Beefy Boxes and Bandwidth Generously Provided by pair Networks
Your skill will accomplish
what the force of many cannot
 
PerlMonks  

Software piracy- what would you do?

by scottstef (Curate)
on Jun 05, 2001 at 01:54 UTC ( #85627=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I recently did a google search for some perl documentation and I came across the perl cd on a university web server. It appears to be a student's account. I sent webmaster@the_school.edu an email regarding this matter and how I though it was a copyright infringement. (All very politely) I plan on checking on it in the next day or two to see if it automagically disappears.
Was that the correct thing to do?
If not, what are you supposed to do when you come across intellectual property that you belive the copyright has been abused?

Update: I just received an email from the guy that had that account and the cd is no longer accessible.

Comment on Software piracy- what would you do?
Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by Beatnik (Parson) on Jun 05, 2001 at 02:01 UTC
    I found at least 5 similar sites, while looking for some good Net::NNTP examples (through Google).
    Notifying O'Reilly would be an option.

    Greetz
    Beatnik
    ... Quidquid perl dictum sit, altum viditur.
Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by MeowChow (Vicar) on Jun 05, 2001 at 02:12 UTC
    This hit a nerve.
    • Perl is free. What do you mean by "the perl cd"?
    • I emmigrated at an early age from a country (Russia) with a deep and ubiquitous network of "informers". It's my personal belief that informing, snitching, or otherwise sticking your nose into places where it has no business in order to satisfy one's self-righteousness, to stir things up, or for one's own benefit, is among the most base and cowardly of human acts. Just my opinion.
    • Let the owners of intellectual property do their own damn enforcement and police-work.
    Sorry if this is a bit strong; I don't know your motives for reporting on this student, but I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which I would find it justified.
       MeowChow                                   
                   s aamecha.s a..a\u$&owag.print
      Perl is free, but the Perl Bookshelf CD is not.

      I would appreciate it very much if you protect my right to make a living by reporting every occurance you see of this CD on the net. I worked far too many long hours on these books for you to encourage their piracy. You offend me with your comments. Yes, you just "hit a nerve" with me too.

      I empower you to act as my agent in hunting these down. There, you've been deputized. Please help.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

        This raises another interesting question: I was able to find a site that had The Perl CD Bookshelf available online through Google, and Google has at least partially cached the books. I was able to find the full text of more than one chapter.

        So, even if the site goes down, Google will still have the cached version available. You would think that they would have gotten in trouble for this by now.

        On a related note, I was able to browse MathWorld after the site was (forcibly) taken down by CRC Press, but before the Google cache disappeared.

        After reading through this discussion, I realized that my office had been linking to a copy of Programming Perl in our Web Training Center. I have removed the link, and would like to apologize to merlyn for using it.

        Arashi

        I'm sure Edison turned himself a lot of colors before he invented the lightbulb. - H.S.

        UPDATE: markwild has a valid point, I believed that merlyn would be interested in getting the link so he could work to get it taken offline. If he doesn't have it yet, he can message me for it.
      Since you've clarified via the Chatterbox that you don't care whether this is copyrighted work or not...

      I have to wonder whether you'd feel differently if I saw a burglar carrying all of your possessions out of your house. Should I keep quiet, or do I have a civic duty to call the police?

      This situation really isn't all that different. Theft is theft, regardless of whether it's done physically or via the internet.

      buckaduck

        If you saw someone light up a joint, would you feel it your civic duty to inform on them? I suppose it all comes down to your ethical beliefs. As for myself, I draw the line of "informing" well beyond copyright infringement.
           MeowChow                                   
                       s aamecha.s a..a\u$&owag.print
      It's my personal belief that informing, snitching, or otherwise sticking your nose into places where it has no business in order to satisfy one's self-righteousness, to stir things up, or for one's own benefit, is among the most base and cowardly of human acts. Just my opinion.

      Define "places where it has no business", and we can talk. Is Google such a place? Is this such a place? Is sidewalk in front of your house when you're not there and somebody's breaking into your apartment such a place?

      Along those lines...

      Let the owners of intellectual property do their own damn enforcement and police-work.
      and let the owners of stereos and CDs and TVs stolen out of ground floor apartments while the upstairs neighbors watch do it too?

      I don't dismiss the way this mis-hits your nerves, but I think you're drawing too broad a conclusion. The practice of giving information to the police on suspected law-breaking is not the problem, here or in the old U.S.S.R.: rather, unjust laws there, and arguably here (a can of worms I'll try to stay away from) should be your target.

