Sink the Pirates

  By Shamus   Jul 21, 2008   105 comments

Sean Sands has an article over at The Escapist titled Sink the Pirates. It’s a pretty good read. It’s more of suggestion that pirates should be sunk as opposed to a list of techniques to sink them. Specifically, it says that game journalists need to stop talking to pirates as if they were taking part in some sort of roundtable discussion. In the same way that reporters don’t find some car thieves to interview when talking about a rash of auto theft, they should stop inviting pirates along to give them equal air time.

I think this problem extends beyond piracy to a lot of computer-related mischief. If someone smashes up park benches and playground equipment for chuckles, reporters don’t seek out other vandals to get their perspective on the issue. Everyone comprehends the ethics and they don’t care (beyond idle curiosity) why the deed was done. But if this same sort of activity takes place on a computer network, with a hacker making some virus to destroy computer systems and data for fun, then all of a sudden we need to have protracted conversations with hackers and get all touchy-feely with their justifications and motivations and speculate about “what we can do”. (Hint: Secure your network, teach your personnel good security habits, make backups, and press charges if you manage to catch one of the little buggers. As with crime in the physical world, self-protection usually beats deterrence.)

Brad Wardell said that, “people who pirate stuff simply lose their vote when it comes to what actually gets made“. Twitch and action games are pirated far more heavily than (say) turn based strategy type stuff. In a sense Stardock is already taking Sands’ advice by aiming their games at people who buy games.

I fully agree with the author’s position that piracy is wrong and it has a negative effect on the software industry. But I want to take issue with a couple of minor points.

The try-before-you-buy “excuse” is actually the emergent result of otherwise honest people trying to protect themselves from being ripped off. Unlike nearly every other consumer product – including movies and music – you can’t return a game if it doesn’t work. Given the capricious nature of PC games and hardware, the ability to try a game is imperative to making sure that buying games is an act of purchasing, and not gambling. And no, reading and understanding the system specs isn’t enough to protect yourself.

Also, in the article Sands says:

Yes, piracy is destroying PC gaming. That is an immutable truth, evidenced by the exodus of PC developers defecting en masse to make games for consoles.

I’ll add that there are several forces at work in the ongoing destruction of PC Gaming. While piracy is causing publishers to flee the platform, on the other side of things the obsessive pursuit of graphics for its own sake is driving away users who don’t care for the constant cash and effort required to keep their machine close enough to the bleeding edge to run the latest games, and who would rather not have to deal with the bugs and DRM hassles. Pirates are driving away publishers with their greed. But publishers are driving away paying customers with their stupidity.

The one thing I’d love to know – but which is essentially impossible to find out – is how many of the pirates are people who own the game but who are getting the cracked version to avoid CD checks, online activation, SecuROM, and other headaches. I don’t really think my comments here are representative of the pirates as a whole, but this value is definitely non-zero, and may even be a significant portion of the whole.


A Hundred!5105 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


1 2

  1. Hal says:

    PC Gamer interviewed the guys who made Crysis a while ago, and they said something interesting. It was something to the effect of, why would you pay $50 for a game when you already have to spend $300 upgrading your computer just to play it? It seems like a strange thing coming from the Crysis people, but it’s a good point nonetheless.

    I’ve met otherwise honest and upstanding people who pirate because they think they’re somehow entitled to the entertainment the game/movie/music provides. It’s as if it becomes a cultural obligation to take part in it, regardless of their ability to pay.

    No solutions out of me. I just don’t get it.

  2. Veylon says:

    Part of the reason that software piracy attracts so much vitriol from developers and so much indifference from everyone is because it’s not an obviously harmful crime in the way that stealing a car or vandalizing a park bench is. No one is denied the use of software when it is pirated, nothing is physically “lost”.

    Pirating software isn’t like a physical theft. It’s as though I wrote a book, and someone put it on the internet, denying me my fair sales, denying me control over my own work. That’s how it’s wrong.

  3. Jeff says:

    I just wanted to point out reporters do interview car thieves and such.

    Pirating software isn’t like a physical theft. It’s as though I wrote a book, and someone put it on the internet, denying me my fair sales, denying me control over my own work. That’s how it’s wrong.

    Anyone know how well Scott Adams’ online-only book sold? It was an unsecured pdf, deliberately released that way so that it can be easily pirated. God’s Debris, I think.

  4. Chris Arndt says:

    Around July 1 or July 2 I purchased a couple of toys for my soon-to-be twelve-year-old nephew for his birthday. His party was that day. Rather than decided immediately which gift to give him, the $20 brand-new copy of NBA 07 for Playstation 2 or the Nerf cartridge-reloading dart rifle for the same price, I bought them both and decided in the car, with the intention of returning the other product at a later date. I decided to give the gun and return the basketball game; I considered keeping it to play or holding it for a subsequent Christmas but I rejected both options.

    Here was the problem. My Wal-Mart sold me the game unwrapped. It was off the shelf and not sealed in plastic. I tried to return it at another Wal-Mart, one more in the way in my errands, and was re-buffed, told that I can only exchange it for the same game (said game I do not really want), and not for the cash which would cover almost four gallons of gasoline, approximately 115 miles of travel distance.

    I called the Wal-Mart I purchased it from; they were unaware that one of their idiot stock boys, or idiots in general, price and placed a game on the shelf that was unwrapped. I am told everywhere that because of US copyright law I cannot return this item for cash, for the simple fact that Wal-Mart screwed up, screwed me, and I’m left holding the bag.

    I have no real interest in sports games, and if I wanted this game I’d keep it without the scratches I found on this DVD-Rom on this game I never played.

    Naturally I’m going to attempt to exchange this animal for a disc that came pre-sealed and without the wear and tear. Yet it utterly pissed me off how much time was wasted being told that I can never have my money back because some dickheads with the technology to copy PS2 games did so and returned the original copies way back in the day.

    I wouldn’t know how to do that crap. Yet regardless of my clean record I’m stuck with this POS and the nameless idiot manchild who stocked the damn thing probably gets to keep his job.

    There is no justice here. Serves me right for not asking at check-out, but it doesn’t serve me right to suffer at all.
    Maybe I will play this game but not this copy. It is a sick practice. If they screwed up, and my word as a customer with no criminal record should be taken as gospel, then copyright law be damned, Wal-Mart should absorb the cost of the twenty-dollars.

    Whatever happened to an honest system of returns? I was raised in a world where the customer was given the benefit of the doubt and I respected that honor system with honor and never abused it. Then as a grown-up I am in a world where it is out the window and “Average Man” (that’s me, the consumer) is regarded as the pirate, and that assumption is the default position. They looked me in the eye and greeted me courteously as if I just shoveled their driveway for free and their policy treats me like a thief.

    The “help the children” guy who stopped me outside is very lucky I did not deck him for the temerity of adding three more minutes of Wal-Mart time to my already wasted twenty minutes.

