Why Piracy Hurts Open Source

This article by John Knight first appeared in TUX Magazine Issue 4.

We all know someone who has stolen software. Ok, I guess we like to say "borrowed a copy" or "are using a copy that belongs to a friend". We commonly hear this justified by saying "Bill Gates has plenty of money" or "I don't really like the software anyway".

All that is one side of the piracy issue. In the attached article, John looks at this from a different direction. He shows you why software piracy hurts Open Source software--the free stuff you are using. He expresses his opinion. What do you think?

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fyl - Wed, 2007-01-17 07:47.
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Using open source without donating

In my opinion is using open source software just for free without a donation also a kind of piracy. Normally an open source developers spend a lot of time by developing and it is more then fair if you donate money for helpfull open source software. That could be some dollars, but it will help and it is also acknowledgment.

Thorsten (not verified) - M - , 2007-02-19 15:56.

A lot has to do with being

A lot has to do with being used to certain software and not knowing there are alternatives.
Recently I installed Windows XP for my other and law and added other software. I have been searching for different kinds of software (freeware and open source) for a long time
so I know where to get good alternatives for MS Office, etc.
I installed software like OpenOffice.org, Firefox, all at no additional cost. She only had to pay for Windows XP

If I hadn't installed everything for her she would not have found it all by herself. Most of my friends use pirated software. I don't I prefer the opensource and freeware alternatives so I agree: let's all stop using pirated software and point others to the alternatives! They are there.

The Cat (not verified) - Sat, 2007-02-17 09:50.

Why

Because if we had no chance to get piracy software and we like to do things like edit image create webpage etc we will have only 3 options:

First go and work hard and save hard to buy the software that we need
Second find an open source software to do the job
Third find free closed source software.

If the piracy was not possible more people will use open source software what happen when there is more demand more people will write and adjust improve software, there will be more books written about using them. In short there will be more quality added to the open source software. What will this do to closed source software well if demand rises on the open source section then the other goes flat. So closed software companies will need to make quality products of cheaper prices in order to sell their products.

But I think In a way they (close source companies) almost look like they support piracy. It is all about products being easily available let the people use it get used to and if they do business well they will need to pay for it.

Anyway that is just my 5 cents

Cheers,

Zoran (not verified) - Sat, 2007-01-20 21:40.

Piracy

I have used illegal copies of programs long enough to decide whether it is something I wish to own, then I paid for it or dumped it. It was a matter of enlightened self-interest. On a related matter, one of the reasons I was happy to switch to Open Source was that increasingly copy protection has become so annoying that it makes using MS and Adobe software a pain. Until recently, I was a long-time Apple user (ever since the 2E and the Lisa) and I received a notice that an upgrade to PhotoShop was available. I downloaded it and went through the lengthy installation. When I tried to open it, it asked for my ID no., which I entered. It didn't recognize it. I called Adobe support and after waiting 20 minutes, was questioned at length about who, where, and what I was calling about--was connected to another rep who repeated the same quiz. Then, wait for it, she told me that she would have to connect me to yet another rep, who would charge me $39 to listen to my problem. Am I at all concerned about their future? You guess.

cephalis (not verified) - Wed, 2007-01-17 20:32.

Some good points mister Knight

Some good points mister Knight! I was actually surprised by the Photoshop example. I can easyly understan if some promesing young wannabe graphics designers gets the pirated version of photoshop but that people how have the money to actually buy the product (and the need for it) do that too was something totally new to me. Then again maybe it's just your friends... :D considering your age (by the way I'm 20 too.. for two more months) you and your friends might still be studying (like me) and perhaps your financial situation isn't that great (like me).

Microsoft Office in the other hand is harly better than OpenOffice.org. I think everybody would use OpenOffice.org if they just knew about it. The major problem for OpenOffice.org is that people buy their computers with preinstalled Word or Office and have no need for OpenOffice.org. All it needs is some publicity and more computers without preloaded MS software in them.

What about Windows and Linux? Why would you bother to learn to use linux when windows is free too. A regular windows user couldn't care any less about the stability, safety, options and all that linux can offer. What they wan't is extrem simplicity and easyness. They don't want to learn to do anything they don't need to. If windows, virusprotection, spywareprotection, firewallprotection are all free and work like a charm (meaning all you need to do is just: click, click :), then tere's no need to do so.

And one more point... this all aplies to free open source and not all open source is free.

Me (not verified) - Wed, 2007-01-17 15:42.

Why thank you, thank

Why thank you, thank you.

You raised a good point that I should have picked up on at the end there, "And one more point... this all applies to free open source and not all open source is free.". Too often we get used to the idea of our OSS software being free-as-in-beer, and I am particularly guilty of that! ;) Personally I find Office quite annoying in comparison to OOo, and find that most people I know who try OOo don't really want to switch back to Office.

In relation to the OS... well, that is rather a long bow to draw, and ultimately I didn't want to include it as the number of angry letters would've been larger! However, it was something I was hinting at, and would prefer the reader to come up with the point in their own minds without my prodding. OSes are a far more complex issue, and ultimately singular applications are much easier to draw comparison from because they don't have so many elements and variables working against them as an OS argument will.

Thanks for reading, and I'm glad to see such debate.
John

John Knight (not verified) - Thu, 2007-01-18 21:14.

While I do agree with a lot

While I do agree with a lot of the sentiment in the article I also have opposite views. I am personally sick to death of buying software (for the Windows platform) that is either incompatible with other software already installed (I've received comments such as "switch your firewall off then") or simply crashes too often for productive use. If this did not happen then I would not personally use any pirated software - including operating systems. But while this sort of thing does continue then keep that pirated stuff coming I say because the software companies do not deserve to earn a living for selling shoddy goods.

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2007-02-07 05:50.

"While I do agree with a lot"

That is the second most over-worked excuse for stealing.

An - ymous (not verified) - Wed, 2007-02-14 12:23.