Rationale behind using pirated software

  • #1
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Hello,
I hope this post wouldn't be considered spamming because I am genuinely trying to get the insight of others about using pirated software. Let's consider this scenario which applies to lots of people at one time:
1. You live in Africa, well below poverty level
2. You attend university on government scholarship and you study Mathematics, Physics or something close
3. You discover that products exist and can substantially aid and improve your studies
4. You are in a position where you cannot afford to buy anything online and you don't even own a credit card
5. You meet a friend who is using a pirated version of a software and he isn't even aware that what he's doing is illegal
6. What do you do ?

The answer I'm looking for is a simple Yes, just use it/No, don't!. I'm aware that a possibility is to look for another free software. But let's assume that's not possible. If the answer is No, how can someone pay $500 for something he can get for free if that someone is not an extremely rich man.
Another thing that I don't understand is how can software companies know you're using a pirated software. Say for example, the 2007 version of Microsoft Office which needed a simple serial code.
Thanks
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Vanadium 50
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Character is all about what you do when nobody is watching. The question is simple - "are you a thief or not?"
 
  • #3
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There are adequate freeware alternatives to almost Anything, there is hardly any reason to pirate software. The question is, though, are you a thief or not. You won't be talking about rationale if someone broke into your house and stole food from your fridge and carried the TV away. Would you really say something like :"ok, you can come by every now and then, just don't touch the stuff in my office"?
 
  • #4
WWGD
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Character is all about what you do when nobody is watching. The question is simple - "are you a thief or not?"
Do you know that many of the now-rich countries did not respect copyright laws for much of their
history? And now they want to impose them on poor countries?
 
  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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Character is all about what you do when nobody is watching. The question is simple - "are you a thief or not?"
Legally it isn't theft, it's infringement of copyright. With regards to the extreme hypothetical of a poor African student I expect that most companies wouldn't mind giving that person a free copy anyway, obvious practical reason why his doesn't happen is confirming the person is who they say they are. In this case were I the student then I probably would pirate. But this is an extreme case. Any answers to this don't have anything to say about piracy in general.
 
  • #6
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Like I said, character is all about what you do when nobody is watching.
 
  • #7
WWGD
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Like I said, character is all about what you do when nobody is watching.
So you believe people in rich countries have, as a culture, or in general, no character, given they did not respect copyright for many years? How about the hypocrisy of asking poor countries now to live by rules the rich countries never lived by? Similar to the request that the poor countries lower/eliminate tariffs.
Character is also what you do when you are interacting with someone in a weaker position than yours.
 
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  • #8
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I'll thank you not to put words in my mouth.
 
  • #9
WWGD
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I did not put words in your mouth, I asked you whether what I stated follows from what you stated.

I'll thank you to clarify why my statement does not follow from yours.
 
  • #10
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Like I said, character is all about what you do when nobody is watching.
Then who is watching the watchers ? :D
 
  • #11
Ryan_m_b
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I call it economic efficiency. Two cases: 1 don't buy or use the software, 2 use a pirated version. In either of the cases the company selling the software is equally well off (not making a sale to you), but in the second case you are better off than in the first case. Pareto efficiency says you should pirate it iff you were not going to buy it anyway.
Enter the rule utilitarian: one person pirating isn't likely to cause much of a problem in the same way that one thief isn't going to cause any damage. The problem comes if the behaviour of one person encourages others to follow to the point where the act becomes widespread. At that point the company making the software is worse off because people who would have bought their products pirated them instead.

I don't think this is a particularly useful way to discuss the issue. We can talk about hypotheticals and theory as much as we like but the real world consequences of piracy are already difficult to understand. On the one hand there are companies reporting damage to sales due to piracy, preventing them from producing more. On the other there are reports that pirates themselves are the greater consumers in some industries. And for a completely tangential third point there are freemium/merch business models that release their products for free and gain money through alternative revenue sources.
 
  • #12
russ_watters
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Do you know that many of the now-rich countries did not respect copyright laws for much of their
history?
I didn't. Could you provide some of the history?
And now they want to impose them on poor countries?
And other rich countries too. And poor countries want to impose such on rich countries. I dont think there is any dichotomy here, despite what you are trying to imply.
 
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  • #13
Vanadium 50
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I did not put words in your mouth, I asked you whether what I stated follows from what you stated.

