Software Piracy

Read an article this morning about “the high cost of piracy.” Supposedly, countries in Western Europe could create a million jobs and boost the value of their technology sectors by £250 billion if they cut piracy rates by ten points by 2006, claims a study.

There is another side to this, however. Where are the new generation of artists, web designers, etc., going to come from if the majority of them do not have access to professional-level software? I would still be an import buyer of musical instruments and recording equipment, most probably. Although I have subsequently bought my own versions of much of the software I use, I would never have been able to afford Photoshop, for instance, in the beginning. DarkAngel and SpiralDance would never have been born, and I would never have become a digital artist without exposure to, and use of, a warez copy of Photoshop.

The BSA (Business Software Alliance) estimates that almost 40% of all software being used around the world is pirated. Well, yes, I believe that companies have the right to profit from the results of their labour. I think that they have the right to go after commercial enterprises that use unlicensed software. But give a little back, as well, to the users who make your software packages popular and profitable: why not offer very low-cost versions for non-commercial use? Yes, educational pricing exists…but not all young artists are students. I was neither young, nor a student – but I would still have merited free or low-cost software during my learning period.

Don’t join the RIAA-type Nazi witch hunt. Give a little back…support the future stars now, while they can really use it.

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