  5. It’s hardly a unique phenomenon. Look at corporate crime. Whenever some greedhead embezzles, gets laws rewritten to shaft consumers, defrauds the public etc., or whenever the stock/bond/commodities traders collectively foul up the whole economy, causing billions of dollars of damage, foreclosures, job-loss and homelessness, who do they go to talk to?
    Other businesspeople who are doing all the same stuff but haven’t necessarily been caught yet. Actually, that’s *all* they talk to–they mostly don’t even talk to the people affected by all the crap being pulled. Sometimes they talk to regulators or politicians, but it always turns out that the regulators are just taking a short break from being on the board of directors at the companies they’re regulating, and the politicians have millions in contributions in their pockets and expect to be executive vice-president or something after they retire, so it’s pretty much the same.

    If they *only* talked to pirates about piracy, there might be cause for complaint.

  6. Joshua says:

    It would seem like developers and publishers would be able to spot patterns and act accordingly (seeing how it’s direly important to the first and could greatly affect sales in the second) but they just don’t seem to get it.

    Gee, it seems like every time we make some wacky new DRM thingamajig, no matter how tough, uber, or leet it is, someone manages to get a crack up on the internet within a few days. Perhaps we should give up the lost cause and live with what we’ve got? NO! Make a new one, and this time we’ll make sure it’s impossible to crack! And this time make sure that the sure that you’ve already made is actually right! And do the same to any other sure you might make!

  7. matt says:

    I’ve a little story about pirating, back two years ago, I had built a new computer, and was re-installing my various games (most of which would now work, as my previous was running XP with 256 MB of RAM), and every time I tried to install “The Battle for Middle Earth”, the disk would spin in the drive, but nothing else, eating up all my resources, and forcing an eject after a minute or so. My solution, pirate the game, I’ve already bought it, so am I doing anything wrong? I think not. I still haven’t figured out what the problem was, but I suspect it was just a drive/disk incompatability.

  8. Eathanu says:

    The one thing I’d love to know – but which is essentially impossible to find out – is how many of the pirates are people who own the game but who are getting the cracked version to avoid CD checks, online activation, SecuROM, and other headaches. I don’t really think my comments here are representative of the pirates as a whole, but this value is definitely non-zero, and may even be a significant portion of the whole.

    *raises hand*

  9. edcalaban says:

    is how many of the pirates are people who own the game but who are getting the cracked version to avoid CD checks, online activation, SecuROM, and other headaches

    And don’t forget those of us who buy a game then manage to damage the disc. I’m sure not going to buy a new one and I’m not going to fork over shipping costs to get a new disc. So instead I grab the pirated CD then use my own key if possible. No lost sale there.

    Edited for bonus letter.

  10. Scourge says:

    First thing: There is a difference between hackers which is everyone who knows a lot of stuff about computers and people who damage other peoples computers with a virus, which are called crackers, but who also crack software.

    Yes, it is an old definition, but still…

    Anyways, I think the market will soon be split by corporations who make good games and respect their costumers, and those firms who go bankrupt because of the disrespect of their costumers.

    Another valid thing is of course the high graphical demands of games (Crysis, which I never ever could play on my system because I bought it back in 2003) Yet at the same time I can play Mass Effect, which was relasead after crysis with everything on medium and in a good resolution.

    We don’t need the newest graphics, we simply need working good engines which will run fluently.
    We need functional games without all this stuff to make it more secure and hence more laggy. All fine for me if you add a copy protection which won’t screw with my PC, or tell me taht I need to insert the original disc after I installed the game and having bought it… or even worse, telling me that my DVD is corrupt and should be returned, forcing me to download a crack to run the game.

  11. The Lone Duck says:

    I can kinda imagine people accepting piracy in the form of ROMs, and PC games that are out of print. But pirating games that are on the shelf, that’s just wrong. I have to wonder though; outside of games like WoW, I only know a couple people who play PC games. 4 years ago, I played KotoR on ,y friend’s Xbox, and loved it. Loved it so much I wanted my own copy, so I bought the PC version. Despite all my best efforts, I could not get the game to work on my PC. I decided that PC games were made too sloppily. Why bother, when I can play games that run perfectly on a console.
    I never minded CD checks, key numbers. The old Sierra codes were a bit much. I never got to the SecuROM stuff, as I had given up by then. What really irritates me, is the lack of uniformity and standards in PC game developement. It seems like the PC community looks down on me for simply wanting to install and play a game. If the game needs a patch fine. Fiddling with my drivers is a bit much. I suppose this is a two-fold problem; lack of communication between PC makers and PC game developers. At least, communication is lacking compared to the console scene. Until there is an easy, simple standard of system requirements (especially regarding video cards), PC games will continue to decline. The average PC will never compare to a current console for graphics.

  12. The Unknown says:

    Hmm. Pirating. I’m not a big PC gamer, so I dunno the situation over there entirely, but in terms of console gaming, the closest thing to pirating besides burning games is using emulation. And that’s a sticky subject. In my personal opinion, emulation can be okay if one is using it for games and systems that are “out of print”. Gaming needs to step up on this issue. If we can’t experience the history of gaming, then what’s the point of continuing forward? Sure, old games are re-released now and again, but it’s ridiculous. Sometimes, the only way to experience an old game is emulation. In that same vein, I like the idea of what Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft are doing with their legal forms of emulation (Virtual Console on Wii, PS1 Classics on the PS3, and Xbox Classics on Xbox 360). They are on the right track in that, by making their games legally digital, they are future-proof in that future consoles only need the proper official emulation software to run the games, and in that way, someone who bought the digital copy of the game can use it theoretically forever. They just now need to make these legal ROM/ISO/whatever libraries bigger.

    Yeah, sorry about the console boy’s rant. I just had to get that out of my system. It was still about piracy, right? =P

  13. Colonel James Slate says:

    Mass Effect = 67% Using Pirated Copy, owns game
    Bioshock = 12% using pirated copy, owns game
    Spore CC = 2% using pirated copy, owns game

    Mass Effect = 20% Using Original Copy
    Bioshock = 80% Using Original Copy
    Spore CC = 88% Using Original Copy

    Real Stats, don’t ask, don’t tell

  14. ZeroByte says:

    An article that’s a little bit more proactive in dealing with the physical, disc selling pirates: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_158/5045-Piracy-and-the-Underground-Economy

    Coming from the Philippines, I can attest to this kind of behaviour. Even growing up in Singapore which is relatively wealthy the kids I know, myself included, bought physical pirated media to feed the PS1’s and PC’s with games. I think they’ve mostly moved on to downloading in Singapore but physical media pirates are still pretty rampant here in the Philippines.

    I wonder if the general acceptance of piracy is a cultural thing. You can have a stack of pirated DVD’s here beside your TV and no one would give it a second thought. It seems to me like it could be an interesting study for an economist to see what kind of value people actually place on entertainment.

    Could the barrage of entertainment options be part of the equation to the “devalument” of entertainment that people would pirate it so freely? I’m not sure if its an entitlement issue, I think it could be seen as an economics/incentives issue where the chances of getting caught for buying pirated media is so low that people flock towards it.

    I do agree with Shamus’ point of the emergent try-before-you-buy behaviour. I own original copies of stuff that I’ve pirated and loved.

