Our teacher is encouraging us to use cracked software

140

23

I'm taking a course named Numerical and Computational Methods Based on Mathematica (Or in Chinese: "基于Mathematica的数值计算方法"), but Wolfram Mathematica is a bit expensive for me to afford. On the first lesson of this course, the teacher told us how to crack this software, and asked us to have Mathematica 11.0 installed on our computers by this Wednesday. However, I just don't want to use cracked softwares.

While it is true that software cracking is inappropriate and even illegal, almost everyone around me uses cracked softwares(such as PS, AE...). As far as I know, nobody in the rest of our class refuse to crack and install the software.

So what should I do? Having a talk with my teacher or simply quitting this course?


Follow-up:

Finally, I've decided to quit this course, because I think I can gain the same knowledge by learning Mathics, a free software recommended by some answers below.

Thank you for all the awesome answers!

Sun Qingyao

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 805

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– eykanal – 2016-09-14T14:00:50.803

2There are genuine security concerns here - for example the cracked software may contain malware (viruses etc) - and these may not be immediately apparent.

If possible install the pirated software in a virtual machine - that way you are keeping the illegal potentially unsafe stuff away from your primary operating system. – niico – 2016-09-18T13:22:14.167

4

Wolfram have a specific answer to this question, it is called STUDENT LICENSING. https://www.wolfram.com/mathematica/pricing/students-individuals.php

– Aron – 2016-09-19T08:23:20.890

1What I like most about this question is that it doesn't have a provably best answer, as all answers will be subjective; yet it is very much a question worth asking, we can all learn from the question and possibly the answers. – reinierpost – 2016-09-19T22:21:37.140

Buy the software or from the course. If it's complicated to decide, just throw a die. If an even number pop up, buy it, else quit it. – Billy Rubina – 2016-09-19T22:55:01.727

3Nothing wrong with the follow-up section, but note that you can indicate which answer you found most helpful by clicking the "accept" checkmark next to it - this will speed things up for future readers. – Shog9 – 2016-09-20T17:21:52.383

For an interesting related read, see the programmer's Q&A on pirated software. Opinions on morality, financial impacts to the developer/company, etc.

– brichins – 2016-09-28T21:12:12.137

Answers

112

While it is true that software cracking is inappropriate and even illegal, almost everyone around me uses cracked software

That is really bad and I know it happens also in my country (Italy). However, I think there is a false dilemma in your question:

So what should I do? Having a talk with my teacher or simply quitting this course?

There are not the only options you have. There is a third one, which is using Mathematica (or the Wolfram Language) legally for free. Although I am a very happy SageMath user, I've been curious to find out what the options for Mathematica are. In the past it was impossible: you either paid for Mathematica or illegally cracked it, but nowadays there are more ways.

I will describe three of them, but bear in mind that some might be slow or have some limitations. Nevertheless, given that your class is called Numerical and Computational Methods Based on Mathematica I think these defects won't impact your learning.

Use the Wolfram Programming Cloud (online only)

Mathematica is basically a nice GUI for the Wolfram Language. Since January 2016, the Wolfram Cloud has been launched with two free options:

  • Wolfram Development Platform
  • Wolfram Programming Lab

You can launch the website at wolframcloud.com and you will need a free account which will give you limited deployment capabilities. But these capabilities are only needed if you want to deploy some code as a cloud API, not to perform computations.

Here I am using the Wolfram Cloud to plot a function:

Wolfram Cloud screenshot

Use Mathematica on the Raspberry Pi (slow)

If you happen to own a Raspberry Pi, you actually have the software as part of the Raspbian operating system. On my Linux computer, I can connect to the Raspberry Pi via SSH using the -X switch for GUI applications:

ssh -X pi@raspberrypi.local

Then, I can run Mathematica:

mathematica

Keep in mind that this will be slow, because while you are using the GUI via your computer, the computations are performed on the Raspberry Pi.

Here's a screenshot of a simple command and a Wolfram Alpha query, using the free Raspberry Pi version:

Mathematica for Raspbian OS

Emulate a Raspberry Pi (super slow!)

