So, the new report from the BSA is out with its dire warnings about how piracy is threatening the very fabric of civilisation, supports terrorism, creates unemployment and recession, and steals one sock from your sock drawer. This would be amusing if it wasn’t for the fact that the software industry has failed to collapse despite the horrendously pessimistic report issued year after year, and that Mr. Gates still gets a very hefty sum at the end of the year.
The problem with these reports is that they rest on two failed assumptions to calculate “losses”. First, they use a fictional price of software, failing to understand that comparative prices of software around the world vary wildly. The second major flaw is that the study assumes that every infringing copy represents a lost sale. This is evidently absurd, and it’s surprising that they still use it. People who copy Adobe Photoshop from the internet will almost certainly not buy it. People who buy MS Office from a market stall in Peru are not likely to buy the full copy. In fact, software giants like Microsoft have relied heavily on piracy to make sure that people are using their software at home and at work, creating a Microsoft client culture where there are no alternatives.
As long as the industry keeps assuming that we can’t think and see beyond their bogus figures, they will not make any advances.