– or why have we decided to withdraw from the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

Hi all!

Recently the US blogosphere has become increasingly alarmed by the new Anti-Piracy Act – Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA. Discussions of the topic are, to put it mildly, quite frank, with comments like: “These idiots are coming for your internet” (read here).

What is SOPA?

It is support for and development of something that is currently very relevant – the protection of intellectual property. Ladies and gentlemen, this really is important! “Thou shalt not steal,” as the Bible says! An author – or more often than not, a team – spends sleepless nights writing a book, composing music, shooting a film, creating software or testing software packages. Doesn’t that deserve a financial reward? Yes or no? Think before you answer – someone could well ask the same question about your profession… So?

Authors and creative teams should be cherished, protected and encouraged to create more masterpieces. As a result, US lawmakers have made it clear that SOPA s a priority for them, and many special-interest groups have come out in support of the bill, including BSA. The bill can be summed up as follows:

According to a ruling from a US court, anybody infringing US copyrights should be cut off from the Internet by all search engines, ISPs, credit systems and other levers of control, without exception.

“Copyright infringement” is understood in its broadest sense here: an amateur movie which includes quotations from a copyright-protected script or soundtrack would qualify, so would a home movie filmed while Kung Fu Panda played on a TV screen in the background. Some more nice examples here. Any use of any ‘intellectual property’ object is regarded as a violation resulting in a blog – or even an entire web resource – being closed down.

More details.

What bothers me is the complete “Americanization” of this Internet law. Of course, this is a matter of habit. Any state should, of course, think first of all about its citizens, their interests, protecting its own inventors, developers and manufacturers and about its economy. However, under this law, the interests of non-American authors/creators are not protected at all, while the nationality of the perpetrators is of no importance.

This means that the rights of non-Americans can be infringed however, whenever and wherever you want. But US interests must be respected globally. The “I don’t care” position doesn’t work – see the list of DNS servers: all of them are in the US or on very friendly territories. Yes, that’s right…the carrot is across the ocean and the stick is there too.

National interests are only part of the problem. The saddest thing is that this law is going to be introduced in the rest of the world due to the actions of associations such as the BSA, which blindly supported SOPA while ignoring any other point of view. We had to withdraw from this association because we disagree with its decision. And this is why.

If we accept this law, hundreds of thousands of lawyers will suddenly appear out of the woodwork because almost any website can be accused of copyright infringement! This law will lead to major legalized extortion. The Internet business faces hard times – look at those who do not want to join SOPA: eBay, Facebook, AOL, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Yahoo, Wikimedia, etc. And the list of SOPA’s supporters? Well, there’s the aforementioned BSA (including Apple, Microsoft, SAP, Symantec and other software developers – this time without us) and, most importantly, this law is being promoted by:

RIAA – the Recording Industry Association of America,
MPAA – the Motion Picture Association of America.

That’s where SOPA stems from!

And now the main message:

1. I am against piracy. I find unauthorized use of intellectual property unacceptable, especially for mercenary ends.

2. But if they continue making me buy music on CD or films on DVD I will stop being an enemy of the pirates.

A friend of mine summed it up nicely: “There’s an interesting film on Torrent. If I download it, I’m a criminal. If I don’t, I’m an idiot”. Laws like SOPA divide the world into criminals and idiots. Don’t you think “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”? The world has changed. Long ago it became a network rather than a vinyl world (for those who do not know – years ago music was released on so-called records – vinyl disks about the size of a car wheel).

So, it’s not the right thing to apply old-school vinyl-age rules to copyright in the Internet age.

Long ago intellectual property carried – and justified – a premium price. Once upon a time, production (the author’s blood, sweat and tears), copying, transportation, distribution and sales really were expensive for films, videos, books and similar products. Now copying and delivery costs nothing! Today the author and the user/buyer no longer need an old-style middleman! And how many middlemen are there between the blogger and reader? Zero.

The middlemen have become unnecessary. Now they will have to figure out how to transform their business in order not to disappear in the future – instead attempting to send the Internet business back to the ‘vinyl age’.

Protecting the film/audio/software and other “intellectual” industry interests by means of SOPA is like taxing e-mail in favor of the State Postal Service, or forcing Skype to charge the same as the phone companies. It’s like copyright holders, as they have tried to do in Russia, claiming a levy on the sale of every blank DVD or memory stick in case someone uses it to store a film or a song rather than family photos or home movies.