  15. DaveMc says:

    Where he lost me was with the whole “you shouldn’t talk to pirates” riff. It’s true that most crime doesn’t lead to the sort of encounter therapy that digital crime does, but the problem with taking a “we do not speak to pirates” line is that these people are also your potential customers, in a very slightly different alternate universe. (Quite a few of them, as others have pointed out, may in fact already *be* your paying customers.) So where’s the harm is discussing things with them, engaging them, trying to make them see that taking games for free is not victimless – that you, the developer, are in fact a victim? You can’t do any of that if you refuse to talk to anyone labelled as a pirate.

    On the other hand, if they bring up the “information wants to be free” argument, you should be allowed to smack them upside the head.

    [Articles like this are an encouraging sign, though, in terms of my fervent desire to see pirating games de-heroified.]

  16. Luke Maciak says:

    I believe that part of the “special treatment” that computer crime gets is that in the minds of ordinary people (I call them mere mortals) technology is very much like magic. They do not understand how it works, and what drives it.

    So a car thief is a thief. But a hacker, is some sort of magical genius wizard who can use his awesome skills to crack the impenetrable multi-layer security of some online system by furiously typing on their keyboard and navigating 3D maze of floating text on his screen just like they show on the movies. They do not realize that the reason some script kiddie was able to crack the system was poor staff training, lack of maintenance, poor security policies or lack of enforcement of thereof. Nope, what they see is a super-humanly intelligent hacker defeating state of the art security systems.

    The other part is of course that we give these people these colorful labels. Hacker and Pirate both sort of cool and romantic archetypes, aren’t they? They are immediately interesting and newsworthy.

    Finally, the third part is that “piracy” is just very common. Not everyone knows a car thief, but everyone knows someone who pirated a piece of software, a movie or a song. So when media interviews pirates, they are really just giving us “the word on the street” perspective from the POV an average computer user.

    Seriously Shamus – I totally admire the fact that you refuse to pirate games and movies. I think you are really doing the right thing. But, unfortunately you are member of a small minority of internet users – very few people today think the way you do.

    Who are the pirates? We are. Every single one of us – well, except Shamus and couple of other vocal opponents of piracy here.

  17. Factoid says:

    I’m definitely “guilty” of pirating games I already own.

    I’ve done it on principle for every game I ever unknowingly bought with StarForce DRM once I found out what it was doing to my computer. I also don’t buy games with StarForce anymore.

    I hate online activation, but I’ve bought a couple games that require it. I won’t feel the least bit bad, though downloading the non-activation crack when I want to play it again in a few years, though.

    I gather that the way most companies estimate their piracy levels is that they compare the number of legit sales to the number of patch downloads.

    They seem to be assuming that the ratio should be around 1:1 assuming everyone gets the patch and nobody pirated the game. If they get 10 times the number of patch downloads as legit sales they’re assuming 9 out of 10 people pirated the game.

    That seems reasonable on the surface, but there are all kinds of problems with that simplistic methodology. Who’s to say people aren’t installing it on multiple computers, or had legitimate problems with the download, or accidentally clicked the link twice, or any of a dozen other reasons.

    I’m not saying the piracy isn’t rampant, but I hate it when they try to claim they have any idea what the real number is.

  18. khorboth says:

    Well, I’ve played any number of pirated games. I’ve been watching for a good pirating post to share my views.

    More than games, I’ve burned movies, downloaded TV shows, copied PDF books, and any number of other things.

    Somehow I got it into my head that “If it’s fun, it should be free.” I tend to pride myself on self-examination, so it irritated me when I realized that I hadn’t thought this through. I’ve been mulling it over for a few weeks, and here’s what I have:

    If a movie somebody spent 90 million dollars to make doesn’t look good enough for me to donate money to the studio, I’ll just download it. That way, they don’t get paid for making something that’s merely ok.

    TV shouldn’t have advertising. It’s somehow my right to demand that studios make quality programs and then offer them for free with no way to make money. If I really like a show, I’ll “donate” to the studio by buying the DvDs.

    Video games… Well, of course I have the right to try them before I buy them. Why should I pay for something before I know that I’m going to like it. If I try it out and then like it, I may donate to the company by buying a real copy of the game. If I have the extra money laying around.

    Books… I’ve only pirated RPG books. Words are free. I’ll buy the real book if I want to reference it, I’ll buy the hard copy. Or print it out and put it in a binder. Really, though, I shouldn’t have to pay to play with my friends, should I? If the game is good enough, I’ll donate my money to the developer by buying some of the books I use.

    Note that in all cases, the “donation” is totally optional even for something I really like. If I don’t want to spend the money on it, I’m not obligated to.

    Once examined, these views are clearly ludicrous. I’ll be stopping my theft promptly. I have a number of things to buy, some of which I may never use again.

    Ultimately, I’d like to thank Shamus and all the various posters here for pointing out the idiocy in which I was participating.

  19. brcarl says:

    >>>on the other side of things the obsessive pursuit of graphics for its own sake is driving away users who don’t care for the constant cash and effort required to keep their machine close enough to the bleeding edge to run the latest games< <<

    AMEN!

    I was geeked when I heard Mass Effect was coming to PC, and to be honest was undeterred by the DRM shenanigans. Then when I learned of the required (spelled: recommended) system specs, I sighed in resignation: my graphics card would not cut that mustard.

    I tried to forget about it for a month or so, and then in a fit of enthusiasm tried finding a card upgrade that would both work in my system (Dimension E520) and meet the game specs. Just like Shamus' earlier article here, I was rebuffed by the ridiculously over-complicated world of GPUs and vendor clones. And, again like Shamus, I am NOT a newbie. I'm an IT professional with 15 years working with PCs. This crap is just WAY TOO HARD and WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for the results.

    I'd just go get a 360, but I can't afford that, either. :(

  20. Rick C says:

    I am told everywhere that because of US copyright law I cannot return this item for cash

    This is an obvious falsehood. (Note I won’t call it a lie as many of the people saying it probably don’t know it’s not true.) It’s not a copyright issue, except indirectly, and copyright law does not say they can’t take returns. They don’t take returns to make it so you can’t buy a game, copy it, and then return it.

  21. scragar says:

    Can I add that you forgot to mention those of us who pirate games because releases are not worldwide for many games yet. When a game is out in Japan with an English option 4 or 5 months before it hits America, and another 2 months or so before I can buy it in the UK of course I am going to download the game, that doesn’t mean that I won’t buy it when it comes out in the UK, just that I want to play it when it comes out, rather than waiting an arbitrary chunk of time for no real reason(I understand it from a business point of view, but from a consumer opinion).
    I do this with anime as well, since, for the most part, it tends to take the series ending before it gets licensed, and even then it can take up to a year for it to be released.

  22. GeorgeR says:

    I forget who came out and said it, but a further problem with PC gaming is that so many people don’t update their drivers. This means that when someone has a problem with a game, and they should be able to run it, but can’t due to old drivers. They don’t get upset at themselves, they get angry at the game developer.

    PC gaming is dying because the console market is easy. You won’t have incompatable hardware. You won’t run into weird DRM issues or copy protecting software that thinks your anti-virus is a pirate program. These are the issues with PC gaming.