If you need to satisfy these two constraints:

  • no Raspberry Pi available
  • offline access needed

Then you can emulate an ARM architecture and install Raspbian on it. It is going to be very slow but it can be done. UnixMen.com has a nice tutorial about a recent version of Raspbian (from 2015) that should be enough to get you started.

Talk to your teacher

Finally, I think it's good to underline again the fact that you should really raise your concerns to your teacher and (at the very least) mention that you have to use one of these workarounds because they are not providing you with the needed tools.

Something similar happened to me in a few instances:

  • In high school a teacher wanted to give me a pirated copy of LabView. I refused, telling him "I do not use pirated software. Besides, this is a Windows program so I cannot run it".

    Of course this was pretty easy because it was high school, so there were no classes to choose or to drop and I had to attend the lectures. Moreover it was just a suggestion to "study better" and it was not really required that students used the software at home.

  • During my MSc, we were required to use Matlab for assignments but the university won't provide licenses for personal machines, only for lab machines. I was living a bit far from the university, thus I discussed about this with the teacher and got to use Octave instead.

    I made sure my code was Matlab compatible except for once when I used a shorthand operator not available in Matlab (it was a += b). Since I spoke with my professor beforehand, he was keen enough to correct the typo for me and grade the assignment. Basically, talking can help you solve a lot of things.

Andrea Lazzarotto

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 1 120

2

Along the lines of alternative software this might be useful: http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/28162/alternatives-to-mathematica

– scrappedcola – 2016-09-13T15:14:49.577

3I myself am a SageMath user, but if students are taking a class on Mathematica they will probably be required to code in the Wolfram Language, not in Python. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-13T15:54:17.947

re: your last example: I don't think there's any mostly-compatible alternative to Mathematica, the way there is for Matlab (Octave), or SPlus (R). So that part is useful for the general case of other commercial software, but not for the OP's case. – Peter Cordes – 2016-09-14T14:32:07.127

I didn't know Mathematica was part of Raspbian. I wonder if you could run it in an ARM VM on a more powerful ARM CPU (hardware virtualization being much faster than emulation). – Peter Cordes – 2016-09-14T14:33:45.797

1@PeterCordes sure, I think you can also run it on any Debian based distro since the DEB file is in the repos. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-14T17:40:31.760

LabView is also available for Linux, so your point "this is a Windows program so I cannot run it" wasn't valid (unless you wanted to interface with external devices, which seems unsupported in Linux version). – Ruslan – 2016-09-15T05:37:33.337

@Ruslan except the proposed cracked version was the Windows one. Anyway it doesn't matter at all and this is not the point of the answer. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-15T08:54:22.633

2FWIW, I think this is the best answer. You gave several different alternatives to using the cracked software and you did a good job with your answer. +! – Jefré N. – 2016-09-15T18:07:41.730

1

With the raspberry pi zero, a cheap $4 microsd card, and USB gadget mode (https://learn.adafruit.com/turning-your-raspberry-pi-zero-into-a-usb-gadget/serial-gadget?view=all#ethernet-gadget) the Raspberry Pi option would be only $9.

– Merlin04 – 2016-09-16T01:51:49.013

@JefréN. thanks. :) Luckily mathematical software is something that has always interested me and so I knew these options in advance. It looks like my first answer here is doing well. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-16T09:30:16.040

@Merlin04 you are right. But how does it compare to the relative speed of a Pi 2, for example? I don't know if it would be very fast. :) – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-16T09:30:45.927

IIRC the Pi version of Mathematica does some hardware detection, so I wouldn't bet on emulation working. – Peter Green – 2016-09-21T12:39:53.807

@Peter thanks, actually my last suggestion was not tested although I know that some people got a Raspberry Pi emulated. It's possible it won't work. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-09-26T11:27:20.633

To whoever downvoted: revenge downvotes without comments are stupid and pointless. – Andrea Lazzarotto – 2016-12-14T15:28:09.333

134

My advice is to just use the pirated software and not rock the boat, just like Drunken Code Monkey, for example, mentioned.

This issue isn't something that you're likely to solve yourself. Instead, you're most likely going to spend large amount of time and energy on nothing and produce no results. The fact that your teacher just expects you to get cracked Mathematica is a proof enough that it's something completely normal and accepted by your society. Now, I'm not going to preach to you about your own personal ethics or if you should feel bad about the situation or not. Others have given more than enough options.

