Before we can understand what software piracy is, it helps to think about what software is and what piracy is. According to Dale & Lewis (2016) computer software is a program “that provide the instructions that a computer executes” (pg. 3). Piracy, according to Merriam-Webster (n.d.) is “the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright”. This means that software piracy is the unauthorized use of a set of computer instructions. This can apply to anything along the layers of a computing system, whether the programming layer, the operating system or individual applications. Of course, the piracy of individual applications that users don’t want to pay for is the most common use case.

When it comes to those who benefit there are several layers to software piracy. Sometimes piracy comes in the form of black markets where hackers crack software and sell the unlocked applications for much cheaper than the standard cost. This benefits the hacker who makes money as well as the user who gets to use the software either for much cheaper or for free.

As far as the drawbacks to piracy, first and foremost the creator of the software is hurt by not receiving the appropriate payments for their software which can affect their job and ultimately their family if they don’t get paid as expected. Also, the user of the software can be hurt by software piracy because often times cracked versions of software can contain viruses or other malware that is detrimental to the user’s computer and information.

Finally, the question is how we as Christians should deal with the problem? When we think about software piracy as a Christian it is common among my generation to not think it is that big of a deal. We grew up in a generation that thought of download music, movies and software as not that big of deal. But when we look at the definition of piracy, Merriam-Webster uses the term “robbery” in defining piracy. This makes it very clear, if software piracy is robbery then a Christian should have nothing to do with it. I think two important biblical principles that apply to this is the 8th of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15 ESV). Software piracy obviously breaks the 8th commandment. The other biblical principle is the golden rule, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matt. 7:12 ESV). Since Christians are supposed to model their lives after the words of Jesus and He tells us to live in a way that we act towards others in a way that we would want to be treated, it becomes very clear that software piracy is wrong as no one would want the software they worked on to be stolen.

References

Dale, N. & Lewis, J. (2016). Computer Science Illuminated, 6th Edition. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Piracy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/piracy