In response to the article “It Industry at least partly to blame for piracy problem” by Geof Wheelwright in your Jan. 25 issue, (page 10), I would like to add my voice.

I think the software industry is totally to blame for the amount of piracy that takes place, especially in the consumer market. The industry has been ripping off the consumer for years -which was fine as long as the consumer was not computer literate and didn’t know any differently. That no longer is the case. I personally feel that there isn’t a single software package on the market worth more than $100. Let me explain why.

Compare the software to the hardware it gets installed on. There is considerably more research and labour that has gone into each and every single component on the PC than there has into any and all software packages, including operating systems.

Software, once the core is developed, becomes the foundation of each revision – but you can use an existing component, and in many cases, make a minor modification and come with a new component. You also must alter the labour component with each new unit and increase the production cycle. You don’t do that with software.

So why should I be able to buy a computer for $800, including monitor, and yet be required to spend more that that to add the necessary software? By the time you add the cost of the operating system, an office package and a graphics package your looking to spend well over $1,200 dollars.

Now let’s compare the existing software packages to something else on the market – computer games. There is a much larger and more sophisticated code base in every good quality PS/2 or computer game than in any word processing program or spreadsheet that is on the market. Just think of the high quality of graphics and logic that goes into a game like Final Fantasy. Yet you can buy games for under $100. Try to buy a word processing program for the same price.

The difference is that the market that buys games only does so if it wants it and the market for word processing does so because it requires it.

So software companies gouge the market for all its worth, then cry the blues when alternate means are found to avoid getting ripped off. That is also the reason why the open source movement is catching on like wildfire. You can purchase open-source software for a very reasonable price. A typical operating system costs less then $100 and you get much more than the OS. You get language compilers, office suites, browsers, network utilities, Web servers, etc., for which you normally would have to pay extra.

So I think its time the software firms came down from the mountain – you would find the need for piracy to decrease to a minimal.

Peter Zoeller

Guelph, Ont.