Bad Advice from an “Apple Tech”: BitTorrent and older OS X installation discs

I can’t believe MacWorld ran a post with such bad advice:

If you service Macs on a regular basis, sooner or later, you’ll absolutely need an older Mac OS X installation disc to complete a project that’s due in a very short amount of time. Under normal circumstances, I’m sure you’d be happy to buy it off Craigslist, eBay or any other source, but the deadline is approaching and you’ve run out of options.

At this time, you might consider entering the murky legal and ethical waters of BitTorrent. People who are sharing OS X installation software are unauthorized to do so, and you’re downloading copyrighted material, so you’re violating a number of piracy laws. There’s also a security issue: BitTorrent downloads are sometimes infected with malicious code. Proceed at your own risk.

Seriously? Snow Leopard is still available for purchase from the Apple Store on DVD and future versions are just a download away.

I dispute the so-called technician’s premise that sometimes there is a deadline to meet and you’re out of options. BitTorrent is certainly not an option. If you need older installation discs for a Mac, contact AppleCare. You can order replacements that even include the iLife software, if that’s how it shipped, for a small fee.

The rule of thumb is after 5-7 years, a Mac is considered vintage and Apple provide no support whatsoever, but I’ve heard of people ordering discs for Macs older than that (it’s not like you’re ordering a component).

If the Mac your servicing is too old to get replacements for (Leopard was released back in 2007, the same year as the original iPhone), then maybe it’s time to upgrade. Sometimes the best advice is to tell the user to reach into their pockets. You’re doing them a disservice as a technician, otherwise.

If you were planning to fix my Mac with software you obtained through BitTorrent, I’d punch you in the face.

Update: Chris Barylick, the author of the original piece, has posted a follow-up clarifying the purpose of the article. I’m glad to see he’s responded to criticism of the piece (too many authors chose simply to ignore it), though I still don’t agree with his reasoning.