Examining the arguments against DCI, we find that the risk of crime and lawsuit and that of inherent inferiority of unlicensed software are both borne by consumers of illegal copies of work. Ethics and research and development are two points brought up on the basis that the various industries dependant on intellectual property do lose money to DCI. It is the loss of profit that has been abstractly and empirically challenged by various people and even some academics. If it is proven that DCI does not cause companies to lose profit, since the consumer willingly bears the risk of inferiority of illegal copies and that of lawsuit, DCI is justifiable.
The games industry says that it loses up to two billion pounds from pirated games sales worldwide per year. According to BBC, “The Hollywood studios say piracy? is costing them billions”. The music and television industries claim similarly large losses to piracy, yet they all assume that every single copy of illegally reproduced movie, music, software or television programme would be obtained through legal means if piracy were not possible.Back to top
Cheap, or I Will Not Buy It
Critics point out that most of the time, people who practise copyright? infringement would not have bought original copies of the copyrighted products they obtained illegally, were DCI impossible to practise. (Exceptions apply for essential software like office product Microsoft Office, which most students and businesses cannot do without: if DCI were impossible to practice, they would have to buy genuine copies of this software.)
As testament to the truth of this argument, some people who are against DCI openly admit this. In a post urging people not to practise DCI, Nick Bradbury admitted, “I’m certain that the majority of people who use pirated versions of TopStyle [a software of his] would never have purchased it. Almost anything that costs money will be used by more people if they can get it for free.”Back to top
Free Advertisement and Market Share Benefits
One argument for DCI is that it helps to promote awareness in and advertise a particular brand and company, increasing its market share, and thus has benefits for the companies as well.
DCI, although denying creators of copyrighted material of some direct profits, allows free advertisement of products. For example, some people argue that one of the reasons Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system is that earlier versions of it were widely distributed by piracy syndicates, thus raising its popularity and increasing revenues of subsequent products.
Market share helps a company more now in the dot-com era of the 21st century. Companies are now more focused on creating market share rather than earning direct profits. This strategy has worked for some companies, such as Sun Microsystems, which earns much more from sales of its Java programming software simply because the technology is commonly employed amongst web designers in the world.
Academics have emerged to argue that allowing piracy to manifest in places where it is very widespread may be more favourable than to clamping down on piracy, due to the network effects of software use. Often, software titles require a critical mass of users to become valuable, especially operating systems, which other software developers need to support.
“[Whether to respond to piracy is] ultimately a question of strategy,” says Carlos A. Osorio, a Harvard researcher and author of a recent working paper examining the “Catch 22″ facing proprietary software companies in developing markets. “For a closed-source company competing with open-source companies, the optimum strategy is often to use its illegal user base in addition to its legal user base.”
In the case of copyright infringement? of television programmes, fans of television shows who download? and watch the programmes first would tell friends and family to watch that show on television if the show is good. This increases viewership, something which television companies depend on to attract advertisers.
Other possible reasons that loss of profit may not result from DCI.
- In many developing countries, the people and businesses are unable to afford original copyrighted material, thus turning to DCI to obtain these materials. If they were unable to obtain copyrighted material illegally, they would not have purchased the original copy.
- Many consumers of illegal copies of copyrighted products may decide to buy an album, go to the cinema to watch a movie, or buy retail software, depending on the quality of the music, movie or software as seen in the illegal “trial” copy.
- As poor people who practise DCI earn more money, their love for music, or movies, or computer games (which was bred thanks to DCI) would drive some of them to support intellectual property and purchase genuine products.