Jan 4, 2005

Two Thieves

He's the IT man, the infrastruture artist. Part of his job is to download all the unregistered programs that otherwise would cost tens of thousands of dollars. I don't ask him how he does it. He does it. He goes to an ether house and gets the stuff. "Come back in a couple of days," he says when you need something. " I'll have it then."

"But it's bad," he said when I went to see him today. He's 28. Smart. Good looking. Intense, and always optmistic, even if he can't solve the problem.

"Why it is bad?" I said.

"It's stealing. We're learning to be thieves. That's all we are."

"Derbghalef," I said. His face lightened up.

"Exactly, you can go to the souk in Casablanca and get a disk full of programs for $2 that retail outside Morocco for $2,000. What does that tell you? It's acceptable. People would never think of paying the full price for these things now. I know millionaires. They could afford to pay the real price, but they don't because they know they can get it for less. This whole country is like that. Did you ever wonder how so many people could have satellite television? They can because they can pay 20D for a card that gets them access. How can we have Silicon Valley if we don't respect copywrite laws?"

He paused, looked back to the screen to see how my request was coming. I'd brought some disks from the souk in Casa. They were no good. No matter, he was going direct.

"Sometimes people come to me: what's the latest thing? What do you need, I say. They don't care. Whatever is need. They might use the program once. But they have it. They've acquired something new. They have the feeling they are up to date, they are ahead of someone else."

The conversation drifted. He'd just returned from Paris. Everyone running around like crazy. "How can you live like that? What's so important? And then they have a room 15 meters, and they pay 700 euros. For what? What is that? And we're working as fast as we can to be just like that."

"Come back in 2 or 3 days," he said finally. "i'll have it then."

But he wasn't finished. "You wonder what's going to happen to the software writers. They'll become like artists and musicians are now. In 50, 100 years, there'll be nothing. No one will create anything. Who will pay them? There'll be a tiny number of poeple doing all the creative work. The rest like slugs."

"We're all thieves," he said. "Not good."

"I'll come back," I said.

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