New research claims piracy can reduce poverty. Does this point to ethical piracy?

Piracy is widely seen as something illegitimate, something that is not to be attempted by those who would prefer to always remain on the right side of the law. However, as Torrentfreak reported, a new study has put a new twist on the usual belief, one that links software piracy to the chances of poverty getting lowered. This stems from the fact that not everyone can afford to own a genuine copy of the software. It is here that pirated versions come into the picture.

Such pirated software again can form the basis for someone to escape poverty. Learning to code can open up the opportunity for them to start their own business down the line or get a job somewhere. The same applies to pirated books as well as those who can’t afford to buy legal copies of books see a ray of hope in the pirated versions. Such copies coupled with the right software are all that one might need to pick up some genuine coding skills, something that can let them earn a decent income for a lifetime.

Researchers probing the impact that piracy can have on poverty claim to have come across enough evidence to prove an inversely proportional relationship between the two. As can be concluded from the report published in the Balkan Journal of Social Sciences, a higher level of piracy is being linked to greater chances of poverty getting alleviated.

“[T]here is a statistically significant reverse relationship between usage of pirated software and poverty in all six poverty models for both developing and Latin American country samples,” the researchers write.

Interestingly, the relationship points to things being different when seen the other way round. It’s like, less poverty does not mean people would be less inclined to buy pirated books or software. Rather, the relationship continues to be inversely proportional, that of less poverty pointing to greater instances of piracy. This is in spite of the fact that such people are now able to purchase a legal copy of the software or book. This has also been found to be more applicable in developing countries where there are fewer chances of people being able to afford software or other content.

All of this also makes for a strange scenario given the way the latest research on these paints a positive picture of piracy. It does not refer to the manner the original proponents of the software are deprived of their legitimate earnings something that can also lead to fewer resources available to them for their future research and development efforts. This can lead to less innovation and hence stunted growth. Furthermore, the efforts they have put into their creation do not get rewarded when someone downloads a pirated software or book.

It’s a debatable topic, one that isn’t likely to subside anytime soon either. And while there are going to be those fighting for and against the issue, someone somewhere is downloading pirated versions of software or an e-book in an attempt to acquire the skills needed to break free from poverty. But how about those who use the same means to acquire skills meant for use in negative fields, like hacking, and such.

Does that lead to the development of two aspects of piracy – that is good piracy and bad piracy just as we have ethical hacking and unethical hacking. It’s something time will tell.

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