      I am certainly not a lawyer, but I seem to recall that it is commonly held to be a responsability of all citizens to report crimes that they see: under current law (though you are on record as disagreeing with it), posting somebody else's work on the internet without permission is very distinctly illegal.



      If God had meant us to fly, he would *never* have give us the railroads.
          --Michael Flanders

        Define "places where it has no business"

        I suspect you already know what I mean by this. If it doesn't affect you, it's not your business.

        The practice of giving information to the police on suspected law-breaking is not the problem, here or in the old U.S.S.R.: rather, unjust laws there, and arguably here (a can of worms I'll try to stay away from) should be your target.

        This is a very lucid observation. As I've already replied to buckaduck, it really comes down to one's own value system. I feel that one should not inform on people to "authorities" unless another party has been seriously hurt or victimized by a crime. I don't really consider this to be such a case, mostly because I disagree with the law in question.

           MeowChow                                   
                       s aamecha.s a..a\u$&owag.print
      informing, snitching, or otherwise sticking your nose into places where it has no business in order to satisfy one's self-righteousness, to stir things up, or for one's own benefit, is among the most base and cowardly of human acts.

      I must say that I fundamentally disagree. Such an attitude only leads to a total lack of accountability among all affected parties. It leads to mentalities of, "I'll let you get away with your stuff if you let me get away with mine," which in turn makes everyone else distrustful. The end result is that no one trusts anyone, and without trust, no progress can be made. (Would I buy a car if I knew everyone else would look the other way as it was stolen from me?) It is this mentality that causes total industrial, civic, aggricultural, and political stagnation.

      You said you were from the former Soviet Union, correct?... I can't think of a more fitting word for the Soviet experience than "stagnant".

      When you go out of your way to ensure implicit agreements are upheld, the offending person won't trust you, but everyone else in the world will. This trust is the foundation of society. I for one would rather have a someone do the right thing for self-righteous reasons than the wrong thing for self-serving reasons. At least I can trust the one self-righteous actions, if not motives.

      By the way, this concept of "Mutual Trust" being the foundation for societies is not just some half-baked idea. It's actually the foundation of economics. Money is nothing but the embodiment of a favor. When I want something done, I trade my "favors" (money) for what I want. Whoever gets my money can then trade their money for whatever favor they want. This whole system crumbles when no one can trust anyone else to redeem their favor. Ever wonder why Russia's economy has *never* been strong? The whole national mentality is one of mistrust. Most Russian families horde their life savings in American dollars because people at least trust the American government to stand behind their "favors".

      Sorry for getting a little offtopic.

      -Ted
        I must say that I fundamentally disagree. Such an attitude only leads to a total lack of accountability among all affected parties. It leads to mentalities of, "I'll let you get away with your stuff if you let me get away with mine," which in turn makes everyone else distrustful.
        So, by extension, you think that an Orwellian society in which people are willing to turn in their neighbors, friends, and family, is a more "trusting" society?
        The end result is that no one trusts anyone, and without trust, no progress can be made. (Would I buy a car if I knew everyone else would look the other way as it was stolen from me?) It is this mentality that causes total industrial, civic, aggricultural, and political stagnation.
        I believe that you're living in a different America from the one I'm living in. In the America in which I live, business always distrust other businesses, businesses frequently distrust consumers and vice-versa, and everybody distrusts the goverment (or at least the half they disagree with). Nevertheless, progress (as it's generally defined) marches forward.

        Which is not to say that trust doesn't exist in this country, but that trust is either earned, or it takes the form of a nice lengthy contract; it's not implied, and certainly not between strangers. What you have been referring to as trust is actually something else, namely apathy, complacency, and gullibility.

        By the way, this concept of "Mutual Trust" being the foundation for societies is not just some half-baked idea. It's actually the foundation of economics. Money is nothing but the embodiment of a favor. When I want something done, I trade my "favors" (money) for what I want. Whoever gets my money can then trade their money for whatever favor they want.
        Ask the man on the street whether he thinks money is an embodiment of his trust in society. You'll be lucky to receive a blank stare. People use money, because, well because it works. People don't actually think about it on a macroeconomic or philosophical level, so to say that money manifests trust is somewhat misguided. If anything, money is a convenient shared myth.
        Ever wonder why Russia's economy has *never* been strong? The whole national mentality is one of mistrust.
        Russia's failure to sustain a viable economy is a terribly overused rhetorical device to prove anything and everything, and it's a lousy argument. Russia also succeeded in educating their children in the mathematics and sciences to levels that we wouldn't dare imagine for our own schools. Does this prove that a good technical education also leads to a decaying economy? Be weary of generalizing the causes of a complex phenomenon, such as the weakness of a nation's economy.

