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Computer piracy - news article

What Some Assholes Think of Pirates

FROM: THE BUSINESS COMPUTER Thursday  June 27, 1985

ARE YOU HIDING A  COMPUTER  CROOK?   Kids  14-16  are  the  worst
software pirates. But teachers are right behind 'em. Corporations
are starting policies against piracy.  Can computer users  really
afford the price of "cheap software?"

============================================================   By
Franklynn         Peterson         &         Judi        K-Turkel
============================================================  VOL
3 #146 ==========
     We turned down a consultancy and a speaking  engagement  be-
cause  we won't work with computer crooks. We hope you avoid them
also. It isn't easy. They're all over, maybe even in  your  kids'
     First we agreed to consult for an Iowa fundraiser whose typ-
ists across the U.S. use different word processing programs. When
the first typist called with a question about  WordStar,  we  re-
ferred her to Chapter 14 of her manual.
     "I don't have Chapter 14," she  said.  "We  only  copied  10
chapters." We asked if she'd copied the program too. "Sure."
     We called the fundraiser, explained  that  copying  a  copy-
righted  program  is stealing, and when she decided against doing
anything, we resigned the account.
     Just a few days later, a teacher's group asked  us  to  talk
for our usual fee on a pet topic: whether computers are needed in
classrooms. When they said, "We also want you  to  cover  how  to
copy  programs for other classes and to send home with students,"
we told them no thanks.
     Acquaintances ask how come -- since we're so pro-consumer --
we  don't  support  illicit  copying  as  a way of "getting cheap
software" when some program costs seem way out of line. But  it's
not  cheap.  In  fact it's so expensive, computer consumers can't
afford it! We've watched companies that make  some  of  the  very
best  programs go bankrupt because folks who loved these programs
were copying instead of buying.
     The irony is, it's not the sellers of $500 and $900 programs
who are falling belly up. It's the people who price their gems at
$45, $75 and $150.
     Some software makers fight back by building in copy  protec-
tion devices. These keep most people from making copies (although
every software author knows 264 hackers who are racing to  defeat
every  protection  scheme).  But it means we're stuck buying pro-
grams that can't make backup copies to  put  away  for  when  the
Great  Computer  Gremlin spills evil spirits on the original. One
annoying protection device keeps the program from  running  on  a
hard disk computer unless the original program you bought remains
in the floppy disk slot.
     Other software firms take a different  approach.  One  major
educational  software maker told us in confidence that he follows
a common pricing practice. If a new game or  educational  program
should  cost  $19.95 retail, he's going to charge $29.95 to cover
his losses to illicit copycats. That's  a  50  percent  surcharge
(ITAL) you're (ITALS END) paying for the other guy's piracy.
     The same exec confirmed that schools  are  among  the  worst
computer  crooks. How ironic, that schools shell out thousands of
dollars to buy computers -- which can't  do  a  thing  without  a
steady  diet  of good programs.  And then they cheat the creative
authors whose copyrighted intellectual property  makes  the  dumb
machines  work.  It's such a problem, another company's exec told
us of vetoing his marketing department's plan to sell  their  su-
perb computer education program to the schools.
     Some corporations used to routinely let employees make ille-
gal  copies  of programs. But they're beginning to recognize that
it's bad policy. If you encourage -- or even permit --  a  worker
to  steal  somebody  else's  property, you're tacitly saying that
stealing from you is okay too.
     For some  companies,  it's  caused  more  than  just  second
thoughts.  A few have been hauled into court and embarrassed per-
sonally and financially by expensive, well-publicized law  suits.
Among  the most public pirate-chasers is Lotus Development, which
hasn't lost a suit against companies caught making copies of  its
popular 1-2-3 program.
     Ken Wasch, Executive Director  of  the  Software  Publishers
Assn. (SPA), told us that it and its members act against not just
companies, but individuals. "The worst offenders seem to be 14 to
16  year  olds,"  Wasch  said.  "We  call  on  their  parents and
schools." In many states, if a teen is caught, parents  must  pay
the damages.
     In pursuing youngsters, the SPA generally avoids  publicity.
But  the culprits' names can end up in data bases of criminals at
telephone, credit card, and computer software companies. "We swap
information,"  Wasch  says,  "because  we've  found that software
thieves are often credit card and telephone company defrauders."
     If you're thinking about copying a good program bought by  a
friend,  we  hope  you'll  rethink the idea, keeping in mind what
you'll               really               be               doing.
     (1)  You'll  be  keeping  the   cost   of   programs   high.
     (2) You'll  be  keeping  good  programs  copy-protected  and
unweildy                          to                         use.
     (3) You'll be  keeping  company  with  thieves  and  may  be
prosecuted              like              a             criminal.
     (4) Most important, you'll be cheating out of  his  rightful
royalty  income  the  author  of  that  program you like so much.

Provided By Elric of Imrryr & Lunatic Labs.


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