Bert

The Right Decision?

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I am facing one of the hardest moral decisions I have had to face. It has been an issue for weeks and weeks and I would like to hear some other thoughts. I am working for a company and I love my job. It has many benefits and has been exactly what I was seeking. I am working with very intelligent people who are very willing to teach me and I am getting so much value from this.

Now for the problem. I recently found out that we use pirated software, but my position makes the moral aspect of this more unclear to me. I have nothing to do directly with this specific software. What software I use is completely legitimate. However, I must use products that were created with this software to do my job. My colleagues, like most of society, don't think twice about piracy and don't see any problem. My first reaction was that I was OK to continue the work. I reasoned that since it was indirect I was OK. Now I have changed sides and I am considering quitting. It seems like this would be a huge loss but in the end I would be better off. Any advice?

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There is absolutely nothing inherently immoral to continue working there. This would be the case, even if you personally used the pirated software. Whether you personally use the software, as an employee, has nothing to do with the issue, as morality concerns choices that you make, and it is the company's choice on which software to install (or to make clear that you need to install, or use), or how many licenses they buy. (For example: What if they are 20% short on licenses on a product installed company-wide? How can you even determine whether it is "your" copy, or that on another computer, that is pirated? What if software on your computer accesses a server which is short on client access licenses?)

Now, you didn't specify the magnitude of the piracy. You may decide, if it is large, or way out of proportion in the industry, that you don't want to support a company that engages in that. Also, if you are a major decision-maker in the company, or are in a position in which your actions, either directly or indirectly, could influence whether or not the piracy continues, or how much happens, then that changes the situation. Finally, I'm assuming no part of your job puts you in a position in which it would somehow possibly look, to others, that you, independently of the company, were engaging in piracy.

But if you are just a regular employee, and they are just skimming along the edges, don't accept guilt for actions which are not yours. Even if they are responsible for a larger amount of piracy, you aren't responsible for the piracy.

If one restricted oneself to only doing business with others who had never violated the rights of another, one would be paralyzed.

Make sure the software on your home computer is paid for, and don't worry about what others do, unless the situation is extreme. What others do isn't your moral problem. Morality does not require you to be a whistleblower or a martyr.

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You do have to make somes choice. But keep it in context. You are not responsible for what others do, and most likely people who work there or who run the company are doing a lot worse than using what you found to be pirated software. How many of them support government takeover of health care, progressive taxes, viro regulations, imprisonment of businessmen and a lot more? You didn't say what the nature of the piracy is, but why focus just on that? Where else are you going to go where people don't do the same things, even if not software piracy in particular, or do worse than the company you like and see so many virtues in? Are you supposed to withdraw from your career and society and become a monk because of what other people do?

You are already ensuring that you don't do anything illegal yourself. Beyond that it is enough that you make it clear that you don't sanction the theft if there is any question about your position. You should also be aware that there is a program for quietly reporting software piracy so that those specifically responsible for it are held accountable. (I forget what it is called.) Most important you are honest with yourself and are not evading anything, knowing what you are doing and making decisions in accordance with what you think is right.

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I agree with the earlier posters when they state that an individual is only morally responsible for his own choices and actions. But that does not mean that one is not responsbile for passing moral judgment on another person or a company. It seems that you have recognized that the companies actions are immoral and that you do not condone them which leaves the question of what you should do about it.

If you found out that someone you have known for a long while was stealing from someone, anyone, would you still remain friends with them? If your response is no, then why would your response change because it is a company which is only a group of individuals working together? A person is not just a thief or a killer some of the time, as soon as they steal or kill they are thieves and killers. If the leaders of the company you work for are willing to 'pirate" (steal) from others, what makes you think they will be moral with you? And if you intend on moving up in this corporation what makes you think that they will not one day ask you to follow their example. When a companies leaders do not recognize theft (of any sort) as being immoral and actually reward those that do so, how far do you think that you (the moral person) are going to be able to rise in this company? To be moral according to Objectivist Ethics means to act in a rationally selfish manner which requires that one think about a situaiton in it's full context which means in a long-term, mid-term and short-term view.

I also disagree with that idea that today one cannot deal with anyone that has not corrupted themselves by violating the rights of others, America and Americans are not that bad, yet. And if one is going to state that then they must be willing to include themselves in that corruptness. But, the reality of the matter is that as America, and the rest of the world, move further away from a philosophy of reason as their guide, their choices and actions will, in general, become unavoidable in one's life. You did not create the situation and when you are left with no choice(s) then morality has left the stage and you should not feel guilty for doing what is needed to survive. With that said, I do not think that America is to that point as if it was chaos would rule (for a short time) and piracy would be one of the last of your worries.

