Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is such a thing as ‘illegal’ software, as ‘they’ would have you believe (though even that is moot – actual successful prosecutions have been few and far between, for one thing. But let’s leave that to one side for the time being).
Reasons to buy legal software (and to not use illegal software):
- Fully featured, relatively bug-free, available
- Free, downloadable patches to correct the very few bugs and security vulnerabilities that do occur once in a blue moon
- Free or low-cost upgrades
- Peer pressure from other professionals who have invested money in legal software and think that means everyone should
- Not to have to fib to clients asking whether your software was legal (does this ever actually happen?) or to have to perjure yourself signing a contract clause declaring that you use only legal software
- Those nice young people at tech support are a pleasure to deal with, available 24/7, and will come round to your house and massage your temples when you have a headache
- You think Adobe (or whichever corporate giant) does a great job and deserves a return on its investment
- You can save money by pretending to be a student / teacher, even more by buying a second-hand ‘education’ version. You think there is nothing iffy about this, everyone does it
- You have a vague idea Big Brother could find out if you use illegal things
- Cracked software breaks, only occasionally but always at the worst time
- p2p and other means of acquiring illegal software can leave you open to malware
- You think stealing is stealing (i.e., you don’t distinguish between illegal and immoral)
Reasons to use illegal software (and not buy legal software):
- Cheap or free
- To keep your hand in at p2p, setting up proxies, cracking and other fun things
- This is the real world. Even the most intellectual-property-rights-sensitive professionals ‘borrow’ and ‘lend’ each other things like fonts, and without paying more than lipservice to any “I’ll delete it from my machine for as long as you’re using it on yours” nonsense
- Once they have purchased (a) software licence(s), most small businesses and even public institutions like ministeries that you know wouldn’t think twice about installing further, licence-less copies of that software. And your duty to your family or bank manager is to compete as well as you can with aforesaid small businesses
- Not to have to deal with tech support slimeballs
- Software giants want to reduce people to helpless droids incapable of using alternatives (hence the ‘education’ versions), and are, in fact, hellbent on galactic domination
- Legal software isn’t really worth all that money, it’s just dressed up to justify the abusive prices
- You aren’t scared of Big Brother
- ‘Stealing’ means ‘taking away.’ You can’t take something away and leave it in the same place for others to use. Ergo…
- Oh come on, what’s the difference between pretending to be someone you aren’t (such as a student) and straightforward piracy?
- Public libraries never used to pay royalties when you were a lad and that was not just OK, it was a good thing. Just because they changed their minds doesn’t mean you have to. In fact, the whole copyright industry / sector and its pressure groups and lobbies get right up your nose
- Oh, all right, perhaps it’s naughty of you, but the truth is you don’t really give a damn
I made the idle comment to a friend that November 23rd was National Freelancers Day in the UK. After a couple of minutes of him rolling his eyes and twitching his mouth as he tried to get his head around the concept, he said, “They’ll all get the day off, then, I suppose?”
In fact, I don’t think a National Freelancers Day is an entirely ridiculous idea. Not that I think freelancers deserve any more tribute than factory workers or post-office clerks, but because freelancing nowadays is much more important in terms of the economy as a whole than it used to be (or at least it seems that way to me, I don’t have statistics to back me up). And if I am right, I think it reasonable that, on the one hand, people should be made aware of this sociological shift, and on the other, that freelancers should be given institutional and government support.
I do think ‘Freelancers Day’ should have been written with an apostrophe at the end of the first word, though. It should be placed after the ‘s, there being no ambiguity as in Mother’s/Mothers’ Day (is it a homage to your mother in particular, or mothers as a whole?). So I find it a little ironic that the authorities in question did not employ a competent freelance copywriter to name the day.
This video is unclassified because I have no reason at all for posting it, except – why not? Found on Futility Closet, the site of my semi-namesake, Greg Ross. A once-cuddly lion cub had outgrown his bourgeois pet status and been released into the semi-wilderness of a wildlife reserve to save his owners the trouble and expense of looking after him when he had grown, and they went to look for him a year later. This is what happened when they found each other.
Under the same headline as the above, myth-busting science journalist Ben Goldacre debunks the imaginary figures the industry pulls out of its hat to support its hysterical “jail file sharers” yapping. His conclusion is particularly in tune with my own feelings on the matter, though I would extend it to the entire lying-scumbag copyright sector: “as far as I’m concerned, everything from this industry is false, until proven otherwise.”
While I’m on my anti-Big-Industry high horse, a word of support for Pablo Soto. Pablo and his company MP2P Technologies are being sued by Warner Music, Universal Music, Emi, Sony and the Spanish record industry association PROMUSICAE, which seek the ridiculous sum of 13 million euros for competencia desleal, unfair competition. Pablo’s offences are a) to champion the P2P cause and b) to develop software which allows file sharing. The case is currently being heard by a court in Madrid and is expected to last no more than a day or two more, though it will be months before a verdict is made public and whoever loses will probably appeal, in any case.
It’s an important case for lots of reasons. All efforts by the copyright industries to prosecute copyright offenders in Spain have failed, because the law as it stands says that two premises need to be fulfilled – that there has been unauthorized “communication” of copyright-protected works and that it was motivated by a desire to profit. The single exception is the webmaster of a site in La Rioja called InfoPSP, AdriÃ¡n GÃ³mez Llorente, condemned in April, 1992. The word is that this sentence was the result of an agreement whereby he accepted a few months of prison and a fine of â‚¬4,900 and the prosecution promised to refrain from bringing a civil suit against him. In other words, blackmail.
The evident injustice and the lightness of the compensation awarded combined with the fact that in Spain, with very few exceptions, sentences of less than 3 years never entail the offender actually being sent to gaol, made it a hollow victory for the copyright sector. So the case against Pablo Soto represents a change of strategy by the copyright industries, beginning with a civil suit rather than a prosecution. Hence, we imagine, the absurdity of the numbers being thrown around.
I wish Pablo all the best and hope the consequences for him of this legal action are minimum or even positive (and if the sector were left with egg on its face again, that too would please me, I don’t mind confessing). Unfortunately, I am pessimistic. I feel that if PROMUSICAE’s legal thugs lose again, they will simply use it as an argument to put pressure on Spanish parliament to change the legislation, as the US copyright sector is lobbying. The clout of this sector is immense, which is why I have been blogging about it for the last couple of days, and I am afraid right-thinking governments like those of Spain or Canada will not have the long-term resistance to withstand it.