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On Piracy

This article on software piracy, while it will probably not change anybody’s mind, at least puts a more personal face on the issue.

Basically a shareware author, curious about piracy, put out a hacked version of his software and uploaded it to a warez board. That hacked version pinged home so he could see the number of people that ran it. It was more people than ever bought his software.

Of course some things he really doesn’t mention like just because someone downloaded it and ran it does not mean they are/would actually use it. Maybe they downloaded 4 other similar products as well and are comparision shopping. Maybe like many pirates they are just horders and collect everything, run it once hoping to find something interesting and then never run it again.

I am still surprised by the number of idiots that think that it’s okay to steal software because nothing physical is stolen. I’ve gone over this before but that would be no different than not paying your doctor or your accountant or your gardener or your babysitter or anybody else that only gives you service instead of a phyisical product. What you are paying for with software is a percentage of the the time and effort that went into making it. Your option is to choose to pay what the author asks or not pay and not use the software. Your option is not to say “it costs too much therefore i’m not paying”. Try that argument with your doctor.

  • Birder
    how to make money

    Ethics aside, they best way to make Internet sales is to have an affordable price and an extremely easy method of payment.

    I also have a number of shareware that I sell and I make a few hundred a month.  No doubt it’s being pirated/shared but I don’t lose sleep over it.  My software is more niche though than an html editor.

    You also have to keep in mind the target audience of your prospective sales and the outliers that are pirating it.  How many of the people pirating it are really prospective sales?  Not many 12-18 year olds are going to pay $80 for an html editor.  But they sure will download and play with one for about 5 mins because it’s the Hot 0 Day Warez.

    I’ve paid for shareware and I also use some that I don’t pay for.  There are very few people around that can say they’ve paid 100% for everything they are using.

  • BionicRoach
    Micropayments

    Along the lines of making things really cheap, I like the idea of micropayments (many charges of 25 cents or less) but it doesn’t seem like it will ever catch on.  Here’s a good article about why:

    http://shirky.com/writings/fame_vs_fortune.html

  • http://blog.greggman.com greggman
    Counter arguments

    Who decided they were 25 cents or less?  So that means 26 cents is not a micropayment?

    Two counter arguments.

    http://www.scottmccloud.com/home/essays/2003-09-micros/micros.html

    Another

    http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/

  • Frigid
    BTW, numbers counted this way is not accurate to compute “loss”

    Anyway, people love to compute their “losses” in sales due to piracy using methods such as this.

    There is the assumption that every single person who ran the pirated version would actaully pay the price for the original version if there were no piracy.

    This assumption is flawed. Demand for software priced at $50 does not always (most of the time) equal demand for same software priced at $0.

  • dma
    not really micropayments

    Apple is using the iTunes store as a loss leader to sell iPods. They don’t care about profits on song sales because it’s essentially a promotion to sell iPods. The more iPods they sell, the more Macs they expect to sell to those they tempt over from the PC. If you figure in the cost per song into the cost of buying a CD, assuming that you like all the songs on the CD, and you factor in the DRM hassle and the sub-CD sound quality, it’s not really a bargain.

    You can make money on micropayments as long as the product you’re really selling isn’t the one you’re accepting micropayments on.

  • http://blog.greggman.com greggman
    not a loss-leader

    I don’t agree that iTMS is a loss leader for iPods.  First of all we know iPods will have to drop in price over time given that there will be competition.  Second, Apple has to pay the music companies a fee for each song sold.  I don’t believe Apple would be willing to lose that much money.

    Whether it’s a bargin or not is irrelavent to the topic.  The fact is it’s doing pretty well.  People are buying songs from it.  Proof that micropayments will work if people want the product.

  • dma
    Steve Jobs on iTMS

    “We would like to break even/make a little bit of money but it’s not a money maker,” he said, candidly.

    They hope to indirectly make profits on iPod/Mac sales and goodwill. Apple doesn’t own the IP for what they are selling. If you own your own IP, you might be able to run a viable business accepting micropayments in exchange for music or some other product. It’ll depend on what the per transaction costs are.

    There’s another equally important reason I think they are in the virtual music store business, but it’s further off topic.

  • Anonemouse
    IPOD prices and piracy as a training tool

    Why would Ipod prices come down in the face of competition when Itunes is only usable WITH an Ipod? It’s easy to keep prices high when you have a closed system like this. (On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to reach a mass market.)

    Here’s an interesting angle to software piracy. It can be good for makers of higher ticket software, like 3D Studio Max for example. If you have many people learning such a software (though with a pirated copy) when they get hired to do such work as a job, these people end up influencing corporate software buying choices. That’s why Maya is free for educational purposes now….