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Damned Lies and statistics

Just went on to Slashdot after a long abscence.  One story caught my eye.

"According to this story on Yahoo! news the BSA commissioned a study that decided that 39% of all business software is pirated, down from 40%. The decline is attributed to the BSA's enforcement techniques. 'The piracy rate was calculated by comparing the researchers' estimates on demand with data on actual software sales.'"

In other words, some guys sat in a room and decided that people probably wanted to buy ten copies of software, but only five were sold, so the piracy rate must therefore be 50%. By a similar process we can calculate that 99% of all ocean-front homes are pirated."

BSA:: How long do they think they can use these scaremongering tactics to cry wolf, and look for govt kick-backs and regulation like the DMCA? Really drives me apesh*t. Just wait for the figures of sales lost due to these pirates and hackers! All based on dodgy statistics. Wonder what new law they will ask for now. Wonder if they will ever get the muscle to slap a BSA tax on every electronic good that can copy digital information..... Does any other group have a greater scaremongering machinery?

Statistics:: How many people accept silly stats like these without challenging not only their truthfulness, but also how valid the assumptions made or methods used to compute them are. This one for starters is possibly one of the worst methods I have seen. "X should want the product. We have only sold Y. Ergo X-Y have pirated the product" Really bad logic .... anyone seen worse?

Slashdot::  Why such a dodgy analogy. You cannot pirate a beach-front property. You can certainly try to invade one, or squat in one (and some folk do?), but there are only so many to go around. The problem with a bad analogy in an argument, is that it shifts the discussion away from the subject matter, into one about the analogy. A good debater (or PR machine) could easily use this method to suggest that your analogy is bad, ergo your argument is bad. Worst analogy anyone?

tapiwa
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

> How many people accept silly stats like these without
> challenging not only their truthfulness

97.65%

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

What annoys me is that the BSA deflects the argument away from the idea that software might be too expensive.

If there are 100 computers running Windows, but only 60 copies of Windows were sold, then yes, 40 copies were pirated. The question that the BSA works so very hard to avoid is "Why were they pirated?"

Maybe if Windows was $49 a copy then only 10 copies would've been pirated?

No, it does not excuse piracy, but I believe that the pricing of Windows and other software needs to be examined. Windows is the most egregious case, being perhaps the only software in recent history that has not dropped in price EVER. (Want a legal copy of Windows 2000? $235, same as the day it was unveiled)

Again, let me say - I do NOT support software piracy. But I *do* support examining more than one aspect of the problem of software distribution.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Companies have the right to charge whatever they wish for their product, with the full knowledge that fewer people will buy it.  That does not mean that it is OK for the people who would have bought it at a cheaper price to steal it instead.

I realize that you weren't advocating piracy, but I just don't see how price is really relevant.  Of course more people would buy something if it were cheaper, that is the most basic concept in Economics.  That's also not necessarily the best way to maximize profits.  High price is possibly (though certainly not definitely) bad for business, but it isn't an excuse to pirate

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I should clarify that I think these statistics are rediculous, and I don't actually think pirating is a serious problem facing the software or music industries.  It is blown way out of proportion, especially estimations of actual loss (I am first to admit that much pirated software/music would probably not have been purchased anyway).  I just think it is definitely wrong to pirate, regardless of the price, whether you would actually buy it, etc.

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Fair enough that Windows has never dropped in price. But someone did point out that if you bought winzip, some CD burning software, etc - basically all the stuff that comes with Windows - it would cost a lot more than Windows does.

And how about the SQLOLEDB drivers? Have you seen how much commercial JDBC drivers cost?

And also look at Windows-only multimedia production software, like Cakewalk Sonar, or the whole Sonic Foundry range (Acid, Vegas and friends). Then look at the DirectShow SDK and see how many of their services are provided by Windows - like, if you're so inclined, you can write Video Editing apps *yourself*, there's a multitrack timeline class and everything!

Sorry, just being pedantic.

Neil
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

> Fair enough that Windows has never dropped in price.
> <SNIP all value-added Windows stuff>

While it's true that there's been a lot of value added in Windows, it still raises one question: What if I don't need it? What if I don't use it?

ZIP - I use Power Archiver, or some other free zip utility.
CD burning - I use whatever comes with my CD drive
DB Drivers - could you, pls, explain me WTH is that?
MM software - not really interested, thanks.

