Software Piracy and Popular Theft

Virtual piracy isn’t just something that is popular in Pakistan; it is something that our society relies on for day to day work. From software piracy to video game piracy to movie and song piracy, it is present in Pakistan in all forms. The estimated percentage is 83%, which I fear has been highly under-estimated. For today’s article, I will solely be highlighting the pity state of software piracy in Pakistan.

Virtual Piracy is not regarded as being something wrong because it is entirely different from the basic idea of theft that we all have. It does not involve barging into somebody’s house or shop, taking them on gunpoint and robbing them off their valued possessions. What we need to understand is that developing computer software requires effort. Thousands of people spend thousands of hours working to develop these software that we use without any hesitation. If we just steal these software from these engineers, we are robbing them off their hard earned salaries and profits.

Image courtesy Wikipedia
Image courtesy Wikipedia

I once argued on the same principles with a school teacher. He replied that as these massive corporations have inflated the price of these software and it is totally understandable and justified for people to steal these software. This is like saying that it is okay to steal cars from a rich person’s house for transportation. How come such a person can teach virtuous deeds and truthfulness to kids?

The height of software piracy is visible in our government offices. All the computers have pirated versions of Microsoft Windows and all documents are prepared on pirated versions of Microsoft Office. It is not just our government, these two software represent the highest pirated software in the world, and most of us carry the burden of theft with us. The large number of IT companies and Software houses and advertising firms operating in Pakistan are largely using pirated software. How can a person defend earning money by working on pirated software? Carrying out commercial acts on pirated software is the height of unethical behaviour.

Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and all anti-virus software represent the small number of software that we download or buy illegally and use without hesitation. Educational institutes ask students to obtain illegal copies rather than distributing student licences. Hardly has any society shown such nonchalant behaviour to theft.

What can be done to stop this theft is to encourage people to adopt free and open source software. Windows is not the only Operating System one can rely on. Linux presents us with a very suitable alternative. It is easy to use, readily available, free of cost and above all more secure. Most utility software are also available for use on Linux and it is growing by the day.

As for office documents, is not just the best alternative, it is nearly as good as Microsoft’s product. It is compliant with the OpenDocument format and Microsoft’s formats as well. It has a word processer, a spreadsheet application, an application to prepare presentations and other utilities as well.

Let me give a few examples. The French Gendarmerie switched 70,000 systems to OpenOffice in 2005. Vietnam’s Department of Education moved its 20,000 computer systems to OpenOffice. The Postal Service of South Korea moved its 4748 desktop systems to Linux in 2005 saving 680,000 Euros. The Singapore Ministry of Defence uses OpenOffice on 5,000 desktops. The Election Commission of India is using OpenOffice, so does the Supreme Court of India and local language versions have been distributed among the population in millions.

City Councils of Berlin, Birmingham, Prague, Bristol, Munich and Vienna, Finnish Department of Justice, French National Assembly and Bangkok Airways represent a minuscule sample of the organizations and governments that have shifted to OpenOffice and some have adopted Linux as well. These organizations saved huge costs of adopting commercial proprietary software and by no means have they committed any acts of unauthorized copying of computer software.

The small computer shops opened in every nook and corner of the country are making large profits from these illegal acts as well. The labourer who works all day, the carpenter and the forger at least earn their money through legitimate and halal means. These small shops do not benefit the society in any way. I am also amazed at the fact that people think that there are geniuses sitting in Karachi, who have made these software available to them.

For their sake, I would like to inform them that the online “warez scene” comprises groups of people competing with each other in reverse engineering skills, trying to break software licenses as fast as they can. They are not doing it for any commercial purposes. Imperial Market, Hafeez Centre, Rainbow Centre and the hubs where people download these cracked versions, burn them onto a Rs. 10 DVD and sell them for Rs. 100. Such a person does not have a right to earn money in any society.

When Microsft Pakistan, in collaboration with the FIA Cyber Crime Division, carried out raids and removed these software from the racks of such shops, the protest banner read, “We strongly protest against Microsft’s brutal acts”. Truly said, “ulta chor kotwal to dantay”. The Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan (IPO) is sleeping. In a society where there is nobody to protect intellectual rights, Ingenuity, Research and Development can never be promoted because the original idea will hardly bring any profit.

The solution lies with Free and Open Source Software. Nevertheless, Microsoft can reach an agreement with the government, whereby the people are encouraged to buy proprietary software instead of pirating them. This can only be achieved if Microsoft sells these software at rates affordable to the average consumer instead of the international rates. Microsoft is already selling software at a much discounted rate in Far East Asia and it can do the same here. In my opinion, Rs. 250 would not be harsh for the Home Edition of Microsoft Windows, and Rs. 200 for Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

If we do not defend the intellectual rights of organizations or individuals, we will never be able to produce an internationally acclaimed product. We will remain a labour house, rather than becoming an industrial power. All of us have become thieves and dacoits, without most realizing what they have done. We have to change for the better.

