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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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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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).

  • by Alex ( 342 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:05AM (#2941548)
    "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.
  • by gabriel_aristos ( 265988 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:06AM (#2941549)
    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.
  • 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 Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars,Traeger&googlemail,com> 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:12AM (#2941568)
    How is it immoral to charge $10 for something that cost you $1 to make? The market might not be interested in your product, but how is it wrong to charge anything you want? This I believe is a part of being in a free society. Noone should be forced to pay your prices also of course.
  • But that is against the goal of making a program user friendly and well documented. I'd rather pay for a good user interface and documentation than good support. The former means program is professionally made, the latter means company is doing its best to hide the fact that the program was not professional.
  • 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 ColdForged ( 453024 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:29AM (#2941622) Homepage
    Ah yes, the lovely sound of a knee jerking. The people upon whom this software is "spying" are the people who:
    1. Entered a pirated key into the registration box.
    2. Found that the key needed to be renewed to match the new scheme.
    3. Clicked on the "Renew" button that connects to a server to renew the key

    I can here the cries of foul clear across the Internet. "How dare they verify the information I sent before giving me a new working key that I so justly deserve when I elect to attempt to renew a pirated key!!"

    Modded down by the man.

  • 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.
  • Shareware Author (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:30AM (#2941625)
    As a shareware author that's sold 1000s of copies, I'm suprised the percentage of piracy isn't higher. The logs show where the links come from to my site, and the majority of my traffic for certain versions are from appz or warez sites.

    Every version I've had to increase the security - and it still gets cracked - it's a fact of life at this point.

    I can understand cracks from counties where $39 might represent a months pay. But I don't understand it from countries or companies where it is not. You can rationalize it anyway you want - it's still stealing.

    People wonder why Microsoft went to the new licensing scheme - I don't.
  • shareware (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:36AM (#2941639)
    I think there is a moral difference between pirating software by a major corp and software written by a small company. If you are using shareware and the price is reasonable then buy it.

    That being said, the implentation of this key scheme these guys made is awful. It assumes people have access to the internet. If I buy a program and recieve a key to use it, then I bought that program forever. I frequently wipe programs off my system I dont use, and if I want to reinstall it later I better be able to. If my computer is not hooked to the net, apparently with this guys system it would not work. I suppose I could set my computers clock back in time and install, but that leads to other problems.

    I write shareware. Some people buy it, some dont. I have even for the hell of it looked online and found reg keys for my software. The thing is that you have to make a business decision about if you can support yourself or not with the shareware apps you sell.

    People who are using keygens or other peoples serial numbers are in reality most likey not going to buy your software no matter what you do. Expect that! Its reality. If you cannot get enuf people to buy your software, either stop writing it or do it for reasons other than money.

    I for one realize the apps I write are not going to pay my bills. I have a day job. I write shareware mostly when I want a small program to do something for myself. I share it with others. If they pay that is great, if not then I dont worry about it.

    Think about the name SHAREware. If someone can afford it I would like them to pay a small price for the program. If they cannot then id rather have them use it than not. If you are making 20 dollars an hour or more is it worth your time to track down a serial, cracker, keygen?
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:39AM (#2941649) Homepage
    Microsoft does not control "the last piece of food in the world", they control an operating system (one of many) and a few programs. If you don't like their operating system, go use Linux (hell, it's what this whole webpage is about) or MacOs, or any of the other OS options... or don't use a computer.

    You're not obligated to use an Operating System (unlike food), so if the cost for Microsoft software upsets you unduly, simply don't purchase it. Find an alternative or choose not to use computer software at all. They haven't mandated you give them money, all they've done is offered a product/service for a price... you make the decision if their price is worth your money or not.
  • by t14m4t ( 205907 ) <weylin...piegorsch@@@gmail...com> 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.

