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Software piracy: BSA walks the plank

Figures don't add up, cry readers

Letters We have a bulging sackful of letters this Friday for your reading pleasure, so let's get straight down to it with the BSA's claim that cutting software piracy would boost the UK economy. Well, it would say that, wouldn't it?

Funny how these "studies" always produce the results that the organization funding them wants them to produce.

I have funded a study of my own that clearly demonstrates Free Open Source Software, if used to replace all existing proprietary software packages from Business Software Alliance members, would increase employment in the IT sector by 10%, reduce stress-related employee absences by 30%, increase national tax revenues by 15 billion Euros/annum, and cause Steve Ballmer to explode with a force equal to 15 kilotons of TNT.

Amazing what you can "learn" by paying researchers to make up some numbers from whole cloth, isn't it?

Morely Dotes

"A 10 per cent reduction in the UK's software piracy rate would result in 34,000 new jobs, £11bn of economic growth and a £2.8bn increase in tax revenues, according to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance."

My Maths may suck, but if a mere 10% can create £11bn and 34,000 new jobs then, getting all over it and solving the piracy problem once and for all, creates £110bn growth, £28bn in tax and 340,000 jobs

Not bad for an industry currently worth "£25.9bn in tax revenues. It is valued at £39.8bn"

It would appear that according to the BSA we're currently ripping off nearly three times as much as the industry is worth.

Please stop publishing this bulshit. Or at least if you are going to publish it, publish it with the respectful amount of investigation and analysis instead of just regurgitating the lobbyist junk.

Out of curiosity, why is it that the tax take now (according the the crap you published) is greater than 50% and yet if we eliminate piracy altogether the tax take is nearer 25%. Would it have anything to do with global monopolists avoiding tax by any chance?

Perhaps we should put these numbers to the revenue and see what they think.

Alan Drew

That's is a load of crap, even if only because of the question: where is that 11Bn going to come from? The 11Bn will be seen as a loss somewhere else. Net effect Zero.

If you then add in that most of those profits will be taken outside the UK, then you begin to see that "piracy" is helping to keep the UK strong.

Mark Hackett

If copyright infringement is so limiting to growth, how is China doing so well?

Also, if Microsoft (for instance) was really bothered about piracy, it would properly node-lock Windows so that techies couldn't install it on their home PCs. Instead it tolerates limited infringement to prevent a mass switch to Linux which would destroy it's business.

John Latham

How is it that articles like this are allowed? The statistics are total tosh. Would they claim that if car theft (and twoccing) were totally stopped that all the former car thieves would go out and buy one? Or that if the person who buys 10 pirate DVDs at a car boot cannot do so they will go and buy the same 10 DVDs at full retail? Get real! A lot of the small scale piracy is done by people who couldn't afford to buy all the software they have full price (or films or music) so if there was no piracy they would just do without.

Ian Nisbet

Sad to see a professional journal falling for BSA puffery just like the Times Online did.

These analyses are based on "100% conversion" - every pirate copy denied would be converted into a full price sale.

Not really very likely, is it?

Phil Payne

Please do not report this sort of propaganda as a news story. The model used is that if piracy is reduced exactly as much paid software will be installed as was previously pirated. This is clearly a false assumption as the software is pirated by people who do not want to pay. Even more ridiculously it calculates a benefit to the economy as the extra money spent on software without any allowance for the fact that the extra money spent on software must come from somewhere else and there must be a matching reduction in spending elsewhere. The net effect could be a boost but could also be negative.

For very poor economies it is difficult to see cutting software piracy as anything but extremely damaging. Countries without good educational and communication facilities are unlikely to develop any indigineous software economy and business will either have to do without software or choose between investment in software and other things.

Even for developed economies such as the UK it is very unclear whether piracies overall effect is positive, negative or neutral. There are far to many reports like this one which are written by consultants to meet the advertising needs of clients, but have no useful content, If you reported it as such it might embarass the consultants concerned.

Alan Johnson

As most of the major players in software base their operations in Eire for tax reasons surely abolishing piracy would sink the UK economy in favour of the Republic of Ireland's - especially their tax income?