        Nonetheless, you are absolutely right in saying that the national mentality is one of mistrust. This only proves my point. There was no trust because, among other things, anyone might be an informer on your life, your activities, your beliefs, even your sexual orientation.

        So no, I don't think that a society of people willing to inform on petty crimes creates an environment of trust. Quite the contrary, in fact.

           MeowChow                                   
                       s aamecha.s a..a\u$&owag.print
      Yes, this discussion did hit a nerve.

      Although I also recently emigrated, and also from former Eastern Block country - From Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia), I do NOT agree with MeowChow. Just the opposite. Widespread neglect to rights of others (intelectual property, and also civic right) was one of the reasons why I decided to leave country where I grow up. It was not easy to leave in 40, basically throwing away all contacts what I build there, and my small software company with surviving product.

      MeowChow protects student's "freedom" to steal CD. Student knows, or should know s/he is stealing. Book is expensive? What about car: woull be MeowChow like student who cannot afford own car drove Meows', while Meow is working and does not need it? Or take a shower in his appartment and then watch TV? Why not?

      When I was running my small company in Slovakia, I bought tools of craft needed: PC, FoxBase and Borland C++. Price of software is very high compared with salary, it hurt a lot, and I confess I did my development on "stolen" copy of FoxBase and paid for it only after I first or second sale. Many other small software developers used only stoled software, but I bought it, because I believe it was fair.

      I wrote this to assure you that even in Eastern block there are many developers who are not comfortable with stealing software. For them, Open Source is a godsend. Let's help it grow, and let's do everything to protect this spirit.

      One of the reasons why tyrant as Stalin was possible in Russia was that people were afraid to protect rights of other citizens. "Better do it to him than me".

      Sorry about long comment mostly repeating what other said, but I just cannot bear than you fellow monks might think that all programmers from Eastern Block are thieves. They are not, and after they come here they are as sensitive to fair play as americans are. I assure you, best of them do pay for tools they use and also expect to be paid fair.

      pmas

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by FouRPlaY (Monk) on Jun 05, 2001 at 02:57 UTC
    I was discussing software piracy with a friend who works as a programmer here in Waterloo. I was commenting on how I was contradicting myself by training to become a programmer and then be paid for my code, while also contributing heavily to software piracy. He told me that there is no conflict and related a story to me: He was working on dll's to help sync information over the internet to a hand-held unit (probably similar to a Palm Piolt). He thought that the company would sell the units and use the proceeds to pay him his salary. Not true he told me. The company ended up giving away these units. How they made there money was selling advertising space on the sides of the unit. He had basically not been paid for the software.

    The moral? Just because something is pirated, doesn't (always) mean who ever put it together is screwed. Think of Perl itself. There's no way in hell any of us is going to be able to sell our code. Yet some how, some of us manage to get paid for programming in it. Not to mention that Napster (et al) generated over $20 billion in sales for CDs, CDRs, etc, etc. Not bad, huh?

    In terms of intellectual property, it's my feeling that it's more important for a good idea to be used rather than who came up with it. Think of this: what happens if two drug companies both come up with an AIDS vaccine. What's more important: that the company that came up with it first gets to charge $19.95 or that it gets used at all? An extreme example, but a clear one.



    FouRPlaY
    Learning Perl or Going To die() Trying
      >In terms of intellectual property, it's my feeling that it's more important for a good idea to be used rather
      >than who came up with it. Think of this: what happens if two drug companies both come up with
      >an AIDS vaccine. What's more important: that the company that came up with it first gets to
      >charge $19.95 or that it gets used at all? An extreme example, but a clear one.

      Actually something similar happened, not regarding a vaccine, but regarding the identification
      of the retrovirus that causes HIV. A US pharmacutical company patented some their findings
      most of which had been copied from a french(?) research group, mainly to gain recognition for the
      US group by claiming all that it was their research. "And the Band Played On" somewhat explored this
      issue. "And the Band Played On" is a really good movie that HBO made some years back.
      Anyway, your post reminded me of that.

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by footpad (Monsignor) on Jun 05, 2001 at 03:09 UTC

    If you feel strongly about it, there is also SBA's anti-piracy line.

    Personally, I agree with merlyn on this one. Perl is free (thank you, St. Larry), yes, but those that market (and live off of) products, services, books, and other commercial after-market ventures can only survive if they receive fair rumuneration for their efforts. While I appreciate the fact that some software is expensive, I do not believe that software piracy should be ignored.

