Disclaimer: This article in no way endorses piracy of any kind.
A lot of big companies, like Adobe, complain a fair bit about piracy of their software, and who can blame them? It’s a huge loss of profit for them. At least, that is what they would have us believe, and that may be what they believe as well, but is that really the case?
While I have no hard statistics to back this up, I believe that most people would agree with me when I say that the majority of Adobe programs that are pirated are done so by teenagers. A group of people who don’t typically have the funds to buy something like the Adobe Creative Suite.
Now, looking at this from one side, it looks pretty bad. Millions of dollars lost each year since none of these people are paying for Adobe’s product. I, however, would say the exact opposite. The piracy actually helps Adobe grow and sell more licenses for their products.
If I was a kid in high school, and I got my hands on a pirated copy of Photoshop or Flash, I would probably give it a try for a couple days. After this point, my attention span would be spent and I would move on to something else. But if I enjoyed the program, and kept tinkering with it and learning about it, I might be inclined to take a course at my high school for Photoshop. There’s one license bought as a result of my piracy.
Now, in this class, I learn more about Photoshop and some of the more powerful things it can do, which interests me more in the program. I decide that this is something I would like to pursue as a career, so I go build a portfolio and submit it to a few colleges that offer programs related to graphic design. I get accepted to a program; another license bought that I am using. This single license turns to two as Adobe releases a new version of Photoshop while I’m still taking my 4 year course. I’m up to 3 paid licenses for my use.
Now after school I get a job, and the company I work for buys me two licenses, one for work and one for my home computer. Now I’m hitting FIVE licenses because of that one pirated copy that got me interested in Photoshop and graphic design back in high school.
While all this might be hypothetical, it’s not too far fetched. I took the number of purchased licenses based off of my own experience through high school, college and work. The other thing to consider is the spin-off licenses that are purchased. I’m a Flash developer, but I also have Photoshop and Illustrator on my computer. Sure this is all in the same license now, but before there was a Creative Suite license and a Flash one.
So, a message for Adobe: rather than try and fight piracy, maybe you should look into ways of getting your software to high school students so they can get into your product legally. Then make a fortune off of the educational and business licenses that will sell as a result.