Or I could use the PC just to write Word documents and play games; now what I have is a whole lot of "useless value".
--
"Suravye ninto manshima taishite (Peace favor your sword)" (Shienaran salute)
"Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again" (Amys, Aiel Wise One)

Paulo Caetano
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Neil, good point on the idea that the price of Windows doesn't drop between versions, but I'm talking about the price of a single version of Windows not dropping over time like every other software package does.

And yes, Microsoft has every right to charge whatever they want. Just like I have a right to say the software is overpriced and it would be nice if some consumer groups put as much pressure on MS regarding their pricing as they do on people for not shelling out $250 for not buying Windows for their second computer...

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I agree with Mike.

Pricing is not an issue. Let the owners charge what they will. Vote with your feet. There are a number of Office Suites out there (Lotus/Corel/OO etc) that cost less than word. 

If you think it is not worth £200, then don't buy. If you think it is worth the media it is printed on, then wait till the price drops to those levels to buy. MS set a price that maximises revenue, not one that maximises shipments. Fantastic business logic.

Piracy allows the status quo to remain. I would be interesting to find out how many copies of office MS have sold to people who bought them because they needed to exchange documents with another person, who also ran (in this case a pirated version) of the software.

Basically, how much do software sales depend on the installed-pirated-user base.

<<dodgy statistics>>
50% of MS office installations pirated
50% buy MS office for compatability reasons.
ergo, 25% of MS office sales would not happen were it not for the pirated copies
<</dodgy statistics>>

tapiwa
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Selling bits is an artificial business.  It's just not natural.  It may benefit society to have laws governing the redistribution of electrons and IP, but it goes against basic human nature.

Price is determined by supply and demand.  With software, supply is infinite and therefore price should be zero.  However, we have laws to artificially limit the supply and therefore maintian a price.

It's natural and unavoidable (but still illegal) that some people will not want to pay for something that they can get for free, especially since they aren't taking anything from anyone else (except for potential revenue) by doing so.

However, the harder the BSA pushes to constrain the free exchange of electrons, the harder human nature will push back.  Piracy will increase out of contempt and or non-free software will lose out to free software.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"Selling bits is an artificial business.  It's just not natural.  It may benefit society to have laws governing the redistribution of electrons and IP, but it goes against basic human nature."

The richest man in the world got that way by an "Artificial Business"?  You expect programmers to work for free because you can't physically touch the product they make?

Mike F.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

With all due respect, Richard, it may go against your human nature, but I think it's a bit hubristic to claim that it goes against *everyone*'s human nature.  It certainly doesn't go against mine.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Yes, the richest man in the world got that way in an artifical business.

No, I don't expect programmers to work for free.  I never said that.  I never said software should be free.  I simply outlined the fact that selling shrinkwrap software is an artificial business.  Once the product has been made, there is an infinite supply available and in a completely natural market the price would be zero.

However, in such a completely natural market, we would ONLY have trivial free software, government-funded software, and custom software written as work for hire.

I like the current market, although I would like to revoke the DMCA, reduce software patents to 2 years with paid extensions to 6 years total, and move copyright back down to 20 years.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Brent,

So if I sold you a paper airplane for $5, you'd naturally feel obligated to pay me another $5 when you make one with the same design and give it to your nephew?

You're conditioned to recognize the value of paying for software (that it supports the developers, that it maintains the product, that it will help produce better software for you later, and it's the law of the land).  It is a common moral value to pay for software and other IP.  Morals are sometimes in direct contradiction with human nature, however.  I do think it's not in the fundamental human nature to want to pay for something that one produces oneself, even if one didn't invent it.

I am NOT saying piracy is human nature, but piracy wouldn't exist without the artificial laws limiting software supply in the first place.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I don't think the arguement about the cost of software is a valid arguement.

You know, the reason most cars are stolen is because they are too expensive.  If Ford sold cars for 49.95 each, I sure fewer cars would be stolen.

So a copy o Windows is $200.  If that licence will be used by an employee for 4 years, the total cost pey year is $50.  In the total scheme of things Windows lookks like a bargin. 

So, is Windows worth a $1 a day?  If so, buy it.  If not, don't use it.

Eric Budd
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

That analogy doesn't work.

Copyright violation is not the same as stealing.  No matter how morally wrong you consider piracy, there is a big difference between depriving someone of potential revenue and depriving them of actual property.

