I note in the comments to this Question, that the user is using ripped software.

umm, I just copied the folder of the game to my home folder.. thats it.. should I download the installation and install it? because I have ripped version of GTA that has no installations but files to extract

This was flagged as off-topic with a query about Ask Ubuntu/Stack Exchange policy.

Hence this question.

Should this question and similar questions be automatically closed as off-topic - are we condoning the use of illegitimate software by answering these questions?

Or are these type of questions valid and can & should be answered.

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I know it's unethical, but they shouldn't have said they have an illegal copy. Where's the common sense? –  Thomas Boxley Jul 6 '12 at 19:38
    
I would personally err on the side of caution with these kinds of software, and err on the side of ethics, but that's my personal opinion. –  Thomas W. Jul 10 '12 at 15:19
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As said by @Thomas Boxley the original poster should use common sense and not reveal that he uses pirated software if he does and wants an answer, as noone wants to be associated with an act of piracy. –  Oyibo Jul 18 '12 at 10:28
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6 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think that this question and similar questions should closed automatically as off-topic. Questions that ask about how to use pirated or illegitimate software, to me should be considered un-ethical to answer.

But if someone likes to answer, I guess it would be OK, providing that they inform the OP about his/her situation, and the ramifications that could arise from using such software. I know from the Windows days, most of the time you have to buy software and that can get expensive, but its not reason to use such software. But also, most software companies, will let you try their software, before you buy, to see if it is what you're looking for, or if they like it, but they should buy it if they decide that they want it.

Now with Ubuntu, or Linux for that matter, Most software is Open Source, and cost nothing. When someone offers you their product free, to me that says that the product is good. There is a lot of real life example of that. So you decide.1

1Disclaimer: The opinion expressed here represent my own personal opinion

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+1 An opinion Im happy to put my name to support –  Stephen Myall Jul 5 '12 at 13:58
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Your last paragraph should have the same disclaimer as the first ;) –  HaydnWVN Jul 6 '12 at 12:39
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If you know that it is absolutely pirated and/or ripped, it should not be allowed.

But, if someone ripped their own disc to an .iso to preserve the original disc's integrity and to prevent it from further scratches and damage, and they need help with the ripped disc, by all means it should be allowed.

Only if it is confirmed to be pirated and/or ripped, we should flag it for removal. Don't assume that it is illegally obtained if they mention a disc image file. I personally rip every disc I purchase to my computer and put the real disc away for safe keeping.

Edit: I gave some thought to this today and remembered I should put this in too.

Mentioning cracks is NOT always a hint to pirated software. Some developers, such as Blizzard, will release cracks and patches to their own software, usually for running an application without a CD.

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I totally agree with Ryan McClure. If it's absolutely pirated software, any questions or answers should be censored. I don't believe the use of this kind of software, should be permmited/encoraged. –  LnxSlck Jul 16 '12 at 10:20
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Answers which are only useful in pirating software, such as a response to "How do I apply [group]'s crack to [game]" should not be given, as they are of no realistic use to non-pirates.

However, questions like "My copy of [game] crashes when using Unity but not Gnome Shell - oh and by the way it happens to be pirated" should be answered, because the problem and its solutions will probably apply just as much to non-pirate-copy users as to pirate-copy users. They are not asking for help with the actual act of pirating and the answers should be useful to other non-pirates who have similar problems. However, you should ask the poster to remove their comment that their software is pirated and to not mention piracy in future.

Similarly if someone asks "How do I copy files to root directories, because I want to crack a program" you should tell them that they can use 'sudo nautilus' to access the whole filesystem, but warn them that the use they are planning is unethical and illegal. Your answer may still be useful to others who stumble upon the question who want to use the same information for non-illegal purposes.

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+1 for the point of giving general support which may apply to both pirated and non-pirated copy. But I think. The word "piracy" itself is bad to hear. –  Anwar Shah Jul 15 '12 at 17:11
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Ask Ubuntu shouldn't be an avenue for this type of support. Whether or not users agree or disagree with the topic, it is illegal. Better support should be found in the pirated software's comments, or from the author of the posted content.

With that said, the topic shouldn't be closed. We should update http://askubuntu.com/faq to include piracy and other illegal activities. A friendly reminder to the user should be thrown out there, asking to rephrase their question in accordance with the FAQ.

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I used similar logic to push for a Mac VM question close until someone introduced the possible ambiguity (however unlikely) that it might have been Mac Server edition in question. I was willing to edit the question to make it general OS ISO, so it became useful. In my opinion, pirated software questions are not only not useful, but open AU to liability issues.

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I think that we should keep answers to a minimum for questions that obviously are only about piracy and don't have any principles/techniques that could be extrapolated to legal applications. BUT, we shouldn't automatically close them.

I think VM questions should be excepted and okayed.

In short, we shouldn't be too harsh but we should avoid any legal liability and we shouldn't become a help forum for TPB.

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