Jimquisition: Piracy Episode One - Copyright

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Sterling, for every point you raise in these videos, there are about 5 that completely fly over your head.

In your perfect world where rights go to the creators, nothing original will ever be made again. If the greedy old men can't own it, then they won't fund its production. They will simply find something else to do with their money.

It is not required that you empathize with faceless corporate entities, but it would be nice if you understood that this stuff represents GDP and that software and content will make up a larger and larger percent of the wealth of many developed nations (not just the US). They are going to protect that wealth (eventually), regardless of lobbyists or kickbacks. We just have to prevent that corporate influence from fast-tracking ill-considered, unworkable, narrow-view, and destructive bills like SOPA and PIPA. The sooner we get to a well-rounded, big picture solution, the better it will be for everyone. Otherwise, these types of legislative scares are going to keep happening until one of them passes.

Great episode, I have to say I was a critic of your early episodes on the escapist since I couldn't really figure out if you were serious or not, but now I look forward to it every week. Also everyone should check out CPG Grey's video on copyright on his youtube channel. He goes into the basis of copyright law and how it has been seriously f****d up. For example, want to make a Harry Potter movie? Think you'll do it within your lifetime...probably not, it is public domain material in...2116! Link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk862BbjWx4&feature=g-user-u

Sober Thal:

What's wrong with that? Are publishers just supposed to gamble away money on possible crap product?

Why not? We (the customers) do...

Marmooset:
You weren't wrong the first time. They are. What happens in another area does not change the nature of an individual's actions.
Your example, if taken to extremes, would give a partial justification for Swinging Ape to engage in piracy - not the sideline sitting parasites who actually do so. Another bad guy in the room does not preclude you from being one, too.

I have to agree with this. That bit about how Copyright law is messed up with the Metal Arms example, that certainly gave me something new to think about. But I'm not about to let the pirates off the hook. They aren't helping anything. Illegally downloading games, music, and whatever else doesn't fix copyright law. It only gets publishers and other groups to try and make it worse with crap like PIPA and SOPA. It gets DRM and other nonsense put into our games. Obviously publishers are not without blame for inflicting such crap on paying customers and leaving them to suffer while pirates get around it again and get a better product, but pirates are also to blame. No, I still won't buy into any of their bullshit justifications either. I don't care if you wouldn't have bought it anyway. I don't care if you think you're sticking it to the publisher. I don't even care if you bought the game but want the non-DRM version pirates made. You're still inflating those piracy numbers that publishers look at and say "Oh crap, guess we'd better try even harder to stop it next time. And we need stiffer copyright law and things like SOPA and PIPA too!".

I just see two groups of bad guys rather than one now. Publishers and pirates are fighting each other, and no matter what happens between them in that fight, it's the paying customers who lose. And I'm not about to let either side off the hook for it. Publishers, stop being shit. Pirates, stop being shit!

Anyway, Metal Arms. I remember seeing that game on the Xbox Live Marketplace years ago. Looking again, it's still there for $15. I almost bought it because I looked up some info and it seemed kind of like Ratchet and Clank. I don't know why I didn't though. I'm not going to get it now either, as my backlog is already huge enough, but I'll make a note of it for later so I don't forget about this game's existence again.

Louzerman102:

Sober Thal:

Jimothy Sterling:

It is a Hobson's choice. Especially before digital distribution became much more widespread. Sure, they could "choose" not to go through a publisher, but in an industry run by the publishers, what choice is that?

The deck is stacked in the favor of publishers. For the longest time, they've owned the deck, dealt the cards, owned the cards, and bought anybody holding the cards. Some of us don't think that should continue.

Hobson's choice, eh? Damn right! It's their money! You want their money, you agree to what they offer. If Valve is such an evil entity (publisher) why do people bend over backwards to praise them?

The 'artists' need to wise up if this is as bad for them as people seem to be saying.

You're confusing what steam does. Microsoft owns the halo IP. EA owns the dead space IP. Tell me how Steam owns Space Pirates and Zombies, Solar 2, Dungeons of Dredmor, or any other indie Game. Jim's statements were never against valve.

Valve is a publisher too. I realize they don't publish every game on STEAM. Jim makes it sound as if EVERY publisher is evil, and devs have no choice in the matter. Devs need to wise up. Look at Notch and Minecraft. It isn't easy to get your name out their, nor should it be. You pay these big named companies for work they do. No money? Sell the rights, or do the work yourself (if every publisher is soooo evil).

