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Who Pays the Price of Pirated Programs

I have to say sorry before all, because most likely you’ll find typos and grammar mistakes in this post. Unfortunately I have yet to receive my new glasses so I’m typing basically blind.

Bad alliteration in the title, it should have been “pirated software“ but it didn’t sound as good.

I was thinking earlier today who is really paying the price of pirated software in the world of today; we all know that the main entity losing from pirated software is, of course, the software’s publisher and developer. And of course most of them, starting from Microsoft, try their best to reverse the game, saying that the cost is mostly on the user itself (remember Windows Genuine Advantage?). I know this is going to be a flamethrower, but I happen to agree with them nowadays.

Let me explain my point: when you use pirate software, you end up not updating the software at all (‘cause you either have no valid serial code, or you have a crack that would go away); and this include security vulnerabilities, that often enough, for Windows at least, lead to virus infecting the system. And of course, the same problem applies, recursively, to antivirus software. And this is without counting the way most of that software is procured (eMule, torrents, and so on… — note that I have ethical uses of torrent sites for which I’d like at least some sites to be kept alive), which is often the main highway for viruses to infect systems.

So there is already an use case for keep legit with all the software; there is one more reason why you, a Linux enthusiast, should also make sure that your friends and family don’t use pirate software: Windows (as well as Linux, but that’s another topic) botnets send spam to you as well!

Okay, so what’s the solution? Microsoft – obviously – wants everybody to spend money on their licenses (and in Italy they cost twice as much; I had to buy a Microsoft Office 2007 Professional license – don’t ask – in Italy it was at €622 plus VAT; from Amazon UK it was €314, with VAT reimbursed; and Office is multi-language enabled, so there is not even the problem of Italian vs. English). I don’t entirely agree with that; I think that those who really need to use proprietary software that costs, should probably be paying for it, this will give them one more reason to want a free alternative. All the rest, should be replaced with Free (or at least free) alternatives.

So for instance, when a friend/customer is using proprietary software, I tend to replace it along these lines: Nero can be replaced with InfraRecorder (I put this first because it’s the least known); Office with the well-known OpenOffice and Photoshop with Gimp (when there are no needs for professional editing at least).

The main issue here is that I find a lot of Free Software enthusiasts who seem to accept, and foster pirate software; sorry I’m not along those lines, at all. And this is because I loathe proprietary software, not because I like it! I just don’t like being taken for an hypocrite.

Comments 6
  1. It’s hard (one might say impossible) to defend piracy of software, but when the situation is as you point out – 622€ for Office – at least I have sympathy for those who need it but can’t pay for it and/or doesn’t know about the alternatives. Also, sometimes it might simply not viable to use OpenOffice – I cannot imagine such a scenario on the top of my head but I’m sure there are some. I guess students often fall into this category.There also are some positives for the companies that comes with piracy – Photoshop is a great tool but it’s even better when you have multiple years of experience using it before even starting to study – for example – digital design since it’s most probably the tool you’ll be using at your future job. The chain is obvious; knowledge -> want -> profit, because companies DO pay for software (most of the time). If we were all tabula rasa’s going into the subject in question, perhaps some of us would prefer one of the alternatives.The same goes for Windows – just look at how many people that associates “a computer” with Windows. For these people, a computer IS Windows. It’s only lately – if even now – that people in general have become aware that computers not necessarily is the same as Windows. When these people buy a new computer – and most people do – they will buy Windows because that’s what they know – DESPITE the fact that they’d save money getting a computer with Linux preinstalled.Never underestimate the power of lock-ins.Note: As I stated, I don’t support nor condone the use of pirated software. I use no pirated software myself, but like (well …) everyone else I have in the past. Just putting it out there.

  2. Thanks for the Infrarecorder link, I’ve been looking for a reliable easy to use DVD burner for winxp.As I do part time repairs on WinXP machines, I am asked a lot for proprietary software (“can you put a copy of photoshop on for me”) etc., I have been building up a library of windows free software equivalents.I think most of the problem is peer pressure to be honest. Most people don’t need Office, don’t need Photoshop, they just want it because it’s want their friends have (often illegally too).Locked down file formats don’t help either, with formats like docx not converting properly into different software (not even office 2003 with microsoft’s official plugin).

  3. Hello,The prices of “home and educational” licences are quite lower than that : In Belgium, we bought Office 2007 for Home and Education at 84 EUR, which includes 3 computer licences.At that price, I think this will also argue against piracy.I use Linux and free software, but sometimes we need some functionnalities that are not yet “freely” available (in my wife’s case : a GOOD spell and grammar checker, not a single dictionnary).

  4. Well, I agree with Jeff — people often pirate software they don’t need, but only think they “need”. And also because stupid stereotypes — I have some people in my workplace, who refuse to even try using Firefox or OO.o, because they’ve read some FUD about them on the Internets (Russian sites mainly).Also, on the other hand, there is responsibility on part of both Free or just free software, as well as the proprietary one. MS’s docx is incompatible with everything imaginable and it’s MS’s fault. But on the other hand — GIMP would be a great alternative for Photoshop, but it’s user interface is utter crap. Same with Scribus as alternative to Adobe InDesign — it’s interface is just totally useless for a daily newspaper, so we’re forced to use InDesign.On the other hand — software companies often act like assholes too. Why wouldn’t Adobe also make Creative Suite for Linux? I’d gladly pay for one (our paper has the original CS licences) just to support the cause.

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