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Educating Youngsters About Piracy 544

Colin Winters writes: "The New York Times has an article that is a follow-up to the recent raid by the government on pirates in universities. Some professors believe that "By the time we get them, they already believe it [piracy]'s right." An interesting read. There's also an interesting bit on how business software is now 1/3 pirated, down from 1/2 in 1995. In America, it's only 24%. From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing."
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Educating Youngsters About Piracy

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  • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw&snkmail,com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:09PM (#2749688) Journal
    "From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing."

    MS Dos is (was) incredibly easy to pirate back in the days when it was widely used. If it was never pirated, it would never have become nearly as popular as it was. This would have made Windows less popular. Microsoft has piracy to thank in part for its success.

    Successful software WILL be pirated. That's how you know that people are willing to buy your products. In the long run, the corporate clients who have to worry about staying legal within their contracts will comprise most of the legal purchases of software, while the little guy (individual persons like you and me) will still probably pirate the stuff. This is how software gains grassroots acceptance. I think piracy by some individuals is good for business. It's better than any advertising campaign.

  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:15PM (#2749706)

    I've been wanting to a legit copy of Office 97 rather than living on the MSDN copy from work (should I ever have to get another job). I found a guy on eBay selling a sealed unregistered OEM copy for $75. I used "buy it now" to end the auction and used eBay's own BillPoint to pay. This happened three days ago.

    About six hours later I got notice that the auction had ended at Microsoft's request because the good were pirated (VERO rule or somethign like that). See the problem? I already paid for the goods, and the charge has cleared my bank. The listing is gone, and I haven't heard from the seller. What happens to my money?

    I've written eBay about it, but of course haven't heard back probably because of the Christmas holiday. Has this happened to anyone else, and if so, what happened?

  • by Trekologer ( 86619 ) <adb@nosPAm.trekologer.net> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:23PM (#2749733) Homepage
    ...then you have an even deeper problem that neither the software industry, or any other media publishers want to address.

    And that is that more and more people, worldwide, are begining to believe that copyrights, and so-called "intelectual property" in general, do not deserve all the protections that they are afforded.

    No one wants to address this because it is the publishers' biggest fear: copyright will lose respect and eventually be abolished. Their entire revenue stream is based upon the idea that data, be it software, music, video, or whatever, can be artifically kept scarce. And that's just not true.

    What the whole Napster thing has done is to demonstrate that a good number of people (enough to make a "political majority") do not think that CDs are worth $18 a piece. People are now realizing that CDs cost under $1 to make and that the artists aren't getting the remainder. The people are making it known that the recording industry is NOT worth $16 a CD anymore. And since, unlike an ideal marketplace, you can not negotiate the price of a CD, potential customers are looking elsewhere to obtain the products at the price they feel it should be.

    Piracy itself is not the primary target of these raids. The real target is attitudes towards copyrights. Since people are no longer respecting them on their face, the industry is attempting to convert the lost respect into fear of the law.

    And that fear can only be provided by a copyright police state.
  • Stop and think... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:26PM (#2749744)
    ...where does that 1/3 number come from? The BSA likes to throw these numbers around without giving sources. If they *really* know exact numbers then they must know where the software is being pirated and, quite frankly, they don't.
  • Piracy vs. Charity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LazyDawg ( 519783 ) <lazydawg@noSpAm.hotmail.com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:30PM (#2749756) Homepage
    These manufactured piracy figures would be even remotely useful if they included demographics for each group of software pirates. If the majority of that 25% were, say, Mercedes Benz driving, diamond-clad rich folk who light cigars with hundred dollar bills, then we would be worried.

    At present, these buckaneers seem to mostly be low-income students and others who have a compulsion to use the latest and greatest software, without the funding to back it up. Rather than paying bazillions of dollars towards enforcement and purchasing new laws, software companies could stand to make a huge tax write-off if they called this willful taking of their software a Charitable Donation.

    Big software companies practically print their own money giving out these wares as name brand commercial products, and they enjoy insane profit margins once the development costs get paid off. Since profit==taxes, they should try to encourage software piracy, pull a figure out of their ass equivalent to their taxable income, and then end up paying a few dollars, rather than a few hundred million.

    (did I mention, IANAL and IANAA?)
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:48PM (#2749804) Homepage Journal

    But whats right, may not be the same as whats legal.

    The law says Piracy is illegal. Do you want to follow the law? or your morals?

