Dec 202010

By Anura Guruge

A Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) from 1768

The use of pirated software, in any and all circumstances, sans exception, is a direct violation of  the ‘though shall not steal‘ commandment, and is thus a sin. It is also a prosecutable crime. The Catholic Church, moreover, sees this commandment as an extension of ‘love thy neighbor as yourself’ and pertaining to the respect of private property.

Just because software piracy is a faceless, anonymous crime against a corporation does NOT make it any different to intentionally using a stolen credit card to order goods online from WalMart.

Hence, my disquiet. In the context of the pope’s now famous comment about the applicability of using condoms in some sinful scenarios, at least one contributor to this blog stated: ‘a sin is a sin.’ Bingo. Using pirated software, even for the Lord’s work, is a sin — particularly when, in nearly all instances, perfectly acceptable equivalents are available for free. This is definitely the case in this instance, the pirated software in question being anti-virus software from the Czech Republic (26% Catholic) company Avast! — whose new logo is ‘Avast! be free‘ BECAUSE it offers a very competent FREE version of its software. The ONLY difference between the free version and two paid versions are fairly esoteric features not usually required by ‘professional’ users who not particularly promiscuous in the use of the Web.

Just in case you are thinking that I dredge the Web looking for stories such as this about the Vatican, that is actually far from the case. Though I have had a number of e-mails suggesting that I start covering Vatican related matter that has appeared in Wiki-Leaks, I have refrained (and can even state that I have yet to visit Wiki-Leaks). This story about the Vatican’s use of pirated Avast software popped-up, quite literally, in front of my face, near mid-night on Thursday night [Dec. 16, 2010].

My Avast Dashboard with the words 'Vatican' at the bottom.

Though I have had a few issues with it, I have been a very committed user of Avast for a number of years. Thursday night, before shutting down my PC, I decided to see how Avast was doing on my machine — since I had recently upgraded (for a fee) to the latest version, and I hadn’t really checked Avast since the upgrade … because I trust Avast so much that I rarely bother to check it. So I opened up the Avast Dashboard (i.e., Control Panel). See screen shot >> at right. I thought I was seeing this. But NO, here was a Windows 7 Dashboard that mentioned the word ‘Vatican‘.

I was intrigued and irritated. I read the story … and you should too … by clicking here.

I am well aware that close to 4,000 people, many lay, work at the Vatican at any given time. But, it was somebody connected to the official Vatican ISP — and here again I know that there are multiple ISPs at the Vatican, viz. Holy See, Curia, Radio Vatican etc. But, the Vatican, like corporations, should have stringent policies against the use of illegal pirated software — with the IT department responsible for ferreting out violations. This story has now been on the Web since at least Thursday. The Vatican must know about it. I just did a Google … and yes, as is to be expected, the more inflammatory outlets are trying to rope in the pope. What I do not see is a statement by Cardinal Bertone, S.D.B., denouncing the use of pirated software and assuring that this will not happen again.

I have multiple, unrelated reasons for raising this issue. These being:

  1. To me, this is yet another instance, in what is now becoming a long list, of ‘insensitivity’ by the Vatican, at a time, because of the never ending clergy sex abuse scandal, one would hope to see the Vatican acting in a more mature, responsible manner. Just today, there was news of another priest, this one in New York, being defrocked. And, just in case you can’t remember any ‘insensitivities’ try the topless acrobats, the Vatican Press Office breaking the embargo on the pope’s book, Kasper’s derogatory comments on the UK etc. Again, the key issue is that everything the Vatican does at present, is being played out against the sad, sordid backdrop of the clergy sex abuse mess.
  2. A sin is a sin.
  3. There is nothing accidental about installing and activating pirated software. It require premeditation and explicit, specific execution — particularly when you are entering the ‘stolen’ product code. Those that work for the Vatican should be above such behavior.
  4. It is a crime.
  5. If you really think about this, the Vatican’s absence of guilt when comes to this issue provides another data point, re. ‘permissible’ sins per the Vatican, in the debate about the pope’s comments on condoms.
  6. Yes, I, as the person, in 1978, who came up with the Serial Number-based software validation scheme that eventually morphed into the tedious, Product Code activation scheme that we all hate, am a passionate anti-piracy advocate.
  7. I have two paid Avast licenses, not really because I need the Pro version … BUT because I firmly believe that those that can should pay for software such as Avast so that they can provide FREE versions for those that can’t afford the Pro version.

This is enough. I am just waiting for the Vatican to issue a statement that it will implement a zero-tolerance policy on software piracy. This would be a good start for other zero-tolerance policies by the Vatican.

Thanks & Cheers.

P.S., In my reckoning Avast is either #2 or #1 when it comes to the best anti-virus for PCs. ALL of the really good anti-virus programs for PCs are now developed EAST of what used to be West Germany. The only program that could be better than Avast is developed in Russia. Though I have visited Russia and one of my most memorable moments in life was getting to meet Yuri Gagarin and shake his hand, I still cannot come to terms with having Russian software on my computers. Hence, Avast … having met my first Czech when I was quite young, when a young film director moved into our neighborhood with a young Czech bride … he having gone there to study film making.

