Wibu-Systems Blog

Tariffs are not software protection

Posted by John Browne on Jun 19, 2012 11:57:00 AM

Kenya in a bold move has decided to eliminate duties on imported software as a means of combatting piracy. 

Apparently the piracy rate in Kenya is 83%, double the worldwide average, according to the BSA's 2011 global software piracy report

Of course, the total value of pirated software in eastern and southern Africa (excluding South Africa) is a relatively paltry $108M, chump change compared to the $9.7B in estimated value of pirated software in the US of A. (Note: I have no dog in this fight--the BSA has been criticized for the manner in which they calculate the "economic value" of pirated software; it's probably an inflated number because not everyone who steals something would buy it otherwise, but it's a consistent measurement so it has value to show trend lines.)

TThree cheetahs sitting in Kenya Africa acinonyx jubatus
These are not the cheatahs you are looking for. Three cheetahs sitting in Kenya Africa acinonyx jubatus by Stolz Gary M, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Kenya's Finance Minister, Njeru Githae, is on the right track, but it won't solve the problem. In fact, I doubt it will make a dent in the problem. The reasoning seems to be that someone who is willing to steal something because it costs X will pony up instead if it costs less than X. 

Whether this will make ISVs rush to market products in Kenya or not I can't say. I can say unequivocally that the ISVs who aren't worried are the ones using robust software protection. When I park my car downtown, I don't first check to see what the current state of grand theft auto conviction rates are. I have a key, I lock the car, it's hard to steal. I want someone to rip it off, I can leave the key in it. It won't last long that way, unless it belongs to Jerry Seinfield.

Topics: software copy protection, Anti-piracy