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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 !
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 selderrr ( 523988 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:11AM (#2941563) Journal
    I can't charge for help because the program is simple as hell, and the questions usually range from 'duh, why doesn't this run on XP ?' (answer : because it's mac software sir) to 'can't you make it process MS Word files?' (answer : no sir, this is a bitmap batch procesisng tool, not text)

    This remark also holds for games. You live off support fees for a game ! There are free web communities for that...

    You have to understand that there is *A LOT* of software that simply needs to be payed for, albeit only a little amount. Unless people are forced to pay for it, they won't. I have given up on shareware development at all, concentrating on lage project development. Tools that I make in those projects are no longer distributed because the effort of writing documentation and making a good interface remain unrewarded. For me, this is not a drama, but for companies like ambrosia, it's hell. Shine on it the way you like, but PA is the only solution for them.
  • 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.
  • by nusuth ( 520833 ) <oooo_0000us@ya h o o . c om> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:25AM (#2941610) Homepage
    PA with MS products is dumb, they are shooting themselves in the head. Just how did MS became what it is? By selling their crappy OSes and then-crappy office suit? No sir, they are what they are because legally bought or not, nearly every damn PC had their software and most had the latest versions so they could push their new, incompatible standarts. That made everything MS made defacto standart, from IE compatible HTML & java for internet, to brain-dead windows 9x platform for development target.

    Now with PA, dedicated pirates are turning to enterprise & similar non-activated versions, no benefit there. Preloaded stuff does not need PA anyway, they are legal, no benefit there either. That leaves sixpack pirates who know how to borrow from a friend but nothing else. Some will buy the OS, some will stick to old versions and some will move to a new platform. Now, every non-MS OS used out there hurts their monopoly position, every old version hurts their ability to push new standarts. I don't think that few extra sales from sixpack-pirates makes for the possible fatal loss.

  • 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.

  • by EQ ( 28372 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:30AM (#2941624) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Cy Guy ( 56083 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:32AM (#2941630) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • 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 mrfiddlehead ( 129279 ) <mrfiddlehead @ y a> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:51AM (#2941678) Homepage
    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.

  • by mliu ( 85608 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:51AM (#2941680) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 snookerdoodle ( 123851 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:08AM (#2941729)
    I know it's just arguing about a word and is sort of off-topic, but the title says it all. Remember when shareware meant it was really freeware and you could send in a suggested donation if you liked it? True freeware didn't ask for a donation. If the donation was mandatory, then the program was Plain Old Commercial Software, NOT "shareware".

    BUT: perhaps by even using the term "shareware", some guy old enough to remember what it used to mean is thinking, "hey, it's shareware... they don't mind if I don't pay for it."

    I do NOT believe it justifies theft, but it COULD explain a downside to our changing language...

  • Re:hmm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by west ( 39918 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:15AM (#2941753)
    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 abe ferlman ( 205607 ) <bgtrio AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:16AM (#2941760) Homepage Journal
    Look, Ambrosia makes good software and it's in your interest to give them money if you like their work.

    But there is a fundamental flaw in their argument, and it's the one the RIAA and MPAA are getting away with too.

    The fact that someone has misappropriated your content most assuredly does *NOT* mean that they would have bought it otherwise.

    All you can really say is that if the product was free, that many people would have used it. And you can't really even say that- I know folks who have "pirated" stuff just for spite, with no intention of ever personally using the software they grab.

    So, you can cry and say that people are "stealing" your bits of data, or you can say "we're making a sequel to the software 200 of you liked, pay us in advance and we'll develop it, don't and we won't". It's your creative energy that's scarce, not the software once you've made it. That's what a truly free market would look like.

    So stop playing these dishonest games that equate number of users with number of potential paying customers, because those two numbers have precious little to do with each other.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:29AM (#2941804)
    don't bemoan the fact that someone else is trying to make a living

    It's the software producers that bemoan the fact that people copy their software. I see nothing wrong with copying software as long as you wouldn't buy it at the selling price .

    If I copy software, I'm not taking anything away from the seller. It's a positive-sum game. I'm not saying that pirating software is a valid alternative to buying it, but pirating software is usually an alternative to not having it, not an alternative to not buying it.
  • Re:hmm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Graspee_Leemoor ( 302316 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:30AM (#2941807) Homepage Journal
    What's the app with the uncrackable protection and where can I download it? If it takes me more than a week to crack it, I'll buy a copy!


