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[ossig] The Edge Article: Setting our targets for 2006

Butt Wai Choon, MD of Microsoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd, writes in this week's
Edge (NetValue section) that:

"Counterfeit software continues to negatively impact millions of
consumers and businesses all over the world when they unwittingly use
illegal software. Legitimate software companies are also faced with huge
obstables in trying to compete with the ridiculously cheap but inferior
fare offered by the software pirates. According to the BSA, the global
economy in 2004 lost USD31 billion to piracy. Another fact to consider:
35% of software users around the world use counterfeit software and 21%
of PCs in the US use a copy of Windows that is not genuine!"

"... Back home in Malaysia, there is a growing trend of Linux-Alibi PCs
in the market. Some of these PCs, which have been pre-loaded with Linux
or FreeDOS, would later have such operating systems replaced by pirated
versions of Windows XP. While these retailers use this technique to
avoid being raided by the government, the consumer, in turn, violates
piracy laws through the installation of illegal software. Thus more
needs to be done to curb piracy which hinders our country's ICT push"


Butt also makes a statement that "intellectual property" in the context
of patents in the field of software are an economic incentive for local
software developers. The article is clearly not giving the complete
picture of the local ICT situation as there is no note of the
vociferous opposition to software patents and the dangers of software
patents to software developers, particular to the smaller companies.

In addition, while piracy is a problem, I find it repulsive that
exaggerated facts are stated (and used to push for more penalties and
measures) when the problem is not as severe. In particular, the
Economist wrote in an article "BSA or BS"[1]:

"The association's figures rely on sample data that may not be
representative, assumptions about the average amount of software on PCs
and, for some countries, guesses rather than hard data. Moreover, the
figures are presented in an exaggerated way by the BSA and
International Data Corporation (IDC), a research firm that conducts the
study. They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated
equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms."

In addition, there is no proof or independent observation for the
allegation of the piracy situation with "Linux-Alibi" PC's - in
particular that it was serious enough to be flagged for action. But
let's assume that the situation as is represented is absolutely true
and Microsoft Malaysia is being cheated of their due revenue ...
truely, one cannot help but feel poetic justice in the matter, given
that many of us consumers have been forced to purchase Microsoft
Windows with our laptops even when we did not wish to purchase it.


[1] http://www.corante.com/copyfight/archives/2005/05/25/the_economist_rails_on_flawed_bsa_piracy_study.php?CFID=1979828&CFTOKEN=66043554

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