  • by bartwol ( 117819 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:48AM (#2941670)
    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 p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:51AM (#2941676)
    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.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:57AM (#2941697)
    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.
  • by RinkSpringer ( 518787 ) <rink@ri[ ]nu ['nk.' in gap]> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:00AM (#2941703) Homepage Journal
    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!
  • by Un1v4c ( 226792 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:04AM (#2941711) Homepage
    I'd feel safe saying WinZip is the most overly pirated and useful shareware ever.
    Read the license agreement, 30 Days then you need to register. This software is installed on almost every home (and office) PC in the world. I'm pretty sure it actually ships with Dell & Gateway computers.
    Our department recently purchased licenses, but the rest of the company continues to click the agree button 3 years after installing it.

    Makes you wonder, what would happen if they disabled it and required registration after 30 days?
  • 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 cowscows ( 103644 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:18AM (#2941763) Journal
    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 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 lkaos ( 187507 ) <anthony AT codemonkey DOT ws> 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.
  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:30AM (#2941808) Journal
    That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You can argue semantics all you want, but the fact is, people are using software and not paying the creators the amount that they want for it.

    Whether or not you think the price they were asking was fair is irrelevent. If you disagree with the price, you take your dollars elseware. I'd love a 22" apple cinema display, I just can't afford it. That doesn't give me the right to break into compUSA and take one.

    The fact that software is much easier to reproduce doesn't change anything. When I buy a piece of software, in my mind, I'm not paying primarily for the media, or the packaging, or the booklet. I know the costs of all that are factored in, but that's not my main concern. I'm paying for the utility of the program, or maybe the entertainment that it's going to bring me.

    If ambrosia makes a game that I play for 2 hours a day for a month, that's 60 hours of entertainment. If they want $15 for that, that's not unreasonable at all. That's way more bang for my buck than I'll get going out to see a movie. When I walk out of a movie, all I've got to show for it is a ticket stub. After the shareware game has lost its initial excitement, I've still got a legit copy of it for those future rainy days, and hopefully my registration has helped convince a talented bunch of programmers/artists to release more good work.
  • by gidds ( 56397 ) <(ku.em.sddig) (ta) (todhsals)> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:34AM (#2941818) Homepage
    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.

  • 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 [virtualsurreality.com]

    There is plenty of free software [nonags.com], free graphics [unmondo.com], and other free resources [virtualsurreality.com]. 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 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 inbox ( 310337 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:37AM (#2941833)
    I hate to use the same old argument but do you go to the grocery store and only actually pay for what you think is reasonable and just kindly ask the cashier to let you walk out with the rest?

    A silly game is one thing, but software people use for profit is another ballgame.
  • 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?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:02PM (#2941917)
    You didn't read the article did you?

    With respect to #1 - User error would not generate an error indicating that the s/w was pirated. It would not match the algorithm at all.

    With respect # 2 - There was an image of the server log that showed the attempts to register. The pirate attempts included the same user name and serial number being used repeatedly by systems with different IPs on different netblocks.

    With respect to #3 - #2 already answers this. One more poing, though. Before criticizing someone's methodology, why not look at the methodology.
  • by filtersweep ( 415712 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:03PM (#2941923) Homepage Journal
    OK- I do pay for some shareware, but it is rare... but there are some real issues that come into play involving any sort of copyprotection/registration.

    I recently purchased a new PC, and I've had nothing short of a nightmare installing software on it. The new box uses win xp, and since I don't like MS's "internet sharing" had been using a paid version of Sygate. The version I had been using doesn't work with XP, so I needed to purchase the newest version (their upgrade path requires extra money and is only good for one year). That stinks!