    (I don't crack software then spread the crack or the knowledge of how to crack. I don't use cracked software- I am a firm believer in legal software. I just enjoy the challenge of cracking).
  • by pipeb0mb ( 60758 ) <pipeb0mb&pipebomb,net> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:31AM (#2941810) Homepage
    In 1997, I wrote a cruddy VB app that removed cookies from the users PC.
    It was the first 'cookie killer' program, and demand was high.
    In 1997, I registered over 700 copies at $10 each.
    According to ZDNet/Cnets downloads, there were over 60k downloads from their links, and I know that my server was kept quite busy too (this is before major b/w restrictions on hosted servers; who'da thunk any small guy would ever hit 10gb transfers, haha)
    Anyway, the hassle of a day job and real life got to be too much, and in '99, all of my utilities were made freeware/some of them open source.
    I got maybe 10 emails a week with thanks,etc.

    In 2000, I wrote another little app that really caught in in a big way.
    Now hosting actually cost me something, and I needed to recoup my losses, so, I put a "paypal donate' button on the site.

    Almost 2 years later, I have built in the donate buttons to all of my my about boxes, and each month, I average 12 donations of about $5 each.

    It's enought to cover hosting and also: beer money...

    Anyway, my point is that no schema is going to help. Either put it in a damned box, or accept that fact that human nature means that if it can be stolen over the net (or even in the box), it WILL BE!

    I suggest that Ambrosia focus on charging for support or insulting and let the software speak for itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:51AM (#2941882)

    Ok, so let me get this straight. There are perfectly functional free alternatives, and you find the shareware cost of $45 too much, so you're going to crack the shareware version.

    Why aren't you using the perfectly functional free alternatives you said exist?

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:51AM (#2941883)
    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.

    If you break into compUSA and carry something away, then they wouldn't have it anymore. If I copy your software, you will still have as much software as you had before. This is not just wordplay, it's a very real difference.

    This whole "intellectual property" issue has been turned around and distorted by the software and entertainment industries. The limited privilege governments give to companies and people to sell their intellectual creations does not, in any way, reflect any intrinsic "right" on that "property". That limited privilege is granted as an incentive to further intellectual creation. When it ceases to have that effect, the privilege should be revoked.

  • by abe ferlman ( 205607 ) <bgtrio AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:52AM (#2941888) Homepage Journal
    In a free market, you pay the software author to write the software, then you use it.

    You don't pay *to* use it. That is not the service that the *author* provides, that is the service the software provides.

    If software providers want to get paid and not rely on government monopolies over information, they have to get paid for the *creation* of software (which is scarce), not the redistribution of it (which is only scarce due to government-sponsored monopolies, modulo the cost of serving information over a peer to peer network, i.e., essentially nothing).

    Fake libertarians, beware. Copyright and patent are government-imposed monopolies which disrupt the free market. Stick to your ideals.
  • 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 conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:28PM (#2942024) Journal
    The gist of the article is that a small independent Macintosh company is getting pirated. I think that Mac programmers go on the natural assumption is that people who will pay unreasonably high prices for their Macintosh computers with unusually stubborn patriot like feelings will also be willing to pay yet again for software that is free and of a higher quality on other platforms. The quantity of Freeware for the Macintosh is few and far between. Let me start with a few examples.

    Windows Winamp = zero dollars.
    Linux Freeamp = zero dollars.
    Macintosh Macamp = $15 dollars.

    Buzz Tracker = zero dollars
    Linux SoundTracker = zero dollars
    Macintosh PlayerPro Tracker = $69.00

    The utility in question, Snapz Pro X 49.00 [vs]
    IrfanView [] for Win32 at zero dollars.

    Hell, Nonags [], Windows Freeware, thousands of valuable programs available for zero dollars.

    The examples here aren't a cheap product vs a better quality shareware product, in my opinion the free ones kill the shareware ones, my girlfriend has a Macintosh that I configure and use, I should know.

    The old tried and true definition of steeling would require me to take something away from the victim. The programmer will never have his or her copy of a program taken away from them, it's not like if one steel's a car and prevents the victim from driving.

