Pirating (Useless. Was: [RC5] Win32: feature creep

Joe Zbiciak j-zbiciak1 at ti.com
Tue Nov 25 08:09:42 EST 1997


|      I really wanted yet another piece of 
|      crap software because pirates kept stealing the good software until 
|      the producers starved out of the market.

While I'm not exactly proud to admit it, a great deal of software I
initially had on my PC was either unregistered shareware or just purely
pirated software.  The copies of DOS and "The Human Interface" that was
on the machine were legit, but it pretty much ended there.  I had no
money, nor did my immediate family.  The computer itself (a Tandy
1000--no suffix letters) was loaned to me.  I didn't actually own *it*.

I eventually got ahold of WordPerfect 4.2 (ran off a single 360K
floppy).  I learned it well.  Those skills transitioned easily into
WordPerfect 5.1, which my school had standardized on.  I was prepared
for my coursework and I had useful skills.  I eventually used those
skills as a "hotline technician" at my school helping other people use
WordPerfect and helping to troubleshoot problems with the software.  I
made money (albiet just in the noise margin above minimum wage) from
this knowledge.  I also helped alot of students with their papers and
in the end, we all knew WordPerfect a little better.

I also got ahold of Turbo Pascal 3.  I taught myself Pascal using that
program as well as a book I borrowed from a teacher.  I learned it 
pretty well, and wrote a few programs.  Eventually, I found someone 
who had Turbo Pascal 5.5, and I stepped into the 90's.  I became 
rather proficient and comfortable in Turbo Pascal.  I learned structured
programming well also.

After a little while at that hotline consultant job, I actually had some
spare dough built up.  (Student loans also helped that a little. :-)
Well, I wanted to really do some cool "BGI" (Borland Graphics Interface)
stuff, and TurboVision also looked neat.  I forked out $99 for the 
student edition of Turbo Pascal 7.0.  I also bought Turbo C/C++ 3.0,
because I was familiar and happy with the Borland products.  I probably
never would have "indulged" in these if I had no prior experience with
either.

So, what is the point of this story?  The point is that there's a fuzzy
line as to the true effect of software piracy.  I agree that the current
laws prohibit this practice, and as such I am probably guilty of crimes
and owe fines well beyond my worth.  None of the pirated software is 
even relevant now.

I have skills I would not have developed without this software.  I have
a job which relies heavily on those skills.  I have advanced in social
standing because, as a poor, moneyless high-schooler, I copied some
programs while others "looked the other way."  Under the current law,
this makes me a criminal.  A felon, at that.   Does this make me a lesser
person, an unscrupulous person who wishes to succeed at the expense of 
others?  I really don't think so.  Indeed, as I could, I did purchase
the software I was actually using.

I will say that these two software packages were not the only
"unlicensed" packages that ever graced my machine.  It's all rather
irrelevant now.  (Especially since I run Linux exclusively, except the
Win95 partition I decided not to delete on my new computer, because I
*occasionally* reboot to play (non-pirated!) Descent II.)

I've successfully gotten a position as a (software-oriented) engineer
based my long standing, strong software background, despite the fact
that my initial monetary resources would have strictly disallowed me
that fortune.  Through the occasional pirated software package,
goodwill donation, and a lucky full tuition scholarship, I managed to
get a decent education and a decent job.  I've repaid when I could,
where I could, and not always in $$, but I didn't buy the
shrink-wrapped package at Egghead for $99.95 every time I needed some
software.  I'm sorry.  I'm a mean, nasty, horrible, awful, disguting,
moralless person, at least to some of you here.  Oh well.  Deal with
it.

Really, this is a sad situation, where in order to survive in the 
"information society", we build a class of "know" and "know nots" 
based on who has the ability to purchase/access/license software and
learn it.  Built into this is a distinct "criminal class" who exist
only to transcend the barrier between "know not" and "know."  No one
evaluates the merit of those people based on their contributions to
society as a whole; rather, they're criminals because they broke
the law, plain and simple.

The laws are broken as written.  Information in your computer has an
artificially inflated value.  Eventually, it will become the same as
Television or other broadcast media, where the value comes in
timeliness and convenience, and not from some nebulous intrinsic
"intellectual" value.  (Cable companies would be out of business if all
the "piracy" that people perform with VCRs really mattered.  The same
argument can be applied to software.)

Anyway, this poor, wretched, depraved soul has a few more people to 
step on on his intrepid climb to the top.   [Alert to the sarcasm 
impared:  That was sarcasm.]  Enough blathering for now.

--Joe
-- 
 +------------ Joseph Zbiciak -----------+ 
 |- - - - -  j-zbiciak1 at ti.com  - - - - -|   You have the capacity to 
 | - http://www.primenet.com/~im14u2c/ - |   learn from mistakes.
 |- - - -Texas Instruments, Dallas- - - -|   You will learn alot today.
 +------#include <std_disclaimer.h>------+ 
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