BS? Absolutely! This is complete and utter nonsense from the era of the dinosaurs – and we know their brains were the size of a pea.

At the same time, I do not share the principle ‘everything is free to everybody’. Not only do the authors have to eat, they need money to create their products, this intellectual property, which is sometimes a rather cost-based thing (for example, the budgets for film production or software development can amount to tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars).

I believe the things should be arranged so that:

  • Users can quickly find what they want and buy it immediately (iTunes is a good example);
  • It does not violate the interests of the copyright holders
  • As for the middlemen…. Let them SOPA off!

The Internet age has no place for the rudiments of the bygone age of vinyl, which is a far cry from today’s technologies, customer demands and reality in general. Just because this old style of business can’t or won’t change, it is trying to lead the Internet marketplace to any early grave with the help of SOPA and the like.

The world has changed and the old rules do not work anymore. We need to find new models of creative content distribution, which, by the way, Apple/Google have already done and even tested it for us. Lobbying for a return to Jurassic copyright laws is like giving a blood transfusion to an already dead patient, risking the donor’s life. Governments should think about stimulating and developing new business models, rather than protecting old ones.

My position can be summed up as follows:

  1. SOPA should be tossed onto the fire
  2. The dinosaurs should be pensioned off
  3. Content should be distributed in new ways, e.g.:
  • Low quality content is free. You can take as much as you can eat (for advertising, for example)
  • Medium quality content should be quick and cheap
  • High (professional) quality – expensive

There has already been movement towards the last point, for example, iTunes. Some studios are also practicing free distribution of low quality content for promotional purposes.

This is a tale about the adventures of the Internet’s young guns and how they got bogged down in SOPA’s legislative maze.

And finally here is one of the infamous copyright-busting clips that has been threatened by the media industry’s dinosaurs. The first link has already been killed off, but here is a live one:

And the very final comment is about my company and its business in the light of the above. Antivirus is not a product but a service. It is viable due to updates and for that reason I’m not really bothered how a user acquires our software – on a CD in a cardboard box or downloaded from the web…but discussion of the service model is beyond the scope of this post.

That’s all, folks! Until next time!

UPDATE: Weird Al Yankovic on filesharing

Comments 13 Leave a note

    Dave G (@InDavesLife)

    My respect for you and your company just increased quite a bit. I’m glad to see large businesses taking this sort of a stand, especially with such a well thought out explanation of why. Every run-in I have with Kaspersky makes me glad to have switched my business over to you.

    Michael Geer

    Well done, Evgeny! We all appreciate your decision and your support!!


    I had no idea of this SOPA thing. It’s shocking to see the mentioned USA-centeredness of it all. Ashaming. And I would really, really love for the whole industry to find a middle ground. I just bought music the other day from an independant artist. The price was tangibly lower than a CD would cost in the store and I know the money actually supports him. In addition I even was able to afford it on a trainee’s salary. Thumbs up for that. The only thing still making me trying to get stuff on “real” media is worrying about backups. What happenes if I mis-format my HDD and the store vanishes a week before the mistake? Other than that — thumbs up for the internet.
    I am really pleased that some artists, of whichever medium, share their work for free and make the world a nicer place. It’s great that some of them can live off of voluntary donations in respect for their care and work. More things should work like this. But until then, -charging- for content is quite viable indeed thank you very much.
    But there is a definite, tangible change in the market. Video killed the radio star, tape killed vinyl. Yet we recovered.

    By the way: We Germans have a blanket tax on CD, DVD, etc.


    Interesting point of view about the non-American issues of SOPA, I never thought to look at it that way. Mostly because this exceedingly poorly written bill doesn’t exactly make me think that far into it. Politicians and special interest groups have time and time again attempted to put in poorly written laws; in part because they want to tip the playing field in their advantage, also in part because they simply don’t understand the technical and legal ramifications.

    But I have to disagree with you partially on your bit about the creative artists loosing out. I’m not privy to the music industry across the pond, but I do know something of the industry here in America. If a band/artist/etc signs with a big label (read RIAA) they make pennies on an album sale. Pennies! Further, the big record labels push their music and their genres while trying to stamp out others. In short, they completely stifle creativity all the while promoting some of the most vile sounding music. Very often they have ended good musical talent because of their legal shenanigans alone.