    Alot of people would rather die than lose their morals, and alot of people would kill to protect the law.

    What you have is, the moral person vs the patriot capitalist.
  • by Forager ( 144256 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:51PM (#2749810) Homepage
    ... said David J. Farber, a professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chief technologist of the Federal Communications Commission "If you're willing to bootleg music, you're willing to bootleg anything."

    While I can't state that this isn't true for some people (trading one blanket statement for another would make me a hypocrite) I CAN state that the majority of people I know aren't going to fill that statement. My friends and I certainly do bootleg our music; it's difficult to find one band that produces an album that has more quality than filler on it, so we pick and choose the songs we enjoy and download those individually. If an album comes out by a band we particularly like, we'll buy the album, but for the most part, we pirate our music.

    However, we don't pirate our software (except for a few big titles ... as 3D art students, we have to share SOME titles, if we expect to have any chance at all in the industry when we graduate; hell, we talked to one of the VPs of Alias|Wavefront and he said that piracy creates industry demand for their software, sort of a roundabout way of saying "we're turning a blind eye to this"). Take a look at my collection some time; over 85% of my 300+ software titles / games are legally purchased originals. The others are either backups (yeah, I DO use those) or pirates of majour titles (a certain office suite that I need to use to communicate with the college's financial department, for example).

    My friends are the same way. We don't, by and large, pirate software; sometimes we share, and if it's good enough, we'll buy it (that's how I came around to Baldur's Gate and Quake III). Music is one thing; software is a different story altogether.

    I know people who feel the same way about movies; they pirate movies, since we have faster-than-god internet access at school, but if it's a good movie they'll go out and buy the DVD or the VHS. The only thing we really pirate and NEVER purchase is pr0n =)

    I think Prof. Farber is trying to suggest that music piracy is a "gateway drug" for kids, but I don't really see any evidence of this. As someone (the article? don't remember) states, software piracy is down in recent years, even though CD burners are cheaper and broadband access is more widespread.

    What is interesting (and potentially frightening) to see is this "war on piracy" turning into the next "war on drugs"... something to keep an eye on, I think.

    Merry Xmas*,


    (yeah, I'm an atheist, but I still celebrate Xmas, because it's a social holiday, too; so to all non-christian geeks out there, have a good one!)
  • Piracy and Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:57PM (#2749830)
    Bill Gates lying in court?
    Microsoft faking evidence?
    Microsoft illegaly using their market domination (apologists please note that I don't say monopoly) to lock out competition?
    Microsoft forcing customers to buy another license although they already have one?
    Microsoft forcing people to buy the product over and over again by breaking formats and standards?

    The response of the average Microslave is:

    "Oh well, that's just normal business. Everybody would do it if they could."

    People pirating software?

    "Oh well, that's just normal. Everybody does it."

    P.S.: No, I don't pirate software, I even paid for my Linux distribution.

  • We should stand up against this kind of nonsense. It is little more than the industry trying to brainwash our kids to believe in their warped way of thinking.

    Most of us here are young, and we, not the sickly old men that sit in CEO positions at music companies, are the future. We should teach our children ideals that will propel this nation beyond the dated zero sum game of economics that's been played for ages. We should teach them that information should be freely available to all, that US citizens rights should be respected, irrelevant of their differences, or the consequences of doing such, or "national security concerns".

    Undermining the traditional system in the "real world" -- where politicians say that rights are important, but then disrespect and ignore them (i.e., Katie Sierra, who was prevented from wearing an anti-war T-shirt at school; Brandi Blackbear, who was suspended from school for "casting a spell on a teacher") -- will require resolve, disobedience, and awareness.

    To undermine the traditional intellectual property system is something of slightly another matter, because its more convenient and easy. I do not propose that we take the moral high road, as Martin Luther King did when he fought racism by peaceful protests, and by allowing police to brutalize him. I suggest we take the path taken by Malcom X -- violent disobediance. Get roudy. Here's my recipe to undermine intellectual property:

    (1) Support open-sourced software, or "open-information". Support it namely by using it, wherever possible, in place of closed-sourced software or information.

    (2) Support "free" software or information, which is different from "open" software or information. This is software or information which is freely obtainable, but in which the source is closed. Normally, these endeavers are supported either by ads or by promotions for the "full product".

    (3) If you use "free" software or information, don't support the sponsors economic endeavers by upgrading to the "full" product or watching their ads. If you want the full product, find a hack, or download a crack -- either a warez version or a crack for some serial numbers to be entered. If its ad-based, don't support the ads.