    Systems like Steam are what can salvage PC gaming. By having a self diagnostic feature, an instant delivery, and no need for a disc. If anything will save PC gaming it is systems like Steam.

  23. Zukhramm says:

    “If you’re a pirate, no one cares what you think.”

    That quote makes me want to say “Ok, you don’t care what I think, then why should I care what you think?”

    Because that’s exactly what he does, he thinks. Even though he would like it to be otherwise:
    “I don’t really want to get into a debate over the morality of piracy, mostly because there isn’t a debate to be had.”

    His argument:
    “…there are some basic concepts about right and wrong that we all agree to by living within a society. One of those is that when you use something that someone else used resources to create, you’re expected to give some of your resources in return. That’s good. That’s ten thousand years of civilization at work. It’s safe to describe the concept as pretty well entrenched.”

    Ten thousand years, yes, and you know what, most of those ten thousand years were without the ability to copy intellectual property the way we can today. During all those years, you didn’t take it, because it was not possible without taking a physical copy. Intellectual property and the piracy of it are reasent creations, do not argue like they are ancient and absolute morals.

    Oh right, I forgot, no one cares what I think, because I’m a pirate.

    And that is one of the problems “pirates” are not one big happy criminal organisation. There are many types.

    Those who do it because they can.
    Those who do it because they can’t pay.
    Those who do it because they don’t want to pay.
    Those who have lost their discs.
    Those who wishes to play games that are hard to get a hold of.
    Those who do it out of spite.
    Those who wish to avoid DRM.
    Those who believe copyright to be incompatible with modern technoogy and finds those laws obsolete.

    Guess which one I am?

  24. Novarum says:

    “…people who own the game but who are getting the cracked version to avoid CD checks…”
    This is one form of pirating I engage in all the time, and it hadn’t even occurred to me it could be considered such.
    An exciting change on this front is a recent patch for Diablo 2 that removes the need for the cd, and Blizzard put it out there.
    Sure, this is just something they did to help the hype with Diablo 3 and get everyone attached to the game again, but it’s a push in the right direction.

  25. Alan De Smet says:

    @Chris Arndt (4):
    “I am told everywhere that because of US copyright law I cannot return this item for cash,…”

    The people telling you this are either liars or idiots. While technically
    illegal, you would be fully morally justified in kicking them in the nuts.
    Copyright law has absolutely nothing to say about returning products you have
    purchased. A store is perfectly free to accept or reject returns on video
    games, just like they accept or reject returns of books (usually accept, unless
    used), audio CDs (usually reject), or video DVDs (no idea, these days).

    That said, the no-returns policy makes perfect sense from the store’s point of view. They’re not obligated to accept returns, and there are people who will buy a game, copy it, and return it, costing the store money in processing. This way, at least the would by infringers need to could up a few bucks to rent it from Blockbuster.
    There is a slight risk of angering legit customers who have valid reasons to return something, but what are you going to do?
    It sucks for customers, but from the store’s point of view it’s the safest route.

    That the no-returns policy applies to software that claims to require a license agreement is nothing short of complicity in fraud. You get home after having purchased something, and are then presented with the license. If you disagree, you can’t return it, and the publisher claims you can’t use it. Congrats on purchasing nothing, sucker.

  26. Robert says:

    I wonder if the general acceptance of piracy is a cultural thing. You can have a stack of pirated DVD’s here beside your TV and no one would give it a second thought.

    In China, the foreign movies in that stack would be there because there is no other way to acquire them. The studios simply don’t sell into the Chinese market. This can’t be to stop piracy, as all the pirated films I saw there were duped from Hollywood screeners anyway…

  27. Meta says:

    I’ve “pirated” games I’ve owned. For instance, I’ve had trouble installing my replacement dvd drive into my computer, so I’ve torrented several games to be able to install and play them.

  28. Alan De Smet says:

    Egad, I just read the Sands article. Hardly a “good read.” That’s garbage. It boils down to, “Piracy is absolutely bad in every possible way. Sure, some people disagree, but they’re pirates, so I don’t have to listen to them.” It’s not an argument, it’s an extended ad hominem attack.

    What arguments are present latch on to weak evidence. “Yes, piracy is destroying PC gaming. That is an immutable truth, evidenced by the exodus of PC developers defecting en masse to make games for consoles. End of story.” Maybe they’re moving to consoles because of the bigger audience? Or the standardized, easier to debug systems? Or maybe, heaven forbid, it’s a combination of multiple factors? Correlation isn’t causation.

    “One of those is that when you use something that someone else used resources to create, you’re expected to give some of your resources in return. That’s good. That’s ten thousand years of civilization at work. It’s safe to describe the concept as pretty well entrenched.” 10,000 years? Hardly. Copyright law dates to the late 17th century, a mere few hundred years ago. In terms of civilization, it’s a newbie. And many would argue that the height of civilization is pure capitalism, the libertarian ideal. In which case 1. we should eliminate government granted monopolies (and copyright most certainly is one) and 2. as a result of no monopolies and competition, prices should drop to just above the incremental cost to produce a single unit. (Capitalism is a harsh mistress, and doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about your start up costs.)

    This is the damning line in my eyes: “Stop entering into debates with piracy advocates, offering them space to proselytize and recruit.” So the piracy advocates arguments are so persuasive, and his are so weak, that he accepts that he’ll lose? So he has to resort to trying to silence them. That’s just cowardice.

    Yes, copyright infringement is bad. But this isn’t they way to deal with the problem. Surely copyright is a good enough idea that we can defend it on its own merits, not by trying to silence the opposition.

  29. Nathaniel says:

    All this talk of piracy has gotten me thinking about my reasoning behind my fairly flagrant software piracy. In all other senses, I’m a moral, upstanding citizen, but I have no qualms about “taking” digital property. And I realized: it’s something I want, it’s incredibly easy to do, my chances of being caught are incredibly low, and (the most important part) no-one is worse off; I haven’t actually taken anything. Companies aren’t losing my business, games that I want, and want to keep long-term, or I can find, I buy. Games that I’m trying out, or just want to check out, I pirate. I guess I’m one of those cases where the excuses are reasons.

    Edit @ Novarum: I hadn’t heard about that, I’ll have to check that out!

  30. Jimmie says:

    Those who believe copyright to be incompatible with modern technoogy and finds those laws obsolete.

    Guess which one I am?

    So you get to disregard the rules you find incongruous with modern society, do you?

    I find your outdated thought on owning personal property incongruous with the modern technology that allows me to purchase a high-powered handgun that can fire many shots much faster than that old Musket that Napoleon’s troops used and the high-tech composite materials they make these new crowbars out of these days. So it’s cool that I shoot you a few times, crack the front door of your house, and take your stuff, okay?

    Oh, and since modern technology will give you a much better chance of surviving the gunshot wounds I’d inflict on you, that justifies my actions even more. Bonus!

    I think you’ll find that law enforcement as we practice it, just like intellectual property rights as we practice them, is also a fairly recent creation in history as well. So you’ll understand if we dispense with that as well.

  31. MadTinkerer says:

    @Chris Arndt:

    I called the Wal-Mart I purchased it from; they were unaware that one of their idiot stock boys, or idiots in general, price and placed a game on the shelf that was unwrapped. SNIP! I have no real interest in sports games, and if I wanted this game I’d keep it without the scratches I found on this DVD-Rom on this game I never played.