    They theoretically lose money based on trying to prevent people from using binary data which is in all practicality an infinite resource, true. Maybe they have an affinity to their code and would like to live off it, good for them.

    But if there are more noble people who are willing to give away, be it beer or freedom, screw em all.
  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:34PM (#2942050)
    While I agree that it's not fair to make an analogy between IP and physical goods, I still see it as theft.

    If you had an idea you were going to patent, but someone made photocopies of your documents and then ran to the patent office first, I don't think you'd appreciate it.

    So there, someone has stolen your work but you have no physical loss. There is a difference, but the end result is too similar to call it anything but theft - the person that created the IP is out the money they would have otherwise received.

    This is true even in the case of the weak argument that if majority of people who pirate wouldn't have bought at the market price anyway. Why? First, the "majority" is not "everyone", and second, people who haven't paid simply don't deserve the benifits of using the software.

    Again, if you look at the reverse situation, if someone took your GPL'd software and sold it is commercial, I don't think you'd appreciate it - regardless of wether or not you lost money, you lost your IP rights.

    People blather on and on about IP and information wanting to be free, but there is no black and white about it. There are plenty of cases where people deserve the IP they have.

    The bottom line is, with the exception of really obscure cases (like abandonware), there is NO justification for copyright infringement. If you ("you" as in anybody) don't want to pay, if you don't think the company is charging a fair amount, then don't pay - that doesn't give you the right to steal.
  • Re:hmm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by heideggier ( 548677 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:42PM (#2942091)
    The point which I was trying to make was that these guys seem to be ignoring mindshare and that they seem to be taking a course of action that will limit it's application rather extend it.

    Saying something like "our software has an install base of over half a million units" is a lot more powerful then saying we made 20 grand in licensing last year. Due to the former leading to greater things in the future.

    Think "selling out" everyone knows that companies like M$ spend little time developing their own software and would much rather buy a small shareware company like sonique to intergrate into their system, or like what AOL did with nullsoft (there must be millions of examples). This is what most shareware companies tend to do rather then trying to get money directly from their product. It also happens to be the same model guys like id use with their commerical software, by licensing the game engine. Esp when the reality of wishing to buy more then pizza and beer sets in.

    Ofcourse, I have to admit that this was also the same model that half the dot-bombs (counting hit's to their site or whatever) were using last year (that or set up a bent IPO), You can call me a idiot cause I am :-).

    I consider shareware along these lines;- It is a fun thing to do which you don't expect to make money from, and if people donate money, then you can continue to do it in the future, a bit like running a market stool, maybe someone big might notice you a buy you out. If you what to make real money then either write a commerical app (and good luck to you), or set yourself up as a consultant writing custom software for a company, using the shareware to promote that business.

    I would not be surpised if all this hasn't started just because they couldn't find a publisher for themselves, and are punshing their own user's because of that. Also, I read a lot of "we recon we should have more money for doing the same work" into the article, The same arguement that didn't work on my boss

    By all this it is a given that shareware has a very simliar modal to free software, however free software is better because there is more room for development in the future since the people who use the product tend to contribute to that project when development get's beyound your means. To the point where the project will continue even when you have moved to bigger and better things.

    In the future I think that freeware (gpl, or bsd) will be a lot bigger then shareware for this reason, and companies that follow the shareware model will bastardise the term in the same way that these guys are, that it is just demoware in all but name.

    My arguement is that freeware has basically made shareware a legacy, like the medium it used to be distributed on the "floppy".

    "Hay, you don't have to pay it's surrgested donation" -- Homer

  • by Curien ( 267780 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:05PM (#2942178)
    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.

    If you break into compUSA and carry something away, then they wouldn't have it anymore. If I copy your software, you will still have as much software as you had before. This is not just wordplay, it's a very real difference.

    This whole "intellectual property" issue has been turned around and distorted by the software and entertainment industries.

    You know, you're right. But the way I see it, you're not paying for property (intellectual or otherwise) when you buy software. You are paying for the *service* that the programmer provided. IMO, a much better term would be "intellectual service". When you look at it that way, the whole "but there's no loss of property" argument becomes moot. Would you not consider it stealing if someone agreed to pay you if you cleaned their house for a month, then after the month is up, refused to pay?
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:21PM (#2942262)
    if someone took your GPL'd software and sold it is commercial, I don't think you'd appreciate it

    Selling is perfectly all right according to the GPL. Many companies, such as RedHat, Caldera, Suse, etc, sell GPL'ed software they got free from someone else.

