A few years after this I found and bought a book titled "The Marketer's Guide to Public Relations" By. Thomas L. Harris and Published by Jonh Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Wiley) ISBN 0-471-61885-3. I realized this topic of Public Relations Marketing is the correct term to use for sponsor-ware --- PRM-ware. ====================================================================== ******* SPONSOR-WARE ******* (The fading of Software Piracy.) by: Timothy Vincent Rue February 1990 rev. August 1990 *************************************** A BIT OF HISTORY Software Piracy, what's it's origin? A look back to a time when PC's didn't exist nor did the idea of software piracy, will reveal, The Hacker Ethic: ------------------- Access to computers - and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works - should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative. All information should be free. Mistrust Authority - Promote Decentralization. Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria, such as degrees, age, race, or position. You can create art and beauty on a computer. Computers can change your life for the better. ------------------- Before going off with a possible wrong perspective of the above, one needs to take a look at the original hackers. The list is very impressive and can be found in the book "HACKERS" by Steven Levy. Sub-titled "Heros of the computer revolution" and is the reference source for the history section of this report. The next step towards the software piracy concept perhaps begins with Ed Roberts and his company: Model Instrumentation Telemetry Systems (MITS), and his companys Altair 8800 computer. The publicity/advertising credit goes to Popular Electronics magazines for their January 1975 issue. The article offered to sell basic kits for $397.00. At the time of the magazine article the Altair 8800 did not yet exist and when it did it only had 256 bytes of memory and a front panel of flashing lights for output with small switches used for input. People wanted the new technology of computing and placed orders for this computer and add-on boards that hadn't yet been designed. Individuals found others with like interest and this resulted in the Homebrew Computer Club called to meet March 5, 1975. As the year of 1975 moved onward there were a few small companies started up with intent to contribute to the Altair along with a growing interest from hobbyists. The main direction was that of increasing the power of the Altair 8800. Ed Roberts came out with a dynamic memory board and many bought it, but it didn't work. There was a growing frustration happening among the hobbyists and patience was getting thin. One of the products MITS sold was Altair BASIC written by Bill Gates and Paul Allen but nobody who ordered it had yet received it. In June of 1975 MITS was marketing/advertising their products via a tour, going from city to city. They'd set up the Altair in motel seminar rooms and invite people to see this low-cost computer at work. When MITS stopped in Palo Alto the Homebrew Computer Club gathered to see the Altair and found it was running BASIC. BASIC that nobody had yet received, so someone borrowed one of the paper tapes lying around that contained the current version of BASIC and later gave it to Dan Sokol whom duplicated it at work. Dan had all sorts of reasons for duplicating the tape and didn't think it would hurt anyone considering many had already paid for it. At the next Homebrew Computer Club meeting Dan gave out the tapes with the stipulation to those getting a copy to come to the next meeting with two tapes and give them away. What resulted was Altair BASIC spread to other computer clubs and the first version was in circulation before it's official release. Well Bill Gates and Paul Allen didn't like this, considering the deal with MITS was to earn royalties on copies sold. Bill was also upset because the version being passed around had bugs in it that he was in the process of fixing. When the debugged version came out there weren't as many sold because users were debugging the first version and having fun at it. Gates was getting really upset when David Bunnell asked him what he wanted to do about it. So a letter was written and published in the new "Altair Users' Newsletter" which David was the Editor of. The letter was entitled "Open Letter to Hobbyists" and explained that Bill and Paul Allen had received alot of good feedback about the BASIC interpreter but also that most praising it hadn't bought it but rather stole it. All hell broke lose, the letter had also been sent out to user groups and the Southern California Computer Society threatened to sue Gates for calling hobbyists "thieves", Ed Roberts was upset with Gates for not consulting him before publishing the letter. The whole incident became known as the "Software Flap". However, Bills complaints didn't stop anything, Altair BASIC spread and people knew how it worked and how to fix it and when other companies needed a BASIC they went to Bills' company, and Gates' BASIC became a de facto standard. Software Piracy was born. Actually Software Piracy wasn't born but rather evolved, as did the concept of shareware, both evolved from the same foundation of the hackers ethic and the concept of Public Domain Software. Bill Gates was griping about the ripoffs and people were saying that if he didn't charge $150.00 for it they'd buy it. Tom Pittman decided to prove it by producing a "Tiny BASIC" for new competitors of MITS and he got lucky when AMI bought it for $3,500 on conditions that allowed him to also sell it as originally planned, to hobbyists for $5.00 a shot. Tom was successful with this venture, some sent him more