Piracy and Legal Consequences

If would like to start with an important statement: This is the first blog post I made with a disclaimer to start with. The content of this post is not an official Microsoft position and might not reflect the Microsoft opinion!

Let’s have a chat about piracy. When I look at my neighborhood, I often (very often) have discussion about how legal it is to copy software and use cracked software and copied DVDs and copied music. In Switzerland, we have a piracy rate on software of approx. 25% – this is where I live and this is one of the richest country on the globe. If you take this figure: How would you feel if every fourth hour you are working is not paid? I would go ballistic! This would be unacceptable to me.

Still, a lot of people think that it is not really a problem if they use resources – illegal resources – which are freely available on the Internet. A lot of people think that it is just a peccadillo to copy. Being it books, music, software. And then I posted recently on Twitter about “What is your view? I think it is a good idea: Illegal downloaders face web ban http://ow.ly/xGaK” and got a lot of harsh reactions. I hope that a lot of those people will – in the future – work at least one hour every four for the community as they seem to expect this to happen for the software industry.

Now, let me take another position: I think it is great that we introduced a limited offer (do not ask me why it is limited) of a Windows 7 Family Edition to be installed within your household at max. three times – this covers a huge need of families and they might often have copied or cracked it instead. Whenever I can avoid it, I do not download technically protected music – and let me tell you why (please if you quote me, quote me in context): Why should I pay for music to be used on only my MP3-player? I am listening music from my PC during work, my business notebook during travel, my Zune during flights, my car during travel and last but not least my Mediacenter. If the music is copyright protected, this does not work. I am allowed to copy it but not to break any copyright protection. So, this model sucks. I understand that a artist wants money for the music and I am definitely willing to pay for it (see my point above – I do not work for free neither) but I want to consume it whenever I want, wherever I want. If I use not technically protected music, I can leverage it across all my systems. Otherwise I cannot – and this sucks. Is this a reason to hack it – no. Is it a reason not to buy it – definitely.

I see the need of the entertainment industry to protect its assets. On the other hand I see the requirements of the consumers, which are often ignored. What scares me much more is the way we raise children. Growing up in a household, where copying of illegal content is just a normal thing, whit what values do this kids grow up? Basically with a mindset that stealing is illegal if we deal with physical goods but not really illegal for not physical good? So, stealing is just a little bit illegal. Or is just illegal if it fits us personally?

Therefore, the British approach above to ban illegal downloaders might be drastic but is it that far fetched? Is it really going too far? What do we do with trespassers in the physical world and why is this different on the Internet?

A final remark: If you quote me, please quote me in context. Additionally I want to state again, that this is my personal opinion!


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