Here is an interesting question. Is it ethical to sell someone an expensive software suite the functionality of which could easily be replaced by simple 2-3 line shell script or few lines of code in the right place? Note that this is perfectly legal practice. But do you think this is fair? Or is this exploitation?
Personally though, I wouldn’t be able to sell something like that. I believe that a piece of software with absolutely trivial functionality that could be replaced with 1 or 2 lines of code has no inherent value. Not to me, and not to anyone. Especially if it’s as ineffective as CopyNo. I would feel like I was conning my consumers into buying something they can’t possibly need. There is the convenience factor that sometimes comes into play here. If I was aware of the fact that my software actually complicates and muddles some easy process I would feel I was simply praying on users’ reluctance or fear of learning very simple concepts.
But then again I’ve been called an “open source hippie” in the past so my views here might be skewed. Every single piece of code that I ever written was either published under GPL or flung haphazardly into cyberspace without any copyright attached whatsoever. I never actually sold software – I sell my services. So I do make a living writing code but I do it as a service to the company. So yeah, selling code is kinda funny concept to me in general. But I’m not opposed to it – proprietary software has it’s place and if you create something good you ought to be able to charge people for it.
It’s just that charging $20 for an app doing something that just about any web designer could teach you in 5 minutes for free just seems wrong to me. Wrong on very personal, subjective level. I’m sure the author of CopyNo has an entirely different approach to this. I respect his choice to sell his application this way, but I do not agree with it.
What do you think?