than $5.00 saying it was to little, others sent in the amount but also said not to send anything because they already got a copy from a friend. This is about all there is to the beginning of "Software Piracy" except that the next incident involved Atari and a young man named John Harris whom went to the arcade and played Pac-Man enough to understand it and write his own and better version for the Atari 800 computer. Atari wanted to sue John on one hand and on the other wanted to buy his version. John Harris was a hacker and followed the ideas of the hacker ethic, that of making improvements, but he did it without ever seeing the code of Pac-Man. Before closing the History section of this report there is a need to mention that Bill Gates has become a very wealthy man with his company MicroSoft, thanks in-part to Hackers and Hobbyists for helping to make his BASIC a de facto standard. Bill has gone on to do such work as the IBM operating system which has become somewhat an industry standard. In all fairness it's important to mention Richard Stallman, perhaps the last true Hacker, who is a hero at keeping the Hacker Ethic alive and well with his GNU work and the Free Software Foundation. Without Richard Stallmans' GNU work it's very likely the UNIX operating system (a better system in many ways than IBMs') would not be the competition it is to IBMs' operating system (such competition causes technology to progresses at a better rate, competition kept alive by - the Hacker Ethic). 1990, Fifteen years later. What changes have happened since the Altair was introduced? Alot, but most recognized is the results of the Personal Computer revolution. Although time is slowly forgetting those responsible for it (the hobbyists/Hacker of which even Ed Roberts was very much a part of) the PC industry was born and has grown to be quite large. The concept of "Software Piracy" has also grown but with little, if any, changes. Only the spectrum of which software piracy falls into, has been filled in better (the spectrum between commercial software and free software). As this Spectrum was filled in, attempts were made to protect some software from being pirated, either in methods of software copy protection, hardware protection, look-up codes, etc.. All of which only made the software harder and frustrating to use (even today there are those whom have fun in breaking such protection and then distributing the un-protected versions free through underground networks - sometimes these unprotected versions spread faster and further than legal distribution ). All the efforts at protecting software from free distribution have for the most part failed, and even the concept of "Shareware" is not stable enough to insure a profit for those producing quality shareware. (reference: Research on Shareware by: Dr. Jay S. Mendell of the Florida Atlantic University, 521 University Tower, 220 S.E. Second Ave. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301. 1988...) The arguments continue, on one side the programmers complaint about losing income to "Piracy" and on the other hand the argument of overprice software that doesn't do what it is said to do, some- times containing horrible bugs or just being a worthless program. The list of arguments goes on and on. However, there is another perspective which alot of software producers cannot take due to the type of software they produce (or so they think, or perhaps don't even realize this other perspective). A perspective of recognizing the Hacker Ethic (but only to the point of benefit to the company), companies that have at times taken this perspective include IBM, WordPerfect, Information Builders, and the list (I'm sure) goes on and on. The recognition is that through the "Non-Free" spread of their software, the potential for becoming an industry standard is greatly increased (recognition of what happened to Bill Gates company, MicroSoft). What it really comes down to is "When to use the term piracy, and when not to", it's really not so uncommon for a company to give away a new version of their software, knowing it's important to maintain good customer relations, customers whom will continue to purchase products and/or services from them (think back, who where the original customers of the computer revolution and where would things be without them?). Software support services are recognized as the key to insuring profit regardless of how the software is distributed. However, it has taken some time for the realization that evolution of industry produces more than enough "call" for continued improvements in software and hardware, rather than increasing/overdoing support services (improved software/ hardware can eliminate the need for some support services). In other words it is being recognized that software can be used as a vehicle to sell other products/services. The label "Software Piracy" is beginning to fade out! Perhaps the most obvious product software sells is computers, however, the faster "Software Piracy" fades the sooner the term "Sponsor-ware" will evolve as an accepted term. The evolution of the computer industry is and always has been changing and this is the direction of change it is taking. A sure direction of change that not only supports the Hacker Ethic but also the need of cash, product/service flow, for without such value- exchange, innovative developments cannot happen (A System of Support for those types responsible for the innovations in the first place). The Future of Software Piracy. As the concept of Sponsor-ware is realized more and more, Software Piracy will become, for the most part, a term of the past. Sponsor-ware what is it? To understand the concept of Sponsor-ware one must first understand business and its three primary elements, or at least the second element. 