Dear Software Pirate,

It has come to my attention that you like our software. Given the number cracks, key generators, and RAR files for Home Inventory that turn up in a quick Google search, you must be a big fan. I wish I could say the feeling was mutual.

You see, my wife and I make our living developing software and selling it to people. It’s how we keep the lights on and food on the table. Since our flagship product, Home Inventory, sells for only $15 a pop, we have to sell a whole bunch of copies just to make ends meet. Since I don’t know you personally, I can’t ask you why you bother to steal something that costs less than having a pizza delivered, but can be used for years to come. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the reasons given by other pirates in forum posts and interviews and see how they hold up:

  1. I pirate software because I want to try it out first. Bull crap. You can download a free trial version from our website and test out every, single feature. This excuse doesn’t fly.
  2. I don’t like intrusive DRM and use pirated versions of software to get around it. Hey, we agree on something! Well, kind of. I hate DRM too. I think anything that interferes with someone using what they paid for is incredibly anti-customer. Home Inventory doesn’t use activation or any other DRM techniques, by the way. Still, just because a company acts like a butt-hole doesn’t mean you can steal from them – that just takes you down to their level.
  3. I don’t use it enough to pay for it. I don’t need to go to see my doctor very often, either. Maybe I should quit paying him?  Get off your lazy butt and find a cheaper alternative. Or better yet, if it isn’t worth it to you, do without.
  4. All software should be free. Really now? So you are entitled to my thoughts and my labor? I guess that means I’m entitled to yours as well. I’m not much interested in your thoughts but I could do with some extra labor around the house, so get your booty over here now and mow my  lawn. After that, you can do the dishes.
  5. I’m a loser in real life and pirating software is the only part of my menial existence where I get to feel like a badass. I admit I have no argument for this one. It’s probably true.

Let’s be honest, none of the reasons you give stand up to scrutiny and, if the situation were reversed, you would by mighty pissed off about others taking advantage of your hard work. You don’t pirate software because of some deeply held moral conviction. You pirate software because you’re a selfish jerk and there is little to no risk that you will ever be  punished for it. I guess that makes you somewhat of a coward too.

What irks me the most, though – far beyond you taking what is not yours – is the side effects of your actions. It’s ironic that you hate DRM so much, because it is your actions that created an excuse for many software makers and media companies to go way overboard with this onerous garbage. It’s the honest, paying consumer that is left with a movie they can’t watch because they don’t have a display that supports HDCP or a game they can’t play because SecuROM is conflicting with some device driver. Most of the time these people don’t even know they are being burned by DRM failures. And while I cannot excuse the companies that implement this junk from treating their customers as if they are all would-be thieves, I also cannot excuse you, the real thief, from your role in all of this.

While I would never wish you any harm, I do think a minor plague of annoyances and embarrassments may be in order. May you find yourself often stuck in traffic, especially when you are in a hurry. May you always pick the wrong lottery numbers. And, may you find yourself with loud and uncontrollable gas when in public, especially when you are out on a date (assuming you ever leave your mother’s basement).

May you suffer many a stubbed toe,

Kevin Hamilton
Binary Formations, LLC