Last month the Business Software Alliance (BSA) published their ‘Eighth Annual Global Software Piracy Study’.
The BSA reports that the commercial value of pirated software continues to rise and that piracy is growing fastest in ‘Emerging Economies’, those up and coming countries that are embracing technology with ever increasing pace.
If we put the dubious research methodologies aside, the major item missing from the report is the role of software publishers.
If a neighbourhood experiences a spate of burglaries, it’s not just a case of stepping up the police presence to catch burglars but also prevention; locking doors, closing windows, keeping an eye out. What are software publishers doing in the fight against piracy?
The contributing members of the BSA are obviously putting their hands in their pockets to help pay for this report, but what else are they proactively doing to prevent their software being pirated in the first place?
The BSA outlines a ‘Blueprint for Reducing Software Piracy’ within the report that solely focuses on the role of governments and end users.
End users and partners can engage with the BSA SAM Advantage program to increase their awareness of Software Asset Management best practices (which is very good by the way).
But what are the publishers doing to help themselves?
For example, lets take a look at the opportunities for the software publisher Adobe to educate, warn and inform me of my licensing and usage rights as I buy their software:
So here are at least seven opportunities in which Adobe could have educated, informed or warned me of licensing but chose not to bother.
Adobe generated $1BN in revenues in the first quarter of 2011 and currently has a market capitalization of $15BN. You can’t help but think that if they wanted to do something about software piracy – they might have done it by now.
I believe there is one simple answer; piracy is a business model for generating new business.
In 2007 the author Paulo Coelho revealed that he was using file-sharing networks as a way to promote his books. “When he uploaded the Russian translation of “The Alchemist”, sales in Russia went from around a 1.000 books per year to 100.000 and then to a million and more” reports TNW.
In the past Bill Gates even revealed, no doubt to the horror of Microsoft and BSA marketing folks, that piracy was the software giants secret weapon in China. “ It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not,” Bill Gates, Microsoft, 2007.
Brazil, Russia, India and China are all coming online in being fast technology adopters. What software company would want to lock themselves out of that land grab? What software company would want to lock down the use of pirated software and disrupt all of that great new business and free viral marketing? Most of all, software vendors fear that implementing anti-piracy measures will play into the hands of the competition.
Adobe and other BSA members may publicly pay lip service to anti-piracy measures but I believe that behind closed doors they prefer the status quo. Proven technology already exists to eliminate software piracy. An international standard exists, waiting to be fully embraced by the software publishers. But pirated software allows companies to engage new users, explore new markets and evangelize about their brand. Whether the lucrative piracy model can survive in a new world of no-nonsense App Stores, consumerized IT and instant internet gratification is another matter.
What do you think? Are the publishers addicted to the piracy business model?