17 Jun 2002 johnnyb   » (Journeyer)

I know that others have pointed this out before, but it only hit me in a real way a few days ago.

The biggest enemy of Free Software is pirated software.

I have a friend from Church. Almost all of the software on his computer is pirated. He knows it's illegal, but doesn't think it's unethical. He would not pay the money for the software. I didn't ask him directly, but I'm sure if he had to pay for it all, he would be willing to look at Free Software.

In addition to his admitted guilt, he also did not know everything that he did which was illegal. For example, he thought that since he bought a copy of Quickbooks Pro, that he was free to install it on whomever's computer he wanted to. He thought that this activity was perfectly legal, and got very defensive when I informed him that it was not.

I did not have the chance to get around to telling him about the kind of software that allows this freedom, but I may in the future.

Anyway, the problem is how to solve this problem. On one hand, he is not even aware about all of his legal activities, and on the other hand, for those he knows its illegal, he doesn't care. He is a very moral person in general, but it seems that he puts the relative moral value on this subject about on par with the speed limit.

What to do about this? I'm not sure.

One possibility is to start an information campaign similar to the BSA's, but ending with Free Software information rather license compliance information. This would be most effective in Churches, where not breaking laws is one of the things that lends them credibility.

By the way, this conversation has lead me to believe that the actual numbers for piracy are much, much larger than reported, but the actual number would be too embarrassing, and basically prove that such restrictions were not in the public interest.

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