I thought I'd heard them all, but this week I was presented with yet more bullshit from someone trying to justify using cracked software.
A friend was looking to update their Pro Tools software so was asking questions on Facebook about the best way. During the discussion, one of his acquaintances posted a link to a Russian torrent site. This kind of stupidity is tantamount to throwing petrol on fire when talking to me. Many of my friends and clients are software developers; I know what it takes to create software, it's never without a lot of costs.
I'm going to share the worst excuses I've heard used by those trying to justify using software they haven't paid for - in other words, acquired illegally.
A Lot Of Great Tracks Are Made With Cracked Software
This excuse was the one given to me this week. I have to say I'm not sure how that justifies software theft.
"Hey, Dad, I won playing football today, I scored three goals."
"But son you don't have any football boots."
"It's OK Dad I stole some."
"Oh, that's OK then, well done!"
I think what they were trying to say was if the creator had not used the pirated software then it would never have existed. Good, so be it.
This excuse is saying the end justifies the means - it doesn't.
There's A Difference Between Physical Property And Software
No there isn't, they both require effort to make. I think this kind of warped thinking comes from the idea that the only thing that costs money when creating a product is the physical components.
This thinking takes no account of the time it takes to create something. Being a creative and thinking like this shows either a staggering level of hypocrisy or an equally astonishing amount of stupidity. After all, what we charge for is our ideas, and they take time to develop and a great deal of effort.
Any creative suggesting that time and effort has no value shows a disregard for their most precious commodity and disrespect for any other person working with ideas.
It's A Victimless Crime
Software theft is not a victimless crime. Developing software takes weeks, months and in many cases years. While an individual or team are doing this, they have to pay rent, eat, travel, put their kids through school, pay medical bills, taxes and a multitude of other business and personal expenses.
Software development is high risk, meaning months and years working on something hoping that at the end people will buy it and then you can recoup all the time and money spent developing it. If people steal it, then the chance of getting all those living and business expenses back is reduced, in some cases, it means closing and losing a lot of money you invested during your development time.
Far from being a victimless crime, software theft affects business owners, their partners and their kids; it can impact on everything from children's education to getting essential medical care. I'm not talking hypothetically here, I know a lot of software developers and see the risk they take to make great products and have seen first hand the cost of software theft to them and their families.
If it helps you to think that making software is a get rich quick scheme then dream on. In many ways it's a high stake get-poor scheme in the current climate, many developers create these products with a genuine passion for bringing something useful that will help people in our industry, not as a way to make a lot of money.
You may not know the victims, but software theft has real ones.
You Wouldn't Buy It Otherwise
OK, so don't. I don't know a single software developer that would rather you use a crack than paying for their software.
You Would Give Your Things Away So Everyone Should
The final golden nugget in the book of excuses is the 'hey man, ownership is theft; I do this for love, everyone should just share.'
It's a sweet sentiment, but back on planet earth banks, mortgage companies, tax bodies, health professionals etc. want paying in cash, few are happy to be paid in ethereal bullshit.
Until that changes, I suggest you charge for your efforts and pay for the efforts of other people.
Software theft is a scourge, and there are no arguments to justify it. We see on the news every day someone caught doing something wrong and then trying to explain it away with an excuse that doesn't hold water.
Bottom line, if you use the cracked software, you are making our industry worse not better. If you record tracks using it and then complain when people don't pay for your music, then you are a hypocrite.
Buy the software you use, if you can't afford it then use free software, there's plenty about and plenty that ships with the DAW you use.
Check out our free plug-ins for Pro Tools, free AU and VST plug-ins for Studio One, and free synth plug-ins - if you can't make great music using these then it's not the software you lack but the talent.