“But it’s free…”
If I had a tenner for every time someone wanted me to install some ‘free’ software on a school computer, I wouldn’t bother playing the lottery.
Now, ‘free’ software differs from free software because, in the circumstances, it’s not. What I’m talking about here is software that is free for personal use, but not any other use – and that includes use in schools.
The two most common ones I hear about at the moment are Microsoft Security Essentials and Spotify. The former is the capable and well-reviewed anti-virus software that Microsoft released last year. I use it on my personal systems, and have no complaints. Similar experiences seem to drive the urges of a different school IT technician every month to proclaim over on Edugeek that they are about to install it on all the school systems, oblivious to the fact that it’s not free for anything but home and “home-based small business” use. I’ve checked and double-checked this, even getting an official answer. It’s not free to use in a school. Miserly? Perhaps (though I personally don’t think so). Fact? Definitely.
Spotify is a common request from teachers in my school in particular, their brains addled by the promise of ‘free’ music without having to download MP3s from peer-to-peer any more. I’ve not been helped by the fact that the previous network manager allowed it, also having never read the licence terms. Spotify is licensed only for personal use, even if you have a paid subscription. Using it on a school computer to have background music in your lessons does not count. Fact.
The proliferation of good quality free software is a great thing, and that people realise there are good alternatives to paying money is better. However, it would be better still if some of these people could use their brains and realise that many of the people behind this software have to make their money somewhere, and that somewhere is often through business use. The MP3 and BitTorrent generation take too bloody much for granted in my opinion, to the point that most people I know don’t even consider they’ve done anything wrong by amassing their pirated MP3 collection. Wake up, and stop being so bloody greedy. It’s immoral, and it’s illegal. It is NOT free. Fact.