The problem with your argument is you assume publishers are contributing nothing to the process, that they have nothing to risk in the whole endeavor of creating a video game. While I don't disagree with your example for Metal Arms, a game that is highly unlikely to be re-released in any case, I think it's still stealing to pirate that game.

Publishers who back games take gambles, expensive ones. The creators of those games sold the rights to their games for the opportunity to possibly make big bucks, also a gamble. They don't necessarily have the money to lobby Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft to make sure theirs games are licensed and produced for the consoles. They likely don't have the money to advertise the game, to publish it, to create the box art, to go to E3 and get noticed by thousands of gamers. They rely on the publisher to do this. The publisher has no idea they'll make their money back. I'm sure their are plenty of games that are net losses for companies like EA. Not every game is going to net EA huge profit margins. Some will undoubtedly be Too Human.

The reason I think it is still stealing to pirate a game like Metal Arms, is because the publisher that rightfully paid the creator for the rights to that game entered a contract saying, "I promise to give you money now, on the hopes that I can make a profit off of this thing in the future."

I don't know if the publisher made all their money back on that game. But it doesn't really matter. They have purchased the right to make as much money as they want to. If you invest in something, that's how it works. If we arbitrarily decide which contracts are right, and which are wrong, we are putting ourselves in the role of the judiciary. This, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with PIPA and SOPA. They bypass judicial review and become a law unto themselves. We are no different than them if we decided to take on the role of deciding who deserves money for their products, and who doesn't. We are no different than them if we say piracy is okay, because some corporations have too much money and don't really deserve anymore.

Let the courts decide which contracts should be looked at. If you don't like copyright law, then start a lobbying group to change it. Don't sink to the level of the corporations you despise. I know it sounds cliche, but really, you are playing into the corporations' hands. All they need to do now is say, "See? These lowlifes aren't interested in paying, just like we told you."

After all, if we start to tear apart the legal world of contracts, what's to stop your employer from saying, "I don't need to pay you this week. I think you have enough money. You are spending it all on video games anyway."

Let me be absolutely clear, I do not support SOPA or PIPA, but I do not, and never will, support piracy either. Even if fat cat EA Execs don't really get hurt from it, you do give them an excuse to make shitty laws like SOPA by doing it, and you also give them an excuse to hurt the paychecks of their employees. They don't need anymore excuses to fuck us over. The public at large is easily fooled by their rhetoric. Don't give them examples to feed into their lies.

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Sober Thal:

What's wrong with that? Are publishers just supposed to gamble away money on possible crap product?

Why not? We (the customers) do...

How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

I'm not convinced that publishers aren't doing anything useful.

High profile games cost millions of dollars to make. Publishers fund that money and take the risk for possible failure.
That's not to say that money could never come from another source, but I doubt a bank would offer developers better terms.

That said, I do agree software piracy is a victimless crime, but not just when big companies are concearned, but in all scenarios. It's not a case of taking something away, but rather a case of not contributing.
It's selfish, but there's alot of (legal) ways already where the game company won't see a penny from you. Buying used is just as selfish (just less intelligent). You could simply not play the game at all and nobody can prove or disprove that you didn't pirate it.

I think of it this way: if the publisher makes a profit, the wage slaves who made that nice game for us to play, get to keep their funding for the next game. That's the way you support artists who sold their creation.

All of the big name devs (the ones that can pretty much do what they want) have that freedom because at one point they made a decision to sacrifice the ownership of their IP, as well as some of their artistic freedom, in exchange for the funds to make the games they wanted to make. In return they got wide distribution and publicity that gave them a level of leverage on their next project, which they capitallised on to go through the cycle again, until they have so much respect in gamers and critics eyes that the publisher doesn't want to interfere as it may affect their sales, or worse push the dev into someone elses camp.

Developers need publishers money as much as publishers need their ideas; neither one are criminal or victim; or do we want all games to go back to the 16 bit days?

Wow Jim, Boom indeed. The Jimquisition was razor sharp today.

It brings up a good issue, who should have control over the copyrighted material. The people who funded it or the people who created it.

To me justice would see the creators owners and those who funded its creation merely capable of profiting from it for a period of time. So, I do agree with you and this episode.

Excellent job.

