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Programming IT Technology

Do You Pay for Your Shareware? 898

geddes writes: "Ambrosia Software, an independent Macintosh shareware developer, has just published an article about the effect Piracy has on thier small business. They recently implemented a new serial number scheme where the software connected to thier server to verify reigistration, and found that in two days, of the 197 of the users trying to verify thier codes, 107 were using pirated ones. Crime always hurts the little guy more."
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Do You Pay for Your Shareware?

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  • by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @09:55AM (#2941525) Journal
    this will make microsoft's point of product activation stronger. I fear that for most commercial and semi commercial packages, PA is inevitable. Mark my words : in the near future a service like PayPal will distribute source code to handle PA with their servers...

    It sucks, but it is inevitable. I have written 2 small shareware packages, and sold exactly 6 copies at 10$. Today I still receive help requests from users on a weekly basis... Definitely more that 6 users out there !
  • hmm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by heideggier ( 548677 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @09:57AM (#2941528)
    I think that the mistake that these guys are making, and they will find it out pretty soon, is that the people who pirate their software will not use their software if they where forced to pay for it, The reality is that people who pirate their software are an assent in mindshare.

    The people are appling the same logic the gambler uses when he curses himself for not betting $100 instend of $10 think that he has just lost $90.

    All that is going to happen is that their punters are going to go somewhere else.

    Btw someone will crack this is ten seconds anyway.

    • Re:hmm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by west ( 39918 )
      I think that the mistake that these guys are making, and they will find it out pretty soon, is that the people who pirate their software will not use their software if they where forced to pay for it, The reality is that people who pirate their software are an assent in mindshare.

      This may be true for expensive products where the home user is not the market. However, it is absolutely not true for inexpensive products where the pirate *is* the target market. Based on experience with my company's product (software for students), I'd estimate that probably 25% of the people trying to reactivate pirated software would register if the screen came up indicating that
      1. it's pirated,
      2. you're obviously think it's worth using,
      3. you're putting the author's newborn out on the street :-).

      At that point, many (even including students!) will fork out $25 so that they don't have to feel like complete weasels...

      (Caveat: Our experience is with students phoning for technical support on the pirated software...)

      Also, with Ambrosia, they're already providing part of the game free, so they're gaining little extra mindshare with people pirating the whole thing.
    • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:19AM (#2941768) Homepage Journal
      The reality is that people who pirate their software are an assent in mindshare.

      He understood that, but is now trying to use that mindshare to make his company something an MBA would recognize. The goal is money. As he put it:

      And as things go, this was all fine and good -- except that eventually Andrew graduated and everyone else got sick of pizza and beer. Ambrosia grew from an interesting sideline into a full time place of employment. The company became an entity with its own purpose, its own office space, and its own gravitational pull. It also had an insatiable appetite for cash, because as any MBA will tell you, the lifeblood of business is green.

      They have made many obvious errors that you don't need an MBA to figure out. Their first error is to ignore their competition. The second is that they have provided an incentive for honest people to cheat.

      These folks are going to have competition, large and small forever. I can walk into WalMart and buy any of ID software's fine games for $15, ten bucks cheaper than Ambrosia. Yep, then bucks makes a difference to pizza and beer budgets. It's funny how ID software has not made their games as bothersome as this, if you dissregard the backdoors that most pizza and beer dudes don't know about. Now that Mac is on a kind of BSD, this dude's competition problem is about to get worse. There will always be someone willing to make pizza and beer money, or even just friends, giving their software away.

      The second huge mistake he's made is to inconvienence his honest clients. If his registration process was really easier than obtaining crack codes, honest people would not obtain crack codes. It's a really bad idea to give honest people that kind of incentive. It breeds the worst of ill will and makes them a friend of the cracker, who has now done them the favor of giving them back software they paid for and owned. That user might even go to that cracker later and give him $15 to obtain a cracked no registration version of your next game, no charge for his silent backdoors.

      This is clearly undesirable and one of the reasons software should not have owners. What you end up with is a world littered with stolen, unmodifiable, backdoored computers. It's a place that ultimatly defeats itself but allows much other mischief at the same time. All those backdoors and cracks will be used for DoS attacks, setting up ftp servers that flood the world with more comercial crap, spam mail launces and what have you. The inconvienience of software registrations of this kind may be the only way his company can make as much money as he wants but look at the world it creates. ID Software has been moving in the right direction, and he might want to use them as a model again, before his mindsare dissapears.

      • by fprefect ( 14608 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:14PM (#2942233)
        I can walk into WalMart and buy any of ID software's fine games for $15, ten bucks cheaper than Ambrosia. Yep, then bucks makes a difference to pizza and beer budgets. It's funny how ID software has not made their games as bothersome as this.

        Well, let's be honest. Most ID games did not start out in the bargain bin, and the games you find there are 2 years (and 2 generations) old. Our latest game [] is just $20. If you can't afford that much for a new game and at least a week's entertainment, then you should just play checkers with your cat. =)

        The second huge mistake he's made is to inconvienence his honest clients. If his registration process was really easier than obtaining crack codes, honest people would not obtain crack codes.

        Well, the registration process has 2 limitations that surfing the net for a license code doesn't: you have to wait for us to process your order (normally 1 business day), and you have to actually pay for the software. It's not shrinkwrap software, so you can't buy it at the store, but Snapz is fully functional for 15 days (and watermarks images after that) -- you get a fair chance to use it and see if it meets your needs.

        We've considered automating the registration process further, but you'd be surprised by the number of registrations need to be massaged when they come in... incorrect email addresses or comments like "I may have registered this already, can you tell if I did so my card isn't charged?" For now, a human is still necessary to proof the information.

        I applaud anyone who can afford to write free software, but I still need a day job to feed my family.

        Matt Slot / Bitwise Operator / Ambrosia Software, Inc.

      • It's interesting that you mention that people are willing to pay for software if it's easier to pay than to get the crack codes.

        There has only been one occasion when I have searched for a crack code, and that was when the software I had (music CD playing software) was exactly what I wanted, without all the bells and whistles you typically see. I tried to register the software, but the company had been absorbed into a bell'n'whistles music CD software producing company that gave their software away as freeware. As a result I couldn't pay for the simple software that I wanted, so I eventually gave up and got a crack code.

        I try and pay for any shareware I use on a frequent basis if I think it is fairly priced, and it's simple enough to pay. If not, then I either delete it, or just stop using it. The one exception at the moment is WinZip - and I'll pay for that soon, it just seems to be that I never remember to register it when I have my credit card to hand...doh.

        -- Pete.

  • by andres32a ( 448314 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @09:57AM (#2941530) Homepage
    Software, unlike hardware is not prone to wear and tear. Moreover, it doesn't cost as much to produce an additional unit of software, as say to build another engine.

    Sure, software companies would argue that they spend a lot on R&D, and that they have the right to profit as much as they can from what they have made. But there is such a thing as making something for a buck and selling it for 10, and every reasonable moral person knows that something is wrong with this axiom.

    Furthermore, one of the reasons why software isn't held in as much material regard as hardware is simply because that it is fundamentally intangible. In a sense, the human psyche therefore construes that it has little material value. Common folks in general don't really know the processes that occur within a program and it would be too cumbersome to educate them.

