Nearly everyone agrees that ethical business people should always pay for what they get.However, does it make sense that the other side of the coin should state: "We should also get what we pay for?"Why is it that software doesn't have to perform the function for which we purchase the product?Someone seems to be missing the point.
The other day I visited a YMCA.You know the place I mean?The ethical recreation place for kids (as in “Young”)?As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed a prominently placed sign, right there alongside the picnic tables, reading: “No roller blades, no skateboards, no scooters, no bicycles.”Excuse me?What did you say the letters YMCA stood for?Let's see... A place for kids; a place where kids can enjoy themselves in a safe and ethical atmosphere; an organization that has based a significant percentage of its roots in e.x.e.r.c.i.s.e.; and we're not permitted to ride a bicycle into the parking lot?Someone seems to be missing the point.Sort of reminds me of the “war on piracy.”
You see, it's been my experience that we all seem to be missing the point when it comes to software and copyright piracy.One side of the issue is justifiably concerned with preserving its intellectual property rights.Makes perfect sense to me.The other side is split between the intentional pirates and the unintentional pirates—but they're all pirates, right? The IP folks seem to see a consumer relationship solution in threatened litigation or outright legal confrontation. Somehow, someone, seems to be missing the point.
Let's play the game from the business consumer side.We've all started businesses, or operated small or cash strapped businesses.We have all been beneficiaries of a certain level of “free” or “deeply discounted” consumption to help us along the way.We have all tried our best to do more with less.Unfortunately, when it comes to buying pirated copyrighted products, too much of a discount is usually a sign of significant future legalproblems—as in compliance audit.But we're still missing the point.
When it comes down to it, the point we keep missing most often translates into an over-riding desire on the part of the consumer to get the most for our money—the biggest bang for our buck.On the other side of the equation is an entire series of copyrighted product industries who appear to have a motto that goes something like: “Pay me now, pay me later, pay me more, pay me again, pay my friends.”Once again, someone seems to be missing the point.
I understand the copyrighted products industry when it implies that significant funds are invested in research and development.Unfortunately, this perspective simply doesn't hold water in the real world.Virtually EVERY product manufactured in the world today was created with some level of up front research and development.The difference is that only the theoretical products, like operating systems, software, graphics, fonts, music, video and games seem to believe that they are unique in having continuing costs after the initial product is produced...that they somehow deserve to reap incredibly huge profit margins while whining that “those bad consumers are cheating us out of house and home.”
Are the electronic products unique?I hardly think so.I think instead that the consumers are the ones who invested the big bucks that got technology companies off the ground, way back when all this computer growth began. Boys like Stevie & Billie sold us "stuff" that may, or may not become useful. For our part, we took a huge chance on buying their products, dispite little or no proof of concept prior to installation & use.
We didn't mind back then because we benefited directly from the huge leaps in productivity.However, today we are fully operational in most of our technologies. We basically have what we need & the average release of a "new" operating system or software product brings with it very few necessary improvements—other than ridiculous costs and incompatibilities.Unfortunately, the copyrighted products companies seem to have come to the point where they believe it is their God-given right to price products according to potential—not purpose.
The automotive industry charges customers for research and development up front, when they buy the product, not with a renewal fee every six months.Their vehicles (for the most part) are fully operational the day you make your purchase and remain so (for the most part) the entire time you own them—no critical consumer expensed updates every other week to keep the vehicle from breaking down due to built-in defects.My toaster heats toast.It heats PopTarts. It even heats bagels—because I paid for the bagel-sized slots.The toaster doesn't refuse to make toast simply because I use rye bread or half a slice. It does what I bought it to do.
Shouldn't the consumer have every right to expect software, and other copyrighted products to perform the functions for which they were purchased?Shouldn't we have a right to be compensated for the costs & risks we take in repairing defective copyrighted products--products that were sold as "complete"? Shouldn't there be governmental controls protecting our rights from manufacturers who produce and distribute products that they know are defective before the products ever leave the packing facilities?
Try this: Start keeping track of the costs relating to patches & fixes of defective copyrighted products. When it comes time to negotiate with the vendor of a given product or line, use those figures to acquire additional contractual benefits. I know what you're thinking: This'll never work. Want to bet? It will be difficult at first but when software publishers (& other copyrighted product providers) discover that consumers are no longer accepting their beta products "just because that's the way it is", the entire industry is going to change.
What message are you sending if you consider defective products to be a perfectly acceptable purchase criteria? Comments? Opinions? Total apathy? If you want to participate, I'm all ears. If not, no problem.
Just remember: As long as you don't monitor & speak up regarding what is being done, you'll eventually wake up some morning to discover that what is being done is being done to you.