Sober Thal:
How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

I fail to see how any amount of research would've stopped customers from shelling out substantial amounts of money for products like "Elemental: War of Magic" or "Amy", to name just a few recent duds...

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Sober Thal:
How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

I fail to see how any amount of research would've stopped customers from shelling out substantial amounts of money for products like "Elemental: War of Magic" or "Amy", to name just a few recent duds...

Amy? Seriously?

First off, it had a demo, secondly... ever heard of video game reviewers?

Seriously, research. It isn't rocket science!

While I am not in full agreement over the publisher thing as they can provide the capital to companies to make big games I do agree they abuse their power so to speak. What I keep coming back to is that Hollywood was basically formed to escape patent laws and that they have been complaining about piracy for years. They have tried to get the US to make a law to ban VCRs and MP3 players so I honestly cannot back anything a publisher does in this regard.

All they have been doing in regards to "stopping" piracy is try to hold back progress. What they need to do in the case of video games is create DRM which is non invasive and hard for the average to moderate computer literate person to crack. That keeps the honest people honest and doesn't treat paying customers like criminals with a hot lead digital enema on their games.

Can I get an "Amen" up in here?!?

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Sober Thal:
How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

I fail to see how any amount of research would've stopped customers from shelling out substantial amounts of money for products like "Elemental: War of Magic" or "Amy", to name just a few recent duds...

Well, let's see.

Amy came out. I heard it sucked. Read some reviews that said it sucked. Watched some gameplay footage on YouTube and saw for myself that it sucked. Didn't buy it. That's how any amount of researched stopped me from shelling out money for Amy.

Sober Thal:

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Sober Thal:

What's wrong with that? Are publishers just supposed to gamble away money on possible crap product?

Why not? We (the customers) do...

How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

Yeah because those same publishers don't buy reviews or only release the polished bits for trailers...

Hell this site alone gave Dragon Age 2 a 5/5 and called it "a pinnacle of RPGs" Yet what was delivered was a game with mediocre story, copy paste dungeons, and waves of enemies that appear out of midair...

Yep research would have let you avoid that when reviewers are sooo objective.

I managed to get about six minutes in before I had to stop watching - just too many misconceptions about copyright and the industry. My background is as an author and the owner of a small publishing company, so I deal with copyright on a regular basis. So, to correct some of the misconceptions in the first six minutes:

1. Copyright IS about protecting creator's rights. However, 95% of it is not about protecting creator's rights from consumers. Most of copyright is a legal framework governing the interaction between those who create and those who distribute the creations, mainly during the contract negotiations. An example of the protection provided is to prevent a distributor from taking a creator's work, declining to publish that work, and then adding a new name to it and publishing it anyway. That goes both ways - another protection is to prevent a creator from selling exclusive rights to a work to one publisher, and then going behind that publisher's back and selling the same exclusive rights to another.

2. Copyright IS built so that the creative artist owns the copyright to his/her work upon completion of the work. In order for the creative artist to lose those rights, s/he has to sign them away. One of the reasons that there are literary agents is to protect authors from contracts that strip them of their rights to their own work. That the equivalent in the music industry often do not do the same is scandalous, to say the least.

3. There are nasty companies out there with highly predatory practices interested only in their bottom line, 'tis true. The music industry is one of the worst out there in that. But that's a problem with industry practices, not copyright law. To say that it's a problem with copyright is like saying that a security company failing to call the police on time during a burglary is a problem with anti-theft laws. Requiring creative artists to sign their entire copyright to a work away in the music, film, and software industries is a nasty industry practice, but it is an INDUSTRY practice.

4. If anybody wants to say that game companies are not injured by computer game piracy, I would ask them to take a moment and count the number of PC game companies that hopped ship to the smaller console market over the last 10 years. Compared to 2002, the computer game world is considerably sparser than it used to be.

5. Publishers are important, and when doing their jobs properly can provide a level of quality control, distribution support, and marketing that a creative artist alone cannot. To say that in the past the need for distributors was an illusion is ludicrous, particularly considering that the internet has only been available to the general public for the last 20 years or so. It may be easier to self-publish now, but it wasn't in the past, and many of the functions of publishers and distributors are still done better by distributors than by the creative artist alone, if for no other reason than the distributor generally has more resources.

Anyway, that corrects the more grievous misconceptions. I really wish that people would do their research sometimes.