    I understand MeowChow's point of view, however, I disagree with it. If you wish to enjoy the benefits of free software, then you should be able to support those that live by adding value to those products. O'Reilly has clearly added value to Perl; it is wise to help ensure they continue to do by making sure they get paid appropriately.

    Finally, there is a very practical reason for alerting the University in question. Since the SBA levies fines up to $150,000 per work infringed, a clever lawyer could easily make infringement of the Bookshelf CD rather painful. (Given the major contributors of the SBA, it's reasonable to suspect they can afford (or borrow) good lawyers.) Also, the University in question may not appreciate the negative publicity.

    --f

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by shotgunefx (Parson) on Jun 05, 2001 at 03:45 UTC
    Software piracy is one of those fuzzy issues. I do think it's wrong, but a lot less wrong then say, stealing someones food, car or life.

    Just to play devil's advocate, let me ask a hypothetical.

    Let's say you have a 16 yr old kid making average money. He has an emachine (or some other budget computer) and really likes CG (wants to work for Lucas someday, whatever).

    He get's a copy of AutoSuperRenderer Deluxe from a warez site.

    Let's say that AutoSuperRenderer Deluxe costs upwards of $8,000 dollars and there is no way the kid can't afford it.

    By using the "cracked" copy of the software, he is indeed stealing from the author, but on the other hand, the actual physical copy of the data cost the developer nothing.

    If he cannot realisticly afford the software, then he is not a potential customer you could argue. If you agree with this then you could argue that his illegal use of the software in no way is harming the developer. This is a rather contrived example and not neccassarily the view I subscribe to.
    As far as doing wrong things, it's all about justification and with gray areas like above, a lot of people find piracy an easy one.

    I for one appreciate getting paid for my work and usually get pretty PO' when someone steals it.

    -Lee

    "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
      By using the "cracked" copy of the software, he is indeed stealing from the author, but on the other hand, the actual physical copy of the data cost the developer nothing.

      If he cannot realisticly afford the software, then he is not a potential customer you could argue. If you agree with this then you could argue that his illegal use of the software in no way is harming the developer. This is a rather contrived example and not neccassarily the view I subscribe to.

      All well and good, and in fact, the author of the software may choose to make "educational" or "evaluation" copies available. And many do.

      But in this country, as in most capitalist countries, that's the right of the author to say yea or nay to. It's not your right as a consumer to make that choice for them, regardless of the altruistic motives. Really, it's not. And I don't see what's so hard to see about that.

      I create it. I choose the options. Luckily for us, Larry chose "open source" for Perl. But that's his right, as is the right for Microsoft to chose "closed source" for Excel. Give people the choice, and give them incentive, and more things will go open source. But mandate it, and you will kill the creative market.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

        Hi Randal,
        I agree, stealing is stealing. If you don't want to pay for it, don't use it.

        I just think it brings up some interesting issues.

        In all honesty, when I started getting serious about programming, I was a kid. I used cracked copies of software and when things started actually working out, (ie I turned a buck), I "legitimized" all my software. At the time I couldn't afford it and it was exactly how I justified it. Hell, my development machine, a Pantera Pentium 66 (Step 0) set me back $5,000 and that pretty much ate up my $5.50 an hour (How times change!).

        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
        Right.

        So make up your mind. Do you want to make more money off of it or not?

        I'll assume you do. Then you *should* let people have copies for free. No publisher has *ever* lost sales by giving away books. Take a look at the Baen Free Library (www.baen.com/library). Eric Flint states that he's sold 4 or 5 times as many copies as he's 'lost' through having the books available online.

        When I was a high school kid, I heard about this new gaming system called 'GURPS'. It sounded interesting -- but I was dead broke. There was no way I could afford the $20 for a copy.

        So I borrowed it and made a copy. Shock. Horror. I was stealing from the company who produced it!

        In the past 10 years, I've purchased 4 copies of that book (one in hardcover), 8 other books in that system, and 3 books in another system by the same publisher. I've also got a subscription to their online magazine (one of the few that I know of which actually makes a *profit*).

        None of this would have happened had I not copied that first book -- because I've almost always been the one to introduce the game to my friends, including my wife. The single exception was a gaming group *that I sought out* because they played GURPS. Wouldn't have done that if I hadn't already liked GURPS.

        Now, don't get me wrong -- certainly you still have the right to object. I just object to the idea that it's costing you or any other author money. It's not.

        It's giving you money by increasing sales.