    But that was the least of my problems. Copy protection has caused me to rip my apt apart looking for the original shrinkwrap from a CD... the install required both the serial number that I had dutifully written on the CD jacket AND the code from the wrapper. One CD jacket was missing the serial number which is found after hours of searching- finally found on a card in the manual. Several plug-ins that I had paid for (hundreds of dollars in total) for my DAW won't install in XP because either the installer sees a negative amount of disk space- or -in compatibility mode it accepts the serial number and then cannot find the CD that I'm already installing from... and the downloadable XP-compatible version will only install over the original version that won't install. Another bundle of plug-ins uses that god-awful Mac-style hard disk key, and the installer won't access they key from the floppy. Of course you can always say this is just the issue with XP- and true enough, installs were a breeze on win 98.

    Never mind that my ISP changed my email suffix twice before I switched to a local company... and proving my "identity" to recover a serial number or reactivate a product is next to impossible... or that many companies rarely respond to their emails. Ive had a few aborted installs (from original CD)claiming I was installing cracked software.

    Another set of plug-ins required a dongle on my old-system- the much despised hardware key... it was recently switched to a "challenge/response" system that required a complicated patch and registry hack to activate in XP... and I haven't even discusses XP's own form of "activation"- or the issues I've had at work adding MS Access to a PC that is not connected to the internet.

    All these forms of copy protection have cost me much time and loss of productivity- for a paying customer of retail software. I certainly would not expect a "shareware" company to support my software through an OS upgrade.

    Also, most shareware seems to be very niche oriented... like a utility that just has a few more features than something I already own. I have a difficult time measuring the worth of such apps. Most shareware plugins I've used have caused my system to be very unstable or are poor quality.

    Shareware sites such as cnet don't disclose the price of shareware or the terms. Often they are not disclosed until the software is actually installed. Maybe this is part of the marketing- to hook someone first... I don't know. I do know that it is very difficult to obtain decent distribution for consumer/retail hardware... and shareware is an alternative. I don't think they have yet shaken their reputation for being "some guys project" that works on his system and that may or may not work for me.
  • 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.
  • Re:WHAT THE?!?!? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by khuber ( 5664 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:05PM (#2941933)
    It is a privacy violation and a nuisance to have online registration. What if my network connection is down?

    When I buy a book, I don't have to call the publisher when I get it to have them tell me a combination for a lock so I can open and read it. Likewise I didn't have to call Charmin to tell them that I am wiping my butt with their toilet tissue and I am, in fact, the original owner.

    I don't want time-limited registration or regular fees to use software. This is the path online registration is going towards. It's all about the benjamins, maintaining an ongoing revenue stream, ensuring that software is "legitimate" while inconveniencing people who aren't pirates.

    I know people are going to counter that the companies have a right to do this, blah blah blah. Well, frankly, companies have too many damned "rights" already and people have too few.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:08PM (#2941947)
    The far more likely scenario is that Bob just get's Alice's pirated copy and never even knows where the software came from in the first place.
  • 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 Peyna ( 14792 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:36PM (#2942062) Homepage
    I hate paying any amount for gasoline, but I still pay for it, because I have to get places (and Indianapolis has no decent public transportation, but I would still have to pay for that!)

    The consumer does NOT set the price. While demand does have an impact on the price, in the end the price is also determined by the cost to create the product.

    I will admit that I have used pirated software that I indeed would have paid for if the pirated version was not so easily available to me. (and often times out of guilt, I almost bought it anyway.)

    I sure hope that you never create anything of worth in your life that you want to offer to others, and then try to tell me that all the hours you put into its development wasn't worth anything, and when someone stole your product and gave it out to hundreds of people, that you hadn't lost anything.

    Unless you are poor and hungry and are stealing something that you need to survive, I see no justification for theft of any kind.

    Another question for you, if you never would have purchased it in the first place, why did you bother downloading it to obtain a pirated version? If you wouldn't even pay $1 for it, why did you go through the trouble of even trying to get it? I'm lost on that one.