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Here is the link for the Business Software Alliance bsa.com software piracy reporting program https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx?pr=1.

What you choose to do depends on more details than you have provided here and possibly more than you now know yourself. You will have to have to know enough to provide specifics and verification if you report the company for software piracy. What you think of the company over all will depend on what else it does (both good and bad), the reasons behind the software piracy, how entrenched it is, and how far the responsibility for it extends. You don't support and condone it yourself and are under no obligation to sacrifice yourself and your career for what others do.

Other common improper business practices in the software industry include salesmen (right up the top levels of management) misleading customers in hyping existing products and company capabilities, and promising what is not known to be possible to accomplish; creative accounting and billing that shifts charges for work onto a convenient account; and scapegoating of convenient employees when something goes bad. All this is especially prevalent in companies living off money flowing from government contracts.

If you contest every wrong-doing you encounter you will have a hard time finding a company you can work for at all for any reasonable length of time. But you can work in the world as it is by being selective while maintaining a personal reputation for honesty, objectivity and competence.

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Thanks for the replies. I have some questions though as I am still unclear about this.

There is absolutely nothing inherently immoral to continue working there. This would be the case, even if you personally used the pirated software. Whether you personally use the software, as an employee, has nothing to do with the issue, as morality concerns choices that you make, and it is the company's choice on which software to install (or to make clear that you need to install, or use), or how many licenses they buy.

I still think I am sanctioning piracy merely by using products that came from stolen software. I am supporting it by my choice to not leave and go to my other options. I am really having a hard time believing that I would be moral if I was the one actually using the pirated software. It seems like you are saying that the company makes the choice to be moral or not and I can support them either way and still be moral. Can I really be moral while consciously using things that are pirated? I don't understand the general concept here.

I agree with the earlier posters when they state that an individual is only morally responsible for his own choices and actions. But that does not mean that one is not responsbile for passing moral judgment on another person or a company. It seems that you have recognized that the companies actions are immoral and that you do not condone them which leaves the question of what you should do about it.

If you found out that someone you have known for a long while was stealing from someone, anyone, would you still remain friends with them? If your response is no, then why would your response change because it is a company which is only a group of individuals working together? A person is not just a thief or a killer some of the time, as soon as they steal or kill they are thieves and killers. If the leaders of the company you work for are willing to 'pirate" (steal) from others, what makes you think they will be moral with you? And if you intend on moving up in this corporation what makes you think that they will not one day ask you to follow their example. When a companies leaders do not recognize theft (of any sort) as being immoral and actually reward those that do so, how far do you think that you (the moral person) are going to be able to rise in this company? To be moral according to Objectivist Ethics means to act in a rationally selfish manner which requires that one think about a situaiton in it's full context which means in a long-term, mid-term and short-term view.

This is where I have a lot of conflict since I am considering leaving. The people I work with are very good people as far as my experience goes. They are just morally ignorant. On the other hand, they are very smart and rational at what they do. Why does working here mean so much to me? Well I have no experience and I am just dying to go beyond the theory (I am a student) and get some hands on experience. To say that this is a good opportunity for that is a massive understatement. So, to address your comment, the people I work with are some of the more moral people I have personally met. They are moral to me in everything else and I would go as far as to call many of them my friends. I respect them and they are perfect mentors for me. I know that they reward ability and don't cut corners. It just seems like they don't give piracy the correct consideration. Piracy is very bad everywhere I go so I am not shocked by this mix of bad and good.

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Bert, as ewv has already stated "what you choose to do depends on more details." So my advice is given knowing that it is you that must make the choice in accordance to the full context of the situation of which I do not have. So, if what you state about the industry you are in is true then your chance of finding a fully moral company is very unlikely. But, you are still going to have to get your training and I offer that you attempt to do so at the best place you can find who's essence is mostly good which you might already be at. If as you go along you find that your company, or another compay, is worse than you originally thought then you should rethink your previous stand and may choose to leave at that time. With that said there are morally good companies in the market place although they may be a lot harder to find. And I would remind you that most people do not have a code of ethics any where near to what you hold and expecting them to function as if they did will only lead you toward expectations that will probably frustrate you more than it should. When you are running your own company someday you can set your business standards in accordance to your personal ethical standards, but unless you get the technical experience you may never get the opportunity to do so. Finally, I offer that if the subject of piracy comes up you can offer that you disagree with it and if requested you can offer your reasons why.

