The protection mechanism is a special contractual clause, the soulcatcher clause, which is
The protection mechanism is a special contractual clause, the soulcatcher
clause, which is part of the MJSS software license agreement. It simply
states that, upon violation of the program license agreement, ownership
of the violator's soul passes to the software vendor. Further, the
software vendor may "negotiate the sale of said soul to the first
smoking, blood-drenched apparition with fangs (SBDAWF) that meets our
price. The SBDAWF may collect your soul at any time of his/her/its
Bennett explains the evolution of his soulcatcher clause: "Traditional
diskette copy-protection mechanisms just make people mad. They are not
that hard to crack, and create an adversary relationship between
customer and vendor. Electronic "keys" for computers will make customers
equally mad, and will probably limit potential success of a software
product. I've been working on a contractual solution to this problem
since I was a college freshman in 1965.
"One of my college buddies loudly and often proclaimed he was an
atheist. One evening, while reading Alfred North Whitehead (as most
all college freshmen get around to doing), I decided to test his
committment to atheism.
"I went to his room and offered him a quarter for his soul. The
argument was simple. If he really was an atheist, he'd think me
a fool for wasting a quarter and accept my proposition. But if he
were really an agnostic,merely a doubter, he'd refuse my quarter.
Overome by intellectual pride, he took the quarter and I bought
his soul. The fun started about a month later.
"He really wanted his soul back. Part of my experiment was to see
how badly. By the end of the semester, he paid $100 for his soul,
and admitted that he was an agnostic after all. That got me thinking
about the possibility of putting a soulcatcher clause in certain
types of legal contracts.
"over the years I'ver purchased many souls. With only one exception,
the previous owner always wanted his/her soul back, and is willing
to pay a premium. The one above-referenced exception was a stranger
next to whom I was sitting on an airplane, and he's probably been
trying to find me ever since.
"Recently in New York, one of my friends had occasion to buy a soul at a
black-tie dinner party. He sat next to a former nun, who claimed now
to be an atheist. Familiar with my soulcatcher story, he offered here
a quarter for her soul. The entire room went silent until the
negotiation for the nun's soul was concluded. By the end of the
evening, she bought the soul back for $10 and admitted to the entire
group that she was abdicating her atheism."
Bennett concluded: "Ive been waiting for an advertiser to try this
approach ever since I got into the computer business in 1969. It's
worth a try, since the software industry is really out of ideas for
protecting their intellectual revenue. I finally found both a software
product and some investors willing to bet on the soulcatcher clause.
"My experiments worked on the hard-core minority, so maybe the average
citizen will have the same reaction. As a bit of insurance, the
Twilight Zone theme plays from the computer's speaker each time the
program is loaded.
"As the investors approved the final ad copy, someone lifted a line
from the popular movie Ghostbusters. He said, 'Perhaps, we'll have
a success of biblical proportions.' All I can say is, the first
SBDAWF that knocks on my front door will have to follow me through
the hole I make as I go crashing out the back of my house."
>From the attached ad copy:
FOR $30 YOUR COMPUTER WILL RESPECT YOU IN THE MORNING
Your computer thinks you're a real moron. So do the big-ticket
software packages like Synphony, 1-2-3, Wordstar, etc. Every
morning, when you boot your IBM PC or compatible, both hardware and
software treat you as if you had a two-digit IQ and the reflexes of
First, you plod your way through all those nested menus. Once into
your application, the software thinks you're too ignorant to care about
multiple-keystroke commands. And the hardware assumes a screen cursor
that moves at ten characters per second is the fastest thing you can
Even before you invoke insulting software packages, the system assumes
you are one lousy typist who can't possibly exhaust the capability of
a 16-character type-ahead buffer. If you do get more than 16 characters
ahead, it just throws all those characters away. But then, someone as
stupid as yourself can't possibly be doing anything important.
And heaven forbid you should want to leave your computer unattended.
If some co-worker doesn't blither by and inadvertently reformat your disk
or type garbage into your spread sheet, you should still plan to return
soon. Nobody [!?] has seen fit to protect the phosphor on your screen with
a blanking mechanism.
Announcing Mother Jones' Son's Software
About thirty-two years ago, Mrs. Jones was just getting over a large
bellyache. She gave birth to a son, Morris. Several months ago,
Morris got rid of a large bellyache of his own. He gave birth to
about 2000 lines of assembly language code that slapped a little
respect into your computer. For $30 you can adopt one of Morris's
babies. For a little more, you may even have the source code.
The you can really do some genetic engineering on your rude little
bucket of sand.
We call the package "MJ". It gives MS-DOS much more respect for you.
A serious attitude adjustment. It downright burns new synapses into
Symphony, 1-2-3, Wordstar, and every other package we know of.
It even gives Sidekick a kick in the rear end.
Mother Jones' Son's Software Pedigree
Morris Jones' brilliance became legendary at Amdahl. Singlehandedly,
within 90 days, Morris wrote the design-entry and simulation program
that produced the Amdahl 5860. That accomplishment earned him the
title of Principle Engineer. There were just a few such individuals
in all of Amdahl. As you might guess, there's now one fewer.
As for MJ's 2000 lines of PC brain surgery - how good is it? Let's
put it this way. Most of the really good silicon surgeons learned
assembly language by studying other people's well-written assembler
source code. MJ code is good enough, tight enough, that we're not at
all ashamed to make it available to you. An evening with MJ source
code could will beat a whole semester of reading the swill you'll
find in the local college book store.
Copy Protection and Program Licenses
If it weren't enough that your system treats you like a moron,
how about those absurd copy protection mechanisms? And license
agreements you sign, knowing you have no choice but to violate
them or risk going out of business?
MJ code is not copy protected. We even offer you the source code.
Copy the software for your friends, if you wish, provided you send
us the discounted price when you do. Here's our individual program
You agree to treat this software as if it were a book, with
the exception that you are granted the right to make backup
copies. You are free to take it with you to another
computer, provided there's no possibility somebody might be
using it on your computer. You are free to loan it to
someone, provided you cannot use it while it is on loan.
You are free to sell it, so long as the new owner agrees to
all these conditions. Unlike a book, you may even copy it
and give it to a friend, provided your friend signs this agreement
and that you send us the list price of the software less than
$10 in handling and processing you've saved us. If you build
our source code into your own integrated application, for
resale, we won't be unreasonable in negotiating a royalty
As for warranties, you may return defective software within
thirty days for a replacement. But just like any other
self-help book, its value to you is what you make of it.
No matter how badly it damages your life, or that of your
customers and friends, we're not obligated to do anything
Now for the, ah, fangs. Violate this agreement and our
attorneys will see to it that life on earth, as you know it,
is completely ruined. Also, you agree that, 30 days after
you violate this agreement, ownership of your eternal soul
automatically passes to us, and we have the right to
negotiate the sale of said soul to the first smoking,
blood-drenched apparition with fangs (SBDAWF) that meets
our price. The SBDAWF may collect your soul at any time
of his/her/its choosing.
Given the remotest chance some supernatural entity could actually
enforce the "soulcatcher" clause, you'd be a real bozo to take
any chances. But then we give you more credit for intelligence
than does our competition. So does Mother Jones' Son's Software.
Mother Jones' Son's Software
6310 Cabellaro Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank