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Online piracy hurting open source community

Pirated software stops nations participating

Pirates that copy and re-sell DVDs are affecting more than just software developers, record companies and film studio - they're also hurting the open source community.

When stolen proprietary software is used by consumers, that's a lost opportunity for open-source software makers to get their own software onto the computer hard drives of new users, according to Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager at Sun Microsystems for the Open Office source project.

"Piracy hurts open source because open source asks people to help give back and contribute code, but they say 'why should I help? I have Microsoft Office for free'," Suarez-Potts said at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention.

Around the world, he said, many national governments are realising that this hurts them, too, because their citizens are then consumers of stolen technology rather than active participants in open-source communities that can help people gain technology skills that benefit workforces and nations.

By cracking down on software piracy, nations around the globe are starting to see that they can help themselves dramatically by encouraging innovation and creativity, as well as job growth and richer economies, through open source development, he said.

"China wants to create workers who can do this and create and sustain wealth," rather than just sell pirated software that doesn't improve the lives of the country's people, Suarez-Potts said. "We will all benefit if they are creating interesting things."

Other nations, including India, are making similar discoveries, he said. "They really quite clearly see that they should have their own intellectual ecosystems. China is now embracing open source and is asking how they can work with the international communities; likewise in India and Latin America."

Suarez-Potts added he expects Open Office 3.0, which is currently in beta, to be released in final version by this autumn.

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