Instead, I'm going to talk a bit about how things like this are resolved in other places. I myself am from Serbia, a country that has been recently opening itself to the idea of actually giving money for software, so I've seen a bit of how negotiations between foreign software companies and locals work.

Basically, on one hand, the "manufacturer" of the software is suffering what some might consider a loss, since you, your fellow students and the institution aren't paying for licenses.
On the other hand, keep in mind that they also have a direct benefit from you: You're increasing the user-base of their software.
Mathematica isn't new and it's not going to disappear because you aren't paying for it. Instead, it has a chance to thrive: You're using Mathematica and not competitors. That means that you'll be most likely comfortable using Mathematica and not some other tool that take getting used to. At your future employer's place, you'll probably feel more comfortable again using Mathematica than alternatives.

This means that your area is a very interesting potential market for Wolfram. Sure, you're not paying now, but directly, that fact doesn't cost Wolfram anything. Keep in mind that software prices are not calculated by how much a license costs (because it costs pretty much nothing and the trend is to reduce physical costs as much as possible), instead they're calculated by how much potential customers want to pay for it. In some cases, the "normal" prices might be very far away from what you can normally afford.

The bottom line for software companies is that they want money, specifically, more money than they invested into the creation of software. Their user-base is a potential source of money. If the users are paying, that's great, if they're the non-paying type of users, you want to convert them eventually into paying type of users using various methods (student licenses come to mind, for example). If you spend resources to convert the non-paying users into non-users, you just wasted your own money for no profit at all.

The result is that, if Wolfram has a sufficiently large user base in China, and at the same time, the political situation in China changes to a point where Wolfram can start negotiations on licensing, the educational institutions could end up getting real licenses for their computers.

These licenses could be either payed individually, or through an agreement with your government for a form of collective licensing. They might even be "donated" as a show of "good will". There might be an agreement for a combination of donated and purchased licenses or a certain ratio of tolerated "non-purchased" and purchased licenses, eg. you'll buy 5 and we'll let you use up to 15 licenses or similar. There might be an agreement that a company could be allowed (or maybe even given government backing) to persecute or at least aggressively negotiate with commercial pirates in return for giving licenses to government and educational institutions. Sometimes, it's much easier to put pressure on a large for-profit company that has money to pay licenses than to put pressure on a smaller institution that in the end won't even be able to pay anything.

Possibilities are great, depending on what the company and relevant institutions manage to officially or unofficially negotiate. Do note that, if the political climate is ripe-enough, such negotiations can be very profitable for the company. After all, some money is much better than no money, as long as it doesn't take too much effort to obtain it.

AndrejaKo

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 3 213

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– eykanal – 2016-09-14T14:00:07.243

5Don't do this, for all those wondering China is party to the Berne Convention which means that cracking software (like Mathmatica) copyrighted in any other country party to the treaty, is Illegal. – Ryan – 2016-09-19T23:42:07.200

5^ The above comment is highly dubious. The Bernie Convention is mainly an agreement to recognize the copyrights of other countries the same as they recognize their own. It's questionable if the "minimal standards" of the agreement even covers software license restriction cracking. It also allows the relevant jurisdiction to apply certain limitations or restrictions. Basically, it seems it has little value compared to the laws of the local jurisdiction. – Alexander O'Mara – 2016-09-20T21:17:40.750

80

One thing you should absolutely avoid doing is cracking the software yourself. That opens you personally to a whole lot of legal issues (IANAL, but this is kind of obvious). If your computer is really yours, it should be possible to complete the course without one. Not as convenient, of course (e.g. you may have to stay after classes to use the classroom PCs), but still.

If your computer is a machine you were given by the institution to be used during the course, it should be provided with the software you need. Go to the IT department, tell them you are required to have Mathematica 11 for your course and ask them to install it. When confronted with the need of cracking the software themselves, IT guys may end up finding a license for you. At the very least, if they crack the software for you, you can still consider yourself a bona fide user in case your institution gets busted.