I'll thank you to clarify why my statement does not follow from yours.
Editing your message after I replied is low. Really low. Bye.
 
  • #14
WWGD
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Editing your message after I replied is low. Really low. Bye.
What are you talking about? I did not do any editing. Look below my post see if it says that
I did any editing. Please inform yourself well before making such accusations.

EDIT If you refer to my 1st post, I only edited in the line:
"Character is also what you do when you are interacting with someone in a weaker position than yours."
Does this really change anything?

EDIT2: Like Stevie TNZ said, the message may have been edited by a mod., I cannot tell
with certainty if it was me who did the edits. Maybe you, as a staff emeritus can determine
that.

And my question stands, whether I edited or not.
 
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  • #15
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Hi WWGD,

Your post at 3.33am NZ time today does show up with "Last edited: Today at 3:44 AM". Whether it was you, or a mentor, who did the editing is another story.
 
  • #16
WWGD
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I didn't. Could you provide some of the history?

And other rich countries too. And poor countries want to impose such on rich countries. I dont think there is any dichotomy here, despite what you are trying to imply.
Sorry, I would have to look it up, I will get to it. Still, rich countries and
poor countries are not on a level field. EDIT: Rich countries polluted plenty
during the Industrial Revolution, without constraints, which helped them
develop.
 
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  • #17
WWGD
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Hi WWGD,

Your post at 3.33am NZ time today does show up with "Last edited: Today at 3:44 AM". Whether it was you, or a mentor, who did the editing is another story.
Please see the post immediately previous to the one I am quoting.
 
  • #19
Danger
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Thinking back, I might have been guilty of piracy multiple times over a couple of decades. Every computer that I've bought (except the last 2 which were from the store instead of 2nd hand) came with various versions of Illustrator, Photoshop, MS Office, and a couple of other things that differed with each machine. Installation discs weren't included. Does that mean that I had illegal copies, even though I technically paid for them when I bought the computers?
 
  • #20
Monique
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Editing your message after I replied is low. Really low. Bye.
This can happen by accident, don't be so quick to judge.

There are countries that have the rule that when something can have a big benefit for their nation, they'll ignore intellectual property. Musicians are now starting to recognize that they should embrace people pirating their songs, at the conservatory they are giving marketing courses where the free distribution of music is encouraged.

I hate how some software companies restrict the use of their software, they should think more about the customer perspective. Many of them do provide student licenses, those low prices should be encouraged. I question whether the poor student really is an extreme scenario, surely I had trouble paying for software and I'm from a developed country.
 
  • #21
russ_watters
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Sorry, I would have to look it up, I will get to it. Still, rich countries and
poor countries are not on a level field. EDIT: Rich countries polluted plenty
during the Industrial Revolution, without constraints, which helped them
develop.
None of which is relevant here. You're throwing around some wild accusations. You need to substantiate them!
 
  • #22
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This can happen by accident, don't be so quick to judge.
There was admission by the member that they did indeed edit their post, so I don't know how the question can still stand.

EDIT If you refer to my 1st post, I only edited in the line:
"Character is also what you do when you are interacting with someone in a weaker position than yours."
Does this really change anything?
 
  • #23
DaveC426913
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Without taking sides in the issue, I'll correct an oft-used yet terrible analogy:
"You won't be talking about rationale if someone broke into your house and stole food from your fridge and carried the TV away."
"You won't be talking about rationale if you distributed your food and TVs outside your home, and someone made copies of them, leaving your fridge and TV (and all the others) intact."

In short:

Software piracy is not theft. Software piracy is software piracy.
 
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  • #24
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Character is all about what you do when nobody is watching. The question is simple - "are you a thief or not?"
I can't consider piracy on the same level as theft.
If I, for example, download a movie illegally, I'm not depriving anyone of their property, like I would be if I broke into your house and stole items.
And I'm not necessarily depriving them of money I would have otherwise spent on paying for the movie, because I won't necessarily have paid for the movie if it wasn't available to be downloaded for free.
 
  • #25
DaveC426913
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I can't consider piracy on the same level as theft.
Comparing piracy and theft, and determining if one is "less bad" or "less criminal", or "less damaging to the character", is a separate question from clearing the confusion that results from attempts to conflate the two as if they were the same thing.

Personally, I don't promote any idea that piracy "is not as bad" a crime as theft - a crime is a crime is a crime - I simply want to ensure that the issue isn't clouded by a straw man.
 

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