24 September 2005

Free software targets pirating

My hopes rose when I stumbled across the headline for this article (minor irony: served by PHP on Apache), but alas, they’re only talking about as-in-beer software from the copyright enforcers designed to scan for illegally copied media files and software. We all know how well that typically works.

OTOH, free (as in speech) software really does target piracy. Many software companies long ago slipped over the line dividing profit from profiteering, but when there’s real Free competition around, they either have to drop their prices to something reasonable (which decreases illegal copying), or add whiz-bang features (like what? “Type What I'm Thinking?”) — and meanwhile people who can’t afford the profiteers’ software can get by with the Free stuff for things like reading and writing documents and data produced by the extortionware.

I think that it’s high time for some of the Free Software organisations to start an anti-“piracy” campaign, designed to crescendo around Christmas.

I can picture it now, a video clip of a worried parent clicking through directories in front of a wall full of rock-group posters and other teen signature items. A friendly, competent-sounding voice-over asks:

Worried that your children might be running illegal software?

Don’t risk it. Load them up with Free and Open Source software instead.

It’s Free, and it’s free.

Parent raises finger, face lights up, text fades in...

Is your computer Free?

In the background, the computer screen flicks to Tux.

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