I don't see anyone here advocating piracy.  Some of us merely stating that lowering prices would be much more effective at reducing piracy than any draconian laws.

Of course, the ethical thing to do is simply to not use the software if you think it's overpriced.  That's a given.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I think the issue here is ease of copying v. cost.

Car theft is probably much lower than software piracy not because they're so damn expensive, because cars are so damn hard to steal and there's such a high risk of getting caught. All it takes to steal software is... well, the thing you need to run it in the first place.

Then there's the perception that it's a victimless crime.

If I borrow a copy of Windows from Eddie Haskel down the street to install on my computer, Eddie still gets to use his. If I steal his car, however, he doesn't. Besides, Microsoft doesn't suffer because they don't get my $200, they're rich.

This is the same for mp3's. Once upon a time, the only way to copy an album was to make a cassette copy of the LP or CD. Now anybody can download their favorite album off the internet. It's easier than going to the store.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The problem with Richard Ponton's point is it takes no account of the high initial cost of developing software

Let's say a piece of software costs $1,000,000 to develop

If the first guy pay were to pay $20, and then gives free copies to say 49,999 friends - because it's just electrons - the developer loses $999,980.

So the only way to allow free copying, and make it economic to write this software in the first place, would to charge the first guy $1,000,000....

...But of course, who is going to step up to the plate and pay $1,000,000 for software - when if he waits - there might be some other sucker who might pay $1,000,000 and gives him a free copy.... which leads to 3 bad economic consequences:
1. everybody ends up waiting for that sucker.  Which slows the pace of commerce and development - the developer has got to be thinking what if the sucker never shows up.
2. to the developer, it doesn't matter economically what the 49,999 think, just that 1 guy pays $1,000,000.  So you end up with the situation where the software is tailored for that 1 rich guy, even if it makes it useless for the 49,999 free users.
3. If the software package ain't worth $1,000,000 to at least 1 person (even if it is worth more than $20 to 50,000).  The developer will have no incentive to develop it in the first place.


With copyright, the developer gets a choice of addressing a few rich guys (like the $1,000,000 example), or a broader market of people who pay a small amount each (like 50,000 people each paying $20).  Not every developer addresses every market - but in the capitalist system - any substantial market is going to get addressed by somebody.


I think the BSA is full of it, copyrights should be drastically shortened, patents on software/algorithms/business-processes all (or virtually all) thrown out ---  but I still think copyright is a useful, nay essential, underpinning to get software developed in the first place.

S. Tanna
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"Why such a dodgy analogy. You cannot pirate a beach-front property"

I would have thought beach-front properties would be perfect for "pirating." Yarr, Jimlad.

I'll get me coat.

Chris Davies
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

A long time ago the MS regional manager somwhere or other was complaining about how much of his software was pirated. A journalist asked the question "Would you prefer they pirated Macintosh software instead?" There was a moment  of silence while the enormity of the prospect sunk in, and then the Microsoftie quickly changed subject.

One thing that is interesting is that those prejudiced by pirating aren't those you would expect to be. Here in Saudi the only software you can't get pirated and have to pay for, are Linux distributions. The company that is supposed to lose most money after Microsoft is Adobe, because of all the pirated copies of Photoshop. This of course presumes that everybody using Photoshop to remove red eyes from the family snapshops would otherwise pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege, which is rubbish. The program most prejudiced by the pirating of Photoshop is Paint Shop Pro, because that is what people would be buying if they had to pay for Photoshop. Equally in the UK, where piracy is more strictly controlled, you see a large number of sales for Lotus Smart Suite or for Corel. These have no penetration whatsoever in countries with high levels of piracy.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Richard Ponton's point (i.e. that software is an "artificial business") is correct.

It's artificial exactly to be able to recover the cost of (or make a profit from) developing software. It is the same kind of business as selling ideas (i.e. information). Calling it "artificial" doesn't mean that people should not profit from it (Richard never said that).

It's the same situation as writing a book. The book is hard to write but cheap to reproduce. The only reason that some one would photocopy a book is basically because they steal the reproduction cost from the owner of the photocopier (usually).

Oddly, the book is commonly percieved to have value as a physical object. Some people "collect" books and some buy books, never to be read, to put on shelves.

Software never is seen to have value as a physical object.

