Russia is one of the world leaders in software piracy after China, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Ukraine. With an estimated 87% software piracy rate, millions of dollars are lost each year. As Russia is seeking a WTO membership, many politicians and officials have already started taking steps to combat all kinds of piracy. Meanwhile, most of the Russian population not only uses the illegal copies but is also very proud of its huge and diverse market of illegal products.
Indeed, there is something to be proud of. Where else can you find computer shops, open-air markets, and kiosks offering DVDs of world cinema, freshly released games, music albums, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and professional & educational software? And all for a ridiculous $3 to $5 per each? It is no wonder that people pass around a variety of software at work and among friends.
But what are the reasons that make even the most respective Russian universities and research institutions let alone the private users resort to illegal copying, using and distributing? The experts have already come up with the long list of roots casing these illegal activities. In my view, it all boils down to a very simple explanation. Whether we like it or not, the Russian pirates have turned out to be faster, smarter and have grater foresight than legal manufacturers.
To start with, pirates offer their products at reasonable prices cutting manufacturing costs at the expense of the cover, booklet and other bells and whistles. The most passionate collectors and fans might still prefer spending more money to enjoy the full versions but for the average users it does not really matter. Secondly, pirates are extremely fast to respond to releases. Be it a new film, a game, a singles or new software, the illegal copies reach the public well before the official versions do. Thirdly, Russian pirates have earned the reputation of well-trained translators who provide decent quality translation while keeping the original voices. This way the viewers can enjoy the original music and voices of their favorite Hollywood stars and follow the content at the same time. Finally, the pirates offer their products in a widely used and acceptable MP3 format saving the user time and effort to convert various files into all-compatible MP3.
The conclusion to be drawn is obvious- pirates know the Russian user from insight, and – act immediately- responding to the changes on the market and offering quality products at low prices. It is hardly surprising then that the Russians are proud of their pirate-countrymen. If you also consider the Russian communist past with its ideology of community living and equal sharing, you will understand why a single CD should be shared among 50 friends and neighbors.