Xifel:

Hitchmeister:
On the other hand, these big publishers didn't seize the rights away from creators at gunpoint. They walked up and waved a bag of cash in front of them. It seemed like a good deal at the time, and I have a hard time feeling sympathy for anyone who sold their soul, or IP, to EA.*

Then on the third hand, you get stuff like a band posting videos they created themselves of their own music on Youtube and getting takedown orders from their record company because they don't have the rights to promote themselves in any way that might interfere with the company's profits. Yeah, screw that.

*I know EA wasn't actually involved in the example in the video, but I wanted to draw a selling your soul to the devil analogy, and EA just fit so well.

It is true that the creators has been paid for the rights. However I do not believe there are any buisness model that allow the creator to keep their rights. I believe it is "Give us your stuff and we get it out, or stay in the dark".

In a lot of book publishing, the standard contract is for first publication rights. The copyright itself remains with the author.

Well, if there's one thing I can agree with, it's that big publishers are nothing but leaches on society that need to be removed from the picture.

Preach it Jim, preach it.

OT

Thats why I only DL'ed SNES, Genesis, NES and Arcade Titles because who am I really hurting because I wanted to play Secret Of Mana, Vectorman, Contra and Raiden 2.

Without a doubt, Jim's finest hour

Ariyura:
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this why they can't get the IP back for Firefly? Because Fox now owns it?

Yeah, I think it's something like that. It's also the reason why it took nine sodding years to get a new Mechwarrior game, *grumbles* Blasted Microsoft *grumbles*, and don't get me started on that Harmony Gold BS... *grumbles*
At least MekTek was able to release Mechwarrior 4: mercenaries for free in 2010.

The problem isn't with companies like Bethesda or Rockstar. It is with companies that are owned by bigger ones that do absolutely nothing to contribute to the project except publish them. But there is a very fine point here that Jim may have missed. I am no expert but I do not think that developpers always have money to publish their own games, like the indie developpers. And when you wanna create something big, you have no choice but to turn to a publisher.

I gotta know though. Is giving up the rights to a title the only way for it to see the light of day ? Cause if yeah, publishers are holding devs by the balls and companies like Criterion, Bioware, Naughty Dog or even Infinity Ward will never be truly free to pursue their own concepts.

The video hits where it has to cause I have been thinking about this for some time. For example, what creative part of any Pixar movie had Disney involved ? Little to none, I bet.

FelixG:

Sober Thal:

Diana Kingston-Gabai:

Why not? We (the customers) do...

How so? You mean the people that don't know how to research a product before they buy it?

Yeah, they gamble, and it's silly.

Yeah because those same publishers don't buy reviews or only release the polished bits for trailers...

Hell this site alone gave Dragon Age 2 a 5/5 and called it "a pinnacle of RPGs" Yet what was delivered was a game with mediocre story, copy paste dungeons, and waves of enemies that appear out of midair...

Yep research would have let you avoid that when reviewers are sooo objective.

Dragon Age 2 was a great game, worthy of it's praise from this site. Some reviewers like different things, which is why it's best to research your reviewers as well. You can't seriously be suggesting they were paid off, or that you couldn't find other reviewers who thought differently about Dragon Age 2...

Are you saying Jim was paid off because he liked CoD MW3? ( I agree with Jim about MW3 as well)

http://www.destructoid.com/review-call-of-duty-modern-warfare-3-215404.phtml

As for the trailers... of course they only show the best parts before release. If people weren't so impatient, and waited a day or two after release, they can find out plenty about a game.

Metal Arms! One of my most favorite games of all time! :D

I had no idea there was a trilogy planned. I knew there was going to be a sequel, but not a trilogy. It's a real shame that the IP is left to rot though. I love that game.

All this talk about those modern "pirates". Sigh, where are the good old times, where are the old-school pirates. Sailing the seas, wearing eye patches, having a talking parrot on the shoulder. Those were real men.

Anyway, let's throw my two cents to this controversial topic.
I agree on most what he's said.
I find it hard to see this as stealing, not that it's totally alright to use others ideas but I just can't see it as stealing. As long as it doesn't really harm anyone, I don't see it as a big problem. If someone pirated some stupid blockbuster movie from Hollywood, I couldn't care less. If it's a low budget indie movie and they need the money, then really go and give them your money if you like the movie. Those are the ones who need, not Hollywood in their current form.
Also, I find it funny that Hollywood whines so much about pirates although without using others ideas and breaking laws they wouldn't even exist. They did the same thing years ago and now they cry when it's affecting them. I can't take studios like that serious.

