I have this eccentricity I was reminded of when I saw a news story yesterday on CNET about software piracy.
My eccentricity is this: I like to get paid for my work.
I know, that trait probably characterizes me as a staunch capitalist pig, but I'm simply not going to make any apologies for it.
When I was a kid, I often worked for free. I volunteered at a local community theatre...I put in endless hours there, never got a dime, and was happy to do it.
But as a grown-up, what with all the hullaballoo about pensions disappearing faster than you can say "401K," with Social Security dwindling and jobs shifting from one country to another like so many pieces on a virtual chessboard, I've decided that that's it: I gotta get paid!
The good news is is that currently, I am. But when I saw the story talking about about all those pirates sailing around out there across the the vast ocean of business software, I started getting jumpy.
"Shiver me Timbers," I yelled to myself in my best Johnny Depp-fop Captain Jack Sparrow imitation, "if somebody doesn't do somethin' fast, me mateys, we're gonna have a software mutiny on our hands...Arggghh!"
Publish, Pillage and Plunder
The piracy story I read cited a study that suggested that -- and I paraphrase -- software piracy is "rampant, is hampering growth, and is increasingly performed by organized groups regarded as legitimate businesses in some countries." Of course, what one coins a legitimate business these days is highly subject to interpretation. Back in 2000, Enron had climbed the pirate ship's mast and plundered its way to position # 7 on the Fortune 500 list, just above IBM. Turned out there was a lot of fake gold in them thar hulls.
So, this study I mentioned -- issued by the Business Software Alliance -- covered 70 countries accounting for 99 percent of the world's IT spending. It indicated that even now, in 2005, 35 percent of the world's software is pirated, and that a worldwide reduction by even 10-25% points could generate 2.4 million jobs and $400B in economic growth.
Putting that into perspective through my nifty pirate-hunting telescope, according to the CNET story a 35 percent piracy rate is more than 20 times higher than the percentage retail stores lose through shoplifting!
I was never much of a shoplifter myself, but I suspect that if shoplifters at Wal-Mart were getting away with 35% of the merchandise, the National Guard would be called in to patrol the toy section and make sure no Blackbeard dolls were hitching rides out of the store in Jolly Roger backpacks.
So, the next time any of ya's has an urge to pillage any software, remember that it's bad both for the GDP...and my variable pay.