True: in the absence of anticipation of exclusivity rights, creators would seek ways to repoduce the pseudo-scarcity that socially-recognized exclusivity rights would otherwise provide. And they will generally do so via less efficient means: for example, rather than giving the user a copy of the software, the creator will keep it in a “black box” they control, and simply perform the input/output over a network, incurring strictly more overhead than if they could trust the user to keep their own copy and not distribute it.
This phenomenon mirrors the more general ones of how:
societies with people more willing to steal others’ physical possessions will still find ways to be secure in such possessions, but by diverting more resources to securing them; or
societies with people less willing to trust strangers (or honor promises made to strangers) will still make credit transactions, but have to spend significantly more on enforcement mechanisms.
Well some would do it that way. But consider the possibility of cooperation instead of competition. Completely non-crippled software exists today already (open source). Crippling your software to make it scarce means it has to beat the competition by a larger margin. People must decide if the inconvenience is worth it. There’s also the risk of a culture that detests crippling develops that “frees” your software, despite attempts at crippling (e.g. cracking games).
Also, societies unwilling to accept the zero-cost of copying will still have piracy, but at a cost of less trust in the legal system.
Not to mention societies embracing “piracy” would have to divert less resources to discussing it...
A society that has a norm of honoring (creator-desired) exclusivity in creators’ informational creations (i.e. location of narrow, high-value targets within designspace), will be able to use both modes of creation—those that do and do not expect exclusivity (and its resultant monetary or aesthetic returns).
Certainly, the society without anti-piracy social norms can use the method you have labeled cooperative, but so can the one with strong anti-piracy norms. However, the former is cut off from finding the targets that actually do need a monetary incentive to motivate their discovery.
In much the same way, societies with a strong norms against monetary profit (esp in the production of physical goods such as food) can still engage in “communal” production but run up against strong barriers to producing advanced economy goods that require extensive specialization and concentrated risk-taking.