Pirated Software, Piracy & the Pirates who Pirate: A Social Opus

Piracy is a fact of life, it’s been happening since the beginning of mankind upon the earth. Computer-related piracy has been happening since computers began. Theft of food has been happening since starvation began.

The truth is, Piracy has led to the rise and success of the very companies combating it.

Do you think there would be a Microsoft Windows in the world if there was never a Pirated copy of Microsoft Windows?

Highly doubtful. It would be about 5% of the market. Linux would have been developed extremely fast, and would have, by this time, been a far superior operating system to Windows. This actually almost happened when Microsoft decided to give every version of Windows in China a black screen if it wasn’t verifiable as genuine, almost tanking the entire economy. Within days of this happening Chinese Linux distributions made more progress than any Linux distribution to date, and had Microsoft not panicked and returned access to Windows without the black screen, there would surely be no Windows in use anywhere in China today. Its a sad thing, really, China was on the cusp of creating a perfect replacement for Windows altogether, one that would have been free and open-source, and functioned better than Windows does. We would have that today, if Microsoft did not give in. In Microsoft’s mind, 1.4 billion Chinese people, meant 1.4 billion paid subscriptions to Windows, and meant an orgy of ones and zeros for Bill Gates’s bank account. They saved themselves, in essence, by loosening their strict anti-piracy practices. I and most other Windows users, would much rather have a fully-developed, mature version of Linux, with maximized compatibility and ease of use. Instead, due to Microsoft’s desperation to keep control of the market, we’re all stuck with Microsoft. Apple doesn’t even exist in most of the world’s minds.

Same thing with Adobe, the creative Giant. Do you believe for a second that Adobe would be where it is today without Piracy? It would likely not even exist today, and would have been fazed out as poor artists grew up and started companies using alternatives to Adobe programs in their work & businesses. GIMP would have been much more further developed. New and complete replacements would have been born early on in Adobes life cycle, and would have taken over the art world long ago, had Adobe been able to prevent every single instance of piracy. In fact, its well known that Adobe made many releases of certain software very strict and unable to be used pirated, when they wanted to, for certain software they deemed essential to professionals and non-essential to the average user. That is to say, Adobe purposely allowed their products to be used in Cracked form so that they could dominate the marketplace, and become a household name around the world, From Thailand to Russia. Creative Cloud is a subscription-based service, and the only reason it hasn’t tanked Adobe is because most of the people using Adobe (and by most, I mean 90%, worldwide) are still using CS6 or earlier. A secondary reason is their student pricing, where you can get the entire Adobe Apps selection for around $20 a month. Even a frugal student would find that difficult to pass up. For everyone else on the planet who can’t qualify for the student discount, its about $70/mo, and that is only even available in certain regions where Adobe can control their payments.

Adobe, thus, is approaching a breaking point, within the next 6-8 years or so, when CS6 becomes obsolete and likely not even able to work with newer versions of Windows. That 90% of the world’s population will be looking for solutions, and (hopefully) Adobe will stay its current course, and China or India or SE Asia or Eastern Europe will begin serious development on GIMP or another project that will undoubtedly be far superior to Adobe, for free, or a fraction of the cost. Meaning Adobe’s current model is unsustainable for them, and is only held in place artificially, by the current user base of CS6 and earlier users, which is the vast majority around the world. When that becomes a nonviable option, then we’ll see progress and change and a concerted, world-wide effort to replace Adobe, a day which can’t happen too soon, in this author’s opinion.

Microsoft Office would also have become obsolete long ago were it not for piracy. There is simply no possible way that .DOC, .XLS, .PPT etc would be a standard today if it wasn’t accessible to the world early on, via piracy. More on that later.