    I hate to say it: but the latter is the precise explanation for the former. Some “idiot” “borrowed” the game from inventory, played it, carefully put it back together, and then placed it on the shelf counting on you to not notice it was unwrapped. That’s one of very few possible explanations for a non-pristine DVD-ROM being in an unwrapped box on the shelf.

    I’ve seen similar shenanigans in the past and reported them and now the Gamestop and EB Games in the mall where I work have a much higher standard of sales associates. (And I’m now good friends with the managers.)

    As for piracy in general, it’s entirely because this generation of kids (and not just them, but it’s become worse in the last thirty-ish years) have grown up with no respect for other peoples’ property. If it’s as ephemeral as “intellectual” property, then it’s almost unfair to ask the pirates to recognize what they’re doing is wrong. Either their parents are too computer-illiterate to understand the problem or the kids have too little respect for their parents in the first place or the parents just don’t care if their kids copy games. Or all three.

    It’s absolutely a cultural problem. It’s certainly not just the kids, because kids don’t generally have the technical knowlege to make cracks. But it’s all about how much respect those who pirate games have for other people in general.

    On the other hand, I did install a No-CD patch on my legit copies of Taito Legends 1 & 2, but notice my emphasis on legit.

  32. The Lone Duck says:

    Regarding the statement, “if you’re a pirate, nobody cares what you think,” and the senitment that one shouldn’t debate with pirates…
    I think the article was directed at the gaming press. Obviously, if I’m on a forum, and a p2p pirate is on the forum, we’ll have some kind of dialogue. Or discussing it on a personal blog. That’s one thing. It’s another entirely to have sites like 1up, Kotaku, Joystiq, etc, treating piracy like a debatable issue.
    It’s like this. The gaming press shapes the developement of the hobby by what they cover. If the gaming press took a hardline stance against both piracy, and the DRM hassles like SecuROM, then most of the community would follow suit. By treating it like an acceptable argument, many people are viewing it as such. The gaming press has a vested interest in keeping the industry thriving; the viewpoints they take should keep that in mind.

  33. Chris Arndt says:

    There is a slight risk of angering legit customers who have valid reasons to return something, but what are you going to do?
    It sucks for customers, but from the store’s point of view it’s the safest route.

    I know all of that, but the store is still sticking me with the negative consequences of their error. This would be their reaction to piracy.

    I honestly wish I could kick ‘em in the balls.

  34. Chris Arndt says:

    And of course we must always address what some companies call copyright violation, I call fair use.

  35. Illiterate says:

    Sorry for directly quoting from another forum, I suspect it’s a netiquette breach of some sort…

    Phifty on the escapist forums said —

    Hey, I know someone with a good counter-argument!

    You, a few months ago? – http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/3794-Defending-the-Villain

    You said then (among other things): “If piracy is the mechanism that dissolves these institutions that have become openly hostile, or forces them to adapt to the modern marketplace, I find it very hard to strongly condemn the practice.”

  36. StingRay says:

    @Chris Arndt:

    I’m one of the “idiot stock boys” at Wal-Mart, specifically in the Electronics department. Mind, I don’t take offense, I understand your frustration. There are a couple of things going on behind the scenes with your story. I don’t know if it’ll be helpful or useful to know them, but I figure I’ll put it out there. Understand, too, that I ultimately agree with you. You weren’t properly taken care of, and that’s wrong.

    First, as for the second store not accepting your returns, that’s tied to how Wal-Mart handles sales. Every store is accountable for their own sales. If you purchase something from one store and return it to a different store, you’re essentially giving money to the first store and taking it away from the second.

    For twenty bucks, it really shouldn’t be a problem, but there are instances, like with my store, where people will, for some inexplicable reason, do all their shopping at a different store, but do ALL their returns at my store. They never spend any money in my store, they just take money away, and that affects things like how many hours we have for employees and the potential for quarterly bonuses.

    Granted, the average customer doesn’t know, and doesn’t care about this, but the people in the store being used for returns tend to feel taken advantage of. In the case of my store, there are even managers from other stores in town that will buy unwanted merchandise from their store and dump it at my store. It’s unfortunate that any suspicious attitudes spill over onto innocent customers, but I don’t know that that can be avoided. If there’s a rash of TV thefts from a store, then anyone picking up a TV will get a wary eye.

    The second point goes to the problem of returning opened games. Realistically, there’s no good reason why we can’t take back an opened console game. They’re difficult to copy, and playing copied games requires specialized hardware. The person who’s gone through all that trouble to pirate games is likely to just download their games, rather than go through the trouble of purchasing and returning games.

    What the no-return policy really comes down to is consistency. PC games, music and movies are not difficult to copy, and don’t require specialized hardware to run. Hell, in the case of music, you often don’t even need a computer. So, these items are pretty much automatically denied when someone tries to return them. Video games are lumped in with software primarily to avoid confusion. “You took back Metal Gear, why won’t you take back Hellgate?”

    That also ties into why the second store might have denied your return. A straight, across the board “No” avoids any appearance of impropriety or discrimination. “You took that guy’s game back! You’re denying mine because I’m [insert whatever here]!”

    All that being said, mistakes happen and scams are run. If someone came in with their beat up, opened copy of the game and switched it out for a new copy, there’s not much I can do if a customer buys it before I find it. Also, games occasionally come practically open out of the box. We’re not allowed to return them for credit (an idiotic practice) and so they occasionally go on the shelf. We try to tape them up, but there’s not always enough shrink wrap left to tape together.

    And, realistically, there are the occasional (sometimes not so occasional) morons. I found an empty game case inside the locked case one day. Someone had popped the plastic and stolen the disc, and some idiot in my department didn’t bother to check why the shrink wrap was loose and just threw it in the lockup. If a customer had bought that, they’d have been quite annoyed.

    The trick there is, I’d have accepted the return, and the store you originally bought the game from should have taken it back, as well. It doesn’t matter who screwed up, or even if anyone screwed up at all, they should have accepted that return. Unfortunately, you just got stuck with people who only understood the letter, and not the spirit, of the policy.

  37. Mr Cynical says:

    Those who do it because they can.
    Those who do it because they can’t pay.
    Those who do it because they don’t want to pay.
    Those who have lost their discs.
    Those who wishes to play games that are hard to get a hold of.
    Those who do it out of spite.
    Those who wish to avoid DRM.
    Those who believe copyright to be incompatible with modern technoogy and finds those laws obsolete.

    People will happily give all these reasons when asked why they’ve copied stuff. Call me Mr. Cynical, but one of those sticks out as the real reason in most cases…want to guess which one?

  38. TehShrike says:

    There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not a game might be worth paying for, but a surprisingly small amount of talk about how much should be paid.

    I very rarely feel like paying $50 for a game, no matter how shiny.

    I find myself much more tempted by the low-budget $10-$20 games then the big-budget ones that come out, and now that Steam is starting to roll with the smaller indie games, most of my gaming dollars tend to flow that direction.