Dmitry Grigoryev

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 3 148

15"bona fide user": Probably not any longer after this post ;-). As always it is a good idea to not leave any paper trail in preparation of illegal endeavors, let alone an electronic trail. (Of course I'm speaking in totally theoretical terms. I have never done anything illegal.) – Peter A. Schneider – 2016-09-13T07:16:34.423

27@PeterA.Schneider I don't agree. The OP doesn't have to ask IT support to crack the software, only to install it. He also doesn't have to verify if he go the same fake license key as the rest of the class. The institution should bear full responsibility for their PCs, as long as users don't install anything on their own without permission. – Dmitry Grigoryev – 2016-09-13T08:05:29.250

10@PeterA.Schneider "I have never done anything illegal." How do you know? Did you examine and understand all the million pages of legislature? Do you remember everything you ever did? – David Balažic – 2016-09-13T13:00:42.857

18@David That was a self-referential joke. – Peter A. Schneider – 2016-09-13T13:41:17.803

24@PeterA.Schneider - ... made funnier by it totally going over David Balazic's head. – AgapwIesu – 2016-09-13T13:44:30.623

The law does not matter in environments lacking controlling legal authorities (as I suspect OP is in). – emory – 2016-09-19T13:37:19.543

I really like this. If the ability to run Mathematica is a requirement for this course, make it clear to university (or whatever else is offering this course) that it's their responsibility to provide it. You never asked for this software, so why should you provide it? – reinierpost – 2016-09-19T22:27:12.097

48

Let's see through this step for step:

  • Is this actually illegal? To give an extreme example: Homosexuality is in Scandinavia not only legal, but accepted in the culture including marriages while it is outlawed in many Islamic countries and punishable by death. So no, an argumentation that it is illegal because you personally think so does not hold water.

    While most countries have now accepted universal human rights, cracked software is by no means an accepted universal law violation. And while I cannot claim innocent when visiting another country by pointing out that it is not illegal in my home country, just as little firms from abroad can claim a violation if the country in question does not accept copyright violation.

    So check if there is a law that prohibits copyright violation.

  • While the practice may be "illegal" by law, it also depends how a culture stands to a specific law. Every country has laws which are completely ignored by their population for different reasons. They are hopelessly outdated, imposed by former colonialists, largely forgotten or seen as a petty offense.

  • How is the stance on authority? Believe it or not, in some cultures it is not allowed to openly criticize superiors even if you think they are doing wrong. Criticizing them may be perceived as a more severe violation than their law breaking.

If your country sees it as illegal, and it is a law which is actually enforced and it is allowed to speak openly, then the correct course of action would be to inform the superiors of the teacher. If the authority issue does not allow the direct course of action, you can try to speak with the teacher under four eyes and find a solution (below) or inform other independent authorities apart from university (can still backfire, inform yourself about precedents and how that worked out).

If this a non-issue (the law exists, but is not taken seriously) then you are on your own and you must decide how you will react (do not ever try to force the law or your opinion on it on others in this case except you like to have a bloody nose).

If you make the decision that it is immoral for you, your options are:

  1. Buy a license. It does not have to be the actual license for the computer you are working on to be the ethical choice. The problem is if you are actually capable of buying the license (reminder: There are regions in Africa where people die because they have no money for vital medicine. "It's so cheap" may be right for your environment, but if you do not know how much money it comparably costs in other regions do not condemn).

  2. Try to use free software. It depends really if your instructor allows you to use it as replacement (see above), if you have enough time to learn it and if the software as powerful enough to work as a replacement.

  3. Do something to lessen the impact. You could do the choice to let someone install it so you don't need to do it yourself. You can make a vow that you will pay the software back (e.g. a lifetime license) once you have enough money. Or do something good in return (humanitarian deeds) to compensate your wrongdoing.

  4. Drop the course if your pricks of conscience are too hurtful. The question is if someone depends on you and hopes for your education and leaving the course will cause trouble. Then you are ethically obliged to choose the lesser evil and if you have a family on one side which may need your help and on the other side a big software firm which could handle themselves...

Life is hard. Your decision.

Thorsten S.