The point of the BSA (and copy protection) is to increase the cost of reproduction (in the case of copy protection, to make it impossible, i.e. "infinitely" expensive, to do so).

The problem with copy protection is that it penalizes ligitmate users and (historically at least) has been easy to foil by people who want to pirate it.

Note that the BSA is not motivated by any ethical purpose. Instead, they are solely interested in converting the potential market of software pirates to a real market.  Consider that the sales of software to the current legitimate market is flattening.

njkayaker
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I just do not buy the artificial part, any more than most other products and many services. In fact anything with a significant initial development cost.

When you buy (say) a car, you are paying both for the initial development cost in designing/developing the car, and the steel, rivets, etc. than are used to reproduce the design.  When you buy (say) a new house, you are paying for both the architecture and the bricks and mortar. And so on.  You pay one price for both bundled elements.

The difference with software, is that the reproduction process, at least to a reasonable accurate copy (e.g. may not have same physical manuals), is something Joe Sixpack can do at home himself - unbundling the 2 costs.

If Joe Sixpack could (and did regularly) knock up his garage his own Porsche, nearly identical to the genuine article, obviously this would reproduce the economic incentive for Porsche to design new models.

S. Tanna
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Richard, how is it against human nature to charge money for services provided?  You may see it as "buying bits" but what you are really doing is paying for the effort to create those bits.  Even if it can be perfectly copied infinitely, that doesn't change the fact that someone had to create it in the first place and that took a lot of effort.  If someone wants to provide that service for free, good for them.  But charging for it is certainly not "against human nature."  In fact I'd say it is very much IN human nature to charge for your services.

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"You may see it as "buying bits" but what you are really doing is paying for the effort to create those bits"

but if that was all we were charing for, then surely the price would be an awful lot lower.

Lets use the car as an example :)

...all prices used henceforth made up...

Lets say I want to purchase a new car.
I go and buy a bmw for $100000
The profit for the manufacturer might be <shrug> 30000
or 3/10's of the asking price.
The profit for the distributor might be 20000, or 2/10's of the asking price.
Overall profit for that car is 50000, or 50% of the asking price.

Now, lets look at an equivalent piece of software.
Lets say this software costs $100 to purchase.
To work out its overall profit we have to know how many copies are purchased...lets assume its a successful piece of software and that it has sold 100000 registrations.
Lets further assume that it cost 1 million to produce.
Thus total income is 10 million, total cost is 1 million (distribution $ is assumed to be 0...downloadable from the 'net')
Now, a couple of points...in theory this software could continue to be distributed forever and many more registrations sold...lets assume that doesn't happen and that they sell no more licenses.

the profit = 9/10's of the asking price, tending toward 0 if licenses continue to be sold.

my point?  _we are charging too much for software_

We are not trying to make a reasonable profit for a reasonable expenditure.
We are trying to make an extreme profit for our expenditure, custimers know this and punish us by increasing their levels of pirating.

If we wanted to even come close to reflecting the profit margins of the 'real world' we would have to slash our prices by approx 90%

Until we do that, we will see high levels of pirating...this reflects our high level of greed.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

If you make up the numbers, you can prove anything you want. 

You also seem to be neglecting that many software companies don't make money, go bankrupt etc. Software is (probably) more risky than many other businesses, so a big risk requires potentially bigger rewards to get people to enter that sector.

That aside, in a free market, somebody else would see company X making a truckload of money selling their stuff, and undercut them on price.

This is one (more) reason why I agree with government action against trusts, and am opposed to software patents. Make the market freer, and the price will sort itself out.

S. Tanna
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

"If you make up the numbers, you can prove anything you want. "

of course I can...but the general idea works, we _are_ charing more than the software is worth.
(except open source stuff, where they are actually charging _less_ than it is worth...)

"You also seem to be neglecting that many software companies don't make money, go bankrupt etc. Software is (probably) more risky than many other businesses"

I doubt it...normal businesses are pretty risky... many more go bust than make a profit..
OTOH even if that is true, software also has a much bigger return potential..the average diary or small business has a limit to the return regardless of the clever ideas that they come up with.


"That aside, in a free market, somebody else would see company X making a truckload of money selling their stuff, and undercut them on price."

right..that _is_ happening slowly......unfortunately mostly via open source stuff....no price instead of low price..

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Lots of different products are non-tangible. Insurance and Stocks are good examples. They don't "exist" anywhere by on a computer some place.

