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Software Piracy

Posted: December 31st, 1969 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Software Piracy

Picture of Irv Owens Web DeveloperI don't steal software. Since I develop it I think it would really suck to have everyone using the fruit of your labor for free. I read a report yesterday that said that some company analyzing trends found that the software industry lost $33 billion last year due to software piracy. I think that's a crock. I don't think most of that $33 billion would have been revenue that was available to the software industry, and I'll tell you why.

Office for example costs around $399. Assuming that you have a small business and you are just starting out, if a friend loans you a copy of Office, you'll use it. More than likely you will find that even if it is a copy of Office 2000, it will be more than sufficient for you. Office hasn't really changed functionality wise since that release. Let's say, however that you have no friend to loan you that software, if you are a savvy user, you will turn to open source and use Open Office from openoffice.org. You'll find that it has all the functionality of the Microsoft Office 2000 product and more. Therefore none of the $399 will be recovered by the software industry for you. If you aren't savvy, then you'll probably resort to pen and paper to address your business needs.

If commercial companies finally find a way to make their software theft proof, it will just be a huge boon to the open source movement. I know they always claim that software cost is so great because of the great amount of software piracy out there, and don't get me wrong, there is a lot of piracy. However, it is not like companies to lower costs due to reduced theft. Microsoft, after adding product activation to Office and Windows XP has had lower software theft for those products, however they have not reduced the price of either software package in the slightest.

Intelligent companies like eRain offer their products at a reasonable price instead of spending millions of dollars on copy protection schemes. I would never think about stealing their software, it is a great deal for its functionality, while Office I believe is not. If they really want to reduce piracy, you have to build trust in your audience that if they stop stealing, you will actually reduce prices.

Adobe it seems has gone the complete other way, although I hear that in their CS2 product they have some activation process. In the past instead of relying on complex protection schemes, they have just set the price for their software so high that they can eat the loss. I use Macromedia, or ex-macromedia's suite which is at a much more reasonable price. I wouldn't steal it because I think it, while being a little high, is almost in line as far as its cost. This will no longer be an option of course, because it is unlikely that the comined Adobe-Macromedia will offer two suites.

It is simple, reduce prices and stop gouging your customers, offer innovation and the theft issue will subside. Microsoft's genuine advantage program sound OK to me, you have to prove that your Windows is legitimate in order to receive upgrades. Since the product is worthless without those upgrades this is an adequate deterrent. For better products, however they will need rudimentary copy protection because some people are just amoral, and have no regard for the developer's time or effort. Most users however, are just looking for the right tool for the job and most of them do not want to pay almost $1,300 dollars to edit photos or draw lines and they do not want to pay almost $400 dollars to create word documents and simple spreadsheets.