Software Piracy: Who’s the Real Victim?

As part of V.i. Labs’ education campaign with FAST (Federation Against Software Theft), I’ll be joining FAST’s General Counsel, Julian Heathcote Hobbins, on June 14 for a webcast conversation about the changing approaches to users of pirated software.

At a time when 83 percent of software pirates in mature markets like the UK and US are legally-inclined and will pay for software, does it make more sense for vendors to treat them like “bad guys” or well-intentioned victims who want to be your customer?  For far too long, we’ve viewed ourselves as the victims of piracy: “They are stealing from us!” “They will never pay!” “They will put us out of business!”

87% of the Top 100 Universities in the UK Have Pirated Software in UseThe reality of the situation is much different. Consider some research that we’ve done using our database of infringing organizations: 87 percent of the Top 100 universities in the UK have pirated software in use. Do we really believe that universities want the liability that attaches to the use of unlicensed software? Of course not. Many universities have licenses to a wide range of applications that they make available to their students (the same way businesses make software available to their employees).

So why is there unlicensed software in use? Because it is so easy for legally-inclined users to find it, buy it, and install it. Search Google for the best deal on software and you will see a wide range of prices and sellers. Microsoft Office for 90 percent off of list price sounds too good to be true – and it likely is. But what if it was 20 percent off of list price? That seems much more believable – and the sellers of pirate software know this. Research from Adobe has found that pirated software made available for purchase with this type of believable discount is much more acceptable to bargain hunters who spend good money only to receive a pirated copy of the software.

This is why your customers are the real victims of software piracy. They did their research and chose your software. They want to be your customer. They even paid for your software – just not to you or one of your authorized resellers!

Join us on June 14 to dig deeper into these issues and to discuss the benefits of moving past the piracy pity party and toward a mutually beneficial model of identifying the real victims of piracy.

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