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.
Learning Perl or Going To die() Trying
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