    (4) To avoid supporting ads -- remember, we need to undermine the current zero-sum economic system as well -- create a HOSTS file for your browser. As a reply to this message, I'll post my HOSTS file. Disable animations or sounds from your browser -- many ads come in such form. If there's an ad-based program, like LimeWire, try to block the ads by deleting the file that might be responsible. If not, try to find a crack to block the ads. For LimeWire, since its open-sourced, this should be easy -- surely, someone must have released a patch to remove the ads. If you cannot remove the ads, simply ignore them. NEVER buy anything based off an internet AD. That support the ad-system which clogs our bandwidth.

    (5) If you must get a commercial product, there are still ways to avoid supporting commercial endeavers. i. You can try to find warez for the product you want. Search the web from google.com. This is hard, because very few warez sites actually offer software -- most are just fronts for advertisements and porno. You can also try searching from a P2P program, like LimeWire. ii. Sometimes, a retailer will allow you to return a product even after its been opened. So open up the CD package and copy it. If it has copy-protection, you can try making a 1:1 copy by CloneCD.

    (6) For textual information -- i.e., books, textbooks, scientific papers published, etc. If possible, offer these in pure format -- i.e., a PDF file or html file -- if you can overcome copy-protection. Otherwise, transcribe them. If only each person transcribes one book, out of every 10, that's millions of books you have online. You don't have to do it all at once. Many of you are very adept typists, and this should be no problem. I've found many transcribed books on LimeWire...even a copy of Crichton's "Jurassic Park".

    (7) Most obviously, publicly protest against the intellectual property system.

    Hope you found this helpful...
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:35PM (#2749916) Homepage Journal
    but that doesn't make it a biscuit.

    No matter how many times people scream from the rooftops that unauthorized copying is stealing, that doesn't make it so.

    No question about it, copyright infringement is illegal. When discussing a company like microsoft who (allegedly) stole Stac's code for doublespace, it's hard to get a groundswell of sympathy for their "lost revenue".

    If people don't feel too bad about copyright infringement to do it, some people think that they can change this by calling it stealing. The use of that word conjurs up imagery of parents scolding children about not ripping off candybars from the corner store.

    Let's examine this, by making an illegal copy of Windows 2x, you have denied a sale to Microsoft and have cost them money. By costing them money, you have stolen from Microsoft.

    Every linux distro that includes Samba is a potential lost sale for Microsoft. For every one of those lost sales, Microsoft has lost money. If one follows the logic train, RedHat, Mandrake, SuSe, Debian, Slackware, Yellowdog, and countless others are stealing money out of Microsoft's pockets by costing them sales of Win2k.

    It doesn't add up. Even if it is illegal and morally wrong, the former example is no more stealing than the latter.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:09PM (#2749992) Homepage
    Well, everyone else has illustrated to you why pirating is not stealing, so I won't touch on that all too obvious clarification.

    But call it stealing, and you're still stuck with the Hilfingers of the world, who've actually admitted to telling department stores not to crack down on shoplifting of their products.

    Why would they do that? Hillfinger astutely recognized that the demographics who steal clothes are the ones who set the trends for the suburban crowd thats all too happy to fork over the cash. They do NOT count every 'steal' of their products as a loss of sale, and neither should anywhere else. As usual, the truth is a nice big grey area. Unfortunately, computers only work in 1/0s, and thus the business types in the industry seem to believe that EVERYTHING should work (or can be explained in) such a way.

    To call a pirated piece of software a loss of sale demonstrates a complete lack of desire to understand the true ups and downs of software pirating. If Windows XP cost 7000$, would you still be calling every illegal install of XP a loss of sale? Of course not; you'd recognize that people place a value on a product, and then decide whether or not to purchase it.

    Anyhow, valid reasons why people feel its okay to copy software:

    - don't use all the features of said software
    ::: Part of the purchase price is spent on developing Wizards, add-on software, supurfluous functionality, etc. People don't expect to have to pay for driving lessons when they buy a car, or advanced features like in-car GPS if they won't use it. Why should software be any different?