    Not because I have a soft spot in my heart for independent developers or anything, but because of the soft spot in my wallet.

  39. Takkelmaggot says:

    You can put me firmly in the “legitimate owners using noCD cracks” camp. My conscience is clean.

  40. Kel'Thuzad says:

    I bought Supreme Commander, and the manual came without a serial code. I had to look for one on the internet… am I a pirate now?

    Don’t talk to me…

  41. TalrogSmash says:

    I got a three year free trial out of my favorite game before I paid them a dime. And it was their idea. JaGeX proved the model, every other developer is just trying to ignore that it works.

  42. tom says:

    Quote:”Zukhramm:And that is one of the problems “pirates” are not one big happy criminal organisation. There are many types.

    Those who do it because they can.
    Those who do it because they can’t pay.
    Those who do it because they don’t want to pay.
    Those who have lost their discs.
    Those who wishes to play games that are hard to get a hold of.
    Those who do it out of spite.
    Those who wish to avoid DRM.
    Those who believe copyright to be incompatible with modern technoogy and finds those laws obsolete.

    Guess which one I am?”
    ____________________________________

    You should cross off reasons 1, 6, and 8 because they are basically the same as the third one. People just dont want to pay for it and come up with an excuse. And yes, pirating software does hurt the people who make it. Sure, your not taking anything from them, but by using their stuff without paying your taking away their money. If you hadn’t pirated it and instead paid for it they would have gotton somthing out of their hard work.

    And the reason why pirates shouldn’t get a say is that they dont contribute. If you dont give them what they want, why should they give you what you want?

  43. DaveMc says:

    khorboth (Comment 18): We’re very proud of you, son (or daughter). Have a cookie.

    [Given the difficulty of telling irony from sincerity in plain text, let me clarify: I do mean it. Your post was nice to see. May you be the first in a huge wave.]

  44. IronCastKnight says:

    My conscience is dirty. I know piracy is a form of stealing, and yet I do it anyways. Why? It isn’t greed; When I had my first job out of highschool, I didn’t pirate anything. which is why my shelves of legit PS2, XBlox, and Gamecube games are truly bursting with goodness.

    Is it convenience? Quite possibly! When I quit my job and became a full time college student, my monetary inflow hit zero, and I was faced with the choice of either not playing games, or downloading them then probably not playing them either. Being the selfish, shallow little man I am, I chose the latter.

    However, I still buy games, games that I actually feel are worth buying. Sins of a Solar Empire? Bought it. Portal? Pirated it, played it for fifteen minutes, ran out and bought the Orange Box, loved every second. Fable: The Lost Chapters? Pirated it, bought it for Xbox, pirated the PC version when my Xbox exploded. S.T.A.L.K.E.R? Pirated it, should get my ass down to GameStop or on to Steam and buy it.

    Bioshock? Pirated it, got leprosy from the experience, never played it again.

  45. Deoxy says:

    You should cross off reasons 1, 6, and 8 because they are basically the same as the third one.

    Actually, #1, while often used as an excuse for #3, is really its own reason – there are guys who will pirate stuff that they never even PLAY, “because they can”. Giving The Man the finger is its own reward (to them).

    #6 is similar.

    Your comment really best applies to #8 – there are indeed people who really do think that, but very few, and not all of them play video games.

    Sure, your not taking anything from them, but by using their stuff without paying your taking away their money. If you hadn’t pirated it and instead paid for it they would have gotton somthing out of their hard work.

    Unless they are using reasons #4 or #7, in which case, the developer did indeed already get their money, yet such people are routinely lumped in with all the rest.

    Perhaps you owe them an apology?

  46. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Mr Cynical

    You are so wrong.

    And the reason not mentioned on that list is actually the only reason harmful towards the companies:
    Those that earn money by selling pirated programs/movies/games/music.

    Wheter it be a country with almost no access to originals,or the country that has its originals coming out late,but you will find abudance of people selling pirated stuff.And it is something that predates computers:Fake clothes,footwear,or any other thing was always around,and always will be.The internet and pirated stuff floating around it for free is actually beneficial to the industry,since these criminals are losing interest in pirating something that no one will buy,and thus the amount of people with skill and will to crack software decreases.If the companies would follow stardock and loosen the amount of DRM on their software,the will of the skilled people would drop,and just a handfull of people would be left to distribute illegal copies.But,being idiots,like all humans are,companies are actually doing the reverse and making those that cracked the software just for money do it out of spite now,thus maintaining the same amount of illegal copies as before.

  47. Susie says:

    A better analogy might be the building of a toll road. A toll road gets built, and almost no one drives on it. Why not? You could ask the people who DO pay the toll, but that won’t answer your question. You will have to hunt down the people who aren’t driving on it. … ‘It’s too expensive’, ‘It’s a crappy road’, ‘I ride my bike’, ‘The toll machine steals my tokens’ and so on. If you want to figure out why people aren’t paying the toll, then you need to ask the people who AREN’T paying. It’s so simple!

    With piracy, people have found an easy way to sneak onto the toll road without paying.

    If you don’t care WHY people are pirating, then there is no need to talk to the people who are stealing. If you know why they are stealing, then you can possibly change the way things are done to make it harder, or less appealing, or get rid of the features that make people not want to pay. I think Shamus has done an amazing job explaining all of the intricacies of the problem.

    About activation… I think things are a lot better in a lot of areas. Remember when you used to have to do things like look up a letter in the manual and drink the right potion? Half of my games from that time period have some arcane way of making sure I haven’t lost the manual yet. But, at least they didn’t slow the game down after I actually started playing it.

  48. Just as a note:

    Pirating software isn’t like a physical theft. It’s as though I wrote a book, and someone put it on the internet, denying me my fair sales, denying me control over my own work. That’s how it’s wrong.

    American consumers of copyright-protected intellectual property exist in an environment where the owners of that intellectual property are constantly trying to create situations in which any use of their work outside of their preferred business model. Their preferred business model is “pay the full fee every time you use this”–read-once electronic books, play-once DVDs, pay-by-the-minute games. The comment I quoted is a pointer in that direction, and that direction needs to be stomped, hard.

  49. Allan says:

    The one thing I’d love to know – but which is essentially impossible to find out – is how many of the pirates are people who own the game but who are getting the cracked version to avoid CD checks, online activation, SecuROM, and other headaches

    You can count me among that demographic, when I started university I just didn’t have the room to lug my massive games collection up and down the country, so I reinstalled as much as I could and then cracked everything, infact it’s so conveniant now I don’t know why I didn’t do it years ago.

  50. Chris Arndt says:

    I’m one of the “idiot stock boys” at Wal-Mart, specifically in the Electronics department.

    If you stock something that shouldn’t be stocked you are an idiot stock boy.

    If you do you job correctly (then obviously) you are not an idiot stock boy. There is an idiot stock boy out in Charlotte, MI and you need not be confused with him as you need not be offended in any case.

    Of course it is possible that the scourge in question is not incompetent, but merely a jerk or a villain.

    Which would make my charge that I was messed over, in part, by an “idiot stock boy” irrelevant. In point of fact, of course, Wal-Mart as a store did me wrong. Whoever was responsible for stocking it poorly should be disciplined, but is not responsible for the store’s response to my dilemma/situation.

