Piracy has long been the bane of many an industry – from game and music to software developers. This white collar crime has cost all 3 industries billions in revenue each year with the authorities always one step behind the pirates. Most, if not all countries have strict laws against stealing intellectual property in the form of piracy but sadly, law enforcement is rather slack in most developing and third world countries. This absence of discipline is extremely pronounced in most countries located within South East Asia, making it a hotbed for piracy.
Ubergizmo has a special report on a typical bootleg copy of intellectual property and how to tell the difference from an original. Most pirated copies of software do not come in a box, but it is instead wrapped in a transparent plastic sleeve with a sheet of cut out paper depicting the software contained within. No sturdy CD jewel cases here. Opening the plastic sleeve reveals nothing more than a poor imitation of the original CD. Do not expect any holographic etchings as those found on authentic copies – the pirated copy comes with the cover pre-printed on the CD itself, often in a single shade.
The pirated copy does not come with any manual since purchasers of these CDs often know beforehand what they already want and how to use the software. Needless to say, don’t expect to ring up Microsoft’s Helpdesk when you face problems with your Windows XP Operating System that costs less than a Happy Meal.
What are the risks involved in not purchasing originals? First and foremost, it is a crime and one can be prosecuted when caught and tried in the court of law. In the pursuit to lower operating costs, it surely is folly to cut corners when it comes to equipping your office computers with pirated copies of operating systems and application programs. There are plenty of open-source alternatives if cost is a barrier. Secondly, non-genuine copies do not come with the updates and support that owners of originals enjoy. Also, the risk of a virus that comes with bootleg copies is well documented and very real. Each time you pop in a pirated CD, you are playing Russian Roulette with the data on your computer.
Why then do people still purchase pirated software? In most developing and third world countries, the cost of the originals can be staggering. A genuine copy of Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition costs the equivalent of a month’s worth of meals, and the cost of adopting new technology is extremely high, prohibiting most people to settle for a cheaper option. Why fork out around US$50 for an original game when a pirated copy (complete with the latest cracks and updates) is available for just US$1.30? PlayStation 2 games are going for less than US$1 per DVD disc, while movies on dual-layered DVDs cost roughly US$2 each.
This places a vast majority of the world in a Catch 22 situation – unless software costs are lowered and made affordable in the local currency, piracy will continue to thrive. Unfortunately, developers refuse to budge and lower the prices of genuine copies as they claim that the only way of doing so would be a higher adoption rate of original software, going by economy of scale.
Do check out our gallery for more pictures and see the difference between both. Purchasing pirated copies are illegal and an act of crime, so make sure you can tell the difference and not make a hasty buying decision based on price alone. Ignorance surely does not pay.
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