The .PDF format would not be in use today, aside from possibly a few Business-to-Business situations of companies with the money to spend doing something that would have been easier and more universal than PDF for free. I dare say PDF would no longer even exist, as the universality of the format is what makes it usable at all. This is the beginning of my general hate for Adobe. Around 1996, I’d already been happily using Adobe Photoshop professionally for about 5 years, when Adobe surfaced as a truly unscrupulous, unrelentingly greed corporation willing to hold every citizen of America Hostage, and demand of them the same payment for the use of their Acrobat software that up until that point only Businesses and Governments could reasonably justify paying for, as the cost was most definitely targeted at governments, small businesses, corporations and volume licensing situations, etc. A price nobody with a Windows 95 computer and a form to submit to the government would ever consider buying. If you were super wealthy at that time, you probably weren’t even on computers, or had little idea what you were doing. AOL was probably the extent of your web thing. Adobe expected Joe Schmo to spend the same for Acrobat just to try to stay afloat and communicate wit his government for what the government requires of him, as a government or large corporation pays for Acrobat in their business while making money from it. Its an absurd standard that has not frequently been met in the history of computing.

Adobe as a company would not exist, and neither would Microsoft, as a company. Apple, also would likely not exist outside of some specialized studios were it not for the piracy that helped students learn these same programs on an Apple, which made Apple even useful at all. These were simply tools to achieve a purpose, not the cults they have become today.

Likewise, would .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, .MP3, or .MP4 even exist if they weren’t freely available to use, and instead cost $400 to utilize? Absolutely not. Its silly to even imagine. They would be things nobody has even heard of, possibly used for a few industry-specific reasons only, or very few companies.

What piracy has done is breed laziness in the world as a whole, by allowing these companies’ products to fill the market, steal market share and occupy what would otherwise be a gigantic void and power vacuum that would have been quickly filled by the Open Source community, and utilized by 90% of the population, for free, as it always happens.

Indeed, piracy itself has eliminated all of their competition in the past. Today, however, as piracy becomes more of a government focus, as the government steps in to enforce a situation created by software developers with little to no concern for the welfare of the user, in a segment completely unchecked, with absolutely zero checks & balances, and void of all culpability at all, and even less government oversight or understanding, Open Source Software is gaining some much needed traction. Traction it should have had decades ago.

Piracy has also created another important and stubborn obstacle to Open Source: Brand Loyalty. Everyone has been using Microsoft and Windows and Adobe for so long that they are now very loyal to these companies and their products. The tech people of the 80’s and 90’s and 00’s were the ones to recommend, download, and install these programs for their friends, relatives, neighbors and online social network. A large percentage of those original software programs used by the techs were pirated. They were the ones tech savvy enough to know where and how to get them, install and activate them. Their network in turn went out and purchased them, and soon everyone was using them. There are many notable instances where Pirated versions and Pirated Helps were actually released by these same companies, internally, to allow their products to spread; a calculated and very cunningly clever move, indeed.

Artists and students used pirated versions because it was the only way they could do anything useful on their computer. Why use GIMP or Apache OpenOffice or Linux if there are free alternatives available, that might normally cost up to $5,000, via easily and freely pirated software, that work the best in their class, and are used professionally?

However, the main culprit for the rise and use of Pirated software was and always has been the inept, incompetent, feeble-minded, out-of-touch, Gerontocratic U.S. Government.

In the mid 90’s, at the exact moment alternatives to Adobe & Microsoft were really starting to gain traction, the U.S. Government began widely and openly accepting and using Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and Adobe Acrobat. Government forms all became Microsoft’s .DOC and Adobe’s .PDF. In order to communicate with your own government, you now needed Adobe and Microsoft. These companies were now under the protection of the US Government, making these companies free to terrorize us all. The government had every reason to adopt Linux, develop Linux, and adopt other Open-Source and Open-Document formats & Forms, formats that were open-source and would have been freely available for the American public to communicate with their own government, to edit, upload, create, fill in information etc.

The American Government, true to form, supported what were then giants as far as technology companies go, but weren’t really that big as far as normal companies go, rather than supporting the people of the United States. These companies erupted and grew into the monolithic behemoths they are today, on the backs of the American People, by maligning themselves with the senile Gerontocracy that is the US Government, or your average half-assed & incompetent US Government office & employee.

You could no longer communicate with your government without Adobe and Microsoft, two infinitely greedy companies demanding hundreds or thousands of dollars for their software, prices far above the heads of 90% of America and 99% of American Students, Techies & Artists. They didn’t care, and neither did your Government. This speaks to Lobbying by Adobe & Microsoft, pay-offs, and probably greasing the wheels with fee software & support. It reaks of Corruption, as do most things the US Government touches.

