Software Piracy – Are We Doing Enough?
Imagine that a person offered to break into a software store, turn off all the alarms, and hold the doors open, and allow you to take whatever you wanted from the store. This situation is faced by most computer owners everyday, not necessarily in this form, but in the form of software piracy. Software piracy is the unauthorised duplication and or distribution of copyrighted programs. There would only be select group who would not be tempted by the prospect of basically free software, most of those who are offered these kind of goods either accept them, or are unaware that they are not legitimate. No matter how this crime is being conducted, it has been estimated that this sort of crime is costing the world approximately 13 billion dollars annually.
Software piracy became popular through the use of Bulletin Boards, which allowed people to dial into other an “underground” archive of pirated software. Around this time, 31/2 Inch discs were also a popular medium for pirated software.
The reason behind the widespread popularity of software piracy lies in the cost. Why pay $80 dollars for a piece of software, when you could get it for the price of a blank CD. Software piracy has boomed over recent years, which can most likely be attributed to the drop in price of CD Writers, which allow the user to copy from one CD to another in less than an hour. During the beginnings of software piracy, the floppy disc was the only feasible method of tangible transportation, and because of the size of most software, many floppy discs were required for storage. This problem has also been eliminated by the CD-writer and CD, which can copy and store approximately 700 megabytes of information, as apposed to 1.44 megabytes.
This is a question asked by many people, who do not know the damage caused by software piracy. The initial problem lies in the producers of the piece of software, and to make up for the cost of production, they must sell thousands of copies. However, software piracy has caused the widespread loss of sales, which in turn reduces the amount of money received by the makers of the program. Ultimately, this result in the producers being forced to increase the price of their product, which again, encourages the use of cheap pirated software. This can be described as a piracy cycle.
Considering the cost of software piracy to the entire world, the action taken against it has been minimal. It has been estimated that the complete elimination of software piracy would boost worldwide revenue, by more that 30 billion dollars. However, even this incentive has not been enough to spark more than a few over-glorified “sting” operations on isolated software pirates. More action must be taken, if the creation of software is to continue, for if this enormous amount of money is being lost, most prospective software producers will be turned away by the lack of profit.
This is not an easy problem to fully eliminate, because of the diversity in its participants, from large-scale companies, to people operating private CD-writers, however steps can be taken to reduce the amount of pirated software being bought and used. Software piracy has been likened to jaywalking, in that it is common, but not punished often. This must change. Software piracy should incur immediate prosecution, and swift punishment. This way, prospective software pirates will be discouraged from involving themselves. Also, control of the medium, in which modern software pirates most commonly buy and sell in, would reduce the amount piracy. This means controlling the sale of CD-writers and blank CD’s.
To conclude all of the above statements, it can be said that software piracy is a growing problem that is costing the world exorbitant amounts of money. The amount of action taken to stem the spread of piracy around the world needs to be extended, in order to bring about an end to this expensive problem. This action would include harsher and swifter punishment, and control of CD-writers and CD’s.
“Protecting Against Software Piracy.” http://www.microsoft.com/piracy/ 2000.
“Software Information Industry Association” http://www.siia.net/piracy/default 2000.
“Combating Software Piracy.” http://users.aol.com/ptroost/piracy.htm Peter Troost 2000.
“Software Piracy: What You Should Know” http://www.mmicorp.com/help/anti.piracy.html 1998