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Surviving UCITA Present

UCITA and Software Piracy

Think UCITA's purpose is to prevent software piracy? Think again. When you look at the legislation's provisions, a reasonable person could suspect that the real purpose is to make bigger profits fraudulantly selling buggy software, putting ever more onerous contract language inside the license agreement which can't be read until after purchase, and destroying competition with the anti reverse engineering rule. Could it be that the proprietary software vendors have abandoned all pretense of customer service, and have embarked on customer deceipt?

You Troubleshooters.Com readers know I make my living creating software. You know I've always practiced and preached against prohibited copying of software on ethical grounds. UCITA, with its self-help, legalization of consumer fraud, and hidden contracts backed up by force of law, removes those ethical grounds.

I can no longer call you unethical for pirating software. I believe UCITA has made prohibited copying of software ethical. All I can do is caution you that prohibited copying of software is still (or more than ever) illegal, so be very careful.

A Word About "Piracy"

The term "piracy" is misleadingly inflamatory. Piracy is a crime committed on the high seas involving not only theft, but also murder, kidnapping and other cruelties.

This is by design. Vendors of "intellectual property" (another misleading term) have applied the word "piracy" in an attempt to paint prohibited copying as more akin to kidnapping and murder than theft. I encourage you not to use the word "piracy", but instead to use "unauthorized copying" or "prohibited copying" or "illegal copying".

You can learn more about some of these misleading terms at

The fact is, for many organizations, the only feasible way to obtain proprietary software in a the new UCITA world is through prohibited copying. I believe this practice will go way up, followed by all sorts of hand wringing by the vendors and the SPA, and several well published cases where Joe Blow loses his house for keeping an extra copy of an operating system.

UCITA will send prohibited copying through the roof. But in the long run, even prohibited software copying won't help the customer, be he a single consumer or a Fortune 500 company. There's a way to survive in the new world of UCITA. But first let's discuss UCITA'S likely effect of dismembering of the Open Source movement.

Next: UCITA and Open Source Software

Copyright (C) 1999 by Steve Litt