    My point is that there is no crime if no one is harmed. I think the moral approach is the only valid one when considering laws. Immoral laws may exist, but we are under no obligation to comply with them. The Romans had a saying "non omne licitum honestum" (sp?), meaning something can be dishonest, yet lawful.

    But the pro-IP arguments are that someone is being hurt by my not doing something, i.e. not buying their software. I consider myself under no obligation to buy something, unless I feel the benefits outweigh the cost. Let's say I occasionally write a few letters, and am thinking of getting some word processing software. Suppose I have four alternatives: 1) buy a copy of Microsoft Office, 2) get a pirated copy of Microsoft Office, 3) get a free copy of StarOffice, or 4) write all my letters by longhand. Microsoft would be equally hurt by any of the alternatives 2, 3, or 4. Why is 2 a crime, while 3 and 4 are not? Because, theoretically, it's not Microsoft who is being hurt by piracy, it's society as a whole.

    IP laws do not exist to benefit inventors or artists, they exist to generate an incentive for inventors and artists to create the things society wants or needs. In the USA, at least, the Constitution states very clearly that the reason for patents and copyrights is promote the development of new ideas, and is NOT, in any way, a right of their developers. When that effect stops working, IP has no moral or lawful reason to exist anymore. The free software phenomenon is clearly demonstrating that much better products are made without economic incentive than commercially. We should consider if it wouldn't be best for society to make IP independent from commercial considerations.

  • 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.
  • by Fesh ( 112953 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @01:41PM (#2942358) Homepage Journal
    Imagine if pepsi came out of taps for free at your house. Would you goto the store to buy some pepsi to "support the pepsi developers"?

    No, but there's probably a lesson to be learned in an existing situation: bottled water. To get you started, compare a buyer's reason for buying Evian and a buyer's reason for choosing (note the wording) Microsoft products.
  • by Fesh ( 112953 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @02:08PM (#2942478) Homepage Journal
    Actually, they have lost. To the tune of t/(u - p), where t = time spent creating the software and u = number of people using the software and p = those using it who didn't pay for it.

    As p approaches u, you get the same effect as one person stealing a six-month long massage.

  • by WickedClean ( 230550 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:07PM (#2942707) Homepage
    The problem is software creators being so stupid as to release a program that is fully functional when all the user has to do is enter a number.

    I have created some shareware myself and sold about 70 copies @ $5 each. I made two seperate versions - the shareware and the registered one. When the user registered, I just emailed them a copy of the full version which they can install over the shareware one.
  • Cast the first stone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2002 @03:13PM (#2942729)
    Let he who has not pirated software cast the first stone.

    I am not accusing anyone of anything .. BUT

    There are MANY software developers, who pirated software in their "youthful indiscretionary" days, that benefitted from the scene. Now many of them are pissed and wouldnt mind sending people to jail for piracy.
    Only a shareware or software developer that has never pirated any software has the right to demand that people pay up.
    Those that are now "in the software industry" have suddenly developed high moral values.

    Well, if you didnt pirate before .. would you be where you are today?? .. I ask this of many of the softwatre developers out there!

    This is not true of everyone, but its true of a lot of them. Down with the hypocrisy!
  • by Sivar ( 316343 ) <(charlesnburns[) (at) (]> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:11PM (#2942908)
    Software piracy really is bad and harmful, but as will all things there are exceptions:

    Winzip: []
    How much should one person make off of a frontend for someone elses compression algorhythm?

    Microsoftware: []
    Why not just make a donation to the Al Qaeda while you're at it?

    or Incredibly trivial software [] like a cheesy password generator [], or (OMG!) a random number generator that cost $15.00 []
  • 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.
  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gm a i> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @05:35PM (#2943364) Homepage
    "As a stronger example, I had another software free, with emailware. All I requested was for people to mail me when they downloaded a copy, so that I could get notice where on earth my soft was used and for what purposes. In my logs I could count around 250 downloads. I received 3 (yep, THREE) mails."

    Big deal. I wrote a crypto library and within two weeks there were over 500 downloads. I got all of five or so emails.

