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Software Piracy in a Recession

February 12, 2009

There is no escaping the blunt force trauma of the global recession. The fallout dominates headlines everywhere and it is the most frequent conversation starter in business circles. Where it will end and how to ameliorate the impact of the downturn is a subject of much debate and little action. What is not debated however is the real hardship it is imposing on enterprises and people worldwide – job losses, service reductions, and business failures.

An unfortunate consequence of most downturns is a rise in crime. The majority of people won’t steal under any circumstance but the numbers of those who do grow and the frequency of their crimes increases in response to hard times. In an October story, Reuters reported that, “most of the criminologists, sociologists and police chiefs interviewed by Reuters forecast a rise in crimes in certain categories… opportunistic crimes like theft.”

A FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) survey conducted at the start of the downturn queried company directors and found that 79% believed that businesses would be more likely to try to save costs by not securing appropriate software licenses. When budgets are cut sometimes corners are too.

More recently, in a two-month global poll that just concluded, Aladdin asked technology users and software publishers if they felt the recession would ultimately result in greater instances of software piracy. 73% said they believed software piracy would increase.


Whether you believe the absolute accuracy of Reuters, industry associations, Aladdin or even surveys in general, the damages inflicted by piracy on software vendors becomes much more critical in times of economic crisis. Software vendors are under attack at their greatest moment of weakness; sales are down because of recession-induced reductions in demand, and they are reduced further because of increases in theft (software piracy).

The result is more job losses and more hard times. For some of our brethren in the software community, the ones that will be teetering on the edge of survival, software piracy will be what pushes them over the edge and out of business. Sorry, I don’t have the usual funny or witty close for this entry – just a sobering frontline observation about the growing body count from the piracy wars.


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