Let's Build a Responsible Cyber Society

Avoid Software Piracy

Naavi.org has been advocating  building of a responsible Cyber Society where every user adopts a voluntary Cyber Law Compliance programme.  One of the most difficult aspects of such compliance is avoidance of the use of pirated software.

The reasons why most law abiding citizens dilute their moral principles and resort to use of unlicensed software are many. Perceived high pricing of software is one such. The credit for spreading the use of computers amongst common people goes undoubtedly to Microsoft. But for the introduction of the Windows software computerization could not spread as it did in the last  decade. Whether it was the vision of Bill Gates or the lack of vision of Steve Jobs, Windows became the dominant OS of the desktop to the extent that it is difficult to dislodge its pre-eminent position today.

While we welcome the efforts of the Linux community in trying to develop an alternative to the Windows OS, we must accept that for some time in the near future, common computer user has no alternative to Windows as an OS. In the initial days when the market took to Windows, Microsoft allowed wide spread Piracy as a strategy to make the market Windows dependent. Now that the market is sufficiently dependent on Windows OS, Microsoft is slowly tightening the screws and trying to take control of the Cyber Space through aggressive implementation of Copyright as well as increasing control on document space through DRM strategies.

The approach is typical to that of a "Drug Marketer" who may induce use of drugs in youngsters through free distribution of drugged candies until the users become addicted and then extract the price.

We recognize that as long as Copyright law exists in its present form, Microsoft is well within its rights to expect its compliance and hence we consider it part of our duty to advise Netizens not to use pirated Windows OS as a part of Cyber Ethics and CyLawCom strategies. However we recognize that it is not in the interests of our national development that we allow a monopoly to develop to such an extent that the country becomes dependent on one single US company.  While Indian politicians are now arguing about the loss of sovereignty through the nuclear deal, they have failed to recognize that India is fast becoming a Microsoft Colony in the digital space which is equally dangerous.

As a part of our cry for "Independence in the Digital Space", Naavi.org strongly feels that our Governments should initiate steps to keep the digital space free from encroachments from colonists. One measure we advocate here is to legally declare that Computer Operating Systems should be out of the purview of "Copyright Law". This could be through "Compulsory Licensing" if required.  Alternatively the Copyright period on a Computer OS could be reduced to say 3 years so that it becomes free thereafter.

While we continue to urge the Government for legislative protection of digital space, we need to also urge the software wizards of India to work harder in making an "Alternative to Windows" a reality.

While the Linux enthusiasts keep working in this direction, we feel that the time has come for public to slowly reduce their dependence on "Applications" that are copyrighted so that we can first stop piracy at the "Application level".

One of the recent developments that increases our concern is that Microsoft has  started pushing its new docx format through Office 2007 which is not compatible with the earlier versions of Word. This is expected to  be the trend in future where Microsoft will move towards more and more application dependent document formats. though these may remain free for some time, they will be  integrated it with its DRM tools and Microsoft may be able to control a single switch with which they can regulate all computer activities in the world. This is very much like the proverbial "Nuclear Button" which could destroy civilization. 

I wish Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury  take note of this possibility.

To reduce such a possibility, there is a need for  all licensed Window OS users to look for alternatives to Microsoft Office. While "Open Office" is one such alternative, we shall bring it to the notice of the public from time to time on other useful open source applications that are compatible with Windows OS. "AbiWord" falls into this category and we urge users to download this open source software to reduce their dependence on Microsoft Word. 

I invite readers to suggest other open source applications  compatible with MS Windows that can replace effectively Office and other common tools used by Netizens.

Down Load "AbiWord"..Open Source Word Processor

Also see: Freedom Movement for Digital Independence of India


(Comments are welcome at  naavi@vsnl.com )



August 19, 2007