Business Software Alliance deploys yet another BS study to "prove" fighting piracy creates zillions of jobs

Michael Geist sez,
This week the Business Software Alliance published a new study which purports to estimate the economic gain from a ten percent reduction in piracy of business software. For Canada, the BSA claims that the reduction would create over 6,000 new jobs and generate billions in GDP and tax revenue. Given such impressive claims, it is not surprising that some media reported on the study and the BSA's emphasis on new laws and tougher enforcement.

Yet the organization now admits the estimate is just based on the economic gains from a ten percent increase in proprietary software spending. Notes a BSA spokesperson: "what the study is looking at here is really if you're reducing the piracy rate and increasing the legal software market by 10 points, this is what you'd see in terms of economic return." The BSA admits its estimate is based on the presumption that every dollar "saved" by using unlicensed software would now be spent on proprietary software. I termed this approach "shockingly misleading" given that I don't think anyone can credibly claim that there is a direct dollar for dollar correlation between piracy and proprietary software spending - many shift to open source alternatives when confronted with the issue and others cut back on spending altogether given the new costs.

So long as we're counting jobs and returns, what about the additional profits and jobs created by not paying for software? I'm sure the BSA would prefer that businesses find better margins elsewhere, but it's economically illiterate to suggest that if you raise one sector's overheads (in the form of software licenses) to provide more revenue to another sector (software companies), that the former's jobs and profits won't be lost to pay the latter.

Of course, there's a less risky way to avoid software license fees: switch to a free computing environment, like the Ubuntu GNU/Linux OS, which I'm happily using right now to type this blog post, and which is the most robust, easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain OS I've ever used.

Fun /. comment from Noitatsidem: "The Business Glass Alliance announces for every 10% increase in tornadoes over 6,000 new jobs would be created and billions in GDP and tax revenue would be generated."

BSA's Latest Study on Piracy and Economic Benefits "Shockingly Misleading"

(Image: Jumpman, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Able Archer's photostream)


  1. Sure, it creates lots of jobs. It just doesn’t really change piracy. I think the best you CAN say about the industry is it creates jobs!

  2. I would rather say that the goal of any industry today is to eliminate jobs and reduce production costs to have an advantage in the market via reduced prices for whatever the industry might be producing.

    1. I would rather say that the goal of any industry today is to eliminate jobs and reduce production costs to have an advantage in the market via reduced prices for whatever the industry might be producing.

      They have, though, now gone well past the point at which the elimination of those jobs has begun destroying the prospective customer base.

  3. Smashing 10% of the windows in our cities will create thousands of new jobs and generate billions in GDP and tax revenue. Given such impressive claims, it is surprising that some media hasn’t reported on this, and the window-makers should be emphasizing the need for new pro-smash laws and tougher bricks.

  4. Any study that claims that money will somehow magically appear like the billions above shows that it is not a real study.

    Here is the facts, lets say that everyone who pirated the software stops and buys it instead and it increases there sales by 10%, where does the money come from?

    It comes from the pirates pocket. Now is this money special unspendable money unless its spent on software? no its money that would be spend on others stuff…stuff that gets taxed as well.

    So the billions made are simply billions moved from one industry to another and the taxes generated are the same as they would have been if used on another source.

    And the jobs? why would an increase of sales by 10% add new jobs? all that it would do is get the sales people a pat on the back.

    Flawed study and even more flawed people who report on the study.

  5. I always love these studies. To assume that if “I” couldn’t pirate Photoshop I would head off and buy the $700 version is so silly, I don’t know what to tell you.

    I’d use Gimp (or whatever)…it may not be as good, but it’s free…

    1. They don’t really care that you wouldn’t buy it anyway. You weren’t buying it in the first place. If 10,000 people are pirating it and when they eliminate the piracy only one person buys it, that’s one sale. That’s a profit. Even if NO ONE does, they’re STILL not making any less than they were when everyone was using their software for free.

      I understand the rage here but you guys need to remember that these are businesses. They’re out to make money. If they could get people to give them $700 for an empty box, they would.

      1. Flawed argument. You are failing to acknowledge that anti-piracy efforts cost money too. Even as flawed and shoddy a study as the one cited above.

  6. Yeah, that’s like saying if you cut shoplifting by 10 percent, store revenues will increase that amount. As if…

    They also failed to mention the indirect advertising gained by having more copies of their software out in the field.

  7. I stopped pirating software years ago.
    Haven’t bought any software since though. I just switched to linux :P

    I suspect most pirates are like me – people who need software but can’t afford to drop 700 bucks on a photo editing suite (when your whole computer only cost 400). I’m not against paying – I’ve donated money to open source projects I support. I’m against paying ridiculous prices for everything, and being forced to pay. We’re all forced to use computers and use certain software to get our work done. When we’re tired of being held hostage by greedy businesses, we take technology into our own hands.

  8. The only jobs they are trying to save are their own.

    The 4chan attack this morning is another death toll for an archaic concept.

    Why do we need an MPAA or an RIAA?

    What exactly do they do for you?

    Besides artificially increase the cost of artist’s creations with no increase to the profits for that artist.

    1. …wait, what? Why do you think the continued existence of either organization is something you get to have a say in? You do realize there are groups that offer you no benefit, yet continue to exist?

      The MPAA and RIAA are *industry* associations. Start a music studio, then you’ll have a say.

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