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This is where I have a lot of conflict since I am considering leaving. The people I work with are very good people as far as my experience goes. They are just morally ignorant.

Is there someone you can talk to about this? Can you go to one of these "very good people," explain the situation and your concerns about it, and get a fair hearing? If so, that would be the thing to do. Maybe, once they know, they would be just as eager as you are to correct it.

That happened at one place I worked although I wasn't involved and heard about it after the fact. It seems the tech guy was installing bootleg copies of MS software on the company PCs. When the CTO found out about it, he hit the roof, fired the tech, and bought licenses.

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I still think I am sanctioning piracy merely by using products that came from stolen software. I am supporting it by my choice to not leave and go to my other options.

To quote Betsy in another thread in which I participated,

It is sanction if you are giving moral approval or endorsement to a person or idea.

As an employee, you're entering into a business relationship with the company qua company--a separate, independent entity--not qua each and every one of its actions. Your entering into such a relationship cannot possibly be taken as a moral endorsement of each of its actions.

Given what you have stated, any employee would be obligated to quit any job the moment they observed their employer committing any immoral act. Any person would be forbidden to enter any business relationship with anybody unless the other party was morally perfect.

The same faulty principle would apply to using a product that came from stolen software. If a maker of a major, widely distributed product was pirating a $200 operating system on their PC, but otherwise acting morally, then using that product is "sanctioning" that piracy?

Is morality a system for telling you how to live your life, or a collection of floating decrees?

I am really having a hard time believing that I would be moral if I was the one actually using the pirated software.

Can I really be moral while consciously using things that are pirated? I don't understand the general concept here.

Because your usage is not your independent choice. When you become an employee, you agree to perform a wide range of actions within a certain scope, and it's understood that the employer makes the overarching decisions about these actions. That's why legally (and properly so), employers are responsible for employee actions (which fall within the scope of employment). For example, it's widely understood that a company spokesperson speaks for the company, not themselves. If a customer has a dispute with a company, they pursue the company as an entity, not the individual employee (which would in typical cases be very unjust).

This is why whether the software is on your personal machine, vs. another's, is irrelevant. What moral system would hold you responsible for whether the system administrator used a valid key vs. a cracked version on your machine vs. a neighbor's?

More to the point, think about my original example: How do you decide whether you are using pirated software if some software is installed on every machine, but the company has only bought the number of licenses to cover 80% of them? This wasn't an arbitrary example--it was meant to illustrate the irrelevancy of your personal use to the issue of who is responsible (you vs. your employer). Try to resolve this in your mind and it may help you to understand the other points I'm presenting.

It seems like you are saying that the company makes the choice to be moral or not and I can support them either way and still be moral.

Correct, that is what I'm saying. Keep in mind, you are not endorsing the piracy, merely participating in a business relationship for your own self-interest, which also supports the company as a whole.

The above points don't apply if the piracy is so severe that it is essential to the way the company operates. If the company's products or services fundamentally depend on the piracy (for example, the company is leasing space on servers at a rate that doesn't even cover the cost of the server software licenses), then I would say that this does place responsibility on employees. A similar example would be a software product that inherently depended on piracy of another, and couldn't have existed without it (for example, a graphical user interface front-end is distributed as freeware and included with it is a commercial command-line library that is not available freely, and the features of the pirated command-line library are advertised features of the newly-created package). In this latter example, I would say that end users are responsible for the piracy if, and once, they know about it. It doesn't sound like either of these apply to your situation.

The principle behind the examples in the last paragraph is that each incremental bit of support of the company directly enables another instance of piracy. Every one more time that product is downloaded, a new pirated copy has been made. Every one more subscriber to the server space is another end user of the pirated server software. In contrast, if a company's piracy is just skimming on the edges, but they are otherwise being productive, then support for the company primarily supports the productive activity, and cannot be taken as endorsement (and therefore sanction) of the piracy.

I do thank Ray for pointing out that one can and should still make choices, especially in planning long-term. I definitely encourage software developers to think about these issues, and consider issues like piracy at their employers as "one among many" points when deciding where to work. Software development is among the easiest industries in which to start your own company, and widespread dissatisfaction with existing companies may spur you on to become independent even more than all the other compelling reasons to do so.