    - lock-in
    ::: My personal bet on the most common reason, when it comes to MS software. I'm forced to use windows, because MS has engineered a monopoly on OS's and x86 hardware. I'm forced to use Word. And don't tell me that I could use other products, because the loss in doing so is not in less functionality, but in attempting to collaborate with other people who don't know how to share/work/collaberate nicely with users of other software due to MS's totalitarian attitude towards the marketplace, and in particular, the passive consumer. Any avid PC gamer MUST buy Windows to play the vast majority of PC games; this is MS's own damn fault that they were not interested in working nicely with other OS makers to develop common gaming or multimedia platforms (a la Open GL). If I'm a gamer, and I want to play the games, I see NO reason to pay MS for successfully driving the entire market onto their platform. This is called Just Deserts.

    - students, 'trial' pirating
    ::: Students can NOT afford to spend 1000$ on Photoshop or Emagic Logic Audio in order to determine, after a fair usage trial of a few months, if they want to pursue a career in design, or music, or what-have you. Entry level software does NOT provide a means of a student making said decision, as that student will be working on Photoshop or Logic later in their career. A jr race car driver can go from go-karts to F1 cars, because there are a variety of car types; thus, racers must know 'generically' how to drive. Industry professionals who rely on software do not become experts in 'all design software' or 'all multimedia software'. In fact, professionals themselves often have to fork over much money in learning and training costs in order to learn just ONE professional level piece of software. If we saw a more collaberative and co-operative effort on the part of software makers to define conventions and standard subsystem platforms for software, we might see the professional learn what's inside those 1000$ black boxes, but right now, no such luxery exists. Thus, students feel justified in pirating these types of packages. The mission statements of pirate groups that specialize in these types of software have mission statements exactly to that effect. On the other side of the coin, I don't know a single professional artist or musician who hasn't paid and registered for the product once they've entered their career of choice. Considering that support and upgrades are factored into the cost of products, and that pirate users (usually) cannot use such services, even a pirated copy of Emagic logic being used in a professional commercial environment does not constitute a loss of the full cost of the product. (BTW, it would be interesting to figure out, given the legit:illegal ratio of installed copies of product X, just how much of a price chop could be done if people percieved that the software was worth the cost. Imagine Photoshop cost 100$ .. I'd have bought it years ago, and I'm sure many other casual web page authors, designers, etc could justify that price. Adobe may price it there because of the piracy, but who's to say that Adobe isn't getting it backwards; ie, that the piracy is there because of the price?)

    I'm not advocating piracy wholesale. I'm saying that there are legitimate reasons why it's not exactly stealing, even besides the obvious copy/steal argument.

    And finally ... is MS software the most commonly pirated software in the world? I'd put money on that, and if it's true, it says alot about the 'destructive' nature of casual piracy, given that MS went 10 years without even so much as a profit warning, even despite the rampant pirating of their products. I guess MS's argument is that they should be X times richer and more powerful than they already are, a mental image that should send even the most rabit capitalist quivering in his/her boots.
  • by foqn1bo ( 519064 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:02PM (#2750079)
    Let's set the record straight

    You can dislike illicit software copying if you like. You can think that the participants are morally suspect, you can say that it does harm to the industry...you can say quite a lot of things. But lets get something very clear here:

    Comparing Software Piracy to theft is a stupid analogy!

    Meriam Webter defines theft as
    1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
    b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

    1)..When someone illegally copies a piece of software, a physical piece of merchandise that existed in a warehouse does not just magically disappear. Unlike in the real world, the proprieter of a business (Say COMPUSA, or MICROSOFT) does not have to spend extra money on recovering lost inventory.
    2)..You can argue against it all you want, but the vast majority of pirated software on many people's PCs would not have been bought in the first place. I know there are exceptions, as always. But seriously, look at the Start menu on your average (artist I suppose since I went to school with art students)College Student's PC: Photoshop, Premiere, AfterEffects, Office, 3D STUDIO MAX, an assortment of expensive 3D games (Not to mention about 10 GB of Mp3s, which is a different but incredibly related discussion). Oh Good Lord, this one student has cost the industry thousands of dollars in software, and has cost the music industry nearly $2000-$3000 in revenue! What a load of carp. Apparently most people have forgotten that college students are poor!

    Yeah, I suppose you could argue that through pirated software one is stealing profit--depriving the company of the profit it deserves. That is a dangerous argument to make. Because then how would you like it if a company had the right to sue you over persuading a fellow citizen that it would be unnecessary to even wrong to buy a specific product. Would that then mean that you have stolen what would have otherwise been a positive cashflow from said company? I think not. A corporation does not have the right to determine what a consumer should or would have done under their ideal circumstances. That right lies solely within an individual. If we want to crack down, lets crack down on real piracy, where a piracy group sells contraband copies of another person's material. That's what copyrights are all about in the first place.