        Shalon Wood
      There is, to me, a difference between using cracked software, like the kid in your example, because you can't afford it, and providing the same software to other people.
      The actual copy the kid downloaded doesn't cost the author much, true. But if the kid goes on and offers this copy on his server to other people - for free - , then the stealing of software may increase to an amount where it could actually financially hurt the author.

      The student at that university may indeed not be aware that he's opening his BookshelfCD to the public. So maybe an e-mail to the student first would have been nicer. But then, as has been pointed out, if it is indeed software piracy (done consciously I mean) the university might face charges, too, so OTOH they are probably happy enough to know about it.

      Honestly, I'm not sure what I would've done...


      -cs

      -----------------------------
      Go gcuire Dia an t-ádh ort!

        There's definitely a difference. I don't know what I would have done. I think probably email the student.

        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
      I think the author/publisher should recognise this, and treat the kid and the pro as different customer bases. Professionals can spend thousands, but the bright kid playing with it should be able to legally get it at an affordable price, so the publisher will seed their future professional user base and encourage a bright kid to learn their tools. Yea, that's how it should be, but it's up to the publisher, not the user, to make this policy. I wish publishers would do that more.
        Should be that way but it's not. The real problem with IP theft is the majority of people stealing it are people who could afford it.



        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
      Morals and law often don´t mix.

      I morally support the kid that downloads software X because he/she can´t afford it (and uses it only for personal knowledge gaining), but "stealing" software is a crime.

      Here´s a definition problem as well: What is stealing?
      If someone steals my VCR, my VCR is not longer in my possesion but if someone steals my software he/she gets a copy but I still have it.
      Is all copying stealing unless the software etc is realease under, say, the GPL?
      (Yes i´m oversimplifying, but you get the point).

      Supporting the community
      I run GNU/Linux (SuSE 7.2 even) and Perl is installed as default, it also comes with great Perl documentation. It even includes a whole damn book (Thank you).
      Even though I probably didn´t need any more docs (got the default stuff and joined Perlmonks) I bought Programming Perl (O´Reilly). Why? To support the community.
      I think this is one important lesson to be learned: Even if most software/docs is free when it comes to GNU/Linux people need money. So instead of stealing docs or software, buy it, because the long run I think the GNU/Linux (and Perl and ...) will flurish even more.

        Definitely should support the community. I think it's unrealistic to expect to take without giving anything and still get something of value. I own just about every Perl 0RA book there is and the CDs. Some of the best money I've ever spent. Outside of utter poverty, I don't understand why so many monks appear to not to have some version of the Perl Cookbook. Money very well spent.

        I think another big factor with theft of Music (Especially), Movies, Software and etc is that many people view it as getting ripped off.

        Music labels could probably sell CD's at $7 US retail and still make ton's of money. A kid can make one for 60 cents. I know there's marketing and failed bands but they still make tons upon tons of money.

        On the other hand, they try their hardest to create an intense compulsive urge to buy their products (or your not cool.) in youth who have a limited amount of cash to drop on consumables. Sounds like they're sleeping in the beds they made.

        I think the megaconglomerates charging slightly more fair prices would do a lot to alleviate some of the problems.

        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by jepri (Parson) on Jun 05, 2001 at 06:38 UTC
    To deal with the actual question raised in the discussion first: scottstef, I think you should have mailed the student first. A discreet message, possibly through an anonymous remailer, explaining that you had noticed he was doing something wrong, but you thought you should give him a chance to correct his mistake before invoking potentially damaging official action.

    And the thing that no-one has mentioned is that someone can come to this website and receive the same advice he would find in one of these books, but for free.

    Tricky isn't it? Forums and discussion groups have always been a hassle for people IRL (In Real Life). You get people posting the harsh truth about things, and you have experts here giving away advice for free that would literally cost hundreds of dollars if you walked into their office.

    It's a different world on the web. People just impose their favourite philosophy on the issue, and declare that it's right. We've already had people accuse each other of working to bring police states into existance, others are apparently working to bring the country (America, of course) into chaos and anarchy. All this over some pirated words!

    I may have been reading to much anarchist literature, but the idea of owning an idea, or even the expression of an idea strikes me as being absurd. It really seems to be "1,000 pennies for your thoughts". It gets to the point where you can't have a conversation about computers in the tea room because everyone's afraid of having their IP (Intellectual Property - their ideas) nicked. I don't have a better answer, so I'm not going to claim that my viewpoint is right, just different.

    ____________________
    Jeremy
    Fall in love with love itself.

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by tinman (Curate) on Jun 05, 2001 at 07:32 UTC

    After reading the thread several times, and debating with myself as to if I should post here, or not... I thought I'd try to give my opinion..