The point I wanted to make clear is that morality does not require you to sacrifice your career over the actions of others. If you do later find and join a more ideal company, or remove yourself from the employee pool by starting your own, then your unavailability to work for the less moral companies will be its own form of justice.

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Is morality a system for telling you how to live your life, or a collection of floating decrees?

By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

"I work for a bank robber setting up the computer programs that he then uses to overcome security devices. But I don't sanction his actions and I also do not participate, so I am acting in my best interest and totally moral." :)

I disagree.

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By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

That isn't what he said. In the context of a society in which there is still a distinction between private property and theft you don't help a thief as your occupation. The company he works for is not in the "business" of pirating software and does not depend on that. They are using some pirated software, to an extent we don't know.

Under a system where the government runs the businesses in your career there is no choice, you can only take government jobs that would otherwise be legitimate. It does not follow that you have to leave your career. Likewise it also does not follow that you have to leave every job where you find the company doing anything at all unethical.

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By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

That isn't what he said. In the context of a society in which there is still a distinction between private property and theft you don't help a thief as your occupation. The company he works for is not in the "business" of pirating software and does not depend on that. They are using some pirated software, to an extent we don't know.

Under a system where the government runs the businesses in your career there is no choice, you can only take government jobs that would otherwise be legitimate. It does not follow that you have to leave your career. Likewise it also does not follow that you have to leave every job where you find the company doing anything at all unethical.

If you read my other post you should have seen that I am not advocating that one "leave every job" when they find unethical people. But one cannot go without morally judging the situation within its full context and acting accordingly.

"Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil." [Ayn Rand, “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?” The Virtue of Selfishness, 71.]

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By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

That isn't what he said. In the context of a society in which there is still a distinction between private property and theft you don't help a thief as your occupation. The company he works for is not in the "business" of pirating software and does not depend on that. They are using some pirated software, to an extent we don't know.

Under a system where the government runs the businesses in your career there is no choice, you can only take government jobs that would otherwise be legitimate. It does not follow that you have to leave your career. Likewise it also does not follow that you have to leave every job where you find the company doing anything at all unethical.

If you read my other post you should have seen that I am not advocating that one "leave every job" when they find unethical people. But one cannot go without morally judging the situation within its full context and acting accordingly.

"Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil." [Ayn Rand, “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?” The Virtue of Selfishness, 71.]

What does this have to do with anything said here? No one has advocated moral agnosticism, and no one has advocated that he should be willing work for almost anyone as long as he is not committing the crime, never making judgments, tolerant of anything and never distinguishing good from evil. This thread came up because he is distinguishing good from evil, is not failing to judge, and is trying to figure out what to do, and the whole discussion is in those terms. It is not moral agnosticism. This doesn't mean that he has a duty to sacrifice himself and his career if the situation threatens to become nasty. We don't know enough about the details to know unequivocally what is the best course of action -- staying there until he returns to school, talking to someone there about it, reporting them quietly or otherwise, or something else.

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What does this have to do with anything said here? No one has advocated moral agnosticism, and no one has advocated that he should be willing work for almost anyone as long as he is not committing the crime, never making judgments, tolerant of anything and never distinguishing good from evil. This thread came up because he is distinguishing good from evil, is not failing to judge, and is trying to figure out what to do, and the whole discussion is in those terms. It is not moral agnosticism. This doesn't mean that he has a duty to sacrifice himself and his career if the situation threatens to become nasty. We don't know enough about the details to know unequivocally what is the best course of action -- staying there until he returns to school, talking to someone there about it, reporting them quietly or otherwise, or something else.

I am not stating that Bert is attempting to be morally agnostic nor that his actions up to this point are immoral. I used the Ayn Rand quote to demonstrate that one should not attempt to do so as it seems others on this thread are stating that who one works for does not matter as long as they remain moral. I disagree with this idea especially if one views their life with a long-term perspective. I am attempting to show that, in reality, who one works for plays a very large part of how they are morally judged/viewed by other people and other companies in the market. It seems to me that some here are over looking the fact that it does matter how other companies morally judge or view (espeically the hiring staff) other companies, specifically their competitors, and who works for them. In other words, if one just views their life and career in the short term by choosing to work, or stay working once they have knowledged of the immoral standards of a company, then they are not acting in a rationally selfish manner as they are evading looking at possible long-term negative effects of doing so. The last I checked who one worked for in the past is still something that companies, individuals want to know. And from my personal experiences it is used to qualify a person on many levels to include their moral character.

