Reducing the Piracy Rate Does Not Necessarily Create Jobs

The SMH ran an uncritical software piracy propaganda piece on 21 October (link will likely become unusable in a short time).  The piece cites IDC on Australia having a piracy rate of 28%.  One of the spokespersons quoted “claimed” that a 10% drop in the piracy rate over the next four years would “generate an additional 3929 Australian jobs in the IT channel” (btw the number (3929) demonstrates astounding precision from such an inexact science).  Can that be right?  Must a reduction in the piracy rate result in higher jobs for the IT sector?

Counter Example

Let’s consider an example.  Assume that there are only two computers sold, one of which is packed with pirated material and one of which has legitimate material.  The piracy rate is 50% under this scenario.  Let’s say the Government takes action (because the propaganda piece is only aimed at Government) and the following year there’s only one computer sold and it only has legitimate material on it.  The piracy rate is now 0% – a drop of a whole 50 percentage points.   How many jobs does this create? None, nix, nada.  In fact, it reduces the amount of money spent in the IT sector by the cost of one computer (and any associated hardware and software support).   If the pirated software was put to productive use in the economy, that value is also lost from GDP.

Any unqualified assertion that a reduction in the piracy rate will necessarily generate any positive impact in the IT sector is self evidently false.  There exist scenarios where the impacts on the IT sector are unambiguously negative.  Such an assertion is simply an expression of copyright ideology.


7 Responses to “Reducing the Piracy Rate Does Not Necessarily Create Jobs”

  1. 1 Chris Samuel 3 November 2008 at 6:13 am

    One wonders if their piracy rate is the result of dividing the number of Windows licenses sold by the number of PC’s sold (including Linux eeePC’s, Dell’s shipped with FreeDOS, etc)…

  2. 2 brendanscott 3 November 2008 at 9:20 am

    Hi Chris

    That would need to be dealt with in another post but, basically – yes that’s how they do it.

  3. 3 Rob Harmer 3 November 2008 at 9:39 pm

    …………….“claimed” that a 10% drop in the piracy rate over the next four years ……………..

    There is no way they can reduce piracy rates by 10 points in 4 years. The “studies” have been claiming a 10 point reduction at almost every study for many years.


  4. 4 J Smith 5 November 2008 at 3:57 pm

    The 3929 Australians would be the ones employed by the government to hunt down people who illegally use Microsoft software.

  5. 5 brendanscott 5 November 2008 at 7:22 pm

    @JS: That made me laugh.

  1. 1 Boycott Novell » IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 5th, 2008 Trackback on 6 November 2008 at 6:04 pm
  2. 2 » Blog Archive » Corrupt Microsoft Signs “Memorandum of Understanding” to Fight ‘Corruption’ Trackback on 3 May 2009 at 10:26 am

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