– Bit by Bit: Pirate Software and Educational Ethics

Today’s graphic design student faces a mountain of education-related costs—tuition, room and board, supplies, and computers—so it’s tempting to look the other way when students copy software. But when confronted with evidence of pirated software, instructor Brian P. Lawler decided to exercise his ethical principles and teach his students a lesson.

Obviously Brian has forgotten the days when software manufacturers were happy to allow students the use of their products for little or no cost. The manufacturers realised that students were going to be their potential customers in the future and wanted them to get used to a particular program. I believe that it IS beyond the means of most students to not only purchase the relevant software but to keep up with the interminable number of expensive upgrades.

Happy days Brian. I have a friend who is a lawyer, and when I ask him how his day has been he inevitably answers “It’s been good, I’ve made several people’s lives miserable today.” Go and do a law degree Brian!

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further to – get a life Brian! 

On Tuesday, January 28, 2003, active wrote:

Despite my previous comments I am NOT in favour of developers using pirated software. Every piece of software that I now use, I have paid for and I can sleep OK at night. However, I feel this way because I am using this software in a commercial application; in the public domain if you will. I feel differently about the use of software in an academic situation where the results are generally kept ‘in house’ as assessment items.

As a student I was expected to produce assessment items in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Director. I had no choice. So, given that I now never use those three programs, would I have been feeling stupid if I had purchased them, three of the pricing heavyweights? You bet I would.

Additionally, I didn’t fancy the competition for the small numbers of computers in the labs on which this software was available, nor did I like working on those computers when I could actually get to one because I did not have things ready to hand as I do on my own computer at home.

I believe we should pay for software, I am happy to do so. I think that commercial developers who use pirated software deserve whatever the law throws at them if they are discovered. But Brian, Brian, Brian. I still say, “get a life”.

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