You’ve just hired a photographer to do some work for you. He arrives with a brand-new
and accessories to match.
“Nice!” you say. “That must have really set you back!”
“Naw. There’s no way I could afford all this. I stole it.”
“Look, it’s not like I’m making loads of cash here, and these things are
really expensive! Besides, Hasselblad really only cares about the
big corporate offenders.”
If the world is at all just, the next chapter in this story begins in a dirty,
crowded jail cell.
The principle is simple enough, isn’t it? Decent people don’t do business with
thugs who stay ahead of their competition by stealing. Even so, I’m continually
dumbfounded at how many times I’ve heard people lamely rationalize a pirated
copy of Photoshop using any number of variations on exactly the same arguments.
So why should I care? A few reasons, actually. Piracy immediately puts honest
people at a disadvantage. Any business or individual that steals with impunity
will naturally have more resources at their disposal for keeping down their
competitors. Don’t think that it matters? Try winning a 5k race where everyone
gets an 800 meter head start but you.
If you were to go online today and purchase a Photoshop CS5 license, it would
set you back about 800 bucks. Big deal! That’s barely enough money to keep one
person flipping burgers full time for two weeks at the local In-N-Out.
With Photoshop, on the other hand, your money buys the culmination of over
twenty years’ experience, improvements and expert development. Could you
get the job done for $800? Certainly not. Yet every time someone uses the software,
they gain the full reward of these efforts—indefinitely. To deny
their claim for fair compensation while continuing to reap the benefits is to
put them all in shackles. In a just world, it would be the other way around.