I’ve been brought up in a country where piracy was (and probably still is) imposed to you right from the start. Software licences being really expensive, and living from pay check to pay check, my parents, and probably many others, couldn’t afford legal software for their home computers. Sadly, it’s still looked at it like that. Companies are required to have licensed software, which is enforced by the authorities, but home computers running licensed software are something to long for. So paying for software (and any other digital content), becomes something you just don’t do. If a kid next door can get you a copy of windows, maybe he can get you other stuff. What if there is something they know, that you don’t? Maybe there is a way to download stuff from the internet, without paying the author?
There are of course many reasons for this mentality. People don’t have enough money to even buy their child a computer, but you also want a couple hundred USD or for Windows and Office. Let’s see if the neighbour kid can install that for 40$ or less. After that, it a smooth downhill ride. Need a fancy photo editing software, or whatever else? Sure. We’ve got it, for 10$ or less. And when your paycheck is ~$600 you really can’t buy an proprietary software licence that runs into $200++
I see this as a two way problem. One is the small, self published authors, artists, and software businesses, which don’t have the power the other ones have, to let’s say force whole governments to use their proprietary software in the schooling system and administration, or to enforce copyright laws. And especially if you are one of those people, making software, music, writing, or teaching for a living, please show the same respect to others as you would want to be respected. Most of them offer a no questions refund, so if you really see no value in the software or service, or even a book you bought, go ask for a refund, be honest, and you will get it. If you are a bad person, you can even keep the content you bought, but that is your karma on the line. Learning to think differently, and act differently, isn’t an easy thing to do, but you can start by changing the little things. Go and support people that make your life easier, you will be happier for it. And there is no better way of showing your support to self published writer, than pulling out your credit card.
The other side of the problem are big software companies, who set the standards for you, and you can’t really move away from that path. As it’s not an easy thing to do. The solution seems self evident, using free software, like GNU/Linux, LibreOffice, Gimp, and other very good alternatives to proprietary software. But what if I told you that there is a bigger problem? What if someone is forcing you to use proprietary software, what if you can’t do the same thing with LibreOffice and with Excel. What if someone is teaching your child only to use one software, the proprietary one? Can you buy a new computer and just install Ubuntu and LibreOffice on it? Of course you can, but can your child use it for school? NOPE. Luckily there is a solution for that, at least while your child is at school. And I found about it a couple days ago. School children all have an account with which they can download free, licensed software, while their education lasts. It’s a bad solution, but beats cracks and key generators any given day. Although I don’t approve of this drug dealer mentality, because it is exactly that, it is a good thing to have licensed software on your computer.
Business users (as I am one too), have to jump through many hoops to avoid paying that toll. I had to fire my business bank because even if they claim to work on OSX, there have been so many issues with it, that I’ve lost a lot of time trying to fix them. You can’t file your taxes without paying the toll, and some reports you have to do each month, and year, also require using proprietary software. Luckily, my accountant does that for me.
In order not to sound like RMS, and rant against all proprietary software providers, because I’m not doing that here. If you are creating value with some tool, be a nice person, and pay for that tool. I use OSX, and pay the Apple toll, but I have chosen to do so, no one forced me into it, or moulded me during school to do that. Think about it, especially if you are a software company, pirating a tool with which you gain a substantial amount of your profit. Just think about how it makes you feel when someone doesn’t want to pay for your hard work. Don’t be a cheap asshole, pay for software you use, or use free software.