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The Ethics Coach on Pirating Software, Copycat Designing and More

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This story appears in the May 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
Do you have an ethical dilemma? Write to The Ethics Coach at ethics@entrepreneur.com.

Q: I purchased a few different software packages for my electronics engineering business at the cost of $5,000 to $7,000 each--a significant expense. The vast majority of consultants and some small businesses I've met pirate at least one of those applications. We all know various justifications for downloading free software and music, but discovering how common pirating software is makes me feel like a sucker! I'm paying out of pocket for something I could easily get for free. This situation is one of many where being "moral" seems to be very expensive. Are there any shades of gray on this issue? What is the appropriate response when this comes up in conversation?

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