    All that means is that about 300 people downloaded it [some people got it more than once, updates, etc..] 150 of which probably either don't need/want help and 150 just threw it out.

    I get the most useful help from only a few people and I kinda like it that way.

    Another note, I wrote a winamp plugin "TomSteady" which according to has had 105,000 downloads. I've gotten about 35 emails about that so far [most were just thank you notes, which rock] and occasional flames or something.

    Personally I like opening my email box every once and a while and seeing a quick 2 line "thank you" note from someone who downloaded either my plugins or other source code [on my website].

    I don't care to get world fame, or money. I just like writing stuff, occasionally others like my stuff too. The best thing you can have is the uninvited thank you note. It shows people are still considerate.

  • Shareware nowhere (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @06:21PM (#2943563)
    Every day, people walk into stores and shell out lots of money for software. So the problem is not that people are unwilling to pay.

    The problem is with Shareware, which is nothing more than an attempt (by programmers) to get something for nothing. No marketing, no advertising, no promoting your product. Just throw it out into cyberspace and then sit back and do nothing and wait for the money to roll in. And when it doesn't, whine about "piracy".

    Here's the reality -- there's nothing wrong with wanting to make a living as a programmer, but, if you want to get paid then don't make your product available for free. I can't get a car, TV or computer for free. If I want them, I have to go to a store and pay for them.

    As for the claim that shareware programmers are being deprived of the ability to make a living -- this is equally absurd. Trying to make a living solely by selling shareware is like trying to support yourself solely by selling crap on Ebay. Maybe you need to consider getting a real job.
  • by Lerc ( 71477 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @08:39PM (#2944089)
    I wrote a game Fitznik [] and it has been out only a few months. I'm currently living off of the proceeds.

    Now I couldn't do this If I were living in the US. The NZ dollar is worth 42 US Cents so each dollar becomes $2.38. On the other hand though the sales lifespan of the game is likely to be much longer than I spent developing it. I'm not sitting idle. Another game and expansion packs for my current game will bring me quite a respectable income in total.

    Now maybe you can make more if you write a business app that brings in more if it hits the right spot, but I'm not considering the bottom line my end goal. I want to write games, and if I can earn a decent living writing games why should I take more money to do something I don't want to do.

    Remember, Commander Keen and other Apogee games sold over 30,000 copies. I wouldn't consider that Little or no. If my game sells 30,000 copies (not that I expect it to do that well) I'll be buying a house.
  • by SyFryer ( 173279 ) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @09:40PM (#2944294) Homepage
    no trolling intended.

    Coming from an amiga background to the PC, it is hard for me to ally myself with shareware authors who think the world owes them a living.

    Progressing from the amiga to the PC, and starting at that point to release my efforts as freeware to other users to share was the big step.

    It was more the understanding that i was learning and also givng others the benefits of my labor, look at most of the demo crew from those amiga days.

    Usually, (at least nowadays it seems) people forget the helpfulness that the 'community' gave them to enable them to create their own 'products' in the first place. it seems almost akin to a preacher preaching, and the preached too charging to relay it to others.

    look at the very engine we use to debate this topic a 'product' created for a purpose, and also freely available to those who want to learn how it works, plus available to use for no charge!

    Software is a means, not an end IMHO, regardless of who produces it. (marketing and promotion aside), the sheer hours the author instills in its creation, once it is let loose, all the author should (personally) be concerned about is good reports and recognition. IMHO

    s/ware dev is also usually a learning curve, who amongst us recognises this list of tools, all buggy to begin , progressing with each version, whos authors utilised the newsgroups and other enthusiast groups or boards to acheive their ends?

    1: Winzip (still use command line equivalent)
    2: paint shop pro
    3: various registry editors, notepad++ (freeware?)
    4: snes 9x, etc
    5: WINAMP

    lets face it people, shareware and freeware (and it seems we are mostly looking at a windows platform) is usually a medium for the author to extend his or her profile or recognition, i should know, and i got 300 out of 1200 registrars. i wasnt looking for cash, just appreciation, and to improve my skills, making tools i wanted.

    Rock on,
  • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:10PM (#2944582) Homepage

    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.

"Nuclear war can ruin your whole compile." -- Karl Lehenbauer