Here’s a thing I wrote in 1990, and used to put in all our manuals:
Our Stand on Copy-Protection
We at Delta Tao think that copy-protection is an evil thing that could damage the growth of the software industry and the computer industry as a whole. We hope you’ll boycott all copy-protected products. Here’s why.
We believe people have a certain amount of money to spend on software. After they blow their software budget, they still want more software. If copy-protection is preeminent, they are out of luck. The software they buy is the only software they have. They find their Macintosh less useful, and don’t encourage their friends to buy one. The hardware and software industries dwindle and die.
On the other hand, if things aren’t copy-protected, people pirate software once they’ve blown their software budget. They learn what programs are good and useful first hand. The next year they will make informed decisions about what software to purchase. In the meantime, they find their computer more useful and friendly. They recommend it to their friends, who go on to become software purchasers.
There are two problems. Number one, in a world where some programs are copy-protected and others aren’t, people may buy copy-protected software (since that’s the only way they can get it) and pirate the unprotected software. This rewards the businesses who are damaging the industry, and punishes those who help it along.
Number two, publishers without copy-protection can’t sell bad software with massive advertising. Since people tend to try software before they purchase it, companies only sell their products to people who find it useful. This means companies with inferior products, but big budgets, should like copy-protection.
We don’t mind problem number two so much, but the first problem scares us. The solution: boycott copy protection. Make sure it isn’t profitable to copy-protect software.
Before the Software Publisher’s Association has us lynched (they claim that “billions of dollars of revenue are lost every year to piracy”) we’ll invent at least a little bit of evidence for our theory. Remember back when the cassette tape was invented? People could now copy records indiscriminately, and there was nothing the record company could do about it. “We’re doomed!” they shouted. “Now we’ll only sell one of each record!” What really happened? The music industry took off to previously unimaginable levels, generating more profits for more artists than ever before.
When VCRs were first available, people could copy movies indiscriminately, and there was little the movie companies could do about it. “We’re doomed!” they cried. “Now we’ll never sell another movie!” What happened? The movie industry took off to previously unimaginable levels, generating more profits for more people than ever before.
Pay for software based on its quality, not its advertising, packaging, and copy protection.