23 May 2006

More "Piracy" Poppycock

The Business Software Alliance has published another of its misleading propaganda efforts directed against the threat of so-called "piracy". It claims that a quarter of the software used in the UK is pirated. Now, I'd be willing to bet that this "research" doesn't take into account the growing use of free software, which can't be pirated, by definition. There are two ways in which this would affect the the 25% figure.

One, is that including free software reduces proportionately the share of closed software, which therefore makes the level of "piracy" go down too. Similarly, if any open source software is included in the overall total, so-called "pirate" copies may well include copies of free software that have not been bought - which are therefore perfectly legal, and should not be included in the "piracy" figure.

Aside from these methodological issues, there is an even bigger problem with the BSA document. From the BBC report on the story:

The impact of pirated software was felt very widely, she said, as it took cash out of the UK's technology culture and stunted money available for innovation.

"This is a serious issue. It's not affecting just businesses but everyone down the line," she said.

She added that reducing piracy significantly would mean a boost for the UK economy.

This is of course, complete poppycock and balderdash. Any extra money obtained would go straight into Bill Gates' pockets, and would do very little for the local economy. Indeed, cynics might argue that "piracy" is actually good for the UK's economy, since it reduce imports and hence outflows of cash. Personally, though, I'd just like more people to use free software so that the entire pseudo-issue of "piracy" disappeared.

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