Jim C

What a strange fantasy world the BSA lives in!

Jim Barry

Xbox versus PS3: guaranteed to generate a bit of heat. Take it away Devin Johnson:

Your article: Xbox 360 vs. PS3 is more a rant than a report. You should be ashamed to publish such a beast. One of the arguments you make is that gamers are too lazy to get up and change CDs? What the hell is that? I'm not going to pick apart your whole article, that was your responsibility.

You must understand I am a very peaceful person, but your lop-sided article pushed me to investigate how to submit feedback to you and take the time to write this out.

Good day.

I read your article with interest (XBox 360 vs PS3) and wanted to point out a frequent misconception -- the PS3 will not require games to be produced on Bluray discs, that will simply be a feature.

Obviously, the PS3 will run PS1 and PS2 games out of the gate, so nothing is stopping developers (to my knowledge) from distributing games on DVDs or even CDs for that matter, should they need less space and want to save some coin.

Michael T. Babcock

As a games designer can I point out than none of the latest PC games fill more than 1 DVD and that PC textures are way higher than anything that will be used on next gen consoles. So claiming the size of the DVD of the 360 is a problem might be a bit silly IMHO. You can easily point to *any* part of a system as having a problem (what? no 1GB RAM???) but filling up a DVD with a real-world-game will probably only happen when companies use silly prerendered CGI and other non-game stuff. Claiming the 360 has a problem compared to Bluray is silly. I would even argue that the DVD size will be a blessing in disguise for the 360 because devs will like finally start to include procedural generated assets (like Oblivion does).

Dirk Vandenheuvel

"Without PS3, without Blu-Ray, Sony looks like a very weak, financially ailing company past its innovative best."

Given that more and more Hollywood studios have taken up Blu-Ray, it seems that this will be the media that eventually wins...DVD's have become the most widely adopted format in recent history, more prolific than VHS, tapes, or CDs. Also, since HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will both play DVD's, most DVD collections will be safe for now...and given that the PS3 will also support PS/PS2 games, it's a given that people will be happy to take up the PS3 in favour of an X-Box...especially as the cost of adopting the new format will be a lot less than buying seperate pieces of kit!

And let's not forget the fantastic PSP...

Sony past it's innovative best? I think not...the best is yet to come!


And speaking of Sony, here's a nice summary of the ongoing HD-DVD v Blu-Ray saga from Brian Davison:

"Convergence is here, everything is digital, the Internet is going to deliver video, you are going to want to pass information from one device to another, and HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray is really the first battle in the issue of who controls the home," he said.

Indeed. Sony or Microsoft - take your pick...

I don't know who these people think they are, I for one control my own home and they can all go and fuck off. So there.

Well said sir.

However, while readers may feel inclined to tell MS and Sony to take a hike, they are advised to treat Oracle with a bit more respect:

Try to be more polite when talking about Oracle. They are not little kids playing with you in the backyard. It is a big respected company that contributes in many ways to the world. Without oracle the world would not be the same as it is today. And 55,000 employees will be jobless. So do not attack for the sake of making your readers happy because that is really lame.


That's right - diss Oracle and they'll pop a cap in your ass, make no mistake.

Now, Xmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc, etc. Sadly, there will be tearful scenes chez Ballmer this year, since the "Basher" is not allowed a free Xbox 360 for the kiddies:

Good--anyone who didn't preorder an xbox before August, doesn't deserve one. I have one because I was smart enough to realize this was going to be insane.

Frank Vanden Bosch

"Indeed, rules dictate that any freebie would have to be disclosed as income and since Ballmer will only earn $3.51 this year (after deductions for office furniture) the increased tax liability could be crippling."

really he only earns 3 and a half dollars????

where's your editor / spell checker / attention!!!


