Most of my friends use pirated software, in some shape or form. Half of them run pirated copies of Windows XP. And I know that it just seems great - you get all this expensive software for free - I used to be the same way. I couldn't afford any of it so I didn't see any harm in using it - it's not like I could've bought it anyways. Let me note right here that if you pirate software that you can actually afford - I feel no sympathy towards you. You're just being a cheap skate.
Revelation 1: Somewhere along the lines though I started thinking more about what I was doing, though. There's an entire world of free software out there for just about every imaginable purpose you could ever have. To date I have never came across anything that couldn't be done via some piece of free software. And a good part of it isn't actually all that bad - some of it is even better than commercial offerings. Sometimes it does take a while to find it, especially since some of it isn't as advertised as commercial software, but it's out there. Softpedia and Major Geeks probably became some of my biggest free software tools in my tool belt.
I also saw using nothing but free 3rd party software as kind of a fun challenge. It was easy to pirate commercial offerings. They're there and in your face and the tools to pirate them with are just as easy to obtain. But free software was a little more hidden and a little harder to find. And how many people can boast that they paid nothing for all the software on their XP boxes without pirating anything? Not many.
Once I became good at finding what I needed, I didn't ever need to pirate anything again. Some of the software I remember having on my box before I stopped using Windows:
- Outpost firewall
- Bitdefender anti virus
- Java cool Spy ware Blaster spy ware prevention
- Opera & M2 browser and email client
- Firefox & Thunderbird another browser and email client
- Nvu WYSIWYG HTML editor
- Openoffice.org MS Office compatible office suite
- K Lite Mega Codex Pack all needed video & audio codecs + Bsplayer, Media Player Classic, and another player I can't remember the name of
- Foobar2000 music player
There was also a lot more but I can't even remember half of it now. The point is though that I realized I didn't actually need to use pirated software. I could be perfectly happy with free software, not just for basic needs but advanced ones as well.
Revelation 2: This came a little later on. I never liked the big corporations. I knew they overpriced a lot of their software and most of the money went more towards the big wigs pockets anyways rather than the people that actually did all the work. I also knew that most of them cared very little for their customers as anything more than a way of getting more money. At one time, part of my political outlook on why it was OK to use pirated software as opposed to buying it was that very little of the money went to the people that did the work, anyways. This outlook is just plain stupid. Even if you don't pay for the software, you're helping to promote the corporation that produces it just by using it. Your friends see you use it, if someone asks you what to use to do so and so or asks what you used to do so and so that's most likely the software you're going to recommend, .etc... all in all, it's like, if not is, a form of viral marketing you're helping to push. Meanwhile, you're not helping the "little guys" out any by not paying for it. If anything you're just hurting them more. If you're that concerned about them, there is plenty of campaigning to be done for their sake.
Revelation 3: This one is perhaps the toughest to explain, and is somewhat a natural following to Revelation 2. First of all, I realized that in order to do any real protesting against the current situation, I would have to really stop using any non-free software that either didn't come from a.) a small corporation that was more likely to treat its employees better or b.) a developer him/herself or c.) open source. I had already proved it wasn't hard to do with/hard to adapt to 3rd party software. I also realized that in order to do this I was definitely going to have to dump Windows. That isn't the entire reason I dumped Windows but it was definitely part of it.
Conclusion: I'm not against paying for software, I am against using pirated software though, and semi-against proprietary code now but that's a different story altogether. There is literally no logical reason to use pirated software. There are plenty of free options available, so there's-no-other-choice is not a valid argument. And the political argument just falls flat on its face, as well as the it-takes-skill-to-do-it and it-makes-me-cool arguments. It-just-doesn't-make-sense-any-more.