Program Piracy by Jim Butterfield

Program Piracy and Personal Ethics by Jim Butterfield
This is from TPUG magazine in 1984.

A number of isolated thoughts relating to piracy, copyright, legality and ethics.
I try not to sound as if I’m preaching on the subject of program piracy.
If a school student rips off a program that is sold commercially, it won’t cause me to
lose any sleep. But maybe it should cause him or her to lose a little sleep.

If someone steals a program and then feels rather tacky about it, that seems to
me to be an appropriate state of mind. With thousands of free programs
available, why liit one in the first place? But here’s what baffles me: I can’t
understand the types who steal programs and then seem to think that the theft
makes them the smartest people on earth. That’s smart?

It can be interesting and educational to look into protection mechanisms to see
how the trick is done. The area doesn’t interest me personally, but one can look
into inner workings of computers and disk systems, and learn things about their
mechanisms and logic. If someone tells me,”Hey … I figured out how Galactic
Zappers does their protection system”, I’m likely to reply, “Good detective work:
I bet you had fun doing it”.

If the same person tells me that a backup was produced, I’m still not too
worried. But when I hear about copies made for friends and relatives, I tend to
lose interest in the conversation and move away. ‘the annoying thing is that
such people seem to be expecting congratulations for performing an action to
help mankind. They see themselves as Robin Hood.

One thought on “Program Piracy by Jim Butterfield

  1. I had a lot of respect for Jim Butterfield and what he brought to the home computing scene.
    As a teenager, I have to admit, I “traded” a lot of games with a few of my fellow Commodore owners. I know, as an adult, that it was unethical to partake in such activities and I’ve refused to involve myself in such activities today. But, here are a couple of points where I see “cracking” copy protection as important and how piracy could have been reduced.

    First, I did spend a lot of my savings and later disposable income (as a working adult) on buying software and games on floppy disk. And there was always a danger of something happening to those disks as they were being used. So, being able to store the original disks and use a copy for day-to-day use was desirable.

    Secondly, many of the games I did purchase fell far short of expectations from either reviews about those games I previously read, or by the game description on the box. I felt that I got ripped off in many of my purchases. If there was a way for me to “test drive” games before I bought them, I would have made use of it. I was a big fan of “shareware” games, which later got released for the PC in the early 90s. I outright purchased copies of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Blake Stone, and other similar games with this method of distribution. If Commodore games developers offered such shareware, I would have traded these, rather than cracked versions of the games.

    Just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

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