    Though this is not an excuse to buy pirated software, it is clear that people are simply not ready to pay so much money for something that they simply can't physically hold on to as much or something that simply offers them marginal benefits, how much of MS Office does a typical user use anyway?

    The balance still has to be struck somewhere, but with the fact that there are so many who are growing disproportionately richer selling software, and with most consumers only receiving marginal benefits from their applications, we begin to realize that there is something definitely wrong with this equation.

    There are of course exceptions to every rule.
    • "But there is such a thing as making something for a buck and selling it for 10, and every reasonable moral person knows that something is wrong with this axiom."

      Its called the profit motive - its related to something called capitalism - you may have heard of it. Theft is theft - justifying it by saying that companies charge too much is attempting to skirt the issue.
      • I don't think it was an attempt to justify theft as much as it was trying to make a point in order to fix the problem. This is going to continue for as long as you have the disproportionate profit and the inadequate security. If they fix one or the other (and there are no viable competitors) the theft should end.
      • Its called the profit motive - its related to something called capitalism - you may have heard of it.

        Companies can make profits without making excessive profits, however. Many industries are regulated to prevent the latter. There is no divine right to ripping off the consumer.
      • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:05PM (#2941927)
        It also shows a profound ignorance about the manufacturing cost of tangiable goods, and the mark-ups that are necessary along the supply chain to make selling something economically viable.

        The value of something is the value it provides to you. If you use MS Office once every two years to update your resume, then it has next to no value for you because you could always do it at work or the library instead. If you use Office everyday then it has VERY high value to you.

        A $20 piece of shareware is certainly worth $20 if the only thing stpping you from paying the $20 is the fact that you can instead choose to continue using it without paying. The shareware model assumed that people were much more honest and fair then they are - the attitudes on slashdot are presumably somewhat typical - people not only usualy steal "bits" if they can, but feel justified in doing so! :-( The only solution to this from the manufacturers point of view is to stop using these naieve types of sales methods.
      • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:07PM (#2942701) Homepage
        There are cases in which the profit motive creates clearly immoral behaviour. (This is not one of them.)

        Assume you have a good that costs $1 to produce. Assume that there are 100 people who would purchase this good. 50 of them can afford and would pay $50 for it, the other fifty cannot afford $50 but can afford $2.

        Even though you would make a profit of $100 by pricing it at $2, you make a profit of $2450 by pricing it at $50, even though you reducing the size of your customer base by half.

        Now, let us assume that the good you are producing is, for example, a vaccine for a fatal disease.

    • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:06AM (#2941551) Homepage
      "But there is such a thing as making something for a buck and selling it for 10, and every reasonable moral person knows that something is wrong with this axiom."

      No, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making something for $1 and then selling it for $10... if people are willing to pay $10 for it. I also have nothing against making something for $1 and selling it for $10,000. Mainly because, you don't have to buy it. If you don't think the product in question is worth $10, then don't pay for it... but don't bemoan the fact that someone else is trying to make a living.

      If their product is worth 10 dollars, than people with pay 10 dollars for it, regardless of how much it cost to produce. Cost of production is irrelevant, all that matters, in terms of pricing, is how much it's worth to consumers.

      • by Kraft ( 253059 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:36AM (#2941827) Homepage
        If their product is worth 10 dollars, than people will pay 10 dollars for it

        Just a detail, but I think you got it back to front. Its more like:

        If people will pay 10 dollars it, it's worth 10 dollars
    • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars.Traeger@goog l e m a> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:08AM (#2941554) Journal
      IOW you want the software, but you don't want to pay for it. Why don't you just use free software? Oh, what you want isn't available free? Tough luck. Instead of pirating (rather cheap) shareware, why don't you just program it yourself - and give it away for free? Is it because you can't program or because your time has some value to you?
    • by spongebob ( 227503 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:11AM (#2941565)
      I don't think I can agree with your opinion of people not having the right to profit. Everyone has access to most of the same building blocks to write programs that fit their level of productivity. The problem is that they don't have the first clue where to go. Hence we have a basic law of economics called supply and demand.

      I don't begrudge the mechanic who buys a part for $20 and charges me $100 plus the $15/hr to put it in. I either don't have the knowledge or don't want to do it, so I pay for the process to be done for me.

      What you are confusing the issue with here is the anominity that the internet provides people for now. People are willing to steal software because nobody is being punished for the fact. Once things get a little more high profile in the college raids and such, people will become less likely to take what's not thiers. At minimum they will contemplate it before they take it.

      As for your equation with disproportionate distribution of profit over benefit of products, I would have to say that this is ludicrous. How many non-geek people do you know that are power users of any software. The bottom line on this is that the majority of the people using computers don't have the first clue about what they want to do. They have heard there is free porn and games online so they jump in that direction. They don't really expect much out of the programs that they use and those programs really do alot more than most people ever need. Your comment is basicly unfounded.
    • Software however is prone to the OS which it runs on. Upgrades can cause all sorts of problems to a program, and cuase quite a bit of expense to the developer.

      By your logic here, if software costs anything, it should not be above a dollar. To take to funny logic futher, to an extream if you will, then medical care shouldn't cost more than a buck either, or auto insurance, or homes, books, or all the food that I could eat. People shouldn't be allowed to profit from their abilities or specialized skills.
      Accually books are a good example to use. A good book takes just as long to write as a good program. It too has a high RD value so to speak of. The first copy of that book to be published costs a lot of money. After that, each copy is dirt cheap.
      Guess what? You still have to pay the publisher, the press people, shippers, paper suppliers, truck repair people, gas, electric bills, press repair people, insurance, etc, etc, etc, from the sales of that book.
      Any you still have the right to go to the library and read a copy for free (try it out if you will), and when you are done with it or the due date is up, you return it (stop using the program).
    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:29AM (#2941623) Homepage Journal
      "Though this is not an excuse to buy pirated software, it is clear that people are simply not ready to pay so much money for something that they simply can't physically hold on to as much or something that simply offers them marginal benefits, how much of MS Office does a typical user use anyway?"

      Sorry, but if you are using it it benefits you. If you don't need all of Office you can buy the piece or pieces you need. It is not a valid excuse to pirate it because you only need it every other Thursday or because; in this case as example; its evil Microsoft.

      "The balance still has to be struck somewhere, but with the fact that there are so many who are growing disproportionately richer selling software, and with most consumers only receiving marginal benefits from their applications, we begin to realize that there is something definitely wrong with this equation. "

      Uh, the balance is that if you need to use it you should pay to do so. Just because you don't need it all, or not all of the time does not justify depriving someone else of their profit from their work and ideas. Consumers receive FULL BENEFIT from the products they buy IF it does what they want.

      Your just running the same old tired lines that pirates use everyday to justify their OWN greed and selfishness. Your mantra is one that of "I will take what I want and screw you". People pirate software because its easy not to get caught... just like the loudmouth flamer in the chatroom who only exists because of the anonymous nature of the net the software pirate is just another example of the spineless twits that ruin the system for the rest of us.

