demand to be paid.
    Nobody pays me.

    Later someone else comes along and puts water in the disused hole and starts using it for a swimming pool.
    I bitch and moan that I worked very hard and since they're using it it obviously has value.
    Yet still nobody pays me.

    The moral of the story is, just because you work hard, even if what you do has value to someone that does not automatically entitle you to payment.

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:04PM (#33612518)

    My point was that the pirated software had value to the the people who are pirating it, not that every piece of functionality was available in a free piece of software. If there is no free alternative available then there is all the more reason that the software has value since there is no replacement for it.

    By the way, why try to make something a "right" when one can already sue for damages based on simple law that already covers this topic anyway, theft.

    Because as has been pointed out on this site many, many times, theft implies denying access to the stolen item by taking it away. The implication being that creating a copy of something for your own use cannot really be theft since the original copy is still completely usable and available to others. There is also laws that say that content creators have a right to control who copies and distributes their creations, it's called 'copyright', maybe you've heard of it?

  • by rothstei ( 1357055 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:23PM (#33612778)

    All I hear is how taxes hurt the economy, by taking money away from small businesses, so they have to lay off workers.

    So, equivalently, the software industry should stop taxing all the other businesses by charging them money at all, and give away software for free. That way, 100% of the money companies spend on software would go towards creating jobs!

    Stop taxing us, software companies! Clearly you hate small businesses and the American worker!

  • "My point was that the pirated software had value to the the people who are pirating."

    In the US, the distributer is the pirate. In fact using the term pirate in this context goes back 300 years and is specifically regarding the people making the copies, not the people receiving them. While there is now verbiage in the copyright regarding downloading, don't link to it unless you understand it. It isn't saying what most people on /. think it is.

    And there is good reason the people receiving shouldn't be held liable for the providers actions. If best buy had been found to violate a contract with Sony, should they come to your house, take your TV away and then fine you to the poor house?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:35PM (#33612932)

    People can't help but create things of value... it's what we do.

    If I choose to take the bus instead of driving to work, I've created something of value. Someone else gets to take advantage of this by either taking my spot on the road, or enjoying a speedier commute.

    If I sell a book that describes the fastest routes between popular places in the city, and one person buys it and tells all their friends what the fastest routes are to their specific popular places, I could go all BSA and argue that I've "lost sales" because those people found value but didn't buy my book. In reality, they never would have bought my book, as they would have found SOME route by themselves, and they don't NEED the entire set of routes, just the select few they use. Since they have access to my knowledge via the person who actually bought the book, they use the fastest route as it would be silly for them not to, just because it came from a commercial source. This is the social setting that software piracy exists in. It doesn't matter how we codify it, software is published knowledge, not a physical work. People treat it this way implicitly, even if the law makes special exemptions.

    The analogy above would also work for clothing design, food recipes, and many many other common areas of life.

  • Re:A devil's game (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:44PM (#33613062)

    If ENOUGH people start paying, who weren't then the developer has more money to improve the product.

    Well in my experience that's not always the case. Ive worked for a software company where the answer to my request to improve certain aspects of a software got answered. No thank you it sells good enough as it is. So no need to improve put it on list and well improve it when our shares start to dip.

    So no that's not nearly allays true. Just like the movie industry getting more money sure as hell hasn't made the average movie better in terms of how good the movie was. Perhaps the image and sound quality got upped a bit tough

  • by InsaneProcessor ( 869563 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:46PM (#33613092)
    Since the results of the study are self serving, the result mean nothing. The conclusion means nothing. This is not a story, it is propaganda disguised as news. Thusly, this is garbage and should be thrown out with yesterday's chicken carcass.
  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:55PM (#33613204) Journal

    Try before buy is one thing, but to keep using it without paying is something else entirely.

  • by becker ( 190314 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @01:56PM (#33613210)

    And of course there is economic value to "piracy": advertising and lock-in.

    Microsoft's lock on the market happened because of illicit, unauthorized and implicitly authorized copies. Their resulting monopoly position has been worth vastly more than any revenue foregone or lost.

    Even if a software publisher doesn't end up with a monopoly, no-cost copies can create a viable market size where none existed before.

    There have been serious economic analyses that suggest the market has a below-optimal illicit copying ratio. Yes, overall productivity and software/service revenue would both be higher with more relaxed rules and actions. I have a much more of a level playing field / follow-the-rules attitude, but bogus press releases like these push me away from that viewpoint. Bogus, biased "studies" leave me opposed to anything that such organization want -- if it's the best they could come up with, they are definitely wrong.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @02:02PM (#33613264) Journal

    Applying your analogy to software doesn't cover piracy. Piracy would be someone copying the WHOLE book and giving it away to others (or charging some price for the copies).

    Your analogy would be equivalent to me getting a copy of Mathematica (to use an example I'm familiar with), occasionally people coming to me with some huge calculus problem they can't solve and me putting it through mathematica and given them the answer.

    You people didn't use the book, they used information FROM the book. My people didn't use the software they used information FROM the software.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @02:37PM (#33613636)

    Due to the Ernie Ball story and the high cost of software, when I stopped loading Windows on home built beige boxes, I started using Ubuntu instead. Now I no longer pay for extra copies of AV software, media players, etc. The net result due to the Software Repository for Ubuntu, I buy less applications and games. I find I don't need CD or DVD burning or ripping software from a retailer.

    All I can say is Thank You BSA. You have saved me a bundle. I've gone legal and never looked back.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @03:50PM (#33614402)

    I would say Open Office is far from a poor imitation. Lots of folks use it, you don't like it which is fine. The reality is I see it used in businesses all the time for employees who use office type apps very little. We have about 400 call center folks using it. This has saved our company considerable money.

    If it were not for people sending them office documents, they probably would be fine with wordpad though.

  • Re:Business (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:51PM (#33615704)

    Even if you have the receipt you get charged.

    Even if some paperwork obviously got mixed up (you have 5 running copies and 5 licenses, but one of the running copies has the wrong serial number) you get charged.

    Even if the licenses were known to have been destroyed in a fire or flood, you get charged.

  • by muuh-gnu ( 894733 ) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @03:53AM (#33618274)

    It's not that a big stretch as you'd like it to be.

    Enforcing copyright is a form of for-profit censorship. You're not allowing people to privately communicate certain pieces of information in order to enable businesses to sell them those pieces of information as if they were physical goods.

    Censorship of private, non-commercial information, whatever the contents may be, is in its essence a infringement of human rights. Censorship for the sole purpose of making a non-natural business method viable makes this even worse. Its like fiercely enforcing a home fucking prohibition in order to encourage commercial prostitution.

    Fighting copyright-based censorship, even passively by simply ignoring its there, is a form of human rights fight, or "No, I will not give up my freedom to exchange information!" like Rosa Parks would have said if she were sued for $200,000 for sharing a few songs with other people.

    And before some copyright fanboy jumps in with the usual "But this is NOT censorship!" parTy line, this is how for example wikipedia defines it: "Censorship is the suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body." A suppression of communication. Thats what copyright enforcement is. A suppression of communication. How is fighting that much different than fighting the suppression of a group of people because of their color?

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