I’ve just read Marcus S. Zarra’s post about software licencing, piracy and stupidity (to paraphrase), and I think he’s hit the nail right on the head.
Treating potential customers like potential thieves makes them feel more inclined to follow these feeling. I’ll admit that I’ve pirated software, but I’ve also bought a lot of it too. The stuff I’ve pirated is uaually something that I feel is far overpriced for what they offer. Like Marcus says, software is something you make once, and sell thousands of times; it’s making money from nothing. The things I’ve bought are usually pretty cheap, and that makes me want to buy them, I want to help the developer and reward them for making something which is useful to me, and reasonably priced, or even a bargain.
I do not like being forced to buy your software. I do not like being forced to buy your software to use it for something that is useful, but not exactly (or at all) worth paying $30 for. Nor do I like being told that I have not bought your software. Give me the full thing to try, without restrictions, at all, give me a month and see if I feel I need it. If after that month, (and that’s a month of use, not a month from the date of download), I feel I need your software, then I will buy it. If I never hit that month, then no, I will not be buying it, it has not been useful enough for me to consider it. Doesn’t mean it’s not great, or that it’s buggy and annoying (I will tell you if it is), it just means I have no ude for it.
I’ll take an example, VMware Fusion. Now, this is made by a very large company, a big, corporate business, that makes expensive software for some rather important tasks. But what happened when Fusion v2.0 came out? they gave it to us for free! I, and I’m sure many others would have paid for this update, they did a lot of work for it, added some very nice new features. But instead of them saying “hey! they’re getting new stuff, they HAVE to pay!”, they seemed to take the stance that these new features were missing features, and that v2.0 was heading towards making the program more complete, rather than expanding it.
This is an excellent example of how I feel software licencing should work. Be nice to your customers, give them treats, and they will do more than stay quiet about your products, they will tell their friends, or anyone they know who might be interested. They feel an affinity with you and your software, and will go the point of arguing and fighting over which is better, your product, or someone else’s. Loyalty will always bring you more than fear, and being nice will bight you in the arse far less often than being a dick.
I don’t think I have summed this up as well as Marcus managed to (I’ve just written this from start to finish, and can’t be bothered to re-read it [pan's labyrinth awaits]), but I did feel like showing my support for his views, because he got how I feel so right.
Anyway, more later