This letter is an addendum to my letter of 22 March 1982.
I said something in that letter about copying and now find myself caught up in this moral morass. I said about programs, "If I can get it, I will." That sounds bad but I have found a new rationalization that eases the guilt. Here it is. One of my friends was very, very close to buying an Osborne. When I told him that I would give him copies of some basic programs if he buys an Apple, he changed his mind. When he gets his system up and running, I will ask him to write to you explaining why he bought the Apple. Of course, he will now be buying other Apple software for his machine. The authors of those earlier transferred programs can take solace that they died so that others may live. The answer to one problem is to include in ROM, or on internal chips, the four basic programs every microcomputer should have:
It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a $10 record album. A $200,000 program will retail for $60. How much did aural records cost when there were only a million phonographs around? If the early aural records cost the same, relative to time and inflation, I will concede a point to the software publishers. The whole point, of course, is the producer trying to control a product for as long as possible to milk the most profit out of it. I don't blame them; that's what good businessmen do. Apple did it when they excluded mail order sales. Soon it may be such that only college graduates may purchase computers—after a written test—and a recommendation—and an interview—etc. Imagine selling an aural record and saying only one member of the family can listen to that particular record on Sundays only. That rule would require many more records to be sold if the whole family wants to hear it every day of the week. The software contract that stipulates that the buyer can't copy is a nice try to control, but it just makes criminals out of us. Once the product is sold (not leased or rented) the product must be allowed to be used as the buyer sees fit; that is, resold, copied, or used as a frisbee.
When I give my dollars for a program, maybe I should stipulate to the software company that the dollars must not be used for lawyers' fees. I gave them a product which took time and money to produce—dollar bills—now I will control and limit how they use my product. (And no dollar bill paper airplanes either!) The rebuttal to that is dollar bills can't be copied, right? Right! Dollar bills can't be copied and that's the only thing that can't be copied. I would hope in a few years that this whole question will appear quaint and dated.
J. Barry Smith, Barstow, CA - V2N9