    Here’s a great article providing more context; though it is dated, the information is still very on target:

    Many incredibly awesome groups have moved to indie labels or have started their own company just to get around big label. Services like BandCamp make directly contributing to an artist a much easier. When it comes down to it, record companies are slow to adopt and try to use the legal system to force an evolving industry to stay in the mold that best suites them.

    Point is, piracy doesn’t typical hurt the (American) music artist because they weren’t making money in the first place. At most it hurts the record labels profits, but those guys aren’t exactly good, model citizens. One more note, I follow a lot of artists on twitter and what-not and seriously, most of them don’t care about piracy, it actual helps spread their music while building a larger audience. This in turn boosts concert sales, where they make the bulk of their money. In that respect, piracy is a bit of a boon.

    Other industries may stand to loose more, but I don’t know enough to give an opinion on them. But as your friend put it “If I download it, I’m a criminal. If I don’t, I’m an idiot.”

    Very well written article all around, very happy to see an Info Sec company taking a stand against this trashy bill. No doubt it would hurt consumers and companies alike all so that a small minority of wealthy folks can make a few extra bucks.

    Rich Fiscus

    As an American creative person who makes a living writing for a European company I applaud your stand all the way around. SOPA, PROTECT IP, ACTA, and the like are not designed to protect the future. They are purely intended to artificially preserve the limitations of the past. It is time to move forward and create the future.

    Mário Madrigrano Jaber

    Dear Sir Eugene Kaspersky:
    You’re absolutely right about the true intention behind the “SOPA”.
    Here in my country, Brazil, where all peoples and races of the world live in total harmony, the only bad thing here is the corruption of governments. Here the symbol “SOPA” as the word means a plate of food and nothing else. But for all sensible people in the business world this acronym “SOPA” will mean a huge poor digestion followed by an incurable stomach ache!
    In the interest of truth is a small group of “big developers” who somehow smart create a legal and universal to be able to charge a “toll” for the file traffic on the network that they designate.
    It is the logic of profit that prehistoric “Jurassic” which the Lord referred intelligently.
    We must take into account the example of your own application, which is its fair value to pay for more research than the huge benefit it provides.
    As you yourself pointed out, research and quality really costs more expensive, but I believe that the more increase the number of buyers, rather than say the old textbook has lapses capitalist, more available and accessible to lower costs and resources will be means of scientific modernity.
    Everyone is entitled to success and just paid for his work and creations, but it must be having an “ethical line” to stop the momentum of the megalomaniacal groups who only want the greedy profiteering without limit, and nothing more.
    It’s like the Lord and humorously quoted …
    “They want to do a blood transfusion to a patient already dead!”
    Thankfully, there are scientists and entrepreneurs as the Lord your serious company, which in the most difficult and crucial place reason over madness.
    Mr. Eugene Kaspersky, unfortunately in our world there are men who want to be your own even more than God.
    So that God do something before anything else can be done in favor of fair and good citizens of this troubled and restless world.
    Thank you for the opportunity.
    Honestly …
    Mario Madrigrano Jaber


    There will be always smoke on the water – if Japanese version vanish, Serbian one will replace it :)


    I’ve been happily using the free versions of Avast and AVG for years, but I might be convinced to switch to yours just because of this post. Thank you for taking a principled stand on this issue.

    If you ran some sort of special where you dropped the price a bit and/or donated a portion of your proceeds to the EFF or Demand Progress or any of the other anti PIPA/SOPA groups, I bet you would sell a lot of product. Especially if you advertised it on Boing Boing or TechDirt.


    On the whole I agree with Eugene Kaspersky’s stance in regards to the SOPA bill. Claiming jurisdiction over virtually all websites would undoubtedly jeopardize individuals’ freedom. From what I think I understand from this, SOPA might be used by middlemen as a means of making money the easy(and wrong) way instead of being innovative. I’m pretty certain I ought to oppose this SOPA bill. But what I really want to know is this: In the long run, will opposing this bill have an extremely adverse impact on authors and teams who sacrifice their blood and sweat writing books, producing music and movies etc or will it not? If so, what’s the best thing to do?