      Pirates lead to over regulation, overly silly EULA's, Product Activation, CD-KEYS, and all other sorts of incovenience. They provide the "evil software" companies all the excuse they ever need.
    • From the Snapz Pro X website []: "The images Snapz Pro X generates are all web-ready, as are the QuickTime movies it makes -- just upload 'em and go! Snapz Pro X can even capture images and movies that are playing on your DVD Player []" (Note: link is copied directly from site to document the intent of DVD QuicktTime capture function is to capture quicktimes from copyrighted DVD films)

      So Ambrosia can set up schemes to ID licensing scofflaws, but seems to have no problem creating and selling a product designed to violate the copyright (at least in the DMCA sense, if not in the traditional fair-use sense) of Hollywood movies. Why hasn't DOJ gone after them for violating DMCA when the product is clearly just as in violation as DeCSS? Personally I think fair-use trumps DMCA, but current law makes selling such as product just as illegal as failing to register shareware, or using pirated codes to register it. They need to make up their mind whether they believe infromation should be free, or whther we need the government to come in and enforce copyright laws.
    • But there is such a thing as making something for a buck and selling it for 10, and every reasonable moral person knows that something is wrong with this axiom.

      So if value is to be based on cost, where does cost come from when you're not simply reselling a purchased good? How much should my time be worth? If I had to pull million-year-old minerals out of the earth, how much should they be worth?

      And this issue, pricing, is a matter of morality? Perhaps when people are dying at the feet of profiteers (e.g. AIDS medications in poor countries), but in the real day-to-day exchanges of goods and services, your "morality" is so high up in the ivory tower as to leave the most basic issues of economics (e.g. resource scarcity) unresolved.


  • by Tryfen ( 216209 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @09:59AM (#2941534) Homepage
    I think one of the biggest barriers to shareware is the price tag. I've no problem paying a few for something useful - only problem is that most places charge too much.

    Let me explain. If I want to pay a $ price on my credit-card, I have to pay an extortionate amount for currency conversion. Added to the fact that credit card payments necessitate a minimum charge etc. Add to that price discrepancies (it cost 0.75 for a can of Coke in my country - cross the border you pay more, cross the Ocean you pay less)

    I think, we need to return to a barter system to get round these currency problems. An Amazon-esque wishlist is nice start, but what about an alternate internet currency supported by the big players? Say, "Amazon-Bucks"? Where I can convert my currency into AB which I can "wire" to a developer which he can exchange either for goods or currency.

    Ya... talking off the top of my head AND out of my arse... great skill that.
    • .75 euros for a coke is cheap compared to what I'm paying. That's less than a dollar today and I get ripped $1.25 for the same thing. Also you get your coke with real sugar and I have to make due with high fructose corn syrup.

      And to make matters worse lately every coke I buy calls me a looser or at least a "sorry not a winner". I wish I could pirate cokes as easily as I could pirate software.

    • Let me explain. If I want to pay a $ price on my credit-card, I have to pay an extortionate amount for currency conversion.

      Get a better credit card. When I buy stuff in US $ or UK pounds (my credit card is in Canadian $) I pay currency conversion rate of about 2.5% -- which is no more, and possibly even less than the rate which I pay to convert cash.
  • by spoot ( 104183 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:00AM (#2941535) Homepage
    People are going to steal... just a fact of life

    But personally I find the real problem is the cost of shareware. Most of it is just priced to high. As an example; running osx on my ibook, I downloaded a search enhancement called "watson" the other day. It essentially adds more search function with a osx skin. Stuff like movie times and the like. I would have bought the app for 5-10 bucks, but the shareware fee is 30 bucks. You start adding up 30 bucks a pop for shareware and it gets real expensive. 5 or 10, no problem. I'm there. The high cost of a shareware app like this leads to piracy. After all is the functionality of one click to worth 30 bucks... I don't think so.
    • I agree. For example, the cost of Serve-U is $45, whereas some perfectly functional free alternatives exist. For $10, I'd probably buy it, but $45 is significant enough to make me want to find the latest copy of Serials2000 or Surfer's Serials (Mac), both of which are updated more or less monthly.
    • This is a good point. Mod this person up. The problem with trying to charge a buck is that most people wouldn't go through the hassle of registering a shareware product. So what do you do? You charge 20 bucks and hope for one to make up for 19 assholes. According to research it's more like 1 out of 200 or 2000. I know that there are thousands of people out there using my shareware. I'm making enough to pay my web hosting and associated costs. These days, if I were to ever attempt a shareware project again, I might try using PayPal to collect 1 or 2 bucks for a registration, but I bet the assholes out there who claim that they have some kind of god given right to other people's work will bitch and moan thta it's not free software. But their moral high ground is lost when they get it through their thick heads that they didn't write the goddamn software, nor donate the time. And the really pathetic thing about it is that it's their fucking parents who pay for their fucking equipment anyway.

      Don't get me going.

  • Back in 1995, Apeiron [] was my favorite game for a little while. Well worth $15 for all the hours of fun it gave me. Better than the original "Centipede" by far :-)
  • by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:02AM (#2941541) Homepage
    I released some shareware awhile back; had hundreds of users, and a dozen or so registrations. Very low hit rate, and people claimed to love the program and rely upon it. Oh well, lesson learned, and I haven't done any since.

    I think the big trick is to lower software costs. More than any other product, software has the ability to be distributed at close to zero cost (download from the 'net). Yet most popular software package distributeds online, tend to be sold at the same pricing levels as software that has been mastered, burnt to CD, manuals printed, boxes made, and shipped through multiple levels of distribution, each marking it up.

    If things were 1/4 the price, I'm sure piracy would be a lot lower. Most people wouldn't bother.

    If I wanted to get a copy of a classic movie on VHS, I wouldn't bother renting the tape and copying it, I'd just buy it for $7.95. DVD's are starting to get to that point, too (although new releases are still nuts).

    • If things were 1/4 the price, I'm sure piracy would be a lot lower. Most people wouldn't bother.
      Bother to do what? search: "program name" serialz? Typing in the first three letters in Serialz2000? Face it, shareware piracy is usually easier and faster than typing in a registration form...

      Besides, it's a twofold thing... unless the product really needs to connect to Internet to work, I wouldn't accept it trying to connect anywhere, I'd stop it dead in my firewall. If they hadn't warned me in advance that an Internet connection was required I'd want my money back, if they had I wouldn't have bought it in the first place.

    • by t14m4t ( 205907 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:43AM (#2941655) Homepage
      one problem with this is that alot of people don't pirate stuff just to save a buck. alot of people pirate stuff because they're too lazy or too disinterested to pay. they want the program, are willing to pay for it, but no one is egging them on to do it (e.g., cashier as they walk out the door).

      there are only a few ways to fix this is. one would be to implement the product activation stuff mentioned in other posts. another would be to actively police the software, as MS does with windows.

      the latter option gets the company bad press. the former is something of a privacy invasion issue unless it's done as the result of a button click, and even then doesn't get the people that aren't on-line when they install the software or (for whatever reason) don't go on-line by choice.

      the only one i've seen work in a way for which i can't see a hiccup is the safedisk thing i've seen with many games (Diablo II, Black & White, etc.). the disk is copyable, but the registration code won't work with a copied disk. I don't know how it works, and yes I do realize that this can be gotten around, but most people won't go to that level of trouble (I'm assuming) because then it's actually easier to pay for the software than get around the protection (see paragraph one). this may make fair-use backups very difficult, but most people won't go to that trouble, and I'm sure the company would be willing to send you replacement disks if you sent them the original (now-bad) CDs.

      i'm no expert; there are probably other ways of protecting against piracy. but actually protecting the company without stepping on users toes is really hard.