No, that's what we meant to say, and now you've forced us to break the glass on our emergency graphic:

Be warned: the next Sober virus attack is due on 5 January. Which is, by an astounding coincidence, the 87th anniversary of the foundation of the Nazi party:

Is this a case of "hactivism" or is it a case of security researchers desperately searching for an aniversary of something, anything, at all that co-incides with the activation date of the virus. After all every day is the aniversary of something and the 87th aniversary of the foundation of the Nazi party is about as obscure as they get.

Ben Robinson

You mention "5 January - the 87th anniversary of the founding of the Nazi party". What kind of correlation is that!? Maybe the Sober attack is in reality to commeorate the 543rd anniversary of poet François Villon being banned from Paris, or the 351st anniversary of the death of Pope Innocent X...

Joshua Hewitt

who came up with the political edge? that date could mean anything. its my opinion that the nazi comparison was made to further crimalize the group that made the virus (probably rightly so).

other things that happened that date:

1531: Pope Clemens VII forbids English king Henry VIII to re-marry. This event leads to the creation of the church of England 1836: Davy Crockett arrives in Texas, just in time for the Alamo 1895: French Captain Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, publicly stripped of his rank in anti-semitic trial; later declared innocent 1972: NASA announced its plans for a new space vehicle, the shuttle

source: first search result in google (",)


Nice way to grab the headlines, but I somehow think that your average teenage hacker is more likely to identify the 5th of January as Marilyn Manson's birthday [] than the 87th anniversary of the guys that grandpa fought in the war.

Donald Massyn

Readers are invited to take their pick from the above. We like the François Villon angle...

Moving swiftly on, has al-Qaeda been using Google Earth to pinpoint US positions in Iraq?

I think the US and UK Military is being WAY too shortsighted in reference to this. Were I them, I'd actually consider playing up how accurate Google Earth was, making sure to have the satellite scan some juicy target for the insurgents the lying in wait in ambush. Effectively turning the "weapon of the Enemy" against them.

But who knows... If I've thought if it, they likely have also. As you pointed out in your story, Google Earth is hardly a live eye-in-the-sky now is it? I mean hey - parts of my home province in Canada have never been scanned, and those who have not been updated since 2002. But I think they would be fools not to take advantage of the opportunity if the enemy is using this tool.

Eric Polley

Hmmm, I've read the aforementioned afticle, and there are enough discrepancies to make me a little suspicous about the validity of the observations in it.

I served 2 years in USMCR and 10 on active in the USAF, so I have some clue.

Some of the issues: the article uses the wrong designation in the description of a SAW. Calls it a 243 instead of the 249 (Crap it took me 2 seconds to google for the correct name). Also claims that its fed by a drum; it isn't, takes an ammo belt stored in a pouch or a plastic box.

the article refers to a mass replacement of the M16 by the M14, and that just isn't happening.

the article refers to m60 as a beautiful weapon. Hmmm, that wasn't my experience with as an M60 gunner. I didn't use it in combat though.

Basically, the article is, at best, second hand reporting by someone who freely injects his own opinions.

As the "danger" of google earth, I believe that it's overplayed. It's not updated enough to be tactically useful, and while the gee whiz overheads are nice, let's not forget that the bad guys can already see the targets. Plus, I'm sure that the army plays games with the data that goes into google earth- I'm sure wouldn't trust it...

Dan LaPine

Clearly you don't understand what the Marine was implying Google Earth is being used for. Of course it's not used to discern enemy positions. But for surveying terrain, it has immense utility. They used to say that the army that wins is the one that best knows the land. Maybe that diminished in importance with the advent of tanks and airplanes, but for the type of guerrila warfare going on in Iraq the maxim should still hold. For any organization that has any sort of access to quality maps and the training to intepret them, Google Earth is of course useless. For an insurgency that has trouble doing even that, then the satelite database is priceless.

Alex Dubinsky

You may have gotten lots of emails like this one already, but here it is. The supposed email from a marine is probably bogus. It has been pretty thoroughly dissected on a lot of internet gun boards, due to numerous factual errors regarding things as simple as the names of common weapons.