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 3 829

6This is an excellent answer, except for the statement "You could do the choice to let someone install it so you need to do it yourself." in item f. If nothing else, this means setting quite a bad precedent to oneself, psychologically. – O. R. Mapper – 2016-09-12T22:16:38.873

1@O.R.Mapper While you are right that it is a bad precedent if this is continous behavior, I see those as the inevitable quirks and "cheats" which allows us to save face for very uncomfortable decisions. Yes, exactly. It can also be used to answer uncomfortable comments. – Thorsten S. – 2016-09-12T22:39:58.447

9This is an interesting answer (+1). Your first paragraph made me think about India which refused to pay the licence fees for some medicine, taking the stand that it is more important for them to get it to the poor rather than align with a philosophical "business practices". I take no stand in it as this is a complicated case but this is another aspect of your example. – WoJ – 2016-09-13T19:06:27.457

2Great cultural awareness here. But I think option f) is lame: more unethical than doing it yourself. – Kit Johnson – 2016-09-14T00:36:46.877

6It's interesting to me that some commenters see having someone else install software is immoral. Would they also feel it were immoral to use software on a computer on which it had been set up? Even in a lab? To me, it seems like the whole premise of IP is fundamentally bankrupt, eventually, especially with so many computers whose basic function includes copying and sharing data. The real ultimate answer is to find new business models that fit computers, not to try to force physical ownership models impossibly/counterproductively/punitively onto data, IME. – Dronz – 2016-09-14T07:02:43.280

3@Dronz: I think the point is not that "having someone else install software" is immoral as such; the feeling is rather that if you decide to consider installing an unlicensed copy is immoral, it would be just as (or even more) immoral to ask someone else to do the same. The problem is directly or indirectly causing the activity perceived as immoral, which may or may not be the case for a lab that is already set up. Note that I base this consideration entirely on the abstract notion of an action perceived as immoral, to prevent blurring with the wider issue about appropriateness of copyright. – O. R. Mapper – 2016-09-14T13:07:21.400

19

In the general case that you disagree with an approach that your teacher is using I would just suggest that you speak to the teacher and raise your concerns.

However, as there's a legal issue involved here, I think it would be appropriate to raise this with someone who is senior to your teacher. As this could potentially get the institution into trouble, your teacher likely has superiors who would want to know about this and have it put to an end.

You should also remember that there may be others in your class who find this objectionable, but aren't prepared to stand out from the crowd by saying so.

Ian_Fin

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 1 817

37It's polite, if it all possible, to try and talk to the teacher directly first. Going above someone's head can sometimes mean that things escalate very quickly when in fact a much simpler solution could have been found. If the teacher is unhelpful then consider pursuing the issue up the chain. – user2390246 – 2016-09-12T12:39:33.043

6@user2390246 You could notify the teacher that you plan to go to an authority, but I feel like as the issue surrounds a legal matter it's not enough to only go to the teacher directly. Even if the teacher agrees and changes this "policy" they've still encouraged students to do something that is of at least dubious legality while acting as an employee of the institution. – Ian_Fin – 2016-09-12T12:46:37.130

5In some cultures, especially in Asia, questioning or challenging those in positions of authority (like a professor) can have dramatically bad consequences. If this is true for the OP then this suggestion may be a bad idea. – O.M.Y. – 2016-09-13T09:47:17.733

@O.M.Y. That may be the case but given that the OP suggests it as an option they've presumably weighed up the consequences against the discomfort of doing something they find immoral (it was doing something they claimed was illegal when I answered - the waters have since muddied...) – Ian_Fin – 2016-09-13T10:05:40.180

3

@Ian_Fin Many young people in their quest for idealism sometimes blindly crash onto the shoals of reality. The OP sounds very upright and idealistic, but should still exercise caution if the local society norms would punish his/her idealism. Otherwise the victory over the bad old professor might be a Pyrrhic one, such as the professor being fired (for breaking the law) AND the student being demerited (for challenging authority). I've seen this kind of crap happen even in America.