The RIAA and MPAA and so on, are a dying breed in our times anyway. They're from the last century who can't adapt to the change that's going on.
If the pirates you're fighting just offer a better service then maybe something is wrong on your end. Do something that makes the people come to you, don't force them because then they will always struggle.
Well, not that they're really fighting piracy. They just want to control the internet. That's what PIPA and SOPA are supposed to do. Give them the power that they don't have on the internet. It's obvious that they need the power they have in other parts of our life. Just look at how they threaten politicians who aren't corrupt enough to get bought. It's just ridiculous.
They're obsolete and if they don't change soon, they'll only be history.

The best episode so far I must admit - and I liked quite a few of them. I'm guessing the quality is increasing - however I'd love to see Jim get someone to draw him pictures instead of those low quality panit doodles.

I wouldn't discount the "middlemen" too much. Yes, there does need to be significant reform regarding copyright ownership (which probably won't happen anytime soon since the middlemen have all da moneyz). The creator of Metal Arms didn't HAVE to give his intellectual property to his publisher. They just might not have given him the resources (people, money, facilities, equipment) to make the game if he hadn't. It doesn't make them thieves, it makes them a business. Had Metal Arms been a runaway success, would it have been fair for the rights to stay with the "creator" (one man in a team of dozens, if not hundreds) who just as easily might have said "fuck it" and kept the rights to the game himself and not make any more? You wouldn't be singing this tune had Vivendi/Sierra continued to publish Metal Arms games that were teh awesomesauce without the input of the guy who had the wildly original idea of giving robots guns.

I do like the idea of copyright reverting back to people responsible, rather than sitting in on a dusty shelf useless somewhere in the nether realm. But to determine something like creative ownership, you might need something like, say a union that has rules and stipulations about who is responsible for something. And even then with cases like SAG and the Writers Guild and the Directors Guild, it's hardly fair. See for example what happened with Roseanne not getting a lucrative "created by" credit on her own show with her own name, based off of her stand up comedy.

But to say mediafire or megaupload or rapidshare, who risked nothing, put up nothing, invested nothing, and are merely copying and pasting the work (of not just one person, but many people) and then charging people for that service, that is a form of theft. And it's not like these "legitimate" middlemen didn't pay for the ownership of these properties or don't deserve the rights to them. If you inherited a painting, should it be taken from you by force for the good of everyone else? If they keep these properties to themselves, it's their own financial loss.

And I thought it was bad when copyright owners went on with an IP without the original creator, its nothing compared with the thievery you describe here Jim. Although, if that guy sold the rights to Metal Arms, then really they (Activision or whoever) do own it do they not? They are still acting asshole-ishly but they didn't steal anything.

Jim Sterling, saving the world one video at a time.

Fuck publishers. They're the reason gaming has turned to shit. There would be less piracy if they gave a fuck about the industry, but no. They only care about money. Old men who don't have a clue about gaming are running our industry.

This certainly has been the year for corporate hate.

Thank you Jim, sorry, THANK GOD FOR JIM, I now feel slightly less dirty for using MU for all my schoolgirl with a sword fighting demons and stuff programmes.

Honestly, I lost all sympathy towards major publishers last night, while installing an EA game, that I legitimately bought from steam, they have the NERVE to ask me to activate it again?

Fuck you, fuck your retarded DRM system. I'm never buying anything by EA again. If they treat me like I'm a criminal, I'm going to be one. Psychology 101.

Also agreeing with Jim... new one for me.

I used to pirate a shit ton of games back in the day and with the economy of my country, I don't blame anyone who does, but I'm trying to do the right thing, buying everything I can legally and if I can't pay for it, I just don't pirate it, period.

I learned the hard way, when I used to buy pirate DVDs of PC games, that I'm not getting this stuff at a discount, I'm paying the asshole who just burned the fucking disc and I'm helping him in making a living out of this, instead of giving my money to the developer who rightfully deserves every single penny.

I, too, am losing faith in major publishers, but that doesn't mean I'm going rampantly downloading every single game I come across, I just don't support neither the publishers (specifically EA, UbiSoft and Activision/Blizzard), nor the people who uploads their games in torrent sites, IE: The Pirates.

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