  • Re:WHAT THE?!?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rblancarte ( 213492 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:41PM (#2942085) Homepage
    It is a privacy violation and a nuisance to have online registration. What if my network connection is down?
    How is this a privacy violation? They are just validating a software's registration code on your computer. Something that YOU AGREE to when you click their licensing agreement. And not only that, is what they are doing really an invasion of privacy? It is not like they are seeing the contents of your computer or the hardware configuration you have (like SOME companies get).
    When I buy a book, I don't have to call the publisher when I get it to have them tell me a combination for a lock so I can open and read it. Likewise I didn't have to call Charmin to tell them that I am wiping my butt with their toilet tissue and I am, in fact, the original owner.
    Yes, but with those you phyically have to have those products. You can't just get on the internet and download TP or Harry Potter 4 (well, maybe HP4, but that is not the point). If you have the posession of the product in question, SOMEONE had to buy it (unless it is stolen, which is ILLEGAL). Software is different, especially shareware, you can go and DL the product if you want with no problem. And for most things you can go and get a KEYGEN or CRACK and take care of the authentication. In these cases you have the full fledged product but never paid for it.
    I don't want time-limited registration or regular fees to use software. This is the path online registration is going towards. It's all about the benjamins, maintaining an ongoing revenue stream, ensuring that software is "legitimate" while inconveniencing people who aren't pirates.
    I know people are going to counter that the companies have a right to do this, blah blah blah. Well, frankly, companies have too many damned "rights" already and people have too few.
    They are not going for time-limited or fees on their software. This is just a case of this computer company covering their butt having your software validate on their system when you use it. Is it fair to them that over 50% of their software used is not paid for. While for you and me, we don't care, but for their company, that is over $3200 in revenue. And how is this really a detriment to you? They are doing their whole thing in the background. What I find dumb about your argument is that you are claiming that this is an inconvenience for you and are pissed at the company. You let the hackers go scott free. Face the facts, hackers are out and about and making it VERY easy to use full versions of software WITHOUT paying for it. The software companies are just covering their butts, don't blame them. Blame everyone out there who is writing KEYGENS and CRACKS for this software. If it wasn't for them, you would not see prices as high as they are or registration schemes that were as complex as they are.

    As far as your "rights" argument. I hope that you run a business and lose a ton of money on theft in the future. Then lets see what you have to say about rights.

    Just my final bit - Don't confuse big business with just plain old rights to cover one's butt to make sure you get at least your fair share of revenue.


  • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <icebalm@@@icebalm...com> 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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:53PM (#2942128)
    "Why aren't you using the perfectly functional free alternatives you said exist?"

    The UI is awkward.
    It may be harder to setup.
    The logging is in a crappier format.
    The preformance is less and the resources used more.
    A history of hacks to the program.

    Lots of reasons why, hell just look at the best ftp daemons for Linux and compare them to the best on the win32 platforms. Even though Linux is toted as being the creme de la creme of networking I still use a win32 ftp server for all the reasons above.
  • Re:WHAT THE?!?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kzanol ( 23904 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:57PM (#2942142)
    Likewise I didn't have to call Charmin to tell them that I am wiping my butt with their toilet tissue and I am, in fact, the original owner.

    Yes, but then - you had to PAY for it BEFORE taking it home.
    With shareware, you get to take it home, check it out. IF, and ONLY if you actually like the product are you required to fork over any cash. I'd say that gives you much greater surety that what you're paying for is actually what you wanted and easily offsets the nuisance of having to register.

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:05PM (#2942176)
    They have taken something without the right to do so.

    No, they have copied something without the right to do so.

    That is theft.

    It is not theft. It is coppyright infringement. The law makes a very clear distinction.

    I'm not saying its legal, but I wish people would quit confusing the issues by miscategorizing copyright infringement.

  • by Jesus IS the Devil ( 317662 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:16PM (#2942241)
    I have a friend who's in medical school. Needless to say he is well-educated...

    Yet he PRIDES himself in the fact that he's NEVER EVER paid a dime for one single piece of software, EVER!

    His justification?

