Another BSA report on software "piracy" in Bulgaria

Today, the BSA published a report about the so-called software piracy.

I say “so-called”, because of the interpretation of the data by the Bulgarian branch of BSA.

Here’s how the data should be read in historical order:

In 2004 BSA published another report. According to the data there, Bulgaria “had” $ 26 million of “pirated” software.

This year BSA Bulgaria uses new data by IDC to say that, “the Bulgarian IT-sector can double its volume from USD 300 M to USD 622 M till 2009, if the country can lower the software piracy with 10 %. ”

Now, how can decrease of $ 2.6 million per year lead to an increase of IT-sector with $ 322 M? That would have been funny, if it wasn’t sad.

It seems that either the data is fake – which was suggested in a number of publications in the Bulgarian media, or may be that data has been deliberately falsified.

This same data was used to justify actions of the previous Bulgarian government, which rented in 2004, September a total of 48,000 copies of Microsoft software (Windows and Office). The government agreed to pay more than $ 27 M to one of the DELL distributors in Bulgaria. That is more than twice the street price, and goes as much as several times above the discount which Microsoft usually gives in such large deals.

More on that issue was written at the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune two years ago.

In 2002 the government rented “only” 30,000 copues for $ 16.3 M, from the same DELL distributor in Sofia, Bulgaria.
According to data, which I managed to obtain recently, the total sales of this company of DELL hardware is times lower than the business they did with Microsoft and the government.

Another interesting thing is that there is no difference in the price paid for 30,000 and for 48,000 copies – it’s always around $ 550 / copy. Such an incredible price can not be achieved anywhere on the market.
Some data: if you go to Compusa and want to buy (not to rent, like the government did!) WindowsXP or Office XP costs $ 299 and $ 499 (pro versions). Or total, from the shop, without any discount: $ 800. The Bulgarian government paid $ 902. Just for rent. If Microsoft has approached the government directly, without the middleman, the price, which could have been achieved could have gone down to $ 200 instead of $ 902. The question where the difference of approx. $ 34 M remains not quite interesting for us.

What is interesting, is this phenomenon – the “pirated” software, and how the numbers, provided by the BSA are fake, do not reflect the right situation in Bulgaria, and are used for deals under the table.

What’s even more interesting, is that this BSA data was used by the previous minister of State Administration Mr. Kalchev to explain why the government decided to rent 30,000 copies of Windows/Office in 2002. Such numbers – 30,000 or 48,000 are always suspicious, as there’s no way to have that precise number of computers. They will be 29,872 or 48,013… but to have a precise number – I don’t believe it.
I also don’t believe that since the government has paid indeed $ 44 M for its software, the numbers in the BSA “study” do not change. They should have gone much lower, considering that besides the government, there are many companies and individuals who buy legitimate software…

You can read more about the fake data, provided by the BSA in my letter to the USTR.

P.S. Dec. 22: There are more studies about the fake BSA data:
See this story Intellectual Property Rights and the Internet in Central Asia and the drafted outcomes.

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4 Responses to Another BSA report on software "piracy" in Bulgaria

  1. Steve Witham says:

    > “the Bulgarian IT-sector can double its volume from USD 300 M
    > to USD 622 M till 2009, if the country can lower the software piracy
    > with 10 %. ”
    >
    > Now, how can decrease of $ 2.6 million per year lead to an
    > increase of IT-sector with $ 322 M?

    I’m not sure about the English translation, but I think they mean that foreign or Bulgarian companies would be willing to do much more IT business in Bulgaria if the rate of piracy were reduced. Remember that a small change in revenue can mean a big change in profit, and a small change in profit can make a big difference when deciding whether to do a certain business.

    I don’t know whether their argument is valid, but this doesn’t look like fake data, it looks like a projection of future behavior in response to a change.

  2. G-man says:

    That’s a whole lot of crap. The similar campaign is run in Slovenia (by the BSA, of course) and there are similar “numbers-in-clouds” as here. That’s bullshitting in the face that no one believes anymore.

  3. CPL says:

    They might have paid for a microsoft site license for a couple of years. Which entitles them to Server software, desktop and the office suites. The site license usually includes “free” upgrades to the next versions.

    So at 600 bucks, if it’s a site license, that’s not a bad deal. patches, support and upgrades, plus vendor implimentation assistance. Microsoft may be the honda civic of IT, but it still has some excellent support/marketing.

  4. veni says:

    CPL,
    actually they’ve paid only for MS Windows and MS Office. And the price in the shop is quite lower than the one “achived” by the government.
    There goes the role of the middleman, of course – if there was no one between Microsoft and the previous government, then the price would have been the normal one, achieved by other governments.
    The facts are facts – we can interprete them as we want, but when numbers speak, we should be silent:)

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