Is the anti-piracy campaign helping the IT industry?

Let’s set things straight: piracy at face value is not good. It’s stealing.

Recently, The Business Software Alliance, in cooperation with government agencies (NBI/PNP) intensified their war against software piracy. But spare me of some minutes to argue for my thoughts.

Contrary to BSA claims that businesses are loosing because of this, I have read somewhere — maybe from — that piracy in fact is helping the increase in knowledge. Thanks to piracy, professionals — or students for that matter — who cannot purchase a P5,000 worth of Windows XP and Adobe Photoshop at P50,000, can learn these technologies and use them for freelance works (promotes entrepreneurship?), when applying for a tech job or even using it in their existing jobs. Things that they can never do if they will have to purchase licenses. I, for one, can honestly say that back in the 90’s I learned to program and design web using pirated tools.

I’m also thinking about BSA’s rediculous figures on “amounts lost due to piracy”. They may be computing the actual selling values of software running in computers. But come to think of it: if current users of pirated software had to buy the licenses, would they actually buy it?

Here’s a comment from a mailing list I’m subscribed to:

“This is terrible news for the Philippines and represents a serious distortion of the truth. While governments in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have banded against ogranizations like the BSA and endorsed Open Source Initiatives country wide, The Philippine government is actually damaging the local IT economy by aiding these organizations.”

I’m not advocating piracy. It’s just that, maybe, it’s high time for us to think about supporting more Open Source products like our neighboring countries do instead of running after internet cafes and companies.

As for us, we’re migrating all our desktops to Xandros OS, a Debian Linux based operating system.