P.S. This document was prepared on OpenOffice Writer 3.1.0. Download it here

  • Yes their is a lots of software piracy in Pakistan. Lake of PayPal can be reason for this piracy. I myself download cracked softwares or buy pirated CD’s from Market becoz we paki ppls cant buy online with PayPal.

  • Yes Open Source Software is the right answer. We Should be promoting it at all levels especially at Institution/ Educational Level!
    We are not sleeping. The initiative has been taken
    try visiting ( Community for Open Source Promotion )

  • I’m using Genuine Windows Xp on my office and at my home, I’m using Windows 7 RC (Which is currently free)

    And Microsoft invited me to join Beta Test of Microsoft Office 2010 (Technical Preview)

    so I’m using genuine copy of Microsoft Office 2010..

    and my friend and I planned to buy Genuine copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (Family Pack Edition) 3 Licence Keys with one Box…

    And I’m requesting every Pakistani (Please stop Piracy)

  • :)
    no matter piracy is a crime . i am myself a little developer and i can feel how bad it would feel when somebody uses my software without my permission or paying me..
    but let me ask the person who post this article …do you live in pakistan ? and if yes , did you purchases $100 windows ? this price is for Pak only still very low number of consumer have power to purchased just os…
    can’t say much then this :$

    • Yes, I live in Pakistan.

      I have Windows Vista Home Premium on my Dell XPS M1530 which I ordered last year. I”ll be ordering a Windows 7 upgrade later this year.

      I am using Ubuntu on my dekstop

  • This is not true. Atleast businesses are not violating the piracy, atleast my employer have license version of windows server and development tools. Microsoft has to minimize the cost of license to make it affortable. As our currency worth is very low and nobody can afford higher license cost.

  • Wow, is that so true? Why then your government still not been sued by all software developers out there? Holy grail they could possibly made huge money sueing all the departments.

    Well, I am the one having a blog posting the links to all free download software (pirated/free/hacked etx).

    Despite of all of the contents, most of my softwares (that I use) are genuine, except for a few small things which I just installed for a a short time. I basically can affort to buy 100% for the softwares, but please for now I just bought the one that really worth money (like OS, Kaspersky, Adobe, ashampoo etc), else (script editor, menu maker, banner maker, all sort of media players, tv for pc etc)sorry I go to piracy.

  • I’m typing this from inside Ubuntu. I tend to use Open Source software but really, can you replace the awesomeness of MS Office 2007 or the power of NOD32?

    And you then expect MS to sell XP and Office at 200Rs… That is illogical jinaab when both softwares sell for well over 100$ (Genuine XP costs 12,000 to this day)!

    Before fighting Piracy, the govt. must fight the falling economy and cater for the poor. Enough said.

    • Actually, Microsoft Pakistan is headed by a relative of mine. Microsoft Pakistan is aiming to sell a student evrsion of MS Office 2007 (Word + Powerpoint Only) for Rs. 195

  • While i agree with you that piracy is a crime and due to non availability of genuine software we should switch to open source i can’t help but notice the self righteous tone in your article.
    Tell me something, your profile mentions that you are an electrical engineering student, do you use genuine MATLAB. How about orcad or which ever design tool you prefer.
    That said, good article

  • One thing i forgot to add. You say that those crackers (no racial pun intended) who actually break the software and release it are fine but not the person who sells it. That’s a bit hypocritical don’t you think. Yea sure the crackers aren’t doing it for commercial purposes but it is breaking the law none the less.

  • The salaries of employees in Europe are at least $8/hour while for most of poor countries it is only $2-$3 /hour. How a tech guy from Pakistan etc having limited resources can buy a Genuine software. It is not possible for him. Companies should release “Low Price Editions” of their softwares like western books.

  • Piracy Fuking Rulz. First i used to waste money on Cd’s from Rainbow n all. But now Thanx to DSL i m getting it all at 839/month Wooohoooo. so keep on sharing people :)

  • Thanks for information.

    You are right. I am in you favor but think how a lay man can afford Windows for Rs: 10K.

    Opens Source is best solution but it needs peoples who can train peoples. I have not seen more than 10 persons in my 10 year computer experience, who are well equipped with Open Source software.

    There must be some group/organization who talks to Microsoft for low prices.

    Nice site. Appreciations for this effort.

  • Dear Piracy Is Crime But When U R Currency Is Down what to do i have a suggestion for Microsoft Sale It Products In Pakistani Rupes means If In USA Microsoft Windows In 300$ then In pakistan It’s Also In 300RS And Also Design Some thing That Only Pakistani Can Buy Microsoft Products in 300RS, Others Country User Not Allow To buy Product From Pakistan

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