Lately, this open letter from Alex Kac (WebIS developer, known from PocketInformant, FlexMail, FlexWallet, etc) to Warez sites, has got quite some attention in the PPC Blog world. So I’d like to share it here too, just in case you missed it on other sites. You can read the open letter after the break. (Source: Topic at WebIS forums).
I’d like to use this place to mention that I have a history to be ashamed about. When I first got my first PPC early 2006, I also found that there was software that could be installed onto it. Then, I thought “I already spent money on my device and monthly contract with Orange, so I can justify for myself that I won’t pay for additional stuff that I put on my device.” I was just considering my wallet (being a student, I only got money from delivering newspapers), not the people making that software. Of course when it comes to freeware applications, there’s no problem – you can get them for free legally. But then there’s a small step to getting non-free software on the device for free too, illegally.
That’s wrong. It hurts the developer because he is not supported for the work and effort he puts in developing the software, so if everyone would think the same there would be no payments, meaning no resources to keep developing. And don’t think “Ahh what does one person matter, that’s just $10!”, because – again – if everyone would think the same, that could easily run into 100’s and 1000’s of dollars pretty quickly!
How would you like to have a shop where some people would take stuff and then just walk away without paying. If one person would do this, this would not really harm your shop. But if there’s a larger group doing this, you’d have a real problem!
So please, consider this if you are ever tempted to use a cracked version of a program. Developers are not Hollywood actors or world famous music artists who will still be rich, even if people download movies/music from the internet illegaly. As for my ‘mistakes in the past’ – I got in contact with several developers, being a member of the SBSH community, and several other developer forums or PPC blogs. So I started to see the other side of the story, and after purchasing the full SBSH suite (except for iLauncher, which I got for free thanks to betatesting) I felt REALLY good because I could participate in the community without having problems with my concience. In fact, I never dared to post before, I just registered to be able to see images and download skins. It was only when I started to appreciate legally obtained software, that I truely started to enjoy the PPC world which is a lot of fun!
And if you CAN’T pay for software, if you don’t have a credit card, check Mobihand.com. They accept PayPal. I like Mobihand better than Handango anyway! If PayPal is impossible too, check out blogs. JAMM, SolSie and several other websites have regular contests where you can win really cool and high quality stuff. Or, if you have a website, e-mail the developer of the software. They might agree to give you a free copy of the software if you write a review on your site. Another possibility is to participate in the beta-testing process of a piece of software. Some developers give free licenses to the people that give valuable and good feedback on beta versions of the software.
So please realize that even if you can’t PAY with money, you might still be able to EARN a copy, through a review or betatesting, or to WIN a copy! I think 80% of the software I have comes from one of these ways of obtaining software, and the other 20% are paid. Anyway, knowing that 100% of your software is legally obtained, just feels right.
Just DON’T STEAL from the developer, because if you do, you should really have problems with your concience. And, if you have a job or business, you should think how it would make you feel if someone would take your products or use your services without paying for them.
Now, click below if you haven’t read the open letter from Alex Kac yet…
The letter from Alex Kac, CEO/Founder of WebIS:
Piracy is a huge issue for the software industry, but to be quite honest its nowhere near as huge as what the RIAA and MPAA and SBA make it out to be. 50% or more of the software pirated would never have been purchased in the first place. But lets talk a bit more personally here.
Myself and a band of software devs here have found a *very* large pirate warez site which I will not link to. They have cracks for almost everything imaginable. They have our software on there with download ratios in the TENS of THOUSANDS. In many cases I find more downloads of our software on the warez site than I see on our own download servers. I’ve calculated that even if we only lost 10% of those downloads that could have been sales its a pretty major hit.
The fact is that companies like ours and most other WinMobile devs operate on a shoestring budget. Most of our software sells at a break-even point, some at a loss until it breaks even 2-4 years after introduction. For the amount of money I’ve “lost” I could have *easily* created a Pocket Informant for Desktop or BlackBerry or heck other major applications or improvements. I could have hired an extremely high paid developer for a year or two averagely paid ones. For a company that has only 3 full time developers that’s a fairly major loss.
The fact is that piracy hurts those who pirate. They want our software obviously. Some just use it for a “test”, but we offer a two week trial and with a bit of work you can probably get 2-3 months free usage of our products a year. And we don’t sell for a large amount of money. Just wait and you can usually get our software for a steal – without actually stealing. I don’t think paying $9.95 is such a huge issue if you need an app like VoiceMinder. Its barely a lunch and drink. But the reason piracy hurts those who pirate is because they are like vampires slowly killing the company that they are sucking the applications off of.
Who here would care if there was never a VoiceMinder, FlexWallet, FlexMail, or Pocket Informant upgrade again? I have personally had fleeting thoughts of selling WebIS or just closing it down because even as this market has grown the software market has not and while I’m not naive enough to think its *all* about piracy, I know that it just makes me depressed. And no, we’re not closing down and yes there will be major upgrades of everything. And yes, piracy has been part of the software business from the very beginning but that doesn’t mean I can’t ask you to stop.
And therein lies my plea to you. If you actually use our software please pay for it. When you don’t you personally are contributing to the financial downfall of a bunch of people who are working hard to make good quality software for you. If you don’t want to think of piracy as theft, think of it as stiffing us. Would you stiff the waiter of a tip? How about the guy who built your house? How about the plumber or the electrician? Or the Taxi cab driver? And yes, software does cost money to make. I pay electric bills, Microsoft dues, travel expenses to meet with MS devs, trade shows, advertising, not to mention salaries. So if you wouldn’t stiff the waiter at your favorite restaurant his 15% (or 10% if you’re money concious) tip, why stiff us the few bucks we ask?
WebIS has always been extremely liberal in our licensing as well. We don’t use activation (we’ve thought about it), we don’t lock our license to your username, we don’t do anything to make licensing hard. We let you run our software on as many devices that you personally use and we use the honor system. Heck, we even make 2-3 versions of our software in most cases and let you pay for one and get them all.
So that’s all. Hope you guys have a great day!