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[dvd-discuss] Article "Net pirates 'threaten software industry'"
- To: newsonline(at)bbc.co.uk
- Subject: [dvd-discuss] Article "Net pirates 'threaten software industry'"
- From: Tom Vogt <tom(at)lemuria.org>
- Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 13:22:03 +0200
- Cc: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Reply-to: dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
- Sender: owner-dvd-discuss(at)cyber.law.harvard.edu
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Dear Jane Wakefield,
In the article titled "Net pirates 'threaten software industry'",
posted at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1951000/1951231.stm
on Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK, you write down a few
items that I don't consider to be entirely correct, and even more that
are very one-sided.
Allow me to comment on some of these items:
> The warning was issued at a conference, organised by the Business
> Software Alliance (BSA), which attracted delegates from firms such as
> Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Symantec.
This sounds like an accomplishment with credits to the BSA, except that
the BSA is funded by the firms mentioned, especially Microsoft. Once you
check the speakers list against the BSA membership list, you realize
that what appears to be a conference is, in fact, a PR meeting.
Pointing this out to the reader would have enabled him to take the
points made by these "delegates" with the grain of salt they deserve.
> The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe lost
> $3bn to pirates.
I have always been interested in finding out just how BSA and other
"independent" researchers arrive at these figures. They don't tell. Any
credible claim should name its sources, shouldn't it?
> This figure is thought to be only a tiny fraction of the amount of
> piracy that is going on every day on the internet.
If I interpret "tiny fraction" as less than 10%, I'm at $30bn EVERY
DAY, or about 11 trillion per year. The GDP of the UK in 2000 was
$1.36 trillion. So these people are telling you that internet piracy
is a business 10 times the size of the whole UK economy?
Obviously that is, if you excuse the word, bullshit. The sentence does,
however, create the impression that internet piracy is unbelievably
Even so, $30bn is more than Microsoft's worldwide net profits, and a
considerable percentage of the total net earnings of europe's software
industry. A claim of this size better be substantiated by serious facts
and sources. Where are they?
> "We can't estimate how much piracy is on the net but in one day we
> found a million sites under a search for one of the codenames for
> pirated software," said a BSA spokesperson.
One of the "codenames" is "warez" and does indeed return about
4,230,000 hits when put into google.
However, what kind of point does that make? "Buckingham Palace" returns
99,300 hits, but as far as I am aware, there is only one.
More to the point, a search engine just tells you how many sites
mention a given topic. Ironically, the BSA's own websites, both at
bsa.org and national sites such as bsa.de or bsa.org.tr appear in the
above-mentioned search for "warez", because they use the "bad word". A
majority of the "real" warez sites are just traps with pornographic
advertisement. A little research would have taken an hour or two and
been quite revealing.
Warez sites are very real. The BSA, however, having an agenda, is
greatly exagerating both their number and capabilities.
Finally, here are a few choice quotes that should have really ticked
you off to the fact that the figures are made up:
> The meeting was told that in 2000 the software industry in Europe
> lost $3bn to pirates.
> Europe has a greater rate of piracy than the US - around 34%
> It is forecast to grow from £35bn in 2000
Maybe math works differently in america, but even without a calculator
I can see that $3bn isn't 34% of $50bn.
It sorries me when I see journalists lifting whole articles almost
verbatim out of corporate press releases. It is especially not the kind
of reporting I expect from a respectable news source like BBC.
For the record, I am a computer security professional with a telco
company. I have been working professionally on the internet for over 5
years, and I have seen the warez scene both from inside (when I was a
teenager) and from the outside now that I deal with people abusing our
computer resources for these purposes or help the law enforcement
agencies to track criminals through our systems.
Piracy is real, no question about it. The BSA, however, justifies its
very existence by a gross exageration of the facts, and as a very
interested party should not be believed too much.
pub 1024D/D88D35A6 2001-11-14 Tom Vogt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Key fingerprint = 276B B7BB E4D8 FCCE DB8F F965 310B 811A D88D 35A6