– O.M.Y. – 2016-09-13T10:18:17.847

11

Consider the question linked below, and always google for "open source (software name)" which can recommend alternative software for you. It won't be an exact replica but will do work for you. Sage is a nice alternative. I personally left pirated software use decade ago as it is exactly stealing. Best open-source Mathematica equivalent

Shahensha Khan

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 1 225

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– eykanal – 2016-09-14T13:57:01.137

1But Sage is a poor "equivalent". Last time I tried (about a year ago), Sage couldn't even solve simplest trigonometric equations to give answer in its general form — I only got two answers from countable infinity. Mathematica, on the other hand, gives you the full solutions or complains that it had to use inverse functions, suggesting to e.g. use Reduce instead of Solve — and then if you follow the suggestion, it may give you the complete solution. (Try Solve[Sin[x^2] == 1, x] for example — it's solvable completely by Solve alone.) – Ruslan – 2016-09-15T05:47:06.857

If i make a software, and some use it illegally its my financial loss. And i consider the people stealing from me. I know the term piracy is too broad, and out of scope of this discussion. – Shahensha Khan – 2016-09-19T16:48:32.520

8

I would not recommend using cracked Mathematica versions at the university. Cracking/ pirating software is illegal and that should be reason enough not to do that. Your professor should not encourage that.

Apart from that general aspect I know that Wolfram has means to detect pirated software. If you do not take further measures Mathematica searches for updates and for full operational capability Mathematica needs access to the Wolfram/WolframAlpha servers/database.

Extensive use of cracked Mathematica versions is pretty common among students and even in some work groups and I know of a case at a university that Wolfram reached out to a department demanding that they stop using cracked Mathematica versions. This is the best case scenario when getting caught but if the guys at Wolfram are not in a so generous mood things like that can get very expensive.

An annual license for the student edition of Mathematica costs not that much (about 50€) and is worth the money. If your university does not have licenses on pool computers, I would buy such an annual license to be save. Because once your university gets caught all involved parties will most likely be in trouble (I say that without being an expert on the law).

EDIT: To clarify this answer a bit regarding the comments on it: @Ian_Fin gave a suggestion on how to improve the situation that can be one way to approach it. But even if one brings it to the attention of the department it might not improve at all or not very soon. I personally think it is unlikely that the department does not know about this issue and if they have not done something about it once they introduced that course I personally do not think they will do something now. The last sentence is my intuition to that case and might be completely wrong. I am just saying: Wolfram has means to detect this and if a big group uses a crack from one location (maybe even the same serial/registration) it becomes easier for them to detect and it is a bigger issue to them than one single instance.

Even if your university/department gets licenses they will be in form of a license server or on pool computers. I would say it is not likely that they give out licenses to students to use on personal computers. Mathematica can become a very helpful tool for your studies and I can say from experience it is worth the money. Sure it is not cheap and there are alternatives like python, sage and more but if you have to use Mathematica for the course there is an option to get it for a reasonable price and it will belong to you and you can use it wherever and whenever you want.

M. J. Steil

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 205

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

– eykanal – 2016-09-14T13:57:50.547

7

I feel important to remind that this situation is likely to be illegal, and should not be promoted. However, let us understand the complicated situation a student, and let us be proactive; depending on the degrees of freedom, you can try proposition, or protection.

If you have degrees of freedom, you can propose to your teacher a workaround with a free or open-source solutions. For instance, you can, with his help, attend the lecture with another software. This could provide a solution for the next-year lecture. Interpreted languages are not so different, transposition from Mathematica seems possible. And learning novel languages is always beneficial. This could even be used as a project for which you could get the grade. Other answers have already proposed alternatives: Mathics (A free, lightweight alternative to Mathematica), SAGE, Python, Maxima...

You can find others at Best open-source Mathematica equivalent.

If you have no degree of freedom, it is important to protect yourself from potential consequences. Since software installation leaves traces on computers, there are options:

  • use a "shelled" environment for the installation: it may work like a bubble emulating or virtualizing an operating system inside the main OS on your computer, in with you can install softwares in a protected manner. You can quite safely shoot the bubble when needed, without arming the main OS, at least more easily than clean uninstalling a software. Similar concepts are "sandboxes" or "jails" in FreeBSD.
  • use it portable: I seen a packaged version of Matlab or of Office that works on a portable USB drive. Very handy. This might exist for other software.

Laurent Duval

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 4 224

5

I would report it to Wolfram using their contact form. If concerned about privacy, I would do so anonymously using a newly created email account (gmail etc).

If it is possible, I would also report it to the legal department of your academic institution.

If you are comfortable with the possible consequences, you might first open a dialogue with your teacher asking whether the course can be taken using a free equivalent such as Sage, Maxima or some other product that does not require students to infringe copyrights and give rise to worries about legality.