Had it not been for pirated Microsoft and Adobe products, America would have gone into a revolution and the government would have toppled. We definitely, at the very least, would have pried Microsoft and Adobe from our Government, and forced them to adopt Open-Source platforms. It would be decades before Adobe allowed users of Government Forms to enter information onto the forms. You had to buy a printer (which were much more expensive in those days), and a scanner (which were even more expensive) or go to a print shop with a floppy disk in hand, hoping to get it back home to your computer before it got corrupted by a light breeze. Then, after all that, you had to cross your fingers that it was even legible for the people to read. The masses who were only pacified by pirated Acrobat, and by masses, I mean the elite few who were even computer-savvy in those days, which the masses definitely were not. The masses still did things the old way, or were so amazed by technology that they thought it was a miracle they could get an electronic document at all.

The U.S. Government created a national dependence on Microsoft and Adobe. It would be decades before Apple even started to be useful for government interactions, and that, only because it started to support Microsoft Products itself.

It’s really no different than the government telling you that you have to drink Coca-cola before you talk to the government, and cannot drink RC Cola, TAB, or a generic brand of Cola nor any other type of Soft Drink.  And then Coca-cola in turn charging $700 for a can of coke, and then the same government punishing everyone who attempts to take a coca-cola from an endless supply of coca-cola, piled a mile high, without paying $700 per can for it.

What that did was successfully make Adobe and Microsoft household names, in no small part due to those companies bribing our government and the government trying desperately to catch up with technology, not knowing literally anything about technology themselves, and were probably just like “ooh something glowy”. It solidified these companies’ place in our society as inseparable and absolutely necessary, unfortunately for the people of the world at large.

It was only allowed to continue beneath our noses because piracy pacified the angry growing masses.

But the Piracy resulted in the type of Brand-building and brand loyalty that would have otherwise cost a company Billions upon Billions of dollars to create. FAR more money would have to be spent on advertising and marketing and product placement and development than could ever be lost by any amount of piracy. People who use pirated software are not the same people who would ever buy it, even if you take the option of piracy off of the table and even if you threaten them with death. They’ll simply join together and work to create free solutions and improve upon existing ones.

The people using pirated software were the most active people on the internet and computing in general. They are the ones who have built your company and brand. Adobe and Microsoft do absolutely zero for their own products. Not until very recently have they even had commercials and physical booths in the mall, or even any real customer service at all. They operated software that gave millions upon millions of people headache after headache with zero support for decades, not lifting a finger to promote themselves nor help anyone, relying solely on the utter dependence of society, absolute government support, and their iron-clad monopolizing patents protected by the same government that has been willing to do everything else for them, as if working for them.

No, it was in fact the people pirating the software that built their entire brand. The developers usually seemed aloof and indifferent to how their products actually functioned, or their lack of performance, or if they even worked, and their costing end users billions upon billions of man hours and dollars of information forever lost.

As the end result of any advertising or marketing campaign is Brand Loyalty, it is therefore true that Brand Loyalty should be the only thing a company is truly concerned with, even over their entire marketing department and advertising budget. Thus, it is far more beneficial to have pirated software available freely, than to spend millions in advertising your products in hopes of building brand loyalty whilst attacking the very people loyal to you and building your brand for you.

When estimating the potential loss due to piracy, the industry and government standard is to simply add up every person using pirated software or every pirated copy of software and multiply that by the cost of the software. Thus, Microsoft or your government would look at probably well over 50 billion copies of Pirated software that have ever been used or made around the world, and times that by the cost of their software, which to them looks like a loss in profits of $900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 due to piracy.

In truth, almost none of those instances of piracy would have resulted in a purchase of their extremely over-priced and extremely under-supported software. However, every single instance of piracy they prevented would be exactly the same amount of Brand Loyalty and growth of their company they prevented. And also the exact same number of supporters their competitors would gain, and amount of brand loyalty their competitor would reap from them.

If we were to put a cost value on the number of people using their pirated software around the world, in terms of brand loyalty created and dollars that would need to have been spent to achieve that level of brand loyalty and that number of people accepting and using the product, the dollar value may well look something like $900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Impossible to achieve simply by throwing any amount of money around.