A real world example is the difference in reaction I recieve when I tell people that I was in the Marine Corps over another person that states they were in the Air Farce, I mean Air Force. :)

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No one has advised him to be morally agnostic. He isn't even involved with that software in his work. What he should do next depends on more than we know. He is actively pursuing finding the proper course, as he should. If he acts out of bad judgment in an inappropriate way, in any of a number of possible ways, it could cause him harm. That includes how he is treated in the future, which includes recommendations he will need.

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Is there someone you can talk to about this? Can you go to one of these "very good people," explain the situation and your concerns about it, and get a fair hearing? If so, that would be the thing to do. Maybe, once they know, they would be just as eager as you are to correct it.

That happened at one place I worked although I wasn't involved and heard about it after the fact. It seems the tech guy was installing bootleg copies of MS software on the company PCs. When the CTO found out about it, he hit the roof, fired the tech, and bought licenses.

Good advice but this is such a small company that no one is 'in the dark' about this.

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I sort of understand some of the points but not completely. Here, I will give some more specifics first. The software on the company's computers is supposedly legitimate and I am inclined to believe this. The piracy only happens on individual's computers since each individual license is still very expensive (about $1000). Everyone uses the companies computers but sometimes it is more convenient to use their own and that is the only time pirated software is being used. In the beginning I used the software minimally but refused to to put it on my machine and that was no problem with anyone. I still think I would have been immoral to do so. Anyways, so the software is considerably expensive but mainly paid for.

To quote Betsy in another thread in which I participated,
It is sanction if you are giving moral approval or endorsement to a person or idea.

As an employee, you're entering into a business relationship with the company qua company--a separate, independent entity--not qua each and every one of its actions. Your entering into such a relationship cannot possibly be taken as a moral endorsement of each of its actions.

I might not be sanctioning the immoral actions but I am doing them (if the case was that I actually used the pirated software personally). How can that be moral?

More to the point, think about my original example: How do you decide whether you are using pirated software if some software is installed on every machine, but the company has only bought the number of licenses to cover 80% of them? This wasn't an arbitrary example--it was meant to illustrate the irrelevancy of your personal use to the issue of who is responsible (you vs. your employer). Try to resolve this in your mind and it may help you to understand the other points I'm presenting.

This does help and I am trying to get a better idea of it. Would this apply to a school? The school may use stolen books but this doesn't make a student guilty for knowing yet staying, correct? Or what about a school research group? Say the leading professor has stolen equipment. Are the students who know this obligated to leave. Does this apply to living with others at all? For example, my roommate steals things that we all use such as dish soap, salt, etc., but doesn't always admit it. Am I responsible for finding out if it is stolen before I use it? You don't have to go into these extensively. I just want to get an idea of if and how these situations differ to get a better idea of the general principle and the specific situations it applies to.

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Is morality a system for telling you how to live your life, or a collection of floating decrees?

By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

"I work for a bank robber setting up the computer programs that he then uses to overcome security devices. But I don't sanction his actions and I also do not participate, so I am acting in my best interest and totally moral." :)

I disagree.

I don't know how you could possibly read my post and come away with that interpretation.

Particularly when I explained how if the piracy was essential to the business, that shared responsibility for it does rest on the employees. Your example fits exactly into a category of cases that I go to great detail to explain in both example and principle.

I then, in the second to last paragraph, suggest that potential or current employees consider their employer's piracy a negative point in deciding where to work.

What specifically, in my post, could have made you think that I would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as I was not committing the crime?

"Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil." [Ayn Rand, “How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?” The Virtue of Selfishness, 71.]

I agree with the quote. One should pass moral judgment, but that doesn't necessarily mean doing so publicly, nor being a whistleblower.

it seems others on this thread are stating that who one works for does not matter as long as they remain moral. I disagree with this idea especially if one views their life with a long-term perspective. I am attempting to show that, in reality, who one works for plays a very large part of how they are morally judged/viewed by other people and other companies in the market. It seems to me that some here are over looking the fact that it does matter how other companies morally judge or view (espeically the hiring staff) other companies, specifically their competitors, and who works for them. In other words, if one just views their life and career in the short term by choosing to work, or stay working once they have knowledged of the immoral standards of a company, then they are not acting in a rationally selfish manner as they are evading looking at possible long-term negative effects of doing so. The last I checked who one worked for in the past is still something that companies, individuals want to know. And from my personal experiences it is used to qualify a person on many levels to include their moral character.