Poor old UK heritage websites - eschewed by discerning surfers in favour of footie hooliganism:


It's not just that the site is bland, boring, unimaginative and, apparently, unindexed by the likes of google... it doesn't work either. Try going to the "Stonehenge" section (one of the best known landmarks) and you actually wind up at a page for "Felixstowe Museum" - probably not one of the best known landmarks or heritage sites.

But then, why is there a site *and* and a completely different site

Nick Ryan

I thought I'd increase the hit rate, so I checked out the Heritage site. You may be interested to know that most of the linkouts from the site are broken. Ain't the Civil Service great? Joined up thinking???

Hywel Owen

as half man half biscuit said :

"Sealed Knot Society, let's see you try and do this one : Luton Town v. Millwall 1985"


You'll need to read the article to get that last one. Nicely put.

Podcast - word of the year according to the New Oxford American Dictionary:

Who cares? Look at their definition... 'An audio file(podcast or *SIMILAR*) that can be uploaded from the internet'. Wow, now that doesn't sound like half the audio files uploaded to the internet since the 90's. It's just a stupid term for the iPod sheep fad loving people.


Podcasting. What a concept. You have a music file hosted on a website that people can "click" and "download". My goodness, some Silicon Valley nerd with a fake goatee and a brain full of buzzwords must really be patting himself on the back for thinking that one up.

Word to the wise: I can pod cast. It's called hyperlinking an mp3 on a webpage.

*shakes his head*

Nathan Wosnack

I went looking to see what other publicity stunts .. I mean useful dictionary additions this lot had made in the past.

Blog was *last years* word. (By last year, I mean 12 months. Not as in "that's *so* last year". )

Presumably that means it's now passe and we don't have to use it. (don't tell the guardian though)

Terry G

and poor "mobe" never even got a chance in the running

Robert King

Oh no, you've got me all tearful now. RIP mobe - we miss you mate.

Of equal import to the ever-expanding English lexicon is the matter of the Japanese MP3 bog seat. Readers felt some clarification was in order:

I can't be certain of the details, but I don't think the point of the mp3 part is to pipe your latest iTunes into the bog. Rather, it's for bird sounds, rushing water or other noises to drown out the plips and plops that might otherwise pass through those paper-thin walls and cause so much embarrassment.

Incidentally, in case you hadn't spotted, the biggest breakthrough in recent toilet seat technology is the self-opening and closing function. Approach the Apricot and its hidden sensors will cause the lid to rise, finish, depart and it will close again.

As you can imagine, this feature makes for some interesting scenes as you walk past the toilet seat section of the nearest Yodobashi Camera store.

That's My Bog

Andrew Sheppard

aaah, nostalgia! I won't have a chance to enjoy the luxury of Japanese bog seats until my partner & I next visit her family. Can be - aaah - interesting - when you're guessing what the controls mean, & the talking facility (BTW, lots of Japanese domestic appliances are chatty, e.g. showers, lifts) doesn't help me much. But you have to try the massage facility :)

Small point - the Toto Apricot has been around for a few years - I've used a couple. I believe it's a range, rather than a single product. This may be just an upgrade, or an optional extra, or maybe a new model.

The music actually has a purpose. It drowns the sound of what you're doing. Some Japanese women, particularly young ones, are sufficiently embarrassed by the thought of being overheard in the loo (the Japanese are very big on embarrassment) that they'll flush the toilet before beginning, so the noice of the cistern refilling drowns them out. As a result, it's now common for public toilets to have automated music (starts when you sit) or running water noises.

Paul Irving

Ok, now we know. Thanks fellas.

And finally, lets have a two bits' worth about bloggers, the scourge of civilised society:

"And being the no-shit kinda guy I am, I did. In front of 400 influential bloggers and opinion formers I stood up."

"Influential bloggers and opinion formers?" They really do have a high opinion of themselves, don't they? So far as I can make out, the only people who read blogs are other bloggers. It's Usenet for the 21st century (I posted well-nigh daily to Usenet from August 1984 to August 2004, but I'm over it now...)

Ian Batten

Sure, but keep taking the tablets. More fun and games next week. Have a smashing, blog-free weekend. ®

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