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For those of you who consider geek news the be all and end all of relevant information, here's something you might have seen during your Star Trek Marathon on TNN this week.
I have seen these ads on television for automobiles that say "Keep America Rolling." The car ads wrap themselves in the flag, imploring, in a nearly desperate tone, that Americans should buy cars in order to stimulate the economy and keep American workers employed.
The last time there were ads like this was during the Great Depression. We have had the worst fiscal quarter since 1929.
This is all just to preface the main point of this essay:
Will you geeks PLEASE stop pirating things?!?!?!
I sit here on a piece of shit computer because I can't afford anything else, and because of the crappiness of my hardware and software (I write this on an ancient 486 wearing an ancient version of America Online) I can't enjoy the world of pirated multimedia like many of you can.
But I have.
In countless free hours spent in the hermetically sealed geek-caves of my alma mater, I enjoyed burned DVDs of Hollywood movies, anime and independent films, and live campus radio mixes composed of pirated music.
My band even made music with stolen copies of advanced production software. We took over the campus studio and installed a computer, which eclipsed the mixer as the focal point of the room.
It fucking rocked.
Unfortunately, that blossom of creativity, copied millions of times over around the world, has played a vital role in the downturn of the world's technology industry.
Anybody who makes software must do so knowing that many of the most lucrative class of users, the members of the computer culture itself, will pirate that software. Many of the best types software are restricted by subscription and lease. The actual software in these cases is hidden from the public and deeply regulated. Microsoft's .NET system, a platform where any licensed corporation can develop and deploy such "limited software," has flourished among industry due to fears provoked by a sustained hack attack.
For years, popular media felt that little could be done to change this trend in computer culture. Creativity in the computer industry, once the domain of conservative defense and university technicians, was gradually taken over by militant libertarians who simultaneously praise the power of computers while opposing any conceivable interest that the public might have in regulating their use. In the light of recent events, I am confident that many more people can now see how untenable and absurd that position is.
Unfortunately for artists (including me), a change in this culture of piracy is a big part of what's needed to get the economy back on track. Consider some of the statistics on piracy loss. More importantly, consider that piracy is an added risk factor for every software company on earth.
Remember, also, that the federal government will be imposing added security burdens on most industries now. Although businesses have worked for years to increase security at all levels of hardware and software design, the federal government will now be imposing added security (and financial) burdens on most computer businesses.
I believe that, when it comes down to it, most pirates and hackers want to be a part of American society. Many donated money on the Web to aid relief efforts. But they, more than anyone else, must understand how vital the software industry is to the national economy!
With this in mind, I would like to add my voice to that of the Federal Government in calling for a resurgence of patriotic behavior among the 1337.
Enamored with security holes? Quit damaging the economy by forcing downtime on hapless corporate machines. Let corporations spend their $100/hr technicians' time on defending themselves from terrorists, not from your lame ass. Go find Al-Qaeda's security holes, as a few brave souls have already done.
And, go out there and buy that CD, computer program, or movie. Consider it giving your own fair share to the rest of America.
America's investors, who have believed in you in the last 15 years, have made you great!
With this in mind, I'd like to propose a "Keep America Clicking" campaign.
Pirates would actually benefit from such a program; the discounted software, plus the added value of living a more risk-free lifestyle without piracy, would more than balance the benefits of free software and media.
I propose that anyone who is interested in becoming a non-pirating patriot post below. Perhaps we can network with each other and spread the word!