    Plus, Bill Gates really kind of needs to suck my wang, a little bit.

  • by Shao Ke ( 266962 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:44PM (#2750250)
    If I make my living from writing software and people decide to "share" my work then I am no longer able to feed myself, run my business, or create new software.
    If you do not pay me for my work, then "sharing" software is the same thing as the biggest kid in school getting everyone to "share" their lunch money with him.
    The communists in China get the peasants to "share" their crops. As a result many peasants in China find themselves with nothing to eat.
    How would you like it if I asked you to share your paycheck with me?
    "Sharing" software that has not been released under a free license is stealing, period.
    If you want something that you can share, write it yourself.
    Not to say that Microsoft's lawyers haven't been getting out of line...
    So you're saying that students should be allowed to share their papers?
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:45PM (#2750251)
    Human societies the world over have emerged from the caves by their ability and willingness to share information freely, and use this information to better their lives.

    This is totally against known history. Even mythological sources from the dawn of civilization embrace the concept of not sharing information. Why do you think Vulcan and Waylan are lame? It's so they can't leave their place of employment and share trade secrets with competitors.

    Face it, from the early days of the caves survival often depended on an advantage over the neighbors - and that advantage was often in the form of information - where the best water source was, how to make the best bowstring, etc.

    Human society coexisted with a nature red in tooth and claw. Intellectual property was often a life or death matter in an environment where nothing was abundant.

    The notion of 'ownable intellectual property' was an artificial construct used initially to protect the incomes of publishers (who faced the large costs of typesetting and production),

    Again totally ignoring actual history. The concept of intellectual property related to written works arose during Greek times in order to preserve the claim of origin by the original author. The first copyright law "Statute of Anne" [wikipedia.com] arose with the spread of the printing press to codify what was common law long before the printing press was common. This law was designed to prevent piracy since the wide availability of the press made it easy to print something without the author's permission. If you take the time to read the Statute of Anne you will see that the fact of the matter is that copyrights were originally designed to protect authors - and it is still true today.

    Do you think Sony would pay one nickel to any musician is they didn't have to???
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:08PM (#2750329)
    They need to quit loading crippleware on cheap boxes.

    A lady I know was mentioning that her PC came preloaded with a crippled version of Abobe Photoshop. After awhile it quit working on her and tells her she needs to upgrade to the current version.

    When she found out how much it costs she said there was no way in hell she would spend more money on a paint program than what she spent on her computer!

    So, she asked me if I could "obtain" a usable copy for her. Being "little people" that can'
    t afford huge price tags like that just for playing around we feel no pangs of guilt downloading warez.

    No big deal when it's just for private playing around. BUT, when you use it for profit or business that's a different story. I own a very small business and I BUY legit copies of the stuff I use. I DO downloaded and TRY the warez versions and when I decide that they WILL be used for my business I purchase them.

    They need to get real on the prices. Make stuff afordable and more people will buy it. If Windows was $40 they would sell lots more copies.
  • Re:big picture (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MiTEG ( 234467 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:08PM (#2750332) Homepage Journal
    No, it's not like that at all. He's not saying credit card companies should stop making credit cards, he's just saying they should stop giving credit cards with such high limits to people with no income and little self control. It's more like Nabisco actively targeting consumers with a high risk for eating disorders, cigarette companies..well, it is just like them, and beer companies targeting alcoholics. It wouldn't be just marketing unsafe products to consumers.
  • by sasami ( 158671 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:53PM (#2750479)
    Yes, indeed, let's set the record straight:

    If you are not a software developer active in the industry, you probably don't know what you're talking about.

    If you don't have a 401K, or, worse, if you don't know what a 401K is, please shut up.
    Do you actually think that this is all about boxes and manuals and discs in a warehouse? That is not software.

    Do you actually think that this is even about the bits on your hard drive or CD-R? That is not software.

    Software is what I produce after getting up much too early every morning and coming home much too late at night. It involves an often entertaining but really quite exhausting effort on my part, five to seven days per week. When you make an illegal copy, what you are stealing is my time. I live in a country whose economy does not revolve around physical goods. The US economy became services-oriented a long time ago, and I expect fair compensation for my services as an engineer.

