A study shows that software piracy has a positive impact on poverty rates in emerging countries. However, the result is debatable.
Does software piracy alleviate poverty? This is the question asked by two Turkish researchers who recently published their results in the Balkan Journal of Social Sciences. In their seven-page study, they establish a statistical connection between software piracy and poverty. Their result: the more seeded and sucked, the less poverty. But how valid is it?
The authors defined the “piracy rate” as the total financial loss that companies incur as a result of software piracy. They examined the impact of this rate on six indicators of poverty, such as the unemployment rate or the proportion of the population living below an (unspecified) poverty line. The data situation covers the years 1210 to 2017.
Questionable sources and methodological errors of the study
Even the definition of the “piracy rate” raises eyebrows, because the authors cited figures from the International Data Corporation (ICD) as the source. The name is certainly familiar to some here, because the IDC is part of the Business Software Alliance. This lobby organization of large software companies such as Apple and Microsoft is characterized by its hunt for friends of cultivated cracking. And it is precisely these companies that may have an interest in exaggerating their losses in order to maximize profits from the warning industry.
Ultimately, they can use the alleged amount of damage to put pressure on politicians to push through new laws and more surveillance. The task of the ICD is to scientifically underpin this influence with data. But: Your data was exposed as unscientific ten years ago.
The study on software piracy and poverty does the scene a disservice, that’s nice whatever their thesis may sound like. But she doesn’t want to say anything anyway, neither in one direction nor in the other. She only puts forward a thesis and backs it up with highly questionable estimates. Actually, that’s all and the article could be over.
But it’s worth taking a closer look. First of all, it is noticeable that the authors have made other gross blunders. They even leave open the question of which countries they have even examined. There is talk of “emerging markets and countries in Latin America”. The number of Latin American countries mentioned suggests that the South American continent itself (i.e. without Central America and the Caribbean) is meant – without guarantee. Let’s take a closer look at this continent.
Latin America in particular is characterized by enormous social inequality, which is not taken into account in the study, despite the topic of poverty: not everyone is alive South Americans with five other family members in a tin shack in the favelas, growing coca or digging for gold in the Amazon – but many do. Not every South American lives in a gated community with a villa, pool and housekeeping staff – but many do. And there are millions between these extremes. Some are struggling at the poverty line despite three jobs. Nor do the authors seem to have grasped the fact that wage labor does not guarantee prosperity. Others have enough reserves to face the bad times more or less calmly.