      • Your conclusions seem pretty much right on to me, and it can't help but make me feel bad for the developer. They're really in a lose-lose situation here. They release a shareware program that's fully functional without paying, and noone pays for it. Or they cripple it somehow, and take flak from all those people that want to use it without paying for it.

        For a smalltime shareware producer that distributes programs over the internet, something like safedisk which is dependent on the media isn't really fesible.

        The parent post to yours makes the analogy of not copying VHS tapes because it's easier to go buy it. I would argue that it's more work to get in my car, drive to best buy or wherever, deal with the lines of people, annoying salepeople, and parking lot nightmares than it is to submit a form over the internet. The biggest difference is, people are used to going into stores and buying things. They've done it so many times they're used to it, it's brainless for them, and so no big deal.

        It's a fight against a just plain awful mindset here. The feeling among a lot of the populace that software piracy isn't theft because it doesn't cause the producers any profit is silly. It's based upon some weird notion that everyone has an inherent right to whatever software they want, whether they can pay for it or not.

        Speaking as a long time mac guy, the shareware community that I've seen has produced some amazingly high quality software. Any need that they feel to cripple their work in order to make money off of it has been caused by the users and their selfishness. The populace has noone to blame but themselves. It's just another example of a society that wants increasingly more, but is willing to give increasingly less.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:03AM (#2941710) Homepage
      You hit it on the head, yet you are in the smallest majority.

      Yes you are correct, A bulk of the product's costs is the packaging. Back in 1992 I wrote a VB app (stop throwing those rocks! I hadn't discovered Linux yet!) that was a Karate Studio management system. I spent countless hours making and testing it. and then I started to look into packaging. I was going to have to sell my software for $59.95 to cover the packaging and $10.00 for my profit. Yes, you read that right... It was going to cost about $49.95 per box, that was the cardboard,offset 3 color ptinting, having the 5 floppies made, the 3 color labels printed, and a 10 page manual, then shrinkwrapped. This was for a small run of 1000 units.

      I gave up. there was no way I was going to lay that kind of money on the line in hopes of sales. I basically sold it to my beta-testers and called it done. I made about $600.00 on the project, and I was happy for that, as I learned alot about datatbases and User Interface Design.. (Tip: if you are dealing with non-computer types, make it look like AOL's system... it's a prime example on how to make it easy for an idiot to use.)

      If I was able to set up a website and offer it for download? $14.00 a download ($10.00 profit, $4.00 for web and bandwidth costs) I would have made more money, had many more users.

      yes, If I download Q3 instead of buying it, it should cost less than $49.95...

      but remember, this is a common sense approach.. No publisher would dare take that route because of it.
    • Oh well, lesson learned, and I haven't done any since.

      This is exactly the point. Even those who see nothing morally wrong with copying software (which in general I do), who claim that `no-one suffers', should see that the future market may suffer even if the present one doesn't.

      It's the same for copying music, or any other IP. The cost of reproduction may be marginal; but if the cost of production isn't, people need to pay to provide an incentive for it to be created in the first place.

  • by slittle ( 4150 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:07AM (#2941552) Homepage
    If it's worth it, yes. Which isn't often..

    A lot of shareware isn't worth a pinch of shit. For some reason, highschoolers learning VB think the little utility they whipped up in class is actually worth $40.

    Other shareware is easily replaced with Free software (eg. you'd have to be a real MS/IBM fanboy to buy 4DOS/4NT/4OS2 rather than use Bash).

    Much of the remainder might be merely a good idea, something I didn't know I needed. Unless it's a large project, I'll simply write my own version (hey, imagine that, another geek knows how to code! And I'll be keeping my $39.95 too, thanks), written exactly how I like it.
    • I use 4DOS (actually Take Command/32) on Windows 2000 because every port of bash that I've found for it drives me batshit. Maybe you can tolerate a Unix shell in an utterly alien (i.e., non-Unix) environment, but in my experience 4DOS simply works better in Windows. A lot better.

      While this is subjective, don't believe that it's because I'm an "MS/IBM fanboy"; my current job is programming on FreeBSD and I've been using Linux since the days SLS was the dominant distribution (being one of, I think, three?). Before that I was a webmaster, though, and while the web server was Apache on Solaris, my workstation was Windows NT, and all the web maintenance scripts were done in Take Command. There are some things in 4DOS--most often the date ranges for commands that operate on multiple files--that I dearly miss in Unix shells.

  • by g051051 ( 71145 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:09AM (#2941557)
    I don't pirate software or music. I have licenses for shareware that I use regularly, including Winzip, AtomTime, and the games from Mountain King Software. My (reluctantly used) upgrade copy of Win98SE is fully legal, because I purchased every upgrade along the way, starting from a full IBM DOS 6.0.

    I also purchased every game that Loki ever released, and have bought copies of RedHat, Caldera, and Cygwin (when it was sold in stores) to use on machines at work.

    I was raised to be honest. You don't take what you don't pay for. If I don't like the price for something, I don't buy it. I want to play Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but I'm not about to pay $55 for a game, so I'll wait until the price drops. If it takes a year, so what? That's about how long I waited until Icewind Dalebecame reasonably priced.

    As far as I'm concerned software pirates are in the same class of people who shoplift, leave restaurants without paying, or drive off from a gas station without paying.

    I'm curious about the people who don't pay for software. What's the rationale? I can you justify that kind of behavior?
    • by johnburton ( 21870 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:18AM (#2941587) Homepage
      I'm not trying to justify it in any way, but it's not the same as shoplifting, or driving off withoug paying.

      With those things you have prevented them from selling their stuff to someone else and therefore activly cost them money. With software "theft" you have not deprived them of the ability to sell as many copies as they like. You've not cost them any money at all. That's wh the term "theft" is wrong here.

      That's the difference. Whether you think that it's equally bad is a matter of opinion only.
      • The article mentions 3 groups. There's the bottom group, that will crack anything and everything that comes their way for fun and sport. They're a lost cause. There's the top group, that will always pay out of principle. You don't gotta worry about them. And then there's the middle group, where the people would pay if necessary, but if it's convenient enough, they'd just as soon get it for free.

        And if you're a member of that middle group, it all comes down to whether you think that it's the same morality to deprive someone of making X dollars, as to take away X dollars from them. Either way they're down X dollars, so rationally it's hard to argue that they're different, but it is to a lot of people.
    • As far as I'm concerned software pirates are in the same class of people who shoplift, leave restaurants without paying, or drive off from a gas station without paying.
      I'm not trying to justify it, but consider that food, gas, and other goods, once stolen, no longer belong to the original owner. That is not the case with software. If someone steals software that he wouldn't have used anyway, he has not cost the author a penny.
  • I like developers Who, with the shareware/ freeware setup gives the user a choice. as it is most shareware is crippled.. as i mean not fully functional.. for full features you need to pay someone.. that's all fine and dandy, but if i can't use it or get the full expirence, how do i know what i'm paying for. Most of you are fimiliar with Winamp, thier policy says here it is, fully functioning, if you like it cool ,if you don't fine but it did take us time to make please send us $10 so we can keep improving the product. that was such a open honest thing hey i like i use it. for $10 you can't beat it so i sent em the 10 bucks.. that was 2 years ago i still use it and they have realeased new skins/better functions and such.. it just stuck me as a good way to do business..

    p.s. plese don't flame me cause i use windows, i'm learning my linux and getting pretty good at it. Just using WWinamp as an example.;)
  • I find paying for non-free software I use a very good way to motivate myself to use free software.

