It started as an accident. My friend Laura asked me which Document software I used on a Palm, since I work on a Windows box and play on Macs at home. I told her, and she downloaded the trial stuff to test. She liked it, and was using it to the max for 30 days. Then the trial ran out and she couldn’t get her docs off it! After a couple frantic emails, I sent her my license code to get her files off. She thanked me by sending me a copy of a game I was interested in.
About a month later, I bumped up to OS X and get my hands on free copies of some pretty decent software that I knew Laura used, so I sent her the old versions. Then another month passes, and she moves to OS X. So I sent her copies of the new stuff.
It’s been six months. We’ve been swapping software left and right. Got something neat? Here, I have the license code to it! Have at! Why thank you, here, try out this happy toy!
On top of that, we share freeware tips. Not like that’s illegal. But still. Laura and I break the law togeather.
A friend of Ipstenit sent her a CD filled with MP3s and Music Videos. I liked some of them, and ripped a copy of the CD for my iPod.
My Gamesmaster had a copy of the Lord of the Rings CD, of which I also popped a copy.
My cousin is thinking of sending me a copy of The Prisoner’s CD.
An online friend sent me a glorious MP3 of a Hanukah medly orchestration. Very John Phillips Sousa.
I share MP3s. I’ve used Napster on a 28.8 dialup modem.
I break the law.
I crack DVDs, compress the show, pull out soundtracks, and make them into smaller MP4s so I can put them on a CD and send them to friends.
My DVD players are hacked to be region free and I watch DVDs from all over the world.
I break the law.
This isn’t an excuse to brag. This is an overdue entry in my Blog, but it’s not just a rant. It’s the background information that forms the question ‘Should doing what I’ve described above be illegal?’
Well, what crimes am I committing? A lot. That’s the wrong way to go into this debate, I think. Lets look at it sideways. The imaginary company BWS Software makes great software for Macintosh. They make a program called Texist, which is a text editing program. Last year, they made Texist a better HTML editor and it suddenly flew off the shelves. Hundreds of downloads a day, and hundreds of orders a day. The little company only had a hand full of staffers, and found themselves scrambling to catch up.
Joey Doe in New Hampshire and his High School class use Texist in their computer classes. At home, Joey has a Mac and decides to make a copy of Texist on the school CD burner. He brings the CD home and installs it on his Mac as well as sending a copy to his sister in college.
Suddenly, BWS is out the $30 they would have gotten from Joey AND the $30 from his sister. That’s only $60, sure, but multiply the $30 by every like minded ‘free’ individual, and BWS is out thousands of dollars a year. And for every dollar stolen, some staffer doesn’t get a promotion or a raise. Stealing software is a theft, and it hurts companys.
But then again, Joey didn’t have $30, and even if he did, the odds are he’d have spent it hanging out with his friends instead. So it’s not money BWS should have had, but money they might possibly have had.
With the music industry it’s worse, since the artists only see a percentage of the money earned by the CDs, and a small percentage at that. DVDs, ditto.
What’s the fix? Well first, they’ll never be able to make an unhackable CD/DVD. There are more people out there who can hack than people who write encoding software. The numbers are against the ‘Man’ and he’ll loose, as he has been. This holds true for all software. As long as the data can be read by any computer, it’ll be cracked and shared. End of story. Software ‘locks’ are not the way to go.
Well, why do people do it? What makes us share software? The cost. Microsoft Office costs over $200, for an upgrade. OS X 10.2 is almost the same. And every time your OS is upgraded you shell out around $1000 for the new software. CDs are $15 each, and yet it only costs cents to make them! We’re not all rich people, and yet the basic software we should be using for work or home costs an arm and a leg.
My solution is to lower prices across the board. Most companies can afford to half their prices and still make a profit (Adobe, Microsoft, I’m looking at you). And those that can’t (BBedit, Transmit, etc) should say something about how they’re small, they’re poor, but if you buy software, then you’ll help them lower costs in the long run. Shareware? Keep as is. I like the idea of shareware. But just so you know, a 30 day trial is not shareware, it’s a demo.
Not a magic fix, and not really an in depth look at the problem, I know. I’ll try for better.
Oh and to tangent? I’ve been watching Goldfinger, uncut, on TNN and loving it. EXCEPT that I have now heard FIFTEEN clorox commericals in the last half hour. Every commercial break, you air at LEAST five of them in a row, back to back. They all start with tyhe same stupid song, and it’s really annoying. Once every break I could understand, but five? This is obscene and it’s enough to make me change the channel JUST to not have to hear it. I like the new TNN. I watch CSI on Mondays, I like catching old Star Trek: The Next Generation shows. But this? This is insanity.