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In today’s article I want to see whether the Bible says anything at all about software piracy, it’s effect on Church/Christian and what we should do about it?
Today the Computer has become a very essential equipment in every house hold and any organization. Therefore people somehow invest on a PC even if it is difficult to afford for a one. In Sri Lanka where I live at this time of writing a brand new PC with the least configuration costs a minimum amount of US $700.
Now a Computer is useless unless you have software (or programmes) to run in it. You need an Operating System like Windows Vista or Mac OS X to make it work. Here custom built Desktops are much popular but they are rarely sold with Windows preinstalled. So the buyer has only 3 choices.
1. To buy a genuine copy of the Windows Operating System and install it in his new computer
In my country Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium costs approximately US $ 300. Microsoft Office costs US $ 300 per copy.
2. Settle for an open source Operating System like Ubuntu
Many Computer users find that Linux and it’s flavors like this one are not user friendly.
3. To purchase a pirated copy of the Windows Operating System from the black market for US $ 2 and install in the new PC.
There are copy right laws in my country which prevents sales and custody of pirated software. But I know that most Computer users including Christians/Christian organizations take this lightly and most likely to settle for the 3rd option.
Does the Bible forbid software piracy?
It’s is important to know why software piracy is a crime before answering the above question.
Software piracy is the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted software. This can be done by copying, downloading, sharing, selling, or installing multiple copies onto personal or work computers. When you purchase software, you are actually purchasing a license to use it, not the actual software. The license is what tells you how many times you can install the software, therefore it’s important to read and understand it. If you make more copies of the software than the license permits, you are pirating and thus breaking the law. Whether you are casually making a few copies for friends, loaning CDs, downloading or distributing pirated software from the Internet, or buying a single software program and then installing it on multiple computers, you are committing copyright infringement—this is software piracy. (BSA)
If I want to boil down this definition to a single word, software piracy means “Stealing”.
Let’s say I am a programmer. I have worked hard, studied hard, spent a lot of money to learn programming and to become who I am. Then I develop a useful software make copies of it and sell it in the market. This is how I am going to earn. Now a customer who bought my software makes copies of it and distributes it free of charge or sells it at a lesser price. What would happen to me. I loose my income! You are stealing my money, knowledge and labor. You become a Christian thief! And I am going to talk about it in details on part 2 of this article.