In the old days, sailing ships had problems with pirates. Two great nations used opposite solutions to reduce the piracy. Spain increased the cannon and armor on its ships. This increased the weight, cost and slowed down the vessels making them less desirable as a shipping vehicle. England, conversely, did the opposite. It lightly armed its small, inexpensive ships thus making them lighter and faster. They were better at their intended purpose—to trade and deliver cargo quickly. History has shown us that England won, not because they avoided pirates better than Spain, but because they did not let pirates get in the way of good business—in this case, efficient shipping. This bit of historical fact has great import in the software piracy problem of today. Many companies are spending too much time and money worrying about pirates. They reduce, if not ruin the usability of their products (programs) with locked disks, unlistable programs, secret source code, hidden locks, codes in ROM chips, full-page ads devoted to pirates, etc. These devices have made many programs inefficient, costly to produce and support. The buyer is taxed greatly for he cannot make modifications or back-up copies. Often he is inconvenienced by added expenses for back-ups or future modifications. This hurts sales and angers good customers. There is a better way as exemplified by our company Andent, Inc. We produce Apple II software for health professionals (medical/dental systems, appointments, hypnosis, et cetera). We have been in business since 1978, which makes us one of the oldest software houses for microcomputers. We are making a profit . . . and always have. We pay our bills and programmers on time. All our software is unlocked and can be copied for back-up purposes. We support all sales offering free replacement of damaged disks. All our software is listable and can be modified by the user. There is internal as well as written documentation.
We do business in this way because it pays. It pays us, and it pays our customers for buying our software. Because our software is unlocked, there is little to no problem with back-ups, updates, changes in DOS, hard disk compatibility, slot compatibility, printer slot and special character problems, disk recalls, and equipment incompatibility. The business community, our customers, like this. They are buying a program . . . not a software lease. They have immediate support since changes and problems can be made over the phone or by letter. They can back up immediately and for as many times as needed. They like our low prices. Unlocked software is good for business, our business, your business, and the customer's business. But what about pirates? Large scale pirates, those enterprising souls who copy our programs and sell them worldwide, are discovered and given an option to become our dealers and pay us a royalty on distributed software (or meet us in court). As in the old sailing days, reformed pirates (privateers) make the best dealers and we don't mind sharing the wealth. For those who don't want to cooperate, we go back in history for the remedy. The English and Spanish both learned that a few executions were good for the morale of the troops. Small-time pirates (give it to your friends) can be controlled by low program cost, registration, continuing updates and documentation. It just doesn't pay to get our programs second-hand. Andent, Inc., believes that a sale of software is just that—the sale of programs,listings, source code, backup capability . . . a complete sale. Our customers do not buy a disguised lease—they buy and own our products. We do this because locking programs is very expensive, time-consuming, and hurts sales. It is time the industry realizes, like the sailing ships of old, that our prime business is producing and distributing a product, not fighting pirates.
E. J. Neiburger, president, Andent, Inc., Waukegan, IL - V2N8