    I am unfortunately, a fence sitter.. I agree with MeowChow, who said that informers and a culture where trust is undermined is not a good thing.. OTOH, I also recognize merlyn's point of view.. He expended effort to publish those books, and its only fair that he should be rewarded financially by their sale..

    Some points that others may have missed:
    Its quite possible that this particular student was not aware that his "private" intranet site was being indexed by the Googlebot. Its silly... but it does happen. I myself used to have my personal copy of the bookshelf running on a server, bound to my IP here. This guy may have not, so he's stupid.. it doesn't deserve a heavy handed action..

    Its not going to be a popular opinion here, but now would be the time to mention that I remember all too well the time that I was a student. I lived in a country where the exchange rate effectively ruled out any sort of book from the US (heavens, some people who were working could not afford it). Our only recourse was the library. We photocopied sheets and excerpts from books. By the same token, is this wrong ? I don't know.. All I know is that I did do it, and when I got enough money to buy a reference, I did so..others may have not..

    One final thing is that this sort of behaviour is not limited to just books, but to lots of other stuff (mp3s, movies, software cracks)... can we really afford to, or should we even have to blow the whistle on each and everyone we find ?

    With all that being said, as jepri suggests, I would also probably send off an email to the person hosting the site, and point out the violation of copyright... beyond that, I don't think I'll really take any sort of action...

    my <$0.02

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by blakem (Monsignor) on Jun 05, 2001 at 11:48 UTC
    I recently stumbled upon one of these sites. Assuming it was legit, I answered a perlmonk question by linking to a relevant Cookbook recipe. I included a "p.s." asking if the site was really authorized to use the bookshelf that way. After learning that it was indeed *NOT* sanctioned usage by O'Reilly, I promptly removed the links.

    I'm a fence sitter on this one as well... Perhaps because it is so similiar to the IP battles that the music industry is currently going through. I certainly wouldn't give up my copy of the Cookbook even if the entire contents was available online for free. Perhaps it would even encourage more people to buy the book (cause it is a damn good book!!!)

    It's hard to compare O'Reilly with the IP Warlords of the music industry, so perhaps that isn't really fair. I suppose its immaterial either way. O'Reilly doesn't want you to do it, and it was their dime (and authors' sweat) that made the book a reality. If they discourage that type of usage, who am I to disagree.

    -Blake

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by Anonymous Monk on Jun 05, 2001 at 11:56 UTC
    Berk.
    This disgusts me. I once had the Perl CD copied from the Web. I said `` had '', because I just put it into the bucket. I won't buy the original, though, cause (1) I have not the money (Randal, the ones that need your books the most are students, and not all students are necessarily rich, do you know that? It is your opinion that knowledge should be only for the rich?) and (2) the idea of someone attacking everyone just to get more money disgusts me so much I can't decently look at these books again.
    Maybe one day, someone will finally see the real value of IP laws and toss'em in the bucket, but for now, I'll just throw in the works of its followers.
    - A disgusted student
    PS: Sorry for my english, I'm French...

      I don't think you really get it.

      Randal (and his co-authors ;--) did a great job with "Learning Perl". Since he wrote it he has been on the road teaching Perl. Overall he has done more for the promotion of Perl than anybody but Larry and Tim O'Reilly.

      What have you (and the people who put the Perl CD online) done for us?

      It's not like you need the books by the way, did you notice that Perl comes with a huge amount of documentation? Did you have a look at the huge amount of information that you can get on the web, including Randal's Web Technique columns? So the books are nice, I have a whole bunch of them, but you can certainly learn Perl without them (how do you think Randal learned it by the way?)

      Plus I thought I had spotted a couple of posts by merlyn around here, so it is not like he doesn't volonteer his time and skills for free here.

      I don't think we can put O'Reilly, which put quite a lot of hard work into the development of Perl, and record companies, which are mostly concerned with marketing and money. You just have to compare the rate of royalties in both cases to see the difference.

      One last question: what have you done for merlyn? While you were enjoying reading for free books he spent a good deal of time and energy writing, Randal was busy being the defendant in a pretty nasty lawsuit, then spent his life on the road to pay the legal bills. Did I hear you do anything to help him? Oh, sorry, you were busy being disgusted by him asking for a compensation (update: sounds better than the original retribution ;--) for his work...

      So pleeeze, stop thinking that Open Source means that you can still people's hard work. The day merlyn stops writing books we will all be poorer.

      Another student's view:

      I agree that being a student is tough with lack of $$ and all. School is expensive, text books are expensive ... everything is expensive ... but I don't think that you can just steal people's hard work becuase you are a student.