It’s the equivalent of every human being absolutely needing a pair of Reebok basketball shoes to walk on our Reeboky streets, and every single person wearing a pair. It’d be the Hunger Games for a Reebok-dominated world.  Now imagine you can’t even walk down the streets from place to place with any other pair of shoes without falling flat on your face, and every pair costing $5,000, and you get the picture of what’s really going on here.

All that’s really missing from this equation is charging an honest $5 dollars so everyone can afford it, instead of the $1000 that only the government and giant companies are overly-eager to buy, and even small-businesses have to really look at being able to justify.

If you want to over-value your product and over-price it for 99% of the world, and then fight them on piracy, you will yourself be in the hands of the 1% only, and valued only by the 1%, and hated by the other 99%, and not touched by the other 99%.

It’s no different than if Rum had been patented and sold at $1000 a barrel, and kept only in the hands of the elite plantation owners, and never left the Caribbean or the Royal Palace, and all everyone else had was hillbilly moonshine that blinded 45% of the people who drank it.

Pirates of software help that software to spread around the world, and get into the hands of everyone interested in it or who needs it. It makes it accessible to everyone, not only the wealthy or big companies. It also helps the software company to continue to be able to charge exorbitant prices for their products which governments and corporations and professionals will gladly pay, so they don’t have to lower their price to something far more reasonable that the rest of the world can afford.

Just because you can get a government or corporation to pay $3,000 per copy, doesn’t mean everyone on earth will. The only thing that will happen is the world will find, create or collaborate on viable alternatives, which in turn will change the governments’ and corporations’ decisions to purchase or use that product at all, once everyone else in society has moved on to free or far more reasonably-priced alternatives, and made those the new universal norm.

Sure, the maker of a toilet seat could charge $5,000 dollars for each seat if he had the government backing his blanket-patents on all things to poo through, and the government will gladly spend that $5,000 per toilet seat because the government is there to line the pockets of its political sponsors, but that doesn’t actually mean everyone on planet earth will pay you $5,000 just to have a toilet seat, regardless of whether or not your buddies in the government want to try and force them to.

By all means, please do put a stop to piracy. We would all much prefer Linux and Open Office and Open Graphics programs took over and were matured and widely adopted.

Look at Adobe Lightroom today. Its really such a simple, crappy program. Yet everyone is tripping over their own mother to get it. Yet, your Adobe Camera Raw from Photoshop can do 90% of what Lightroom does, and your CS1 version of Photoshop can do everything else. But ooooh, it looks so dark-themed and extra. Well, don’t you look cool.

You think paying $800/year for the rest of your life to do something that was created 15 years ago and can do just as well is any sort of game plan? Maybe you’re 20 now, and you figure you’ll be using it another 30-40 years at least, probably a lot longer, you could have put a child through college with what you spent on Adobe’s overpriced monopolized crap.

They should have a Corporate/Business License for the current price, and the $20/mo should be for all private use, at the very least. That’s the absolute gold standard on the internet for every other software developer on the planet who makes things for businesses and governments  but also wants to give the personal user a chance to benefit from their technological creation. Two Prices. Yet all Microsoft and Adobe and Apple want to offer you is zero discount, and a targeted student discount to build brand-loyalty, akin to McDonald’s targeting 3-year old children to make loyal lifetime customers.

There should also be options to buy it outright as a standalone executable for your use. You are essentially just renting it. If this atrocious and terribly malicious model that Adobe has created with its Creative Cloud becomes something that all software companies attempt, we’re either all going to have microchips in our arms that pay credits automatically to corporations, or Open Source will finally be dusted off, forked over, and brought back to life, and developed as suitable replacements for these clowns’ perpetual payment software.

Would you spend $70/mo to rent a $2,500 television, and at the end, you don’t have a television? there are actually people who do that, they’re called the dumbest people in history. That’s exactly what Adobe is forcing you to be. The dumbest people in history.

Push the hands of the people using pirated copies of your software out of society, and push the rise of your own replacements, and be the architect of your own demise.

The time of endless greed and tireless tyranny from government and corporate conspirators is past, and any sword drawn and swung lands swiftly upon your own heads.

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