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Re: Software piracy- what would you do?

by davorg (Chancellor)
on Jun 05, 2001 at 11:59 UTC ( #85728=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Software piracy- what would you do?

(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


Comment on Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
Re: Re: Software piracy- what would you do?
by Anonymous Monk on Jun 05, 2001 at 12:11 UTC

    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."

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