The term "artificial" is a poor choice however. It suggests that software is fake. A more proper term would be "Non-Tangible Products" or even "Virtual Products".

Marc
Thursday, June 05, 2003

"_we are charging too much for software_" -> bullshit

MS may charge US 20 a copy of windows. The piracy will be reduced, sales will go up, but the final profit will be higher ?

MS may charge US 2000 a copy of windows. The piracy will be elevated, sales will go down, but the final profit will be lower ?

Who knows ?

The trick is to find the value to the maximum profit and stop whining.

opera freak
Thursday, June 05, 2003

"The trick is to find the value to the maximum profit and stop whining. "

interesting..that was exactly my point.

and that _includes_ whining about piracy....its _not_ a serious crime, beating someone to death with a baseball bat is a serious crime, piracy is...nothing....its importance has been artificially inflated by hysterical companies.

Piracy is a _hugely_ minor crime.

FullNameRequired
Thursday, June 05, 2003

I acknowledge that less software would be developed if we didn't have IP laws and copyright laws.  I never contended otherwise.  It *is* still artificial.  Reasonable, logical, but artificial.  It's a societal construct, not a natural one.  That's not to say that it's bad.

Software cannot be compared to cars in this instance (or ever, really).  I cannot produce a mercedes for less than I can buy one from the dealer.  I most defiinitely can create (by copying a CD) a copy of software more cheaply than buying it from the dealer.  The only thing stopping me is social morality and legality.

I never said copyright violation should be unpunished.  My point is merely that copyright violation is a natural, unavoidable occurance.  Harsh laws with ridiculous penalties only serve to harm us.  The most effective way to reduce copyright violation is to reduce the price of the product.  Yes, Microsoft is free to charge $200 for Windows if that gives them the best profit:piracy ratio.  But when they infringe on MY freedoms to shore up their profit margins in an industry that is founded on the good graces of people who see the value of supporting software authors, it pisses me off.

Richard Ponton
Thursday, June 05, 2003

Richard:: "they infringe on MY freedoms to shore up their profit margins "

I don't like MS much, but what freedoms are they infringing on??  You have no automatic right to their software. You can still choose whether to buy it or not to.

Here's the deal, If I decided to sell my voicemail recording for £200, how does that infringe on your rights. You can copy it for almost nothing, but it is still mine to do with as I please.

tapiwa
Friday, June 06, 2003

Hmm, sounds like people here are cherry picking their ideas on intellectual property - something like 'property is theft, providing it is something i want one of.'

I guess this means squatting in people's holiday homes is okay as long as the owners aren't there?

Make your minds up people...

Basil Brush
Friday, June 06, 2003

Dear Basil,
                What on earh makes you think that property rights are  homogeneous?

                Intellectual property rights are in fact a very recent phenomenum, and are granted only for the purpose of advancing the Arts and Sciences. If property rights don't fulfill that purpose, then arguing against their validity is not cherry picking.

                  Even non-intellectual property rights are not universally accepted. They deliberately kept out the right to property from the US Consitition (this explains the "right to the pursuit of happiness" which was put their to replace it), becasue it smacked too much of the Home country's repressive legislation - as well as avoiding the thorny problem of whether slaves were people or property.

                Taking over somebody's holiday home is really a very stupid analogy. If somebody copies a CD of your software he may or may not be depriving you of the fruits of your effort but hie is not causing you worry, inconvenience or cigarette burns on the carpet.

                If I am a peasant farmer (and personal property didn't exist before the agricultural revolution) then if you take my crop you are stealing the fruits of my labour. If instead of farming I produce software for a living, and society has decided that  I should be encouraged to do so by some form of intellectual property protection, then you may or may not be depriving me of the fruits of my labour by using a pirated copy. However as in 90%+ of the cases you would not buy it anyway, then we cannot call it theft in those cases.

                To suggest that pirating software is always theft is not a useful argument. It is reasonable to argue that it should always be illegal just as driving over the speed limit should always be illegal but is not normally qualified as being genocide.

                The BSA blatantly twists language around,  invents statistics, and perverts the processes of logic. The fact that it appears to think this worthwhile says something of the quality of our legislators and public opinion.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 06, 2003

Richard, I think you are missing something.

