4. A moral aspect of the problem - часть 2

If the program is stolen ... No, we won't hurl a stone; we'll rephrase. If the author or the copyright owner is ignorant of the program duplication, it is not a cause for concern: conversely, it should be a matter for pride that it is used (for the author, of course, rather than the dealer). The program ought to be protected by active positive means (good after-sale service[7], or an electronic key as a last resort) rather than fiscal. There's an analogy to adultery, which is piracy in family life[8]. If a man has a pretty wife, and his neighbour is leering (or worse) at her, it is wise for him to struggle against infidelities actively by gifts and declarations – in short, good after-marriage service (we can consider the ancient chastity belt analogous to the electronic key[9]). What's unhelpful is shadowing her by private detective. And it's extremely repugnant to try to enforce community fidelity by condemning other people's wives or trying to bind behaviour by Zalesskian[10] legal declarations and clauses.

It appears the author has found for himself one solution to the computer piracy problem. It's impossible to be, as the old joke goes, "a little bit pregnant". But, probably, it's possible to be "a little bit honest" in the commercial use of others' programs. My colleagues and I design programs for power stations. This work began, naturally, with illegal use of such programs as Turbo Pascal, Visual Basic etc. But as soon as we had received the first money for our own programs we sold, we didn't pay anyone's salary or buy a new computer: we had spent it on acquiring legally the software tools we had used, even if we didn't use them any more[11]. At present all our commercial projects are based on the legal programs, while the educational ones – I work in the Moscow Power Engineering Institute – for the time being aren't. More correctly, they aren't entirely: the software is bought (though not always – a stone can be hurled at us for that) for one computer, but afterwards installed on all the equipment in an educational class[12]. But the solution of this problem is only a matter of time. Russia will either finally get bogged down in different crises, or will adjust to a normal educational system (and public health service, social maintenance etc.) with appropriate financing. For the present, it would be pragmatic not to place a moratorium on the use of illegal copies, nor condemn those who apply them to general education and school aims (considering that the range of commercial use of others' programs is very wide). At one end of the scale is the post-graduate student processing experimental data, and at the other the supplier and distributor of black-market laser disks. It's hardly the nastiest of black-market dealings: let's be pleased that the trade is in hardware and programs, rather than firearms and drugs.

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