1) Development of product/service. 2) Communication to potential buyers of existence of product/service (and reminder of such). Advertising. 3) Delivery of product/service. So anyone who has a product/service with intent to sell it, is in need of advertising (even if by word of mouth). Advertising uses various medias (vehicles) to transport information about products/services, such as television, radio, print, balloons, blimps, etc.. The vehicle is something that gets and holds the attention of potential customers in order to pass information on products and services or sometimes it just puts information in the potential customers environment to perhaps be noted (as might be noted about billboards). Software is such a media that can be used as a vehicle in advertising. Advertising Software (Sponsor-ware) is similar yet quite different from other medias of advertising, it can be entertaining, educational, productive or anything that software can be written to be. But the most important is that it can be Interactive and Integrated into software applications in such ways the advertising is effective yet not noticed or not considered distractive to and by the user. There are many advantages of Sponsor-ware over other types of Software. To briefly cover some advantages, one is that of being immune to piracy because the intention is to spread it freely (the spreading of such software through piracy channels only helps reach the advertising objective). To the user/customer or user/potential customer it's money saved on software that can be spent on other products/services and an assurance of quality software (if the advertiser(s) wants you to use it). To the programmer/developer it's money in their pocket rather than money not in their pocket. To the advertiser it's potentially a much less expensive media of advertising (a potential of better response than other media for investment). To the computer hardware manufactures, it's incentive to improve hardware for both programmers/developers and user/ consumers (and to be motivated to define common standards for the reason of reducing software production cost for advertisers). Sponsor-ware brings more players into the field by reducing software costs by means of the advertising dollar, which inturn allows more to purchase computers which helps reduce hardware cost. The Advertising world will become as motivated to spread computers as it was to spread radio and television, knowing the advertising objective is to reach people. Sponsor-ware reduces development and distribution cost of software by eliminating the use of software copy protection, while using a distribution method that is very very fast and low cost, perhaps even employing those whom at one time pirated software. Distribution via electronic communication lines such as telephone lines and Bulletin Board Systems would be considered instance distribution or access. Most any type of application software can be Sponsored but the trick is to mate the software application with the proper advertisement. For instance a desk top publishing program/package may contain advertisement for a local paper supply company (if done right many sponsors across the country may have invested in the same package without conflict). Integrated Sponsor-ware may even calculate paper needs of the user and place the order (once user approved) with the local Sponsor. Or perhaps it would call up a local Co-Sponsor printer and transmit the approved publication for printing then receive the invoice. From a legal perspective software copyrights become much more financially enforceable, recognizing any infringement would be a matter between companies rather than between company and users. Legal matters more clearly defined in terms of "vehicle of advertising". Consumer acceptance of Sponsor-ware is an important factor of the evolution of Sponsor-ware and the elimination of Software Piracy. However, with the proper integration of application software and advertisement(s) the consumer won't mind and in some cases may not even realize. An example might be where the software application manual was one of the products being sold (though the software would have enough information with it to run, just not as well) or perhaps the support services of training is being sold. In Conclusion. Software Piracy is in effect causing changes to happen in the software industry. Software developers don't like the money they lose to piracy, yet they also realize the value of piracy and results of such distribution to be potentially profitable. In attempt to combat piracy the effort is being turn to connecting the software to other products/services that are not so easily stolen or pirated. By turning to the concept of Sponsor-ware, more software developers are able to connect their software to products and/or services which they themselves do not offer, which inturn earns the developers income via advertising dollar. It is estimated that currently over One Hundred Billion Dollars will be spent in advertising this year. It has been reported, Michael Jackson just earned twenty million dollars for doing an L.A.GEAR T.V. commerical, and all he did was dance (with the advertising industry). ===================================================================== As an interesting side note: I was once ask to write an article for a magazine published by a William Gates, on this subject. The magazine was "Midnite Engineering". I don't know of what became of the article I wrote, perhaps it wasn't good enough. This is not the same Bill Gates from Microsoft, but I didn't know that when I sent him the above.
Copyright © 1988, 1994, 1996 Timothy V. Rue