    "These guys make a lot of money already. They don't need the extra cash"

    "It doesn't cost them a penny if I use a pirate version"

    "I am proud I can get away with it"

    "Oh who cares it ain't me that's hurting"

    Human beings, I'm afraid, are inherently greedy and selfish. This is why my friend feels absolutely no guilt. He doesn't give a rat's ass about some struggling software designer sweating to create code. He just wants it for free.

    So in the end, this honor system doesn't work. If you don't lock your store at night, people will open it and steal your stuff.

    And don't give me this crap about software being too expensive! Let's let survival of the fittest weed out the over-priced software. I mean, if you think something's too expensive then use something else.

    I really believe that if we could stamp out even HALF of the piracy that's present today, software prices would drop drastically and that innovation in code will skyrocket. Until then astalavista.box.sk will let the leechers steal what innovations these sucker programmers have created.
  • 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 balthan ( 130165 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:15PM (#2942506)
    Here's the point, kiddies...

    You seem to have totally missed the point. Whether or not you would have paid for it is completely irrelevant. The copyright holder gets to decide how the software is distributed, for a limited time. If you don't like it, tough. It may not be stealing, per se, but you are still violating someone's constitutional rights.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:15PM (#2942507)
    "I spent $28000 to get my CS degree to learn to program"

    Really? I learned how to program without getting a CS degree. When I finally did get my CS degree, it didn't require one course in programming. Perhaps you went to a mail-order school?

    " spend $600/mo for my apartment and $300/mo for my car. I own a small software business with 8 employees. The company pays $1500/mo for 7000 square feet of office space, and $200/mo for an Internet connection"

    If you really got a CS degree you would've had to take a course in economics. Economics would tell you the cost of production is in no way related to the selling price. That's YOUR burden and and YOUR risk, not the customer's.

    You're a silly boy with silly notions. Go away until you create some value.
  • by diogenes57 ( 43063 ) <dehua1234&yahoo,com,cn> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:33PM (#2942570) Homepage
    At least that's what I've found to be true. If I can get all the software I want in freeware versions, why pay for a shareware version? Sometimes it takes some searching to find a great freeware product, but it is always more satisfying to me to find something free and usefull rather than simply shelling out for the ubiquitous version that does the same thing (although sometimes is actually inferior). When I install a new Windows OS for someone, I always download Filzip [filzip.com] for them, rather than Winzip with its anoying nag screen. I also try to teach people about the Gimp and they are always amazed that they can have a Photoshop equivalent for free.
    Also, the great HTML-Kit [chami.com], VirtualDub [virtualdub.org], Blender [blender.nl], and many others are great, professional apps that happen to be free.
    You can even run a portal like Slashdot on freeware (using Slash or MaxWebPortal [maxwebportal.com]).
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:37PM (#2942588) Homepage
    The point here I think that should be noted, is that software is like electricity.

    This is incorrect. I'm going to speculate that the reason you made this argument is the misconception that the key distinction between software and other properties is tangibility, rather than cost of reproduction. This is also incorrect.

    While electricity itself is intangible, except in its effect (like software), the fact is that it shares a critical feature with common goods, like cars: If you take some, there is less for everyone else. A power plant only outputs a finite amount of power, and any power I use they had to produce, whether I payed for it or not. For plants that run off non-renewable resources such as coal, this should be even more obvious.

    Whereas with software, the only cost for me to make a copy is, in fact, the electricity needed for my computer to carry out the operation (which I'm paying the electric company for). The software company does not have to go press another CD every time I make a copy. They don't experience the event at all. They have the exact same amount of software to sell.

    So the whole difference is that with electricity, like any other truly scarce good, when you steal some you've deprived the company of something directly. The only way to show deprivation of the company of some resource with software copying is if you can prove the hypothesis that the person who receives the illegal copy would have bought the software if they had been unable to attain an illegal copy.