    The trick there is, I’d have accepted the return, and the store you originally bought the game from should have taken it back, as well. It doesn’t matter who screwed up, or even if anyone screwed up at all, they should have accepted that return. Unfortunately, you just got stuck with people who only understood the letter, and not the spirit, of the policy.

    I attempted to return the game to the original store, rather, I called ahead to it and inquired about their return policy given the circumstances. They just said no about returning the game for money.

    They told me they would take my advice to heart about making sure their stock boys do not repeat the mistake, lecturing them about the need, etc, but that does not weed out idiot stock boys.

  51. FhnuZoag says:

    Hmm… but journalists do interview perpetrators of other crimes – though often they have to go into prisons to find them. It’s more an issue of whether they can locate an interviewee, rather than a particular moral stance.

  52. tom says:

    @ deoxy, I didnt mean to make it sound like I thought that there were 0 good reasons for pirating, I was just saying that to the people who use the incredibly bad excuses, as in the ones I pointed out. Anyway, sorry to anybody who got confused about that, Im not very good at wording things.

  53. Heph says:

    It’s partly the same reason why so many people don’t mind corporate fraud and evading taxes. Those are things either “we all do”, or “not really stealing”, or”something I don’t understand” (practically no-one will say the third,but it happens a lot).
    A company evaded $1.000.000.000 in taxes? Hey, if they didn’t get caught…It’s not really stealing….I don’t pay income tax for half my earning? It’s not stealing…They get enough of my money as it is…etc.
    That eact same reasoning applies to pirating. “Sure I do it, but it doesn’t hurt anyone”, “it’s not really stealing”, “they get enough of my money”. It doesn’t make it true: you’re stealing from other taxpayers, the game company, or whoever. But that’s not as obvious and solid as a car being stolen from a porch.

    I used to buy pirated games – hey, I was in high school! I didn’t have an income! Nowadays, I tend to buy all the games I play – I play less, and I have an income. Of course, there’s also more information – I know what I’m buying, which wasn’t necessarily true pre-internet. €50 for a game lasting me 8 hours? Meh, probably not. €50 for a game that lasts me 250 hours? Hell yes! (point: shorter and shorter games are killing the game industry)
    I’m also strongly in the pirating-of-owned-games camp, for convenience issues, incompatibility issues, and, lately, installing on several pcs issues. I’m not going to buy a game twice so I can play it at home and on my laptop I use at work.

    Of course, there’s pirating and pirating. My parents were on vacation in Thailand recently – you could buy official, in the box, with hologram and everything, versions of Windows Vista Service Pack 3…for $5. Hmmmm…*cough*

    There are different ways of handling it, though. Blizzard has already announced Diablo III won’t have SecuROM or any other type of that crap – just a unique activation code needed for Battle.net access…So you can pirate the game, and play it off line, but the real hardcore players will want to play it on line as well (and they’ll probably try to force patching through battle.net as well), so they’ll have to buy the game…
    Or, thoug I truely don’t like MMO’s…how many people do you know who play those pirated? I assume it’s possible, with unofficial servers and the like, but otherwise, you can’t play, say, World of Warcraft, without paying for it.

  54. =Dan says:

    I consistently play one game, LOTRO, on my PC and other than that I have bought only one game in the last 2 years (Civ4 & Beyond the Sword expansion). There are several reasons for that and the least of it is the invasive security features.

    1)I don’t see any reason to buy a PC game when I have to “guess” whether my system will run it.
    2)I am not going to continually update my computer so that I can play games which are often released on my Xbox 360.
    3) Buggy games on the 360 are patched faster than games on the PC
    4)Gameplay and story have suffered in the developers pursuit of “bleeding edge” graphics. I would rather play King’s Quest I than Crysis or Far Cry or whatever.
    5) If I open it I can’t return it (true on console games as well but at least I can rent those).
    6) Oh and yeah the security features suck. But then if the games released weren’t almost unanimously mediocre and were exclusive to the platform I would consider slogging through it.

    =Dan

  55. T-Boy says:

    You know, I always bristle when people talk about sales “lost” to piracy. Lost? How can you lose something that you may not necessarily have had in the first place?

    It’s as if developers are making the assumption that every “lost” sale was money in the bank taken away by those evil, evil pirates. It’s as if they deserved those sales.

    But mainstream games are non-necessary items. If I could not afford mainstream games, or if did not want to spend the money for mainstream games, I have alternatives. Sure, I won’t get to play these games that everyone else was raving about.

    You know what? Big whoop. No tears. If I need my game on, there are thousands, literally thousands of free (or cheap & indie) games I can play, and enjoy playing. And that’s just electronic entertainment. I’ve rediscovered tabletop games, and those are awesome too.

    And you know what? Not for a moment did I have to resort for piracy to fulfill that need.

    I live in a country where piracy is rampant. For over five years now, I’ve entertained myself by buying and playing indie or open-source games, using as many legal tools as I possibly can (which means resorting to open-source tools or legally obtained OEM editions, which came with new hardware).

    My last, mainstream game? The Sims 2, and three expansion packs. Legally obtained, as a joint purchase for me and my wife. Five years ago. That’s it. We still play in occasion, and we fight for the laptop for it.

    Despite the fact that EA has released a slew of expansion packs for the Sims 2, and despite all of these awesome games that have come out, we do not intend to waste our money on EA or any other mainstream publisher for anything.

    Game developers & publishers cannot “lose” something they’ve never had in the first place. So what we don’t get to play their games? We’ll die, is it?

  56. Factoid says:

    To those defending piracy on grounds that copyright law is obsolete, it’s victimless, blah blah blah…. You’re very good at convincing yourselves that you’ve done nothing wrong, can you teach me how to do that?

    For reals, that seems like a valuable skill…to be able to go through life absolutely certain that you can take whatever you want without payment in any form and have that be unequivocally not a bad thing.

    Someone else made something that you want. They would like you to have it, but in return they’re asking that you pay them for it. Just because you aren’t robbing them doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk.

  57. Alleyoop says:

    I am of the number that uses a cracked .exe to run a game I bought, strictly due to problems with DRM.

    I would not have known to do this except for…problems with the DRM (Securom).

    I did the right thing, I did as publishers’ want, and bought the games, and I got the shaft. I should have the superior product, but I don’t, I get crippleware for my money.

    Ever more sickening versions of DRM are what is making ‘piracy’ more and more mainstream, and it’s not about copy prevention, it’s about datamining, unnecessary computer problems, poorly executed coding, install limits and online only activation for single player games. Publishers can’t control pirates so they strangle what they can control, the paying customer – that’s the real reason for DRM. The piracy thing is a non-starter when there are people who would gladly buy a game but won’t because of overly burdensome or intrusive DRM (which is the last straw when too many games are released too soon w/bugs that should’ve been caught and/or crap follow-up support).

    That’s me and I’m part of a fast-growing number. For the record, I don’t pirate, but nor do I buy anymore. That is the publishers’ fault, not the pirates’.

    I am an actual lost sale. Mark it in the right column.