I agree with this abstractly, but we differ on the particulars. If I were hiring at a software company, I would not hold against an applicant who I suspected simply failed to speak out against piracy at a previous company. Due to the widespread nature of small amounts of piracy, somebody speaking out could potentially be putting their position or career in jeopardy. Maybe they wouldn't be in a specific case, but the point is, because of this likelihood, an applicant not speaking out against piracy tells me almost nothing about their moral character.

If the applicant worked at a long time for a company that was rotten in many ways, that does tell me more. However, the original poster has described many other very positive aspects of working there. So given the limited information presented, I suspect it is the small amounts of piracy that unfortunately happen commonly and all too often, at an otherwise productive company.

I sort of understand some of the points but not completely. Here, I will give some more specifics first. The software on the company's computers is supposedly legitimate and I am inclined to believe this. The piracy only happens on individual's computers since each individual license is still very expensive (about $1000). Everyone uses the companies computers but sometimes it is more convenient to use their own and that is the only time pirated software is being used. In the beginning I used the software minimally but refused to to put it on my machine and that was no problem with anyone. I still think I would have been immoral to do so. Anyways, so the software is considerably expensive but mainly paid for.

By "mine" and "individuals" do you mean your company-provided, designated computer, or personally-owned computer at home, like when working from home?

If home computer, then I don't know if that changes the situation legally. I might suspect it doesn't change the situation as it would be clear you have no other reason to have the software except for work-related functions, but I'm not really sure. It does make the situation a little worse as it may appear more to others that it was an independent choice of yours to "bring home the software". Is there provable documentation or communication in writing that you could point to that you were required, or essentially required, to install it on a home computer? Or is there deniability, like if the piracy were ever to come into the light, the company could say that the employees individually installed it on their home computers for their own convenience, in violation of policy? If the latter, (and presuming that you are actually under pressure from the company to use home equipment and install needed software on it), then the company's actions are additionally worse because not only are they responsible for the piracy, but they are trying to push the blame onto employees and away from themselves.

If the situation is as I have described it in the previous paragraph, I don't believe you are strictly responsible for the piracy as if you simply, on your own time, decided to acquire and use the software for your own personal use. However, it does complicate the situation, as you might now be making a decision, in your decision-making capacity as an employee, on whether to actually cause an additional copy to be made of pirated software. You're in a position where your employment requires you to make this tradeoff vs. appearing to be a less productive employee (because you can't use the software at home). This does appear to be more of a dilemma.

I have been in this situation with inexpensive shareware ($30-$100, products like WinRAR, Beyond Compare, UltraMon), where it's not possibly in the company's interest to expect us to do our work without these tools, but the company is stingy and I don't want the hassle of trying to get such purchases approved. However, the company has done nothing to encourage anyone to pirate these tools, either. In these cases, I've simply bought them myself. In some cases I've even "moved" these personal licenses between jobs (in a manner allowable by the software's license agreement).

In this situation, feeling out for a sympathetic other employee, or more than one, may be a good option, to see if the company might be convinced to purchase the additional needed licenses. Another option, if you feel the situation won't escalate to even more software, and if it's practical (the software is available to the public), may actually be to buy said license yourself. This may seem silly, but it may be the best option between leaving your job or being a whistleblower, or appearing to your superiors that you could be a whistleblower. Spending $1000+ on work needs isn't that unusual--sometimes software developers buy their own computer equipment if they prefer it to what their company provides (and based on the new information you've provided it may appear that employers are being urged to use home computers already).

To sum up, the reason my new advice has somewhat changed is because the new information materially changes the situation, where your individual decision now may appear to directly affect the number of pirated copies created.

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It is possible that an employee using the software on his own computer might come under an allowed use of the software on two machines but only one at a time. Depending on what is actually being done there that could be a morally legitimate use even if not spelled out in the license.

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Is morality a system for telling you how to live your life, or a collection of floating decrees?

By what seems to be your standards of morality, it seems you would be willing to work for almost anyone as long as you are not committing the crime.

"I work for a bank robber setting up the computer programs that he then uses to overcome security devices. But I don't sanction his actions and I also do not participate, so I am acting in my best interest and totally moral." :)

I disagree.

