February 14, 2011, 12:10 PM — There's a great episode of The West Wing where Donna, one of the White House staffers, accidentally votes for President Bartlet's opponent in the election via absentee ballot. Mortified at her mistake, she heads to the nearest polling place to try and swap votes with someone who was planning on voting for the other guy, thus canceling out her error.
When she finally finds someone (a navy lieutenant who also works in the White House, as it turns out) who's willing to swap votes, she offers to show him a photocopy of her absentee ballot as proof about how she voted. The lieutenant's response was classic: "No, no. It's an honor thing, right?".
A short while ago, there was a story making the rounds about how the Mac App Store was "cracked," making it possible for users to gain access to apps without paying for them. I won't get into the details here, because it doesn't really matter. You see, Apple has taken a different approach with the Mac App Store. It's an honor thing, and I like that.
With many software products, I need to have a license code at the ready just to install them on my Mac. When I'm done, that software then must connect via the Internet to some server somewhere and validate that my license isn't in use by anyone else. The terms may vary—sometimes several machines can be authorized to use the same license, sometimes only one. Often (as I switch computers with a bit more frequency than most) I need to re-install my software. Sometimes I know where the CD is, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I can de-activate older software, sometimes I can't, and have to call some 800 number overseas and spend 30 minutes convincing someone I'm not a software pirate. Oftentimes, I just can't find or recover the license key and just give up and abandon the software. Your mileage may vary.
Now, that doesn't mean a small business owner can download iWork for a dozen employees—in fact, there's a provision that limits professional use of Mac App Store purchases to a single system. But at the moment, there's nothing in the world to actually stop someone from doing that.