RedGrittyBrick

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 214

8Does Wolfram have a bounty program? I'm not sure why some poor student has to get sucked into their contract enforcement scheme. – None – 2016-09-12T20:42:17.837

8@djechlin. You have a choice. If you see some rich person being mugged, you can think "she can afford it" or "not my problem" or you can act on your moral instinct in whatever way makes sense to you. I just wrote what I would (aspire to) do. Just identifying an available choice. YMMV. – RedGrittyBrick – 2016-09-12T20:48:31.467

3I'd probably have a different moral instinct in that case, but okay. – None – 2016-09-12T20:49:22.307

2All the answers and comments defending why cracked software isn't really stealing kind of crumble in the face of the question, "Would you want Wolfram to know that you're doing that?" If you report it to Wolfram and they don't care, great! I would take it up with other contacts at the University first, but if I got zero response I would certainly take it to Wolfram, and mention that fact (in writing) to the university officials. I would also not write under the assumption that there is wrongdoing, but simply that it seems odd and I think they should get into communication. – Wildcard – 2016-09-13T01:44:56.397

6@Wildcard: Stealing is a subset of wrongdoing; they are not synonymous. Agent X can dislike many things, not all stealing. – Daniel R. Collins – 2016-09-13T03:01:20.527

2@DanielR.Collins, a fair point. – Wildcard – 2016-09-13T03:03:07.177

2@Wildcard: 'All the answers and comments defending why cracked software isn't really stealing kind of crumble in the face of the question, "Would you want Wolfram to know that you're doing that?" If you report it to Wolfram and they don't care, great!' - when asking such questions, or considering whether a company cares, virtually everything that is not in line with the company's business interests could "crumble". Hence, the opinion of a company cannot be the sole measure of things, either. – O. R. Mapper – 2016-09-13T15:21:44.890

4

Apparently installing a cracked version of Mathematica 11.0 is part of the assignment here, so if you object to that on ethical grounds, you would need to quit your study at your present University and try to enroll in another University where they don't do this sort of a thing. While you could try to stay at your university over your ethical objections by sidestepping this particular issue by buying the license, you would likely face another such problem in the future. E.g. the next assignment may well be to crack the Maple license and a few weeks after that you may be asked to install Matlab.

Count Iblis

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 2 049

2Having to pay for a studend license is unethic as much as is unethic cracking software. Also note that cracked software may be a security issue, I would never install it in my barebone machine. – GameDeveloper – 2016-09-13T09:00:16.610

4

Get some Free alternative for Mathematica like SageMath or Maxima, for instance, and try to do the assigned tasks with it. Even if you fail because of some subtle requirements only Mathematica could match (questionable), your attempts may become known and attract much more attention than some (most likely) lazy student just dropping the course.

The course may be more difficult for you, but you will be ready to use the obtained skills anywhere, regardless if your employer has funds and intention to buy an expensive software or not. There are a couple of mathematical systems I know really well because I have learned in the university. I cannot use them, because the commercial licenses are so horribly expensive that my employers cannot afford them.

There are reasons why universities traditionally prefer Free software.

h22

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 2 758

2

The teacher did not tell you to get the cracked version of the software

If I may interpret your description literally, this is what happened:

  1. The teacher showed you how to do a crack
  2. The teacher told you to have the software available

Surely step 1 is unethical, and probably immoral, but it is still your choice whether you want to use the crack, or whether you decide to get the student license (which is in fact not unreasonably priced from my perspective).


In response to some comments: In my university it was not the responsibility of the university to provide resources, but students were expected to buy their own books and software.

Teachers sometimes showed us how to use the copy machine, or how to perform a crack, but it was always our choice whether to follow their example.

As a courtesy most (not all) software was made available on a few computers, but that is besides the point.

Dennis

Posted 2016-09-12T11:11:48.813

Reputation: 37

2In my opinion, it is a really sad sign of our times that the knowledge about using an everyday tool like a copy machine can be insinuated to be an instruction to wrongdoing. (In a wider sense, this might also apply to cracking a software, which - depending on the context - can have its legitimate applications.) – O. R. Mapper – 2016-09-13T18:27:50.767