  4 Responses to “Vatican Uses Pirated Software. Has Bearing On Pope’s Comments On Condom Use”

  1. I see a W, not an U, between Q and E, which is why I call it Qwerty (Qwertz in Germany by the way).
    Is Querty some sort of weird Wisconsin only variant? Perhaps the ur-variant, given that “Not a foot” Dr. Sholes was from Wisconsin?

  2. Geee. I am busy for a day … and now this.
    I can’t spell either.
    I saw the QUERTY comment … and didn’t give it much attention. Kind of realized it was a typo.
    Ah guys. Today is a Thursday. Rewind, 30+ years. Every Thursday morning, at 9am, we would have a ‘RPQ’ (Request for Price Quotation) meeting. Basically large IBM customers, through a salesman, saying ‘how much will it cost to get THIS?’ Many requests were for esoteric keyboards. Man, the number of different keyboard layouts I did in those two years.

  3. It was a gradual transition. Since about 1983 to about 2006, IBM’s ‘Systems Network Architecture’ (SNA) was my life. I was Mr. SNA. Spent much of my day working on SNA and writing about SNA. It was a good living. Had a lot of fun. Bummed the world. Companies would fly me first class across the Pacific to deliver a 45 minute presentation. IP, despite my efforts, finally killed SNA. It was a slow death and even last year, I would be asked to do some SNA-related work. Around 2006, when I knew that I would not be messing around on SNA (and related, such as Web-to-host and Web services) stuff for much longer, I NEEDED … real pathological need to have a topic that I could spend 8 – 16 hours a day, doing ORIGINAL research and writing about. I first started with Renaissance Art (Dan Brown rekindling an interest I had always had … and over the years I had bummed around most of the European art museums … and when I was 15 and living in Paris … and perfected a 17 minute tour of the Lourve for folks visiting from Ceylon). Was really getting into Michelangelo. We have a similar personality THOUGH I have no talents. We are willing to suffer, mightily, for our work and do not suffer fools gladly … even if they pay the bills! [I was self-employed for much of my life]. Through Michelangelo, I was getting exposed to too many popes. Raised my curiosity. Started buying pope books and reading them. [When I get interested in a topic, I logon to ebay and buy 40 books in a night. Had got an indulgence from the wife on this. Told her that it was a known sin.] Realized that not enough SCIENTIFIC research and analysis had been done on papal history. I started creating Excel spreadsheets. Soon had enough data on papal names for a book. Never MEANT to write a book on papal names. We were going to Maine for Thanksgiving 2007. Told the wife … she was driving … I think I have enough material for a book on papal names. Started the book when we got back. It was published in July 2008. Then people started asking me about the NAME of the Next Pope. Guess where THAT led.
    Right now … if you are wondering … why I am not doing that much pope work … I am writing a book on Dwarf Planets.
    Oh, I wrote an ABC book on Great Artists of the world, for my then 2 year daughter, in 2008. Took me 3 days!
    Since then the (now) 10 year old … keeps on saying where is MY book. So the dwarf planets is for her. It has been fun. I have dabbled in astronomy much of my life too. No, I can’t do real research on astronomy. Not clever enough. So when that book is done, I might go back and do more work on popes and cardinals.
    I have a LIST of about 6 topics for new books … none of them to do with popes. I really should write a book on Buddhism. I have forgotten more about Buddhism than most learn in a lifetime.
    IF I can find a HEAVY DUTY theologian, I would LOVE to do a FAQ book about Catholicism. I will ask the questions.
    Started to do that with my father on Buddhism. He is a world authority. He tells me that he will answer my questions … but he just took off to the South Pole! [Honest. He is on a 19 day cruise.]
    So that is me. Workaholic. Take after my father. He is 82 and like me LIKES to work 12 to 16 hours a day.
    As for TYPING. Actually makes sense … to me and those that know me. I am weird. YOU knew that … right? I THINK … that I have trained my mind to do various strange things. One of them is that I can SPEED UP the rate at which I think. I tell myself, OK, lets think faster. Basically, I THINK I can regulate the speed at which I think. I THINK I can also think in background mode. I tell myself to work on a problem in background. Also works while I sleep. And I do SOLVE many problems in my sleep. Last thing, I formulate a thought process and problem, typically technical … how can I get this done … when I wake up I typically have one or more options.
    My bad typing allows me to regulate the speed I am thinking at … when writing.
    My typos is because I am ahead of what I am typing. So if I can slow myself down, that helps. But, I could be wrong.
    Cheers. Happy Christmas.

  4. Very familiar with it. But, following YOUR example I refuse to pay full price for it. My book club does not have it. Checked ebay. Still not discounted enough.
    Well, yes, it is POSSIBLE that we could have a dwarf planet named after a pope. The names have to be mythological and the new trends is to favor the ‘dark’ side. So … any names you would like to suggest that meet those criteria. ‘Siri’ — though some will complain that it is too close to Sirius … and that is not permitted.
    When I started researching Catholicism, one of my favorite sayings was that ‘Catholic scholarship is an oxymoron.’ Prior to be putting a stake in the ground (and don’t even go there) … they claimed that Gregory the Great was a Benedictine.
    I actually have a Christmas Puzzler for you about God. I will e-mail that to you.

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