    As soon as you consider Windows and Office non-free it is easy to convice yourself to use something else. Many people I know likes and uses Windows and Office all the time but they have never, ever paid full price for it.

    On the other hand, when it comes to Windows, MS charges you for what should be free upgrades. And when you buy a laptop with Windows 98 and the installation tools are on a special partition, and you feel like trying Solaris on it - how the hell do you get Windows 98 back in a legal way ;)
    • As soon as you consider Windows and Office non-free it is easy to convice yourself to use something else.

      Until it comes to actually using the alternatives. I just switched back (again) to Windows 2000 after spending several months using Linux. Ignoring (painfully) all the lack of hardware support, the additional bugs, the lack of support for mozilla on certain webpages, the general crappiness of netscape and mozilla, the difficulty in installing software, etc, I finally reached the breaking point with a certain java applet I use regularly which crashes every half hour on linux and almost never on Win2K.

      • I did not say the alternatives are good for all purposes ;) My point was primarily that many people who prefer Windows would not dream of paying for it, and if they started dreaming about paying for it, maybe they would try something else instead.
        • Or maybe they'd just "steal" it. Many people who dreamed about going the speed limit to work every day would start taking mass transit. Most people who dreamed about paying use tax on items they purchased from would just go to Barnes and Noble.

          You have three choices. Use Linux, use Windows and pay $whatever, or use Windows and face a 1 in 1 billion chance of faces statutory damages of $750-$150,000 and a 1 in 100 trillion chance of not more than 1 year in prison. I leave the rational choice as an exercise for the reader.

          I've paid for my Windows, but that's just cause it happens to have came with a computerr that I bought.

  • by Zo0ok ( 209803 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:25AM (#2941609) Homepage
    Now that so much UNIX (free) software is available for Mac OS X, I beleive many shareware programs will disappear.

    A long time ago, I used the shareware program StuffitLite on my Mac Classic II (I did not pay for it). Now I realise that those compression utilities for Mac usually are based on free software. Since tha Mac culture was to pay for software it did make sense to use open cod/algorithms, packet it for the Mac and sell it as shareware. In todays UNIX culture the same tools are available for free.
  • by da_Den_man ( 466270 ) <`dcruise' `at' `'> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:28AM (#2941621) Homepage

    This argument that the cost of the shareware is too high is just plain garbage. I used to write applications to manage my systems. One was a virus utility (back in the day...whew I feel old) and another was a CD Database system with search and catalog functions. They were nifty utilities, so I thought I would throw them out to the arena. I don't take a whole lot of worth in my code, so I decided I just wanted to see what the use would be.

    I priced each registration at $1.00.

    The software was fully functional, although when the Virus scanner ran it displayed a banner to the user with my tags on it, and the CD would only search the first 100 discs (not files, Discs) before displaying a banner.

    Out of the 1000 downloads, I received ONE registration. Out of the Year I updated the software, I received one registration.

    Yet I saw the programs used on tens of dozens of systems. I even downloaded a "crack" that extended the use of the catalog program to 150 discs *Memory limit and it degraded performance horribly*

    So this argument of "If it was *insert low price here* I would PAY for it is just talk. If the software is used, and you like using it, you will pay for it. If you don't want to pay for the use of it, yet you like using it, you will find a way around it. Plain & Simple.

    • > So this argument of "If it was *insert low price here* I would PAY for it is just talk.

      No, it's not. Actually, paying $1.00 for a piece of software is not the same as plunking 4 quarters into a coke machine. If indeed this was back in the day, it would probably be quite a pain to send you a dollar. Envelope, stamp, etc..

      Case in point: One of my favorite pieces of software when I was young was "postcardware" -- $0.00 registration fee. I never got around to registering it, though, and that's because the cost is actually NOT zero.

      Now, if today my software came with a button that allowed me to register my software with a dollar donation, online without any work (just charging my credit card), then that would make registration more likely.

      But anyway, the idea of paying for a copy of software is pretty weird to me, and I don't think that model will last very long. I say shareware (and soon, commercial software) is dead.
    • Pricing it at $1 is not such a great idea - when it's that price, people would think: gee, it's really cheap, it must not be worth much either. Or, they'd think: gee, it's only a dollar, what a hassle I have to go through to send one dollar for a program.

      Better would have been in the $5-$20 range - depending on how useful the programs were. A lot of shareware back in those days were priced, I think, in the $10 to $30 range.

      For poor students who don't have any money to spend, $30 is a LOT of money.
  • Their methods are naieve, and smack of BSA "bs" methodology.

    Out of the 107 "pirated" how many were:

    1. user error (mistyped)

    2. user dupe - a backup copy (allowed by law or license - one a work one at home)

    3. "real" pirates, but whom would never have paid for it to begin with? (i.e. not a lost sale)

    I am willing to bet that once you wash those out and arrive at the real "losses", the number will be much smaller.
  • I do, but it depends on how much I need it.
    In the world of Windows shareware, there is too much junk, and too many greedy people who wants money for nothing. Which is why I love *BSD/Linux so much. It takes me back to the old BBS days where you still could get good software for you PC for free. If I should mention a good program the is free for personal use on the Windows platform it must be Daemon Tools [].
    I think I buy about 2 or 3 programs every year.
    One must is that they use some form of online payment that doesn't look too fishy. There are a couple of site that deals with payment for "kitchen programmers" so they won't have to establish a secure payment system themself. A good idea.
  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:37AM (#2941641) Homepage
    There was a time for shareware...when developers were far and few and could count on the generosity of like minded people that could appreciate their effort and would pay, this probably in reality ceased by 1987. Economic factors, ill pay later when I can afford it. I dont use it that much. etc . contribute to the decline of Shareware.

    That saidsome of this crap being peddeled as "Shareware" couldnt be farther from Shareware as I remeber it from about 1982-1994 or so. Time limited software isnt shareware, its just that time limited demo's. Feature limited software is just that , feature limited software demo's . Shareware WAS a complete functioning game or program, that if you liked were supposed to do 2 things, Share it , (this was to spread the program and increase popularity), and Pay for it if you liked it.

    The people using computers arent the same as they were , they were appreciative of other programmers efforts, I had MANY friends that although they pirated software on a regular basis , WOULD pay for certain pieces of software, the Original Castle Wolfenstien was one.

    Times have changed. Software revenues must too, some things I GPL, some I dont , and sell , I have a package thats sold over the last 4 years about 50 copies at over 1000 each. Its a revenue source, I need. so dont blast me with I should open source it. BUT it contains, what has so far benn an unbreakable product registration scheme. Funny part is I wrote it to check and log , etc. I have only had one person attemt to crack it, and ten only by regedits, etc. They eventually bought it. Its a web app, and pretty useless without connectivity, SO i can prety much guarentee the WILL be online to use it , hence the ability to contact the server running my reg app.
  • The whole point of shareware is to encourage copying so that you can get money from those people who actually care to pay for it. Copying is part of the business model -- just as Microsoft succeeded through copying of their operating system, just as Photoshop has become the de facto graphics app, etc.

