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Piracy takes a chunk out of Macromedia

Piracy takes a chunk out of Macromedia

More than half of Macromedia’s product installs worldwide are pirated, according to top anti-piracy director, Steve Wozniak.

“That’s a tremendous loss for a $400 million company,” said Wozniak, Macromedia’s senior director of anti-piracy programs, “and we aren’t getting compensated.”

And while the majority of end-users and resellers were above board, Wozniak said the problem required constant vigilance and education.

“We don’t want to stick it to them; we only want to be fairly compensated,” he said.

Visiting from the US in preparation for the rollout of next month’s educational campaigns on licensing, Wozniak said software piracy costs Australia more than $220 million each year in lost sales.

The Australian piracy rate is pegged at 27 per cent, ranking slightly higher than its US and European counterparts. The rest of the Asia-Pacific region was high, he said. China had a staggering 92 per cent piracy rate, Malaysia’s was 68 per cent while Singapore clocked in at 48 per cent.

Macromedia recently appointed attorney, Nic Ware, as the company’s new senior regional director for Asia-Pacific, to help fight the growing threat.

For Macromedia, the problem mainly affects the company’s tools and server product line (including Flash, DreamWeaver and ColdFusion), but could creep into the higher enterprise solutions realm (with Breeze potentially on the hit list), Wozniak said.

“We’re not seeing unlicensed products in this area as of yet, but we do believe it will happen,” he said.

Enterprise products were harder to pirate, Wozniak said, because of the high-volume of value-add.

In tracking the three forms of software piracy (channel, Internet/contributory infringement, and end-user), Wozniak said the illegal sale of upgrades was a major problem in the channel, but the message of enforcement and compliance would help deter the activity. Online auction sites were another growing problem, he said. They made it harder for legitimate resellers to compete.

A recent Macromedia survey showed more than 90 per cent of the software sold on a sampling of auction sites was illegally produced.

For the first time, Wozniak said the company would start relying on sniffer technology to help track illegal postings on auction sites.

“It’s search engine software that will sniff out illegal activity including illegal price points, the type of software and description,” he said. “If the posting feels illegal, then there will be a cease and desist, and it will automatically be taken off.”

Activation technology was another deterrent, he said. This involved purchasers of box software going online or calling the company in order to list the software and get a return code.

“The process is anonymous and we’re not Big Brother here,” he said. “There’s nothing evil in that ... It’s an industry-wide effort and it also supports legitimate resellers.”

Microsoft is also charging ahead with anti-piracy programs geared towards different partner segments, Microsoft Australia partner group director, Kerstin Baxter, said.

System builders, for example, who were operating retail storefronts and peddling Office and Windows wanted face-to-face training, she said.

For partners who sell to larger companies (and buy through the licensing model), there were several software asset management toolkits available.

Anti-piracy efforts would also get a boost later this year, Baxter said, when the licensing software asset management team was added to the worldwide partner program as another competency level.


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