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Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
12:44 PM ET (US)
Arthur: you are correct. Pirate copies are not lost sales -- especially in the software biz, where many of the pirated copies retail for far more than the "potential customers" earn in a year.

Derek: the IBCP protocol is fallible and prone to inaccuracy because it's dependent on media reporting. But short of actually going out there on foot and counting, it's the only source we have access to right now. I note that the IBCP are using methods similar to those pioneered by the Science and Human Rights program at the AAAS, namely statistical sampling of reports and cross-correlation. The big difference is the IBCP are trying to work right now, not to deliver results in ten years' time, and a re restricted in their access to the territory. In summary: they're not perfect, but they're better than swallowing the bilge coming out of the Pentagon or Fox News or the Iraqi Ministry of Information.

Truth is always the first casualty in wartime.
Arthur Wyatt
12:32 PM ET (US)
I'm not completely convinced of the logic of the assumtion that each pirate copy == a lost sale, which so many of these assements of the cost of piracy seem to be based on, espicially since (a) the key reason for instituitional misuse of licenses tends to be lack of funds, as well as a bunch of individuals who simply don't havce the money, and (b) theres a whole bunch of pack rats out there who'll grab anything so long as its "free".
Edited 04-07-2003 12:33 PM
Derek JamesPerson was signed in when posted
11:31 AM ET (US)
Since when is pointing out a contradiction trolling?

I've commented on your blog a few times before, and you seem like someone ostensibly interested in scientific and statistical accuracy (hence this blog). So I simply wondered why you would link to the Iraqi Body Count Project, whose methodology is utterly poor and shoddy.

The civilian dead could quite well be triple the number noted, but the way the IBCP is extracting their data isn't anything close to a reliable method of getting at the truth of the matter. Why are you supporting it?
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
12:49 PM ET (US)
Derek: why are you trolling here? What's your political agenda, yankee scum?
Derek JamesPerson was signed in when posted
10:42 AM ET (US)
Charlie...it seems a bit ironic that you're pointing out the use of lying with statistics while prominently displaying the Iraqi Body Count project banner at the top of your page.
David Bell
07:16 AM ET (US)
Leaping back to the original point, haven't there been recent stories about Linux software being classed as "pirated" by one of the anti-piracy mobs?

Meanwhile, a Linux solution has been adopted by the British government (but that doesn't count because they bought it from IBM).
Duncan Lawie
05:14 AM ET (US)
But then, there's this myth that most of what we do in fully developed Western societies has any value whatsoever. The whole idea of 'full employment', that ancient plank of the labour movement, is dependent on our belief that we are valued by our ability to earn. When that attitude reaches the point that places like the UK and Australia are seriously prepared to discuss making the dole dependent on earning it by digging holes and filling them in again, I think many people would prefer the IT equivalent.

I do agree that half the things we waste our time on in Windows land are simply non-issues in Unix land. I used to be astonished at how often the help desk suggests rebooting/re-installing something on a Windows box and then handing over to a higher level of support if/when that doesn't work. Rarely have I felt the root cause has been reached. Of course, I am trapped into userland most of the time with Windows when I am used to being a superuser and dealing with root causes on *nix boxes.

As to actual piracy, I first saw Photoshop from a pirate copy and the 'try before you buy' was so good I paid up for the latest version. I think that many people who can afford software are happy to pay for legitimate copies when they see it has real value for them.
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
02:48 AM ET (US)
Nope, you're both on target.

The report is basically an example of lying by statistics, relying on the ignorance of the users.

(I note it's been slashdotted since I saw it ...)

BTW, David, it can be argued that at least estate agents provide a market intermediation function, like stockbrokers. (Whether or not they deserve to be paid £80 an hour is another matter.) Whereas a helpdesk technician, slaving over a PC in order to reinstall Windows XP on it for the fifth time in a month because some hardware flake keeps corrupting the registry is not doing anything for the bottom line of the economy, either in facilitating trade or creating value. They're just digging holes and filling them in again, and if they had a proper spade they could do the job just once then go and find something productive to do with their time instead.

There's this myth that IT jobs contribute to economic growth. Most of them don't, although it took me a couple of years out of the dotcom economy to get my perspective back ...
Charles Hixson
01:56 PM ET (US)
The problem with the BSA report is that they have the arrow of causation backwards. Regions where desire for computer software is basically satisfied will naturally experience lower rates of acquisition of new software by all means, including by piracy. Regions where the desire for computer software is unsatisfied will be experiencing pressure for more software, so they will be attempting to satisfy that desire. If they can't afford to purchase it, then they will try to copy from someone who has. Thus the increase in "piracy" among those areas with low saturation of computers is easily explained without the need for additional hypotheses... unless there's evidence that I overlooked.
David Bell
12:49 PM ET (US)
Charlie, while there are some differences between a novel and a tonne of wheat, we're both at least producing something. Even Microsoft have added a little to human wealth.

Estate Agents charge GBP 80 an hour...

What do they produce?
Edited 04-03-2003 12:52 PM
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