    Yes, that compensation may be low, for any number of good reasons. I cannot sue you for persuading someone not to buy my crappy software. And I cannot complain if you persuade someone to buy my competitor's software -- someone in an earlier thread tried to compare Company A's "lost sale" to piracy with Company A's "lost sale" to Company B. In the latter case, my counterpart at Company B has received compensation for writing better software than I did.

    No, what I'm referring to the model that plumbers, auto mechanics, and doctors have followed for years: payment for services rendered. Nothing disappears from a warehouse if I refuse to pay my plumber. You wouldn't call that theft? I've benefited from his services, two hours of his life that he cannot recover. Let's make it more explicit: my doctor removes a tumor, but my medical insurance is fake (I don't like paying the monthly premiums). Have I stolen anything?

    Obviously, I don't contend that the issues are black and white. A large fraction of copies do not represent lost sales, for the usual reasons. There are even cases where infringement is quite justified -- fair use versus DMCA, or Microsoft's despicable "no reimaging" license. I neither expect nor want unfair compensation for my services either.

    PS, I'm all for free software. When I contribute my time to free software, there is still fair compensation, it's just not monetary. I do not expect to feed my family that way.
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @09:34PM (#2750589) Homepage Journal

    No. Thats the ten commandments. The Laws were made to promote a strong economy and control the people, keep the people in line, organized etc.

    The political process is blocking us out, why do you think with almost 100 million people using napster, they couldnt stop a few thousand rich CEOs in the RIAA?

    The law is setup based on whoever has the most money.
  • by melatonin ( 443194 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @10:37PM (#2750718)
    If Photoshop were only $20.00, then nearly everyone would purchase a legitimate copy because they would feel it was worth the money and (most importantly) they could actually afford it! What a concept!

    Photoshop is $600 for a reason. It's the best pixel pusher on the planet, and the price is well deserved. You don't need Photoshop. 90% of the people who use it (including people who pirate it) don't need Photoshop. If Adobe sold Photoshop for $20, that would be a lot like a certain company releasing a certain web browser for free.

    I'm glad that Photoshop is $600, because there's already enough people who won't buy my software because they say "Sorry, but I already have Photoshop."

    You don't need Photoshop, or half the shit people pirate. Pay for and use software you can afford. If people keep pirating Photoshop instead of buying cheaper alternatives, there won't be any more alternatives.

  • by gstovall ( 22014 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @11:40PM (#2750872) Homepage

    I am fully in the open-source camp philosophically, but I keep my family clothed, fed, and housed by developing software for a for-profit telecommunications firm. I make quite a decent living developing proprietary software, and the reason why I get to do it is because, at least for now, we still produce better telecom software than the other guys, whether proprietary or open-source. Will it always be that way? Don't know. I half expect my livelihood as I now know it to be destroyed by open-source, which is why I live and breathe Linux in a Windows/Solaris world. I want to still keep some distance between my children's bellybuttons and backbones if/when the end comes.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @01:14PM (#2752204) Homepage
    Unfortunately (for everyone else) the BSA's numbers aren't that well obtained.

    They estimate (based on the number of computers sold) and the estimated lifespan (5 or so years) the number of working computers.

    Then they add up MS's sales figures plus (BeOS, OS/2, whoever the other "legitimate" players are in their minds) and subtract one from the other.

    That's the number of pirated OSes they think there are.

    Similarly, they take the number of "business" computers and do the same with office suites, then they multiple by the percentage of workers they think need office suites. The difference in these numbers is piracy, again.

    Of course, even if they counted Linux they wouldn't count downloaded copies, just purchases of boxed copies. My old work had 5-10 linux computers and we'd purchased one copy of Redhat + docs/books, the rest of the boxes just got the generic stuff.

    At home I've got a Linux PC (among others) that I installed off of discs I downloaded, that machine shows up in the BSA stats as a pirated copy of Windows.

    Then, to make their stats even worse, they take the number of "pirated copies", multiply by full MSRP and claim it as a LOSS. This assumes that not only is every PC without a "proper" OS running a pirated one, but that the owner would have shelled out for the OS if they had to.

    Win2k and WinXP Pro are fairly popular home OSes, they wouldn't be if people have to pay for them. People would still be using Win98/se and would be happy to stay there for years.

    Now, I'm not saying there's no piracy, but it's nowhere near their numbers from what I've seen. (And as a consultant I've seen many work and home machines from a fairly wide cross-section of society.) Even if their numbers were right, their claiming of loses (when a 12-yo pirates Win2k AdvServ) is ridiculous and should be illegal.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.