An interesting post recently resurfaced on a forum I frequent and it got me thinking. Software piracy is an issue that concerns many of us, but is cracking down on it going to stifle future generations?
I know I’ve used less than legal copies of software that was just too expensive for me to buy, but which was the industry standard and I needed to be able to use. I know lots of my friends did too. It was wrong, I don’t deny it’s akin to stealing, but we’re now all buying software (and in some cases developing it for them) from the companies who we were ripping off. I know that many of them offer educational discounts on their software.
The thing is though, with the clampdown on piracy, are we denying the next generation this same access to software, access that will enable them to drive all the related industries on in the future? I would say that yes, we are. You’re limiting people’s ability to experiment, or putting it back several years, if not cutting it off entirely.
With this in mind, is the open source movement a possible saviour? It was barely launched when I was experimenting (not in that way you perverts), and there was no way to get at it. With the proliferation of high speed net access today open source software is all too easy to get at. There are now open source versions of practically everything. I owe my learning of a server-side scripting language (PHP) and database (MySQL) development to the fact that these products were free and widely available.
Maybe open source is the future for the kids, or maybe we just need to understand that there are beneficial affects to piracy as well as negative ones.