    Trying to make money off selling (rather than developing) software may be a thing of the past -- even MS is moving towards a services-based model. Shareware authors, if you are not doing it for fun, you are wasting your time!
  • It is sort of like the mentality I saw in some article a while back (salon? suck? someplace) where there guys running the valley all too often had demo or promo copies of software, and basically had the attitude of "only the foolish actually pay for software"

    It is slippery ground because of the need for legitimate fair exchange between folks. The problem comes when one side says that fair exchange means "All your base are belong to us"

    This is where you find people objecting to MS, and justifying piracy. The fact that MS also has engaged in a sort of a legalized piracy is also part of the trap.

    and so you get the system being supported by decent folks trying to do the right thing. No one likes the idea that they are getting ripped off, customer or company. I have no problem letting someone make a fair markup on something. But don't try to play me for a fool.

    Leave the job of making me look silly to me. I can do that well enough as it is ;-)

  • by Foundryman ( 306698 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:40AM (#2941651)
    I've bypassed shareware/trialware protections schemes in the past and I've done it for one of two reasons:

    1. The protected version was crippled and I couldn't truly try all the features before buying.
    2. The trial period was just too short

    After I could really try all features for a useful evaluation period I bought the ones that proved useful and scrapped the others to try something else.

    Proxy servers are a good example. I tried about 3 before I decided on Fortech's Proxy+. When I decided it was worth it I bought two 10 user licenses. After I outgrew these I upgraded one to the unlimited license. Fortech's trial only allowed 2 users which wasn't all that bad, but I really needed to see how it worked under the heavier loads I'd be putting it under since my bandwidth is limited (3 bonded 56k dialups)

    Another good example is VMWare Workstation. In the 30 day trial I was unable to convince the boss how useful this program was. After I was able to run it for 5 months I had finally shown him enough examples of it's usefullness that he not only bought me a $299 license, he also bought himself one.

    I've gone through similar things and finally paid for programs like:
    CuteFTP, ZMud, WinZip, and an assortment of games.

    • by Sircus ( 16869 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:48AM (#2941871) Homepage
      If you want an extended demo, e-mail the authors and ask for one. Often as not, they'll give you one. If they don't, make your decision based on what you have. If your decision's to scrap the software, go for it.

      Your example eventually worked out well for the companies in question, but it's just not possible to say that your behaviour's OK without providing the excuse to every pirate that "Oh, I've just been evaluating the software for the last 6.5 years". You end up with an unworkable know-it-when-I-see-it situation.

      The companies want to sell the software to you, you should make them work for it, not create extra work for yourself. If they're not co-operative, take this as a sign of how much they're eager to win your custom and move on.

      I write shareware - it has a 30 day trial period. If someone mails and asks, this can happily be extended to 60 or 90 days. No features are crippled during the trial. If the people don't ask, how am I to tell the difference between them and a pirate?
  • What pisses people off about M$'s product activation scheme, is that.

    1. It makes it impossible to install Windows on more than 1 Computer, even if you own more than 1 computer..... Ambrosias scheme allows you to install on as many personal systems as you like, however, if you distribute the code publicly (over the internet), then you will loose your shareware licence when the code is discovered to be Pirate. This is an active deterrent to persuade you not to redistribute their shareware unlock code!

    2. If you need to reinstall a million times, then you can get a renewed code a million times.. (Though it would probably cause suspicion within Ambrosia). Try activating M$'s products more than a few times, and that's it.


  • Shareware piracy is as old as floppy disks... I tried shareware back in the late 80s, early 90s. I had this nice environment editor utility (enved) for MS/PC-DOS. One day, some guy from JPL -- yup, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) called, needing help with enved on boxes with a new version of DOS. He told me that JPL included enved on their "standard" installation disks for many systems. I had an update, but JPL hadn't registered the program (a whole $5 per copy, $50 for an unlimited site license); he promised to pay me, and asked for an invoce. I fixed the program, sent him the invoice...

    ...and, of course, saw nothing. This ruined my admiration for JPL...

    I've paid for several shareware packages over the years, but I know I'm in the minority. I've owned a WinZip site license since --- oh, I think version 4.1. And last year I licensed NTI CD_Maker, when I needed a Win2K program for my CD burner.

    Every company I've worked at (consultant or otherwise) has used shareware without paying for it. Making an issue of this is a waste of time; I get looked at as some moralistic annoyance, because the managers and accountants see shareware authors as naive fools who "give" away stuff.

  • And Jim, at the end of it, as a good CEO did, said "OK, we're going to have a tight license. Yep, it looks free optically, but it is not. Corporations have to pay for it. Maintenance has to be paid."
    The final policy was very creative. Netscape browsers were3 free for anyone to download on a 90-day trial basis, free for students and educational institutions, and $39 (later raised to $49) for everyone else. At the time, Netscape managemnet had no illusions. Some people would pay after the trial period, and some wouldn't. In effect, the browser would be free. But if the name of the game was volume and market share, "free, but not free" offered the perfect solution.
    from "Competing on Internet Time", page 99.
  • I thought shrink-wrap licenses were not enforcible in all states. If the software can be downloaded, and you have obtained a copy legally, aren't you legally allowed to use (and even sell) the copy which you have legally obtained, forever?

  • The author completely ignores the possibility that the pirated versions actually helped promote the software. For example, Alice has a pirated version she shows to friend Bob. Impressed, Bob gets and pays for an officially registered copy. If Alice had to pay for it, she probably wouldn't have it it the first place, and Bob would have never known it existed. For better or worse, piracy is probably the best marketing tool there is. The key is to keep the fact you know this a secret (and publicly, constantly whine about how you can barely afford toilet paper because of pirates), and make it somewhat difficult but not too difficult to pirate.
  • I'll probably get flamed for this, but myself, I just don't _have_ $30 to order a WinZip license. I'm just a college student, remember? I know from my own experience it's good to receive money for your software. But I think it's a much better idea to give people a definate push to buy your products. For example, good service can give me a definate push to get a product. For example, I hope to get a MySQL license in a few years. Why? For one, because I want to support their work, and two, because you appear to get an excellent support contract with it. That would make the $200 worth it. Finally, I think some software is very overpriced... (do I hear Microsoft somewhere? :D). OK, Microsoft isn't exactly what you'd call Shareware, but I'm not going to pay $40 for a HTML editor with syntax highlighting!
  • And some people still don't understand that in a way, it is theft. No, it doesn't take anything away from the seller *except the product's value*. How valuable is a 50$ shareware if you can get it everywhere for 0$, noone will know, noone will care, it's less bother, everybody else does it?

    And exactly the value the customers see in a paid version over a pirated version reflects the sales and the revenue. Of course there's a value in ethical and legal sense of having a paid product, but the ethical value seems small, and the legal value exists almost only for corportations.

    Truth is, most people wouldn't make such a big deal about it if they knew they all were paying. I wouldn't mind paying X$ for a Ferrari, but not if all my friends got themselves one for free. But reality is, in software almost anything is for free, if you want to.

