The Paradox of Pirating

I started in order to supply abandonware (old games, which while no longer available commercially are still protected by copyright laws). This is and was illegal. I have made every effort to make this clear.

Although I was aware of this fact I still believed it was the right thing to do. This is because I believe that software is part of our culture, and I am opposed to people being denied their culture, because of oppresive copyright laws. I have also offered a few songs for download, and a french comic book: Sucette.

Now I am beginning to doubt myself. In no way do I doubt that people have a right to culture. I don't doubt that part of what I have done at all. No, what I have come to doubt is the premise that abandonware, warez, etc. in short that any form of piracy can help oppose the undemocratic forces that have been put into play by those who stand to gain by selling what is no less than the essence of our humanity: our culture.

Why have I come to doubt the effectiveness of piracy? First I will try to explain the logic behind my new ideas. They are new to me, but they have been around for quite some time. I picked them up from the free software community (what has recently been termed open-source software). For those unfamiliar with the concept of free software these individuals believe that software must empower the user. That one must be free to modify, create, and contribute to the software we use. Simultaneously they also believe that no one should hoard software, and are opposed to proprietary software (software which one is not free to change or improve).

This is true of most of the free software community, but I have found the clearest expressions of these ideas in the writings of the Debian GNU/Linux website and those of the GNU people.

Now back to why I think piracy is selfdefeating. If the goal of piracy is to help people regain control of software, that is be able to have meaningful control of the software they use, then it is obvious that piracy is illogical. Pirating microsoft windows only serves to help get windows to people who could not afford it. When these people can afford it, the right thing to do is to buy the software and they will. And what kind of freedom does that give them?

It's true that microsoft has a monopoly (on windows), but you don't have to use their software (they don't have a monopoly on operating systems). This is true of any other company to an even greater degree.

Of course I haven't stopped distributing all of the abandonware on this site. I really don't have a good reason why. It is clearly illegal. Even though no one could make money off of this software, that does not make it right to distribute it. I feel that I provide this software because of a personal weakness. I will try to cure myself of it, but I don't think that will work.

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