Prices are not based on supply of materials, they are based on supply of LABOR.  You don't play $1000 for a diamond because there are few diamonds.  You pay $1000 for diamond because it took $1000 of labor to find it.  The diamonds themselves are free.  You pick them up out of the dirt.

The same is true for all material products.  You don't pay $1 for an apple because apples are scarce.  You pay for all the labor to grow and get it to you.  Labor to water the tree, labor to get the water too the tree, labor to build the pipes to get the water the tree, labor to make the truck to bring the apple to your store, labor to make the gas for the truck, etc etc etc...  If you trace any of those things back to their origins you'll see that each one of them started as something for free.  The costs involved have ZERO to do with it being material.

Software therefore is no different.  You are paying for labor not for bits.  The fact that the bits can be copied makes it possible for people to steal your labor easier than they can for a material object.  That is all.  It's still stealing because exactly the same thing is being stolen.  Labor.

If that's not true, why do you pay doctors, accountants, lawyers, waitrers, etc.  None of them provide a material product.

Gregg Tavares
Friday, June 06, 2003

To those who don't get it:  I am NOT advocating aboloshing copyright.  Think before you flame.

Gregg, you're wrong.  Price is completely determined by supply and demand (unless the supplier is unwilling to lower prices below their profit).

The supply of diamonds is controlled (artificially as well, but that's a whole 'nother topic).  The reason diamonds are expensive is because they're rare.  The fact that it takes so much labor to produce the final product is what makes them rare.  I cannot produce a diamond myself, therefore I must pay market price, which is determined by supply and demand.

You don't pay $1 for an apple because it took so much labor to get it to you.  You pay $1 for an apple because you want an apple, you don't have a tree, Safeway sells apples for $1, and Albertsons sells apples for $1.25.  If that apple took a commando squad to smuggle out of Libya, it would still be an apple and only a fool would pay $1 million for it (the cost of labor to get it to you).  Likewise, if you had an apple tree in your backyard, you wouldn't even pay $1 for an apple (all apples being equal).

The cost of production influences supply.  If there is not enough demand to justify the cost of production, the supply will diminish and the supply/demand ratio will even out until the demand is enough to justify the cost of production.

HOWEVER, with software and digital information, reproduction costs are 0.  Supply is ARTIFICIALLY limited by copyright laws.  This is a good thing, but it is artificial.

Here's a fictional example.  Say we have two fictional companies, Speyeglass and Mickysoft.  Speyeglass sells a web browser for $20 a copy, reflecting the cost to develop.  Mickysoft buys a license from Speyeglass to distribute the same piece of software at a flat yearly rate.  Mickysoft distributes it for free.  The supply of free copies is now infinite.  Completely 100% regardless of the cost of developing it, the web browser is now $0 due to the laws of supply and demand.

The price of software is determined by supply and demand, just like everything else.  The ONLY difference is that supply is artificially limited.

Tapiwa,

Microsoft (and the big content holders in general) infringes on my freedom when they get laws passed that limit what I could otherwise legally do with things that I have legally purchased.

If I have legally purchased a DVD, it should be legal for me to rip it and store it on my computer so my kids can watch it over and over again without ruining the disc.  Thanks to the DMCA, this is not legal.

If they get laws passed that mandate hardware-level restrictions of what software I can run, they are infringing on my rights.

Twisting statistics and lying to get cruel and unusual levels of penalties for copyright violation infringes on my rights (should I ever violate one of those laws and be penalized unjustly).

I never claimed that selling (er.. licensing rather) their software for whatever price they choose was morally wrong or ingringed on my rights.

Richard Ponton
Friday, June 06, 2003

Your argument falls down Greg because when I have stolen the diamond that cost $1000 you have lost that $1000 whilst while I copy your software I am only stealing the price of labout that I would have paid for it if I couldn't steal it, which might well be zero.

Secondly your economics falls down. The cost of extracting a barrel of oil from the Saudi desert is under $1 a barrel, yet that oil only sells around $3 a barrel cheaper than Brent which cost ten or fiteen times as much labour to extract, and it only sells for less because North Sea Oil is superior.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 06, 2003

> Just went on to Slashdot after a long abscence.

Do what I do and visit http://www.freshnews.org and catch the headlines of slashdot and several other techie sites.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 06, 2003

QUOTE:
"It is reasonable to argue that it should always be illegal just as driving over the speed limit should always be illegal but is not normally qualified as being genocide."