  58. Alleyoop says:

    Sorry for the doublepost, I just saw this. Not so much the Ubisoft crack-use news, but the ruminations that follow:

    http://www.r-force.org/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=763

    Hilarious. >:(

  59. Veylon says:

    There should be fixes to a lot of these pirate excuses.

    Demos: Sins had a demo, as did Depths of Peril, and Command and Conquer 3. These essentially are the program with some content missing, so this would also show whether your system is up to it. It helps boost sales.

    DRM: Really should go. It’s annoying and doesn’t work.

    “Not in my area”: With the internet, why not? And even without the internet, why are games released so much later in different places? Are there government issues?

    Anyway, I wouldn’t call anyone who downloads a game because they lost their disc, or plays a legit game with a hacked exe a pirate. They’ve already paid. They can’t be pirates.

    In general, the Games Industry have collectively acted like jerks and fearmongers, diminishing any sympathy they would otherwise receive. They need to reclaim the moral high in people’s minds ground before they can really assault the pirates.

  60. Steve C says:

    @Hal:I’ve met otherwise honest and upstanding people who pirate because they think they’re somehow entitled to the entertainment the game/movie/music provides. It’s as if it becomes a cultural obligation to take part in it, regardless of their ability to pay.

    If you can’t pay, you don’t get to participate. Seems simple. So the best place to protest piracy is to go down to your local Public Library and tell those freeloading pirates checking out books that they should support the authors themselves and start PAYING! People should not frequent an industry that supports “Lending” and “Borrowing” of copyrighted material. Libraries even include music and videos now! Those libraries are denying fair sales, to authors, musicians and Hollywood. With public libraries around, it’s like the ability to read has become a cultural obligation to take part in it, regardless of their ability to pay. The poor don’t need to read anyway.

    /sarcasm.

    Pirating a game is not like stealing a car, in the same way that checking out a book from a library is not the same as mugging authors as they leave Harper-Collins.

    In all seriousness the same arguments being made TODAY about pirating are the same arguments that were made when the first printing presses were made. Then they were repeated when the first libraries started loaning out books for fees, then again for public libraries, and yet again when the phonograph was invented. etc etc etc… queue the age of software.

    I’m not trying to defend piracy. I’m saying that the issues being raised are older than you think. And yes those were real reasons why people wanted to ban public libraries back in the day. It’s valid for reporters to talk to pirates because it’s the same old story just different technology. Look at the result of public libraries… public good or public bad? Authors, publishers, printers were all opposed to public libraries after all. Were they right?

    Copyright law was enacted NOT to compensate authors for what they have already made. It was originally enacted to serve the public good. The premise was that if a means for compensation is given to authors then they have more of an incentive to create something else in the future. Compensation was the means, not the end.

    Piracy does not act in the public good. Neither does suing consumers. Denying people the ability to participate in culture (for any reason) is the opposite of public good.

    Reporters should be asking all participants because the current system is NOT WORKING. If/when it gets fixed it will be by returning to the idea of doing what’s best for society, not just what the author, publisher, distributor wants to happen. You know… for the public good. There are no easy solutions, but solutions won’t be found by refusing to talk to people.

  61. MaxEd says:

    As a “hardcore russian pirate” I’d say that piracy is legit to some extent just because it is POSSIBLE. If there were a technology, readily available at your home, that allows you to copy, say, cars or food without spending much energy/materials, will you not use it, even though it probably will bankrupt many car makers and farmers? Things that can be copied will be copied, period. So it all comes down, as many said before, to the way you are going to make money from those copies. That is, until we can copy EVERYTHING :) Then, of course, we will not need any money and communism (as economy system, not politic) will come :)

  62. Winter says:

    The try-before-you-buy “excuse” is actually the emergent result of otherwise honest people trying to protect themselves from being ripped off. Unlike nearly every other consumer product – including movies and music – you can’t return a game if it doesn’t work. Given the capricious nature of PC games and hardware, the ability to try a game is imperative to making sure that buying games is an act of purchasing, and not gambling. And no, reading and understanding the system specs isn’t enough to protect yourself.

    I believe i’ve mentioned this before in these comments, but this has happened to me a few times in the past. For instance, i bought Warcraft 3 and the copy protection in it didn’t like my CD-ROM–meaning the game refused to install.

    I could:

    A. write the game off as a loss.
    or:
    B. pirate a copy (sans the copy protection) and play that instead.

    I chose B and i don’t feel bad about it, although in the long term i admit there are some problems with that decision.

    This sort of black-and-white “if you pirate you’re evil” silliness is not exactly helpful in my view. It’s almost certain that piracy is a negative force in gaming today, but at the same time how can i blame all the pirates? I don’t think i can, in good conscience, say none of them deserves to be listened to. I really respect Shamus for his stance on piracy (don’t do it, and don’t buy nasty games) but more and more it looks like that’s going to push me out of video gaming–or at least push me into consoles, which themselves are not really a solution to consumer-unfriendly “solutions” to piracy.

    I buy local and do what i can, but at the end of the day i’m going to play the game i legally purchased.

    That said, i still don’t own a game with the really hardcore nasty stuff and neither have i pirated one. The whole thing leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that i can’t stoop to even my usual workarounds.

    Maybe having Shamus standing out there against the tide makes it easier to do the right thing, too :)

  63. Steve C says:

    Consider piracy in not to distant future using technologies now on the cutting edge. The next technology on the rise is 3 dimensional printing. There already exists cheap ($1000) 3d sugar printing presses. It’s not a big leap to use granulated plastics to create real objects that can be used (such as a chair.) In fact that’s already being done on a small scale.

    What happens when the technology gets to the point it can make complex items? Let’s say a bucket of polymer goo and a cheap 3d printer can make a real working chair, a real working bicycle, a real working [insert imagination here] and all you need is a data file containing a laser scan of the item you wish to copy.

    What happens then?

    Any item is automatically copyrighted as soon as it’s made… from a video game, to the design of a piece of furniture. If you hand craft a chair, then you own the design to that chair and someone else is a pirate if they copy it.

    If a poor family living a dirt floor shack uses a 3d printer to pirate your chair design, should you force them to sit in the dirt? What if they use it make a tool like a water pump? What about bicycles to get around and make a living?

    What happens when you can put a bucket of goop into a 3d printer, and you can program it to make a copy of the 3d printer itself?

    When replicator technology becomes as cheap and as easy a replicator from Star Trek, what will the consequences? Will intellectual property become MORE important than tangible property? Is pirating still going to be looked at in the same way as it is now? Will it a MORE serious crime or not a crime at all? Should we deny those pirates using future tech an opportunity to explain themselves?

    I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, and I think they will become more than hypotheticals in my lifetime. But denying someone their right to stand on a soapbox and explain themselves seems inherently MORE wrong than a copyright violation in any context.

    Sean Sands says “Stop letting them have their say.” I don’t care WHO “them” refers to… it’s wrong to deny ANYONE a chance to have their say, whatever that may be or how much you or me might disagree with it. Whatever someone has to say should sink or swim on it’s merit.

    BTW MaxEd hadn’t posted before I started writing this, but boy I’m glad he did. Look 2 posts up.

1 2

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!