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The Piracy Dilemma
July 15, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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Smaller businesses face tough questions when it comes to the bottom line. Software costs money, and a lot of it. Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and Vista are rather expensive pieces of software. And it's not like a business can just buy one copy and install it on every computer. Typically, the license agreement only covers one copy for one machine. For a business that has multiple computers, a shoestring budget, and a family to feed, decisions have to be made.

It appears that decision is to cut the software budget. The Federation Against Software Theft, a UK firm which dedicates itself to promote legitimate use of software, published a study which found that 79% of business directors would be more likely to find ways around legitimate licensing in times of economic distress.

The logic seems sound enough. If a business is struggling to make ends meet, yet needs to install Office on several machines, the owner may be tempted to bypass the necessary licensing.

"When times are hard economically the automatic response is to look at ways to reduce cost," said John Lovelock, Chief Executive of The Federation. "Our survey has highlighted a worrying trend that indicates that more and more companies are willing to risk the law in the name of cost cutting. By far and away the most effective way of reducing your software costs is to introduce a software asset management (SAM) programme to highlight unused software in the system."

Managing unused software may have some benefits, but how many businesses spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on Photoshop or Office, only to let them fall by the wayside? In a tough economy where businesses are turning to piracy in the first place, software management doesn't have the immediate results companies are looking for.

Instead, they turn to piracy. Business owners may take one licensed copy and apply it to all their computers, or, they'll turn to other means. The study found that 80% of those surveyed found it "very easy" to find the software they needed. Of those, 31% turned to the Internet to stock their business with software – with 22% using P2P networks. 11.5% used online auction sales, with 13.6% rummaging at flea markets. Perhaps most interestingly, 9.5% obtained the software they needed from their local pub. It’s not uncommon for bar or pub patrons to be visited by individuals who will often sell pirated DVDs or software for a substantial discount.

Companies looking to keep costs down have alternatives to piracy. If they need a productivity suite like Office, Open Office is an excellent alternative. However, don't expect many recommendations to Microsoft's competition any time soon.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Unauthorized Distribution :: Physical Piracy
Unauthorized Distribution :: Digital Piracy

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