Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Are raids the only way to battle piracy?

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has announced two raids in Jordan on companies using and distributing illegal copies of software.

Such raids are carried out in cooperation with the authorities and based on intellectual property rights (IPR) laws which have existed in Jordan for some time.

First, let's make something clear. Piracy is, indeed, theft. But, it can't just be tackled by raids and legal threats. Which is why the BSA also run awareness campaigns and promote the use of licensed software whenever they can.

But, the BSA rarely, if ever, mentions the key factor: Software prices!

Why? Well, because the Business Software Alliance (BSA) represents the interests of its members, the world's largest software publishing companies.

The BSA estimates the amount of money it could make if piracy drops and that motivates its members. The numbers do look impressive, and seem to also have a positive impact on local economies and job markets.

Apperantly, 13,000 new jobs would be created if the Middle East's piracy rate drops by 10%. It is also estimated that such a drop in piracy would create additional economic growth of over $4 billion!

As far as jobs and GDP are concerned, we cannot underestimate the impact of piracy.
Regretably, though, no one seems to be studying 'the other side' of this equation.

If piracy is stamped out, people in poor countries who use this illegal software to learn, develop their skills and create income will lose those opportunities.
Isn't it then possible that poverty will increase in such countries?

Maybe a neutral body should look into this.

The issue this raises is the fact that it is the responsibility of every software publisher to support the community by offering some free software, lower-prices and other moves to help development, then enforce piracy

Already, some of these initiatives are being applied by companies like Microsoft; providing lower software pricing for students, or cut-down packages at lower prices, or even free software to public libraries.

At the end of the day, if the prices of software in general remains too high, someone is bound to get hurt.

If software prices are reduced it will help reduce the rate of piracy.
Users want the technical support and packaged extras (like manuals) that comes with licensed software.

But, as you would expect, software companies are not interested in such a proposal, as it would reduce the income estimates stated above.

But, it would be the right thing to do, and the only true path to battling piracy.

Or, the current cycle can continue. A few raids every year, followed by a gain of 10 percent annually in legal software, which will be easily reversed by tough economic times when users go back to copied software.

It's a never ending story requiring brave, new ideas.

(Published in The Star)


At 8:30 PM , Anonymous Khalidah said...

Absolutely right!!

You look for any software you need and discover that it is priced at several hundred dollars which is really way too high ... then you start looking for sellers who have it or take the risk and crack it online ... the cycle will continue to go round and round until at least one company takes the lead and lowers its prices .. it is a market after all and companies will compete even in this area

At 11:45 AM , Anonymous Alaa Ibrahim said...

Well, first let me mention the existance of something called the free software movement (free from freedom), which has a big collection of applications, that at least (not like proprietary software) is gurnteed to to spy on you, or send you spyware.
"Piracy is, indeed, theft", For me I don't even agree that it's called piracy, if you share some application with someone else you are a pirate, someone who kidnapps and murders people, also theft, why? whom am I stealing from, some stupid software company, that doesn't gurntee anything about your software except some lawsy support.
"13,000 new jobs would be created if the Middle East's piracy rate drops by 10%" doing what, I heard it a lot, but no one explained how ... ?


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