International Music Software Trade Association Formed
Stop theft through education 04/10/04
As we all know, the cost of developing bullet-proof copy protection (if indeed there is such a thing) is beyond the budget of many small software companies. Piracy can really make a dent in their revenue and make continued innovation unsustainable. Result – we end up with less motivated new programmers making us the nifty tools we crave so much.
To help address this problem, music software and soundware publishers, retailers, publications, and industry professionals have come together to form the International Music Software Trade Association, an advocacy organization to pursue their collective interests. The group‚s charter is to fight software theft through education and create awareness of the impact illegal software use has on the industry and on the advancement of technology.
A non-profit corporation based in New York City with branches in Toronto and Berlin, IMSTA has evolved from the convergence of the music software community in 2002 around the be-cool.org anti-piracy campaign‚s central message of „Buy the Software You Use‰. The group is planning a number of initiatives for 2005 such as advertising in trade magazines, regular conferences at industry trade shows, involvement in industry events, and partnering with other companies to educate the market on the effects of software theft on the industry and the users themselves.
IMSTA will carry its message with a carrot and not a stick, preferring to appeal to users on a moral level and the idea that by buying the software they use, they will benefit by healthier software companies and, in turn, better technology and products without the need for cumbersome copy protection schemes.
“The people who use steal software and use it to make music need to be made aware of the damage it imposes on the software industry,” says Ray Williams, one of the founders of IMSTA. “Some of these people are professionals in the music creation business and their creations are themselves subject to software theft through downloading. It is ironic that some never recognize the equivalence of stealing a copy of Reason from the internet with stealing a copy of a song from the internet”
“Most people want to do the right thing,” adds Johanna Devaney, Executive Director of IMSTA. “I believe that if we stick to the message of ŒBuy the software you use‚ it will have a positive impact, even if the results won‚t be seen for many years. The point is we have to start this education now.”
Software Theft and the Music Industry
Illegal copying and the unlicensed use of software continue to be major challenges for all software developers and publishers. In the general software industry the software theft rate is estimated at 36%*; related revenue losses in the general software industry measure in the billions and related job losses measure in the hundreds of thousands.
In the music software and soundware industry many observers estimate that the rates are more than 80%. That is for every legal copy of a software program sold, there are 5 illegal copies in use by potential consumers.
A recent NAMM 2004 survey shows that while sound cards and computer related hardware sales grew by almost 100% from 2002 to 2003, the sales of Music Software stayed the same (over that period).
High software theft rates are dampening innovation by depriving many music software developers of the capital they need to further development products and technologies or even to stay in business in many cases. Software theft has remained morally unchallenged for a long time; many consumers simply do not realize that their decision to use pirated software has a direct and negative impact on the future of the software industry.
*Source: BSA and IDC Global Software 2004 Piracy Survey
www.imsta.org for more information and application for membership.