Redefining Software Piracy:

Is piracy bad? Is it good? Before going into that I think we must first redefine piracy and its scope. I was reading an article in Digit (April 2006 – Pg. 126) titled “Is Piracy Good?”. A great article and I think everyone should grab a copy of Digit and go through it.

The point it came out with is quite interesting and I believe a lot of us, with some brains and knowledge, will accept. In a nutshell it said that the software farms themselves promote piracy by not trying to make an un-crackable version of the software. If you are a cracker yourself and laughing at the word “un-crackable” then I think I must quote a portion from the article where a friend of the writer asks this question.

“ They haven’t because they just don’t want to! Do you seriously believe that they couldn’t, at the least, make it a lot harder to crack software? I mean, how come a crack or patch is available in a week from when the software is released? There has to be more than just a simple “they cannot” answer to this.”

Good question. And though it is hard to prove the point it is that much easy to show logically that the software farms need piracy. Normal day-to-day soft wares are designed to be user friendly. Microsoft Word, say for example, needs no experience. If an office suddenly decides that from the coming Monday there wont be any typewrites and everyone will be using Microsoft Word, will there be a big problem? No. An extra hour of Saturday and even the dumbest will start using it. Yes – the more advanced features might take some time, but they will be in working state from the very first hour!

Switch on to some more complex software. Macromedia DreamWeaver, Flash, Director, 3D Studio Max, Combustion, Microsoft Visual Studio. You need genuine knowledge to work with them. Farms working with these soft wares need people who can use them, can literally play with them. And do you think any of these farms will appreciate the idea of training their stuffs for a year or so? Think of a situation where a farm hire people, trains them for a year providing them the machines with the required soft wares and then asks them to work. Absurd.

How can someone earn the software skill required from him? Anyone will agree that practicing at the institutes alone are not enough. Think of a situation where, someone, who wants to be a web developer, buying Visual Studio.Net or Macromedia DreamWeaver, Fireworks, Flash; who wants to be a part of the growing animation industry buying 3D Studio Max, Maya! Then there are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After FX, Macromedia Director … If anyone tries to buy these soft wares for practicing at home nine out of ten parents will ask them to select a different career path. The remaining one will kick him out of the house.

Yes – there are trials and student versions available. But managing these soft wares within 30 days available for trial are really nothing. And the student versions may be cheaper than the original, but definitely not cheap. And even after you manage the skills as a student and get a job, you will still need them at home to practice and keep in touch. The company definitely wont pay for your home version – then who will?

Considering all these points if a software is un-crackable, the companies will have a hard time finding people to operate them. Naturally they will look for an alternative which is crackable or a free one. And this un-crackable software will become obsolete. Software can never be a success alone. It is the number of users dedicated to it, which makes it a favorite among the companies. So the companies release crackable software to popularize it among the users, to create a dedicated fan following and the farms using it pay for the software and help the vendors earn their money.

Games, Music or Film piracy is a different thing altogether and one must not merge software piracy with them. While the former is responsible for the loss of the games, music or film industry – software piracy definitely helps software vendors. So let’s come back to the question with which I started. Is piracy bad? Is it good? No. Software piracy isn’t bad. It isn’t good either. It is plain and simple STRATEGIC.


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