Piracy has been used to great effect by Microsoft to grow (and one of the great reasons they are so big still).
By 2001, Microsoft executives were coming to the conclusion that China’s weak IP-enforcement laws meant its usual pricing strategies were doomed to fail. Gates argued at the time that while it was terrible that people in China pirated so much software, if they were going to pirate anybody’s software he’d certainly prefer it be Microsoft’s.
Today Gates openly concedes that tolerating piracy turned out to be Microsoft’s best long-term strategy. That’s why Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China’s 120 million PCs. “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not,” Gates says. “Are you kidding? You can get the real thing, and you get the same price.” Indeed, in China’s back alleys, Linux often costs more than Windows because it requires more disks. And Microsoft’s own prices have dropped so low it now sells a $3 package of Windows and Office to students.
Johanna Blakley: Lessons from fashion’s free culture
Copyright law’s grip on film, music and software barely touches the fashion industry … and fashion benefits in both innovation and sales, says Johanna Blakley. At TEDxUSC 2010, she talks about what all creative industries can learn from fashion’s free culture.