I don't know how you could possibly read my post and come away with that interpretation.

I did go back and read your post once again and agree that I misinterpreted your post and apologize.

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No one has advised him to be morally agnostic. He isn't even involved with that software in his work. What he should do next depends on more than we know. He is actively pursuing finding the proper course, as he should. If he acts out of bad judgment in an inappropriate way, in any of a number of possible ways, it could cause him harm. That includes how he is treated in the future, which includes recommendations he will need.

I agree with you and what you mention is what I was trying to explain by stating that Bert should take a long-term perspective.

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It is possible that an employee using the software on his own computer might come under an allowed use of the software on two machines but only one at a time. Depending on what is actually being done there that could be a morally legitimate use even if not spelled out in the license.

When my wife worked for an engineering firm that used an expensive CAD system the administrator was only allowed to load it on a certain number of computers that was usually negoiated before the loading. The license did not allow for loading of more than a certain number of computers, but some of the reason is because part of the contract included individual CAD support where the developer could connect to the CAD person's computer and pull information.

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A real world example is the difference in reaction I recieve when I tell people that I was in the Marine Corps over another person that states they were in the Air Farce, I mean Air Force. :)

I can't speak for the US (and anyway I think US AH-64s are Army units) but I would venture that Apache pilots (at least as far as the UK forces are concerned) have a tougher times than US Marines and possibly special forces, both in training and on the battlefield. I believe the statistic for the UK is currently about 1% make it through the selection.

(I do take your point, though - there is a difference between the rough, physically and mentally testing lifestyle of the Corps even during peace and most USAF missions which are primarily exercises in sleeplessness in cramped conditions)

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By "mine" and "individuals" do you mean your company-provided, designated computer, or personally-owned computer at home, like when working from home?

If home computer, then I don't know if that changes the situation legally. I might suspect it doesn't change the situation as it would be clear you have no other reason to have the software except for work-related functions, but I'm not really sure. It does make the situation a little worse as it may appear more to others that it was an independent choice of yours to "bring home the software". Is there provable documentation or communication in writing that you could point to that you were required, or essentially required, to install it on a home computer? Or is there deniability, like if the piracy were ever to come into the light, the company could say that the employees individually installed it on their home computers for their own convenience, in violation of policy? If the latter, (and presuming that you are actually under pressure from the company to use home equipment and install needed software on it), then the company's actions are additionally worse because not only are they responsible for the piracy, but they are trying to push the blame onto employees and away from themselves.

If the situation is as I have described it in the previous paragraph, I don't believe you are strictly responsible for the piracy as if you simply, on your own time, decided to acquire and use the software for your own personal use. However, it does complicate the situation, as you might now be making a decision, in your decision-making capacity as an employee, on whether to actually cause an additional copy to be made of pirated software. You're in a position where your employment requires you to make this tradeoff vs. appearing to be a less productive employee (because you can't use the software at home). This does appear to be more of a dilemma.

By "mine" and "individuals" I did mean personally-owned laptops. It is more convenient in some cases and that is why we were given this option but it was made clear that we did not have to. I see that this would fit what you were saying since it is now more of a personal choice and would not be moral to put it onto my computer.

I have been in this situation with inexpensive shareware ($30-$100, products like WinRAR, Beyond Compare, UltraMon), where it's not possibly in the company's interest to expect us to do our work without these tools, but the company is stingy and I don't want the hassle of trying to get such purchases approved. However, the company has done nothing to encourage anyone to pirate these tools, either. In these cases, I've simply bought them myself. In some cases I've even "moved" these personal licenses between jobs (in a manner allowable by the software's license agreement).

In this situation, feeling out for a sympathetic other employee, or more than one, may be a good option, to see if the company might be convinced to purchase the additional needed licenses. Another option, if you feel the situation won't escalate to even more software, and if it's practical (the software is available to the public), may actually be to buy said license yourself. This may seem silly, but it may be the best option between leaving your job or being a whistleblower, or appearing to your superiors that you could be a whistleblower. Spending $1000+ on work needs isn't that unusual--sometimes software developers buy their own computer equipment if they prefer it to what their company provides (and based on the new information you've provided it may appear that employers are being urged to use home computers already).

I would consider your advise about purchasing the software myself but I no longer use it at all. At the beginning I was slightly apart of that area but now I settled into another. My issue is in using what the other workers made with the pirated software to do my job.

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