Tim O’Reilly – Steal My Books

Apple IIe Computer

The first time I heard the term ‘software piracy’ was in 1986 at the beginning of my 8th grade BASIC class. We were working on the brand new ultra awesome Apple IIe computers. (Our school was only 1 year old at the time, which meant that we had cutting edge technology.)

We had a hard and fast class rule; no piracy. Of course piracy in those days meant getting a print out of the code and re-entering it in yourself. I remember a classmate brought me a 100+ page printout of the code for a Star Wars game. All I had to do was retype it.

Now I realize that I was only 13 years old and had very little options for how to spend my free time, but I could see right away that  playing the Star Wars game could in no way be fun enough to justify hours of mindless data entry. So my decision to not pirate was not made based off of some high, lofty moral conscience but rather my own selfish interests.

Fast forward 25 years and my attitude toward piracy hasn’t changed much. Music is so easy and cheap to buy that I would rather pay for it rather than load client sharing software and waste my time with other people’s crap recordings.

But what about software? More precise… what about our software?

When we started selling Admin Arsenal products in 2007 we made the conscious decision to not ‘worry’ about piracy. We’d put in some features to keep the honest honest, but we weren’t willing to make it difficult for our paying customers to use our software. Afterall, we sell B2B, and businesses usually want to be legal.

We realized that if someone decided to subvert our system and extend a trial until, say, August 2043, then OK. At least they’re using our software. Hopefully they’re posting to our forum and telling their friends how awesome we are. (We must be awesome…  people don’t steal stuff that sucks).

So we don’t sweat it. We don’t track them. We don’t try and learn their names or anything. If I could talk to them I would most likely ask them what improvements we needed to make. Hopefully in the future they’ll decide to buy our apps.

Tim O'Reilly speaks about piracyI guess its this ‘whatever’ attitude that made me sit up and take notice when
Matt Simmons
posted a tweet about a Forbes interview with Tim O’Reilly (may his name be spoken with hushed reverence) of the famed O’Reilly media.

It was a cool article.  I agree with Matt. He’s my new hero. He’s essentially saying that he’s cool with people who get a hold of his books (.pdf) without paying.

I’ve done the .pdf book thing, and I’d much rather have the real book, especially when we’re talking about a technical manual that needs to be marked, dog eared, and referenced again and again. But hey, if there are those out there who like the .pdf thing, good on ’em. Tim’s attitude has only helped flood the world with his books. In fact, just as I wrote that last sentence I looked at my bookshelf above my desk and counted 11 O’Reilly books, ranging in topics from Active Directory to a pocket vi guide.

Good on ya, Mr. O’Reilly. Keep churning out good quality animals and we’ll keep buying, and for those who aren’t buying… just give ’em time. Their book shelves will soon be lining your pockets.

As for piracy of software? I’ll just speak for Admin Arsenal. Please pay us. If you don’t pay us… then allow me to reference a quote from the Michael J. Fox film “For Love or Money” where he plays a concierge (Doug Ireland) for a high end hotel. When a patron attempts to give him a $5 tip, Doug gives the now famous saying, “Don’t confuse yourself with all these small denominations. You wait until I feel like the best friend you’ve ever had. Then you give me a tip so big it feels like passing a kidney stone.”

Well spoken Mr. Ireland.