  • by captaineo ( 87164 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:06AM (#2941720)
    I remember reading a story about a shareware author who performed an experiment to see just how willing people are to register shareware. He distributed a small but useful program in two ways - half of the users got it as honorware (fully functional; registration is encouraged), and half of the users got it as crippleware (very limited functionality; registration needed to unlock the full problem). The registration rate for the crippleware version was three times higher than the honorware version.

    So there is a significant free-rider problem here that can't be ignored... (this is the problem with honor-system and similar payment schemes - there are too many freeloaders out there =)
  • by Arkham ( 10779 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:07AM (#2941723)
    I have learned some interesting lessons selling Mac software [] as a hobby for the last 3 years. The first thing I realized was that without some sort of registration system people will not register.

    I wrote an app called MacBattleChat. It was a very popular app amongst Mac gamers, since it was the only one of its kind at the time. My "registration system" was an "I paid" checkbox. I got less than 10 registrations, but I could go on in the mac channel and see a dozen clients running at any given time.

    I learned my lesson. I added a serial number and "nag screen" system to DropImage and PortSniffer. To this date I've had over 400 registrations of DropImage, and over 50 PortSniffer registrations.

    I will say that there are pirate serial numbers in Cracks & Numbers, but I get enough registrations that I don't care. The shareware payments cover my IDE and development costs and then some. I'm not going to get rich with my shareware business, but it's not as bad as the Ambrosia guys make it out to be. Maybe it's because my shareware is actually affordable.
  • by lkaos ( 187507 ) <{sw.yeknomedoc} {ta} {ynohtna}> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:29AM (#2941806) Homepage Journal
    I've been on all sides of this issue. I've written shareware, cracked shareware, and know write Free Software.

    Here are what I see as the general problem that leds to most shareware being cracked:
    1. Overpriced
      Most shareware is _horribly_ overpriced. Writing 200 lines in VB does not constitute $30. Folks would benefit more if they sold those little 200 line programs for next to nothing ($1).

    2. Difficulty of Payment
      The fact of the matter is that most people do not want to give their credit card to fifty million different websites just to get some silly software. There is no chance in hell that most people will send checks through the mail.

    3. Lack of Support
      Whenever you sell a product in the real world, you are forced to hold it to certain standards. Most shareware has clauses though to exempt it from any warranty claims. Many shareware authors absolutely refuse to take the time to offer support too.

    4. Poorly Designed Protection Mechanisms
      Software gets cracked not generally because of a public demand for it to be cracked, but rather because it presents a challenge for a potential cracker. There is one way to make sure that your software is not cracked, just don't release it! Teaser releases (i.e. time limited demo's) are just wrong and will not work. Besides, the strongest selling mechanism is novelity so why would one allow the novelity to fade prior to charging for the product? It just doesn't make any sense.

      The best model to sell shareware through is by release a community edition and standard edition. The standard edition has to contain significantly more features and it needs to come with good support.

    Most shareware just generally lacks any sense of quality. I was always suprised that a website like TuCows that does software rating never integrated a payment system so that folks could have a TuCows account and surf for 5 cows only and then buy software directly.
  • Piracy explained (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bons ( 119581 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:35AM (#2941821) Homepage Journal
    "the belief that others do not deserve to be paid for their creations."
    otherwise known as:
    "'free' as in 'free beer'(once you pick the lock at the package store)"

    see also:
    piracy and web design []

    There is plenty of free software [], free graphics [], and other free resources []. But rather than use Strata 3d base, people would prefer to pirate Maya. Rather than using Gimp, people would prefer to pirate Photoshop. Rather than using Linux, people would prefer to pirate Windows? Why? Because piracy allows people to set their own price to zero and juistify it to themselves. A free market is based on the buyer and seller agreeing on a price. Piracy, by it's refusal to even include the seller in the conversation, is death to a free market economy. This reduces the number of sellers wishing to participate, and therefore the amount of goods available. It could be argued that piracy helps makes Microsoft a monopoly. Few people can afford to create competing products and not get paid for their efforts.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:52AM (#2941887) Journal
    I don't call shareware shareware, I call it EOW - Extreme Optimist Ware, because whoever's supplying it is an extreme optimist if they think they are going to get paid! Out of the millions of people who use mIRC, how many do you think have paid K. Mardam Bey anything? Probably not more than a handful.

    Having said that I have registered shareware that I was a regular user of (most notably Remote Access BBS software), but then I discovered Unix and opensource software.
  • Remember PC-Write? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:17PM (#2941979) Journal
    Quiksoft made it - it was far and away the best dos/text word processor I've ever used. (To this day, I wish somebody would port it to *nix)

    It had this neat feature - when you bought and registered it, you got this product code you typed in to the (fully functional!) shareware version.

    If you shared that, when other people registered the software with your code on it, YOU GOT PAID. Sort of like MLM...

    It was NORMAL to get the full purchase price of the software back and then some if you spread it far and wide...

    I left that software on hundreds of computers....

  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:35PM (#2942054) Homepage Journal

    People who use computers for graphics design or sound editing (or any other application software oriented field) tend to need a good set of software.

    My siblings, as an example, will come to the conclusion that they need some kind of software. Their purchasing process goes something like this:

    • Look for free alternatives that do the same thing.
    • Ask their brother (me) for free alternatives that do the same thing.
    • Briefly scan the warez scene for the software they want.
    • Ask their brother (me again) for help scanning the warez scene.
    • Give up and buy the damned thing.

    Definitely a case where a company loses a sale if a freely available, illegal copy exists.

    Of course, you can't sum up all illegal copying this way. A good sum of it is teenagers getting thrilled over having the latest 3D Studio. A huge chunk is people who just can't afford it/access it otherwise, and will pay software "pirates" a nominal fee to have it provided (look at cable piracy overseas). Just some are people looking to save their money.

    The interesting thing we all know about software is that it replicates so easily. Unlike most product models, software is not a scarce resource--developer time is, but the end product is not.

    Early computer vendors weren't quite as stupid when they said that there was no money in software products. Look at the classifieds for computer programers. 95% of the job listings are to work on custom systems rather than software products.

    Successful software product companies are rare (like Microsoft), and many of them have to treat software more like a resource to be licensed, or a service provided, than a product. A very small number of their sales comes from people purchasing retail software.

    With something like the internet, if your work can be cloned easily, you're always going to face these problems. Software developers and musicians face the same challenge.

    Perhaps one day they will be paid by hardware manufacturers instead of end-users? Perhaps musicians will get a fraction of a cent whenever someone sells a set of speakers? Meh, my head hurts.

  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm@[ ] ['ice' in gap]> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:49PM (#2942114)
    Is because it COSTS TOO MUCH, PERIOD!

    Lets take a look at some often used applications:

    WinZip: $29
    CuteFTP: $39.95
    mIRC: $20
    WinRAR: $29
    CustomizerXP: $24
    CDRWin: $39

    These are all shareware applications I have installed on my computer. Some of them are going to be removed real soon because they are expiring. These prices do NOT include any kind of media, manuals, box, etc. All you get is to download and use the software. So why are they priced to rival boxed media?

    If I were to buy all 6 programs it would cost: $180.95 USD. I live in Canada, that translates to: $253.33 CAD for 6 applications with no media!