Which IS reasonable. Intent to kill is intent to kill. Negligence or not.

Basil Brush
Friday, June 06, 2003

Your  both wrong,

Apples are free.  Walk through some meadow and find a wild apple and it's yours for the taking.  So are diamonds, dirt, wood, water, fish, and every other material thing.  The only thing you are paying for is labor.  You were too lazy or busy to do it yourself so you pay someone else to do it for you.

Software changes nothing except your ability to STEAL the LABOR.  Pirating software is no different than not paying your doctor.  Why do you pay him?  He doesn't give you any material things, all he gives you is 15min to 2hrs of his time.  Commerical software is the same.  Some team to 5 to 50 people put in hundreds to thousands of man hours.  They charge $30 to $1000 for their product hoping to pay for all that LABOR they put in.  If you steal it you are not paying them for their time.  It's pretty simple.

Gregg Tavares
Saturday, June 07, 2003

Dear Basil.
                  If you are negligent there is no intent.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, June 07, 2003

Pirating isn't the same as not paying your doctor. It's more like asking somebody what the doctor prescribed him for a similar ailment and then going to the pharmacist and buying it yourself.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, June 07, 2003

Stephen,

That's alright then.

Basil Brush
Sunday, June 08, 2003

>Pirating isn't the same as not paying your doctor. It's more like asking somebody what the doctor prescribed him for a similar ailment and then going to the pharmacist and buying it yourself.

I think the analogies are breaking down here.  Asking your friend what the doctor prescribed is not the same as pirating.  When you pirate, you benefit from someone else's labor.  Photoshop may cost $600 for a license but development cost $10,000,000 plus.  Pirating it because you think it's just bits ignores that it took thousands of man hours of labor to make those bits.

When you take someone else's doctor's advice you have not taken any labor from the doctor.  The doctor spent his 15-30 minutes looking at your friend, not at you.  You don't know if your ailment is really the same or not.

My analogy with the doctor only works as far as you pay the doctor for his time (labor) not for a material thing.  The same is true of commerical software.  Again, you pay $600 for Photoshop because Photoshop represents thousands of hours of labor, it has nothing to do with whether the result of that labor is represented by something material or not.

Like with the doctor, if he's too expensive you find a cheaper doctor, you don't go to the expensive doctor and then refuse to pay.  The same with software, if you want Photoshop you should pay the asking price.  If you think it's too expensive then pick something cheaper.  Photoshop LE or The Gimp for example.  Piracy is just wrong.

Gregg Tavares
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

---"The doctor spent his 15-30 minutes looking at your friend, not at you.  You don't know if your ailment is really the same or not."---

Well, in a lot of cases you do, and are you really saying it would be stealing if your ailment was the same, and not stealing if it wasn't?

Secondly when you pay a doctor for his fifteen minutes you are paying him for all the time and money he spent learning his trade. He recoups his money by charging ill people at fifteen minutes a time and writing the prescription. If you use your friend's prescription you are "stealing" his development costs as surely as you are "stealing" from Adobe when you use Photoshop. The only difference is that in the doctor's case it is legal, and in the case of software it is not.

It is not us who are using analogies. It is the BSA and its supporters with the "software piracy equals theft" who are using inappropriate analogies.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Everyone can moan and complain about intellectual property, and how electronic bits don't belong to anyone.  Those people are god-damn hippies.  Say what you like about who owns bits of electronic data, the issue is not whether or not people will stop chargng you for copie of software.  You may think it's "against human nature" but no matter how many times you tell Bill Gates that, he's still gonna charge you as much money as he likes for a given MS piece of software.  Don't bring in the issue of whether or not someone should own the copyright of electronic bits.  Any other argument I have read so far has been valid, except arguments about supply and demand (Richard Ponton's arguments have not been the best I've ever read ;-).  Every one knows that piracy is wrong, but many still do it.  I myself pirate software for home use, for school work or fun.  We all realize that no one wants to pay any money for anything.  We all realize thatif money/availability was not an issue we would get it from a store.  So let's stop making stupid arguments about supply and demand, because whether or not "theoretically" it should cost $0, it's not going to.  If ou were to make software for everyday the whole year round, would you be willing to give it away for free?  I think not.

Brendan Inglis
Sunday, May 02, 2004

P.S.  Don't try anymore analogies, they just don't work.

Brendan Inglis
Sunday, May 02, 2004

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