Stealing is wrong, the right & ability of a business to make a profit on its wares is essential to continuation. But how much do some encourage or even instigate their own problems? I am sure the record companies come to mind where artists got pennies on the sales of a $15+ album for many years – an album that cost no more than a couple dollars to make & distribute.
The analogy - I leave my car running to warm up outside the house because its 0 degrees out. Not an unrealistic action, it won't drive properly for a few minutes till the oil & fluid warms a bit to seal things in the motor & auto trans. The police come by and give me a ticket for "puffing." "Its polluting" - well no worse than trying to run at higher RPMs with the transmission slipping. "Its encouraging & facilitating thieves" - well they know damn well it isn't their car, stealing is wrong, do your job & put thieves in jail... However, the judge will want money to fatten the city coffers because I own property that someone might steal and I am using it in a manner most convenient to running my "business".
Now - Microsoft has their new activation scheme that barring hacking etc effectively limits you to one install per box. Back when NT 4.0 etc was out, there were 2 licensing schemes - per server & per seat. Maybe not quite accurate as its been 10 years, but per seat allowed you to say have 10 PCs, 5 employees and pay for 5 licenses to use. Effectively Sys Admins were on their honor to purchase the appropriate number of licenses. But the point is, like most software, it could be installed multiple points, but only users per as many instances as you had licenses.
I have 5 PCs - the laptop came with OEM XP installed. I had W2K & 98 installed/upgraded on most, and XP original on 2 machines from my brother's copy. To fulfill the "per seat" use that I put them to, I bought a XP Pro full install box (but hadn't had to use it to install) that cost $180 back before CompUSA vanished from the mall.
Well its been a few years and those legacy single core AMD, P2, P3, P4 machines are getting cluttered, but still functional so I am systematically backing up important stuff, and doing wipe & clean installs up to XP Pro. #1 goes fine, and I do the activation and notice that if/when I do #2 its going to time out in 30 days, but their scheme won't let me register it without calling in. Being proactive on that, I call in to find out exactly what process and any costs are. Well, after 5 HOURS of web chasing, phone ping-pong & mounting frustration I finally get an answer - $269.99 or ONE additional license.
That is 50% more than I PAID for the retail box. No box, no manual, not even another CD, just a 25 digit alphanumeric code or an enabling of my original on a SECOND PC. God forbid I do all 4 of the desktops that will be nearly 900 dollars. It's not worth that kind of money to fix my P2 let alone buy software to specifically to run it. Why? Well its good for browsing questionable sites because if it gets nuked I don't lose important info or a vital machine. I think the term is "goat machine" as it's a sacrificial.
Well, I'd pay $50, or perhaps $90 which is half the original to get additional licenses for a single user situation. That is reasonable. Paying more is not reasonable, and buying a retail box for each is a waste of resources and clutter. I may find some cheap OEM licenses as it is retired. Or get more familiar with Linux.
But as far as I am concerned, Microsoft and others that are pushing that type of robbery are in fact the pirates. Maybe its time they stopped "puffing" their product on the side of the road and some anti-trust policing came their way again. I've never been one to really vilify them for their success, but the above illustrates virtual racketeering.
My sympathy for software piracy woes is somewhat blunted in cases like Microsoft - they are baiting people.