      Most extra resources are created as additions. They are not manditory for you to learn or use whatever you are trying to do. There are man pages, documentation, etc. that is available for free provided with whatever you are trying to learn.

      Actually, students maynot have to steal, there is a lot of free resources for students that others may not have access to. These include:

      The Library: Most schools have one of these, and you can find all types of books here ... for free. If I can't afford a certain book, I go here first. Some of the stuff is out of date, but you can usually find some of what you need here.

      Profs: Go see a Comp Sci or Engineering prof and see if they have resources that you can borrow. There are certain licences that allow students to have access to s/w and other sorts. Ex: I needed a specific Java IDE for a Java course. The reatil package was too expensive for me at the time, but my deptment had a special licence that let the students have a copy of the IDE for free (the school paid the licence). It was not the full/pro version but it had more than what we needed. Plus, companies want people to use their products and who better to taget.

      The Internet: There is tones of free tutorials, online communities (i.e.: Perlmonks), IRC channels, etc. Form what I have seen, every student has an Internet account and access to a computer, so let's do more than just surfing for Britney Spears' pics ... (nothing wrong with that, she is cute !!) ... and surf for resources and learning material. Search school web sites for courses, this usually generates a plethera of usefull, relaible info.

      However, as a student I can see your point. I am not trying to prove you wrong or diss your point. There has been many, many times when I needed some s/w, a manual, a text book, etc. and it is way too expensive (i.e.: $100 for a 8086, out of print, "manditory" Assembly reference book ... which I no longer need). Sometimes you just have to look in other places for the info that you need.

      Ducati ~~ Still a po' student ... but getting there.

      ============================================

      "We rock the body to rock the party ... until the party rocks the body"

      De La Soul

      So, what would you as a student do if the CD didn't exist ?

      Would you photocopy one of the books ?

      If you personally can't afford the book/CD, you should persuade whatever institution you study at to purchase it for their library and then borrow it from the library for the time that you need it like any other book.

      Just because it is easy to make the CD available on a web site doesn't make it any less of an offence than copying the pages of a book.

      Would you consider it OK for me scan in "Learning Perl" (or any other book) and make that available on a web site ? - it is just the same IMHO.
      --
      Brovnik

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by davorg (Chancellor) on Jun 05, 2001 at 11:59 UTC

    (This must be this month's "hot topic" in the Perl world - this is the third place where I've seen the discussion)

    IMO you did exactly the right thing by pointing it out to the school. You should probably inform O'Reilly as well.

    This is, of course, a problem that publishers will have to deal with more and more as the trend for electronic versions of books grows. Manning are currently trying to shut down a person in Israel who will happily email a PDF copy of my book to anyone who asks for it.

    Once you put anything into an electronic form the concept of theft becomes a bit vague. It's impossible, for example, to steal all the ebook copies of Data Munging with Perl. Some people seem to use that argument to imply that it's therefore not theft. I, and I hope most other book authors, would argue that by making electronic copies available then some people will be less likely to buy copies, thereby effectively stealing income from the publisher and the author.

    A fundemental part of the free software world as envisaged by Richard Stallman was that the software should be free, but that people should be able to make a living from selling training, consultancy and books. If you take that away, then the free software movement starts to look a good deal less attractive.

    --
    <http://www.dave.org.uk>

    "Perl makes the fun jobs fun
    and the boring jobs bearable" - me

      You cite RMS; so, you must support the free software concept, I think. If this is the case, could you please explain to me the difference between a book and a software package? Assuming that « software is speech » (we want the DeCSS suit to have an happy end, eh?), I see no differences, so all books should be free (in fact: all knowledge should be free, in any form).

      Sorry to say that, but you're no less than the software hoarders criticized by RMS in my opinion.

        Okay, Mr. Anonymous Monk, you're starting to piss me off. All you are doing is justifying your actions to yourself after the fact. The knowledge contained in the book is what you wished to gain and rather than pay for it or get a job and earn the money to buy it, you took the easy route and copied it. Now that you've been called on it you get defensive.

        The point here is that merlyn and others have worked to produce this literature and they have decided to sell it on the grounds that they, like you, need to live. Most of the information presented in any of these books is available elsewhere completely free: If you have perl installed then you've got the manpages, then you've got most of the info already, the BIG difference lies in the way that it is presented: merlyn and others have worked to present the information in such a way that it is more easily understandable and also in such a way that enables the reader to see the possibilities inherent in regexps, for example, rather than a dry listing of the modifiers and metacharacters. This is what you are paying for, not the information, so please, feel free to copy what the hell you like software, books anything but don't ever try and justify yourself in such a puerile and asinine way.

