Looks like my rant about software piracy has generated some thoughtful feedback, some of which is listed in the post's trackbacks. My apologies for not enabling comments for these posts, but unfortunately a recent flood of comment spam has made comments impossible for me to manage.
One thing mentioned in several responses is that people who steal my software wouldn't necessarily have bought it in the first place. This seems such an obvious statement that I didn't bother mentioning it, but perhaps I should have. So, for the record, I'm certain that the majority of people who use pirated versions of TopStyle would never have purchased it. Almost anything that costs money will be used by more people if they can get it for free.
But even so, this still costs me. My support newsgroups contain countless messages from people who have been asking me questions for years, yet have never purchased a copy. Given that the TopStyle trial version expires after 20 uses, you have to think something's fishy there. And you'd be amazed by the number of emails I get from people who admit that they're using a stolen copy, but still expect me to offer them support.
Perhaps more importantly, you need to consider how these pirated copies are obtained in the first place. While some pirated copies are cracks of the trial version, in other cases people use a stolen credit card number to purchase a copy of TopStyle, then once they download the registered version they post it on some warez site. This results in a chargeback fee from the credit card company - which comes out of my pocket.
Another common argument is that software isn't a physical product, so it has no real value and therefore nothing is lost when someone uses a stolen copy. Uhmmm...look, anyone who is tied to physical objects as the only things with monetary value is flat-out unprepared for the Internet and should stay offline.
Okay, that's enough ranting for now. My purpose with these posts is not to browbeat anyone, but instead to offer an inside view of what piracy really is. All too often the only people commenting on piracy are the pirates themselves or the lawyers protecting large corporations, so I thought I'd share how piracy affects someone like me. Despite my sour attitude regarding piracy and the lack of ethics among those who use warez, I'm still heartened that there are enough honest people to enable small developers to earn a nice living. I love what I do, and if you're among those who has purchased my software and enabled me to keep creating it, then I owe you a great deal of thanks.