Recent reports published by the Business Software Alliance, an organization that works to advance the goals of the software industry across the globe, indicate that despite stricter penalties for illegal content downloads in many countries, illegal software downloads are still on the rise. Not only does the BSA publish the numbers of illegal software downloads by country, but they also generate a number that indicates the probable financial loss suffered by the industry due to those illegal downloads. Most opponents of stricter piracy laws insist that those numbers are severely inflated and insist that the number of illegal downloads are not necessarily indicative of the number of consumers lost for the software companies.
Regardless of how inflated the numbers may be, software companies and the authorities alike have taken an interest in the matter and are beginning to crackdown on illegal downloads and software pirates. South Africa in particular was shown to have lost large amounts of profits due to software piracy and as such, the local police force has begun to crackdown on those accused or suspected of pirating software.
In a recent incident, the South African Police Services executed a raid on a computer business in Johannesburg that resulted in the arrest of two individuals who were suspected of distributing software illegally. Though the suspects in this particular instance admitted guilt in stealing and installing software on thousands of computers, not all of those accused of software piracy are quite as guilty as these individuals.
The BSA maintains that software piracy has serious consequences, not only for software companies and businesses but also for whole economies in various countries. Due to lost taxes, duties, and overall sales, both companies and governments are said to lose every time a piece of software is downloaded illegally. However, many argue that it is not as simple as a one-to-one loss – meaning that not every illegal download means a lost sale for the company. In extreme cases such as the one in South Africa the stealing is blatant and the company was very aware of their wrongdoing, but this case should be treated as the exception rather than the rule when it comes to software piracy.
Adobe is one of the major software manufacturers to get involved in the latest crackdown on software piracy. From the raid mentioned above, Adobe has confiscated extensive customer lists that have names of people who purchased illegal software and other business in South Africa that buy and redistributed stolen or pirated software.
Adobe is planning to uses these lists in order to bring the worst offenders to justice in hopes of regaining some of their lost profits. This type of intelligence can be dangerous for individuals and people should ensure that they are aware of where their software is coming from and if they download it to make sure it’s from a legitimate source. Until laws are put into place to protect individuals a bit more from digital piracy accusations, it’s important for customers to exercise due diligence and protect themselves from possible claims.