        Okay, so you may say that a piece of software is also thus: Ordered, horizontal arrangements of sixty two alphanumerics and about twenty other assorted characters structured so as to produce pretty pictures, or connect to another computer and download data. Indeed so, however in this case the author has the FREEDOM to decide whether he wants to release it under the GPL or to make it proprietary and, indeed this is his right and exactly how it should be just in the way that, should merlyn so choose, all of his perl books could be .pdf'd and freely available at the Stonehenge site.

        Basically what I'm saying is this: Grow up. People have to live and eat and pay their phone, electricity and legal bills. merlyn chooses to do this by writing books and lecturing on perl (among other things) because he isn't bad at it. Don't deny other people the freedom to make their livings or one day, some snot-nosed little student may start to infringe on yours by reproducing your work and giving it away to all and sundry for free.

        "Violence is the first resort of those faced with yet another BSOD."
        --/me

        ADDENDUM: Personally I think Richard Stallman's ideas are extreme to the point of pointlessness (This doesn't stop me from using emacs ;-) and actually counter to what he wishes to produce. I support Open Source on pragmatic grounds rather than some high-minded ideal.

        Knowledge should be free, if you want to read a copy of someone's book or go to a library, there's nothing to stop you from learning that knowledge and retaining it.

        But.. you can't expect to get something of value for nothing. Everything has a cost. Even here. Yes people here help other people because there nice, but also they get help too. Everyone helping each other. It's a much less capatilistic transaction but it's still the transfer of something valuable in exchange for something valuable.
        (Though the bigger contributors certainly have given a lot more than they received!)

        I use Programming Perl, The Perl Cookbook, Learning Perl or the Perl CD Bookshelf at least once every single day. Should they be compensated for this? Of course they should. IMHO, they paid for themselves many times over. There have been few purchases that were of a better value. Always feel like I got a great deal when I get an O'Reilly book!

        -Lee

        "To be civilized is to deny one's nature."
Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by dthacker (Deacon) on Jun 05, 2001 at 12:45 UTC
    The CD is Randall's (and others) work. I value Randall's work and I want him to keep on doing it. I've been offered copies of the CD before and I have declined, because I think it weakens a system I value. I used to pirate quite a bit of software (Any one else been to Commodore 64 trading party?) but I've found over the years that I want to own the tools I depend on for my work. Some of them (like perl) are given freely. I'm grateful. Some of them are charged for. It's not a problem. If they really help me, they are worth the cost. Though I've never met merlyn, he's taught me a lot and made me chuckle while learning perl. I consider him a friend. I look out for my friends.

    My answer to the original question would be:
    1) email the person directly
    2) if no action, email O'Reilly
    3) Go on about my business

    I do empathize with MeowChow's reply. If I had the same experiences as he had, I might feel the same way. I have worked with bullies and informers, and I have no desire to become the full-time IP police. I need to take care of my own house first. But when I can, I will help my friends and neighbors, and I think this is an appropriate way to do that.

Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by petdance (Parson) on Jun 05, 2001 at 18:28 UTC
    Let's muddy the waters further: I let camel@oreilly.com know about this guy selling bootleg T-shirts. "The association between a camel and Perl is a registered trademark of O'Reilly & associates" y'know.

    xoxo,
    Andy

    %_=split/;/,".;;n;u;e;ot;t;her;c; ".   #   Andy Lester
    'Perl ;@; a;a;j;m;er;y;t;p;n;d;s;o;'.  #   http://petdance.com
    "hack";print map delete$_{$_},split//,q<   andy@petdance.com   >
    
Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by Big K (Monk) on Jun 05, 2001 at 20:49 UTC
    Perl is a free language, so to speak. It doesn't require anything special in the form of programming platforms, and that I believe that the whole open source bit is part of why it's growing in popularity.

    Can you learn Perl without using the text/CD references? Certainly. I only wish that I had a site like this for my first time stumbling through Obj. Oriented C++. Books are forever, support the authors for the time & effort they put forth writing them.

    - id:\\71699

Log In?
Username:
Password:

What's my password?
Create A New User
Node Status?
node history
Node Type: perlmeditation [id://85627]
Approved by root
help
Chatterbox?
and the web crawler heard nothing...

How do I use this? | Other CB clients
Other Users?
Others exploiting the Monastery: (10)
As of 2014-08-22 18:29 GMT
Sections?
Information?
Find Nodes?
Leftovers?
    Voting Booth?

    The best computer themed movie is:











    Results (163 votes), past polls