Why Shareware Fosters Piracy
Over the past few days I have been thinking a lot about software piracy and peoples' motivations for doing it and I think I have a theory that explains why some people may download stuff illegally. Before I begin on my theory, I will say that I am guilty of piracy. Come to think of it, all of my friends are as well in varying ways and degrees. Am I ashamed of this, no, but I am willing to own up to it and offer my reasonings behind why I do it.
Back in the day, when the internet wasn't something that everyone jumped on each morning to check news and stock tickers and what not, existed BBS's. I loved BBS's and had a handful that I loyally visited each day. I played games on them (ahh Falcon's Eye) and chatted with people on them. The big draw for me was the ability to download stuff from them....shareware or freeware usually. I was in junior high and Doom was the "in" game to play. I spent at least one whole day downloading the shareware version of that game and once finished, played it quite extensively. It was during this time that I learned about cracks and patches. Who would have thought that by cracking Doom's shareware version you could play the whole game for free. This was a wonderful thing and I began looking for cracks and patches to other games and shareware that I used. Doom was my gateway drug to software piracy.
It was such an easy transistion; download shareware, download crack, apply it to shareware and get the whole thing for free. I don't even think that I realized that what I was doing was wrong until a couple of years ago. Downloading shareware is not illegal. Downloading a crack is not illegal. Combining the shareware with the crack, now that is illegal. It is like turning household cleaning chemicals into a bomb.
Who is to blame for this? I would vote that shareware designers hold a large chunk of responsibility. Do not get me wrong, I love shareware and feel for the guy that asks for a five buck donation for his clever piece of software and over the entire span of its creation only gets fifty cents. That sucks. Does that mean that I donate to him, no. Why? Because I am a jerk. In my entire computing life I have only known one person to donate that specified amount to shareware designers, Dustin, I salute you.
In my case, had the shareware people set a price and demanded it, I would have paid. But they didn't and I took advantage like millions of others. By the time I hit college, piracy was not stealing, it was a method of survival. People would come to me for software or music and I would get it for them. If I wanted to play a game, I got on the net and downloaded it. If I wanted to hear a record, I jumped on Napster (the good version of it) and got the album. I guiltlessly ripped off a lot of people. I know that now and for the most part, have stopped pirating everything known to God or man. But it is most definitely and addiction. When you are used to getting stuff for free and then start making yourself pay for it, it sucks.....a lot.
So why did I write this post? Because, I want all of my readers to ask themselves how much stuff they have pirated over the years and why they started. Do I want all of you to feel sorry for doing it? Am I trying to guilt trip all of you? No, I just want people to be aware of how much stuff they have downloaded illegally and the next time you go to grab Winzip or mIRC, maybe think of paying the guys that created it...just a little bit. I think I may start doing that from now on....or at least once in a while. :) I don't know, maybe I am one of the few jerks that do not pay for software and maybe the rest of you will read this and think I am a punk, but I doubt it.