    This is highly debatable, and from my own experience demonstrably false in many cases. Even myself, when I used to think copying software was cool -- There were many tools that I'd use if I could get a free copy, but if a free copy wasn't available, there was no way in hell that I'd pay for it. In those cases the hypothesis is provably FALSE because a free copy was not available and yet I did not purchase the software. Thus the company would not have lost anything if I -did- find an illegal copy.

    Nowdays, I don't copy software illegaly anyway. I don't think it is cool. What little commercial software I need or want (Loki games, linux distributions) I pay for. But that doesn't mean it's theft if I did.

    If you cant figure this out, I have pity for you. Obviously you have no regard for other people or their efforts.

    Argument to emotion? A demonstrably false claim followed by the claim that disagreeing implies a "no regard for other people"?

    Tsk tsk.
  • 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 Pyrrus ( 97830 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:07PM (#2942706) Homepage
    R&D costs stuff. Once I write a program It costs
    nothing to replicate but don't forget all the
    hours I put into coding it...
  • 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 Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:44PM (#2942838)
    And nobody is telling you that you must get your zip program from any particular source. If you can get one that meets your needs for free, then fucking get that one for free. But just because you could get info-zip for free doesn't mean that you should automatically get winzip or powerarchiver for free. Just as it's your right to choose to use info-zip it's the software authors' right to tell you the terms that they want you to use their software. The exact same right that allows people to put their software under the GPL allows them to say "I want $5,000 for this 'Hello World!' program." Yes, it is your choice if you want to use it, but let's not rationalize taking the results of someone's hard work and not paying for it.
  • by LadyLucky ( 546115 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:51PM (#2942861) Homepage
    A number of people have mentioned that the piracy would be less if the cost were less. I imagine, to a certain extent, this would be true. However, I am reminded of one of those naff TV programs that comes on every now and again "The world's stupidest burglars" or something. One point that was made many times (OK, so I watched the whole program) is that virtually nobody steals a sack of potatoes, some oranges, etc. Everyone steals the luxury items, the most expensive deoderant, perfumes etc. The point is that for shoplifting, the price is not the issue. The greed of the shoplifter is the only real force at work here.

    I dont know to what extent it applies to shareware, after all, how many people can honestly say they never cracked something?, but I do believe it is more complicated than price alone.

    Just my NZ$0.02

  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:17PM (#2942933) Homepage Journal

    You, sir, just dictated the thieves creed, and it's the justification that bands of criminals have used throughout time to justify their ways. Do you rob banks because the teller is a bitch anyways? Do you dine and dash because there's always some reason that the dinner wasn't worthwhile?

    You have ABSOLUTELY no right to set the price on other people's software ventures: If you don't like it, DON'T USE IT. If those utils and BBS doors are so common, then why the hell don't you use a free one or write one yourself? Oh, right, because you couldn't do what they did (that's "so easy") if you tried your hardest.

  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @08:40PM (#2944095)
    Bank notes is a matter of fraud, if I coppied a million and never used them to decieve anyone else - then really, would anybody care. Of course, if I coppied a Madonna CD and said I was Madonna - that would be a matter of fraud too. I wouldn't want that right even if I could pull it off. I suppose I should have said coercion and fraud. BTW the word "piracy" is a fradulent description of people who make coppies of software, music, and things.
  • by maunleon ( 172815 ) on Sunday February 03, 2002 @05:23AM (#2945417)
    Honestly, I believe that the one thing that has hurt shareware most is all those people who think that they need to charge money for every little piece of crappy software they write. I swear, in many shareware programs, the nag/registration code is 90% ofthe actual code!

    People are just greedy. They write 10 lines of code and think they can charge money, then slap a nag screen..

    This is not to take away from such great shareware such as Paintshop, WinZip, etc. But I mean.. heck, the other day i was looking for a clock utility so I can time a process. Out of the 15 I downloaded, 10 were crappy shareware that weren't worth the download time, let alone the $10-$25 they were asking for them. The one I actually used was "Postcardware".

A university faculty is 500 egotists with a common parking problem.