Archive for May, 2008

How Piracy harms Businesses

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Software piracy does harm businesses, but not the way we are led to believe.

Piracy hurts the big established players much less than it hurts their smaller competitors.

If your business is selling an inexpensive photo editing suite, or an inexpensive office suite, then you are going to lose out to people installing pirate copies of Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word. Nobody ever has to make a single pirate copy of your program. They’re not going to, either — why would a pirate rip off 50 of software when they could rip off 500? And why would any punter pay 50 for a legitimate copy of an office suite which is “compatible” with what businesses use, when they could obtain a pirated copy of the exact same software businesses use for much less than that?

All the big software vendors put up with this because they would still rather you were using a pirate version of their product (and therefore maybe acting as an advertisement to anyone else who might just be honest enough to pay for it) than a legitimate version of a competitor’s product. By turning a blind eye to piracy, the likes of Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk are effectively ensuring that there is no profit in trying to compete with them on price.

It’s hardly a lost sale for Autodesk if Fred in the Shed is using a knocked-off copy of AutoCad — he’d never have bought it anyway. (But it is a lost sale of some inexpensive CAD tool — which, without the option of piracy, he’d probably have caved in and bought.) But if Fred is using Cheap and Easy Designer 2008, gets a job with an engineering firm, and successfully persuades them that C+ED2008 is good enough, that is a lost sale for Autodesk.

I’m no fan of Caged software — I’d gladly watch the whole industry wither and die. But I want that to be for all the right reasons, and not from cheap below-the-belt shots like this.

If you don’t want to pay 200 for an Operating System, then you don’t have to. If you don’t want to pay 500 for an office suite, then you don’t have to. If you don’t want to pay 500 for a graphics editor, then you don’t have to. But there is no reason to use pirated software.