    Shareware companies need to rethink their pricing. If these applications cost $10-$20 I would buy them. They certainly shouldn't be priced comperable to retail software I can find in the store if I don't even get an original CD.

    $40 for an FTP client, $30 for an archiver, ludicrous..

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by mactari ( 220786 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:17PM (#2942245) Homepage
    What was even better than the Ambrosia article was a link within it to another article entitled, "Why Do People Register, Does Crippling Work, Does Anybody Really Know?" le -register-shareware.html

    Here, if you believe all you read, a shareware author created a scheme in a newly released app in order for it to act as "nagware" in 50% of its installs and "crippleware" on the other half, even if the app was uninstalled and reinstalled.

    The results were that people were approximately 5 times more likely to register the crippleware than the nagware.

    > Assuming that if all copies had been restricted the monthly
    > registration count would have risen by the difference between the
    > "PoNC" and "Restricted " figures total sales, there has
    > effectively been a loss in sales of 685 copies, for a value of
    > $17125, which I guess is what the experiment cost to perform.

    Though the price of shareware might seem too high, often the price of having shareware that doesn't work due to a crippling routine is even higher.
  • by cmkrnl ( 2738 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:31PM (#2942309)
    Having witnessed at first hand the increasingly steep decline of what used be an intelligent & uplifting forum.
    I am reminded of a quote by the philosopher Ian Kilmister.

    Hypocrisy made paramount, Paranoia the law.
    Legions of the morally bankrupt who can rationalise the theft of someone elses work through such self indulgent mendacity as
    "Well it cost them nothing for me to download it from their website"
    "I bet it cost them $1 to make, how dare they charge $10, I'll pirate it "
    "Legally its not theft, its breach of copyright...."
    As if that makes it alrighty then.
    For a community is so vocal when it comes to screaming from the rooftops about breaches of the alleged rights contained with the GPL. Common decency & any notion of self respect would mandate that you defend the rights of others also, by paying for what you use.
    Dont Pay For It, Dont fscking use it !
    Here ends todays lesson in personal ethics 101.

  • by pinkpineapple ( 173261 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:39PM (#2942349) Homepage
    Hell, I was even emailing the distributor about bugs and posting pages on a web site I maintained and newsgroup to provide other users some type of support.

    The problem I ran into was exactly this: support. It's fairly easy to write an app for yourself (scratching your itch), figure out that you could make a few bucks out of it because other people like you need this app, package an app and post it on the web then ask $10 for it. The problem is being up to the level of providing long time support.

    After spending about $200 in shareware, I got into the problem of running some of these in new environments (Windows mostly, god forbids me) and the shareware to crash beautifully because of some DLL (D HELL HELL.) Contacting the people who develop the system has been a cold and hot experience. Some of them were gone, unavailable. I even got on a spam list after a few mails to a couple of them.

    So when the register now pops up in a dialog these days, I tend to deny the offer even if it takes me 10 secs to be able to use the app.

    PPA, the girl next door.
  • For example, we have a taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts and it is a treasure. What would be so wrong about a National Endowment for Computer Software, from which qualified/competent developers could receive grants and write software that would benefit the public and which would then be required to be freely available to individuals?

    Corporations could still be charged to use the software in a profit-driven environment, citizens not trying to make a buck would get the software at no cost, and the developer would get paid for out-of-pocket development costs and could make enough to make a living (as many artists working with NEA do, just on grants).
  • by Tarrek ( 547315 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:15PM (#2942740)
    Throughout my life I've pirated countless products.. at the same time, I've bought countless products. The tally of products I've purchased includes the very expensive Win2000 Pro, and Office 2000 Pro, because I use them, daily. I've even paid to register mIRC, regardless of the fact that you can use it forever without complaint. The only things I've ever "warezed" or cracked are products I intend to use 4 times to amuse myself one afternoon. I don't see anything wrong with this. It's a twisted logic of "I'm not going to pay for that product, it's not worth that to me. Does that mean I shouldn't get to use it? Why?"

    I don't entirely know my purpose in posting right now, because I'm not going to change any minds, but I personally feel that this approach is a responsible one. Realistically, I haven't caused any company to lose money, because anything I might have pirated would have been something I would have paid for.. and, in a few cases, I've even gone out the next day to buy things that I've downloaded not so legally, rather than just delete them the second day as I normally do.
  • by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:16PM (#2942925) Homepage Journal
    I download a game, test out the demo version, if it is too limited I pirate it.

    I then play the full version.

    If I like it I pay the money for it.

    Often times I will first submit bug reports and see how the author responds to them. If I get a positive response, they get my money. If said bug reports are just ignored, the program is deleted.

    I have had a few authors actualy custom make EXE patchs for me, suffice to say they got their money the next day.

    If I product is worth is, sure I'll pay. Hell I will also yell at the users who don't pay.
  • by stickb0y ( 260670 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:42PM (#2943104)
    First, we all know that claims that company X loses millions and millions of dollars each year due to piracy are bogus, because pirated copies are not necessarily lost sales. Not all, but a significant portion of pirates would choose to not use the software rather than be forced to pay for it.

    Second, piracy actually can help companies. Look at Microsoft.

    Would Microsoft have such a huge monopoly position if it weren't for all the pirated copies of Windows and Office? Piracy allows them to perform dump their products onto the populace without legal responsibility. It solidifies their desktop dominance for the future. So they "lose" a few hundred dollars to Joe Sixpack, money that they probably would never have got anyway, but now they know they'll continue making millions more in years to come. (Yes, yes, we all hate Microsoft, so piracy must be a bad thing!)

    Look at [name a developer of popular 3D modelling software here]. These companies get it; they don't care about piracy; they care about increasing their market. They want people to be versed with their tools, which have high learning curves, and to go into industry using them. Let industry pay for the licenses.
  • This is tough (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:58PM (#2943210) Homepage
    I'll try to present my opinion. I'd generally be considered a common software pirate (or fraud artist, or any other negative tag). I'll probably never pay for Windows or Office because I can get my hands on corporate-licensed installation media that needs no product activation. I use Photoshop regularly, yet that's another thing I'll never blow 1000$ on. And then on the other hand, I've got a bunch of shareware products with my name branded into them, whose authors regularly email me with updates or just general tech chat. Impulse Tracker, WinRAR, FruityLoops, are just a sample of the inexpensive top-quality software I've registered and paid for.

    I'm nowhere near rich, I've got debts up the colon, but I found the money to pay these authors for their passionate work. The justification probably isn't worth squat, but being an occasional shareware producer myself, I find satisfaction in knowing that my money is going straight to the person who slaved over the product, instead of being absorbed by a dozen different departments of a large corporation.

    Let's take everyone's favorite example: Windows XP. I buy the box at Future Shop, 300$. FS keeps its cut, say 20%. Of the 240$ left, another 25% goes to the distributor. 190$ goes to Microsoft, which then puts it in the bank since its employees are salaried and don't receive royalties.

    Now what if I took that 300$ and bought a bunch of shareware titles ? It will indeed make a difference, not to the bank, not to the IRS, but to the creators of the software, the ones who did the real work. Now THAT is a good feeling. It's like the difference between going to McDonalds or eating at a chipwagon. To your own wallet the result is the same, but at the receiving end you will make a big difference in helping the small guys.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10