    Traci in Texas

    Thank you for a well-written and well-presented point of view. I believe that unless RIAA and MPAA get with the times, that they may well become extinct.

    I have used music as soundtracks for home made videos, only to have them banned by the recording artist. Pretty silly, if you ask me, because not only have I given you free advertising that applies directly to the target audience, but I shared it with my peers — I always make an effort to acknowledge the title/artists so when that song becomes an earworm, that my friends can PURCHASE it.

    And for ^this^ I get my childish YouTube video yanked?

    I don’t see the logic in it.

    Pat Davis

    This can change our freedoms. You can go to foreign countries and they block You Tube! It’s fear instead of reason for the public and all about money for big business. Why aren’t they doing something to stop hate and violence. There if anywhere we need to raise the bar. Can the KKK get away with promoting violence on the internet. Now after 911 isn’t it these acts that we should be stopping.
    Furthermore if we strengthen our consumer protection laws would that really be the goals we are reaching for by stopping Phishing sites.

    The Yellow Bastard

    Copyright is not an issue here at all. The point of copyright is to prevent people from making money with others work (without permission) specifically, like selling it on a disc or something, or it is claiming you created something, which in fact was created by someone else. The fact is, these extremely rich companies believe they are owed & deserve that extra small percentage of sales, which I can guarantee they wouldn’t get even if piracy was impossible & the only way to get it, is to buy it. They spout off ridiculous numbers into something like the 80’s in a percentage of how much “revenue” is lost, which we all know is utter bullshit. It is nobody else’s job or problem whether or not a job & company becomes obsolete. That’s how it works. People don’t really make much money making horse carriages anymore, since nobody has a use for them. With better distribution options, now music artists & film makers can cut out the middleman & no longer have to be ripped off by evil corporations & labels that take a huge percentage from them & don’t really deserve it. Also, to act as if piracy hasn’t been a good thing for software & even for movies & films, well that would just be downright ignorant. Nobody would really be using Photoshop or know much about it, if it wasn’t for the amount of people who had obtained it somehow & got familiar with it, then either purchased it or when they were hired, they would recommend their employer purchase it because it is a useful program that they are very good with. Then factor in the amount of traction any item will get & that alone will get more people interested & more aware of whatever it is.
    People need to stop demonizing torrent users & “pirates” & treating them like they are some horrible people that are lower than anyone else & somehow actually apparently deserve worse punishments than a rapist or murderer….for SHARING with others. It’s as simple as that. Now, if people are pirating software & selling it, that’s another story. That is real piracy & unacceptable. However, individuals who simply cannot afford to have much of anything, why do they deserve to just be miserable & suffer without these easily obtainable & shareable things that keep one occupied or entertained in such an awful world. Most of what takes place in this world of “piracy” is done with great intentions & with a mission to share with each other. People spend time making something work or converting it so that others are able to use it. Also take into account that more often than not, trials are RARELY a satisfactory method for evaluating a software. There is absolutely no reason that copyright laws should be carried out the way they have been for a while now. It’s wrong, it’s stupid, it’s pointless, it’s got nothing to do with actual copyright infringement & the kind of actions taken against companies like google…..they are absolutely beyond ridiculous in every way. Google doesn’t host any of the sites, it is a search engine that aggregates what is available on the web. They are NOT accountable for what other websites have on them & should not have to comply with retarded DMCA takedown notices! Furthermore, I don’t think it was ever illegal to let a friend borrow a cd or record, or to record your favorite episode of a tv show onto VHS… I don’t think there should be any difference here. Oh & I find it absolutely appalling that our government thinks it’s not only acceptable to, but somehow thinks it’s more important than almost everything (including rape and murder in a lot of cases) to enforce these ridiculous bullshit laws & whatnot & hand down the most unreasonable punishments I’ve seen in a long ass time. What the hell happened to decency? Privacy? Freedom? Seems to me that these multi-billion dollar companies are much more important than everyone else & so are their interests. AND IT’S ALL OVER AN EXTREMELY NEGLIGIBLE PERCENTAGE of money they wouldn’t be getting anyways! For fucks sake!


    Thankfulness to my father who informed me about this website, this blog is genuinely awesome.

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