I’ve mentioned before that free software and its ilk decreases opportunity for taxation and regulation. Tim Lee wrote on the same topic a couple months ago. So I’m slightly pleased to see the argument endorsed by the Business Software Alliance, as told by Russell McOrmond (emphasis added to all quotes below):
The claims in the recent press release included the following:
Software piracy also has ripple effects in local communities. The lost revenues to the wider group of software distributors and service providers ($11.4 billion) would have been enough to hire 54,000 high tech industry workers, while the lost state and local tax revenues ($1.7 billion) would have been enough to build 100 middle schools or 10,800 affordable housing units, or hire nearly 25,000 experienced police officers.
Of course the BSA’s concern for tax revenues is disingenuous, in a totally unsurprising fashion:
I guess any money not paid to BSA members just disappears and is not spent on other things in the economy that also involve jobs and taxes. In the real world we know that money not spent on software will more likely be spent on other things which are taxed the same — or even higher, given how BSA likes to also lobby to get software taxed at a lower rate than other products or services.
McOrmond also makes a slightly surprising claim about the BSA’s studies that I’d love to have verification of:
I know that people choosing legally lower cost software such as FLOSS are included as “piracy” in these studies. I guess my supporting FLOSS (both commercially and as an individual) could be blamed for their not being enough money to adequately equip the Canadian military in Afghanistan. I guess this makes me a terrorist sympathizer, by the BSA “logic”.
Regardless of whether FLOSS is counted as “piracy” in studies, the logic that it doesn’t directly facilitate the collection of taxes to fund military (or state schools, housing, or police) is pretty unassailable. Of course it could reduce costs and increase quality for each of these functions, as for anyone else.