Defending the Villain

Defending the Villain

Piracy is a hard topic to discuss reasonably and rationally in a public forum. It is a polarizing issue, revealing deep divides between consumers of all media forms, and an even deeper divide between the public and the industries at large that find themselves under siege.

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Im in simular position where the only reason I dont download movies/games/music is because of the legal consequences. Something im happily reminded everytime I watch a DVD in all its melodramatic style that epitomises the media industries response to piracy which these two clips (eeek copyright infringement :-P) parody excellently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS-PemhvXHc & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRVHUbrbEUA&feature=related

I dont "illegally" download movies (at least not to harddrive) or games, & download music only occasionally & usually only because its not easily available retail. I dont feel like im some sort of evil industry crippling criminal when I download a Song. It feels more like putting a couple extra sweets in ur pick n mix bag after you weigh & pay for it; or paying for a child ticket instead of an adult. Its not strictly legal, but I dont feel like im part of an industry destroying crimewave for doing it; & I resent the media & idustry portrayls of me being as such.

When I do download/watch stuff for free, its usually because of how much more convienient it is. I dont sit down & say "hmmm Im going to bring down Comedy Central today" when I watch the latest South Park episode online. But since the UK is only at Season 6 on DVD, if the industry expects me to wait upto 5 years from TV premier to being able to buy it, I feel no guilt in watching it online inbetween that time. Even less so when the programme im watching cannot be physically bought (e.g. Have I Got News For You episodes); or id have to spend 100s to compile a collection of things id only watch/use once (meaning I wouldnt buy if it wasnt available for free, something "the Industry" really doesnt seem to get as a concept).

That said, theres no denying that to a degree Piracy has an effect on the media industries & is used as an income generator by some criminal organisations (& always has). But its not the "big bad guy" that its made out to be. Independant movie & music retailers are going out of business because of Itunes, Amazon & Tesco more than Limewire. EMI & others are losing money & talent because of their own incompotence & inability to adapt to a changing market, not because of Piratebay. Current UK legislation plans intending to force ISP providers to moniter all clients traffic for evidense of illegal downloading is the latest escalation in response to a problem blown whollely out of proportion by those who are losing out to a changing market arena.

Hopefully itl all go the way the reactionary hype surrounding VHS & music cassette recorders went & just blow over & move on. But Im not holding my breath.

In terms of music at least, the record companies have brought this entirely on themselves. EMI and its cohorts have spent the last few decades stimmying artistic creativity, forcing the bands on their labels to squeeze out single after single, and in general have been foisting mass-marketed crap onto the market. Now, people realise that through the interwebs, they can get the music they actually want to listen to without having to pay for surplus crap. 15 for a 45 minute CD, of which only three of the songs are any good? You're having a giraffe, mate! Considering how easy it is to record your own stuff on the cheap, I look forward to the day when the big record labels die off and let the artists take over.

Videogames are a bit more difficult, as they require a whole lot more money to make, and unlike bands, the developers can't earn the money expended back through touring (though that would be an interesting sight. "Valve! Live! At the Apollo!"). But as you said, if a developer goes out of its way to make a game pirate-proof, its just asking for trouble.

Sean Sands:
I have been - and remain - fundamentally opposed to piracy, recognizing that the action of consuming media without paying for it is as clearly illegal as any other form of theft.

Whilst your article generally rings true, this line constitutes an absolute failure to appreciate the debate you are participating in.

As you say, at one time you didn't pirate media based on ethical considerations. You thought that it was like theft. However, in most countries, it is not 'as clearly illegal as any other form of theft'.

1) It is not clearly piracy to make copies of media.

It is piracy if you sell or distribute them. Otherwise it is just copyright infringement.

2) It is not clearly as illegal as any other form of theft.

This cannot be held to be clear, there is a large and consistent debate over the fact. I think you would find that there are very few people in jail or with criminal records for copyright infringement, so I doubt that the even the most stringent legal evidence would provide any support for the claim.

3) It is not even clearly illegal.

Copyright infringement in, for example, the UK is not clearly a criminal offence.

4) It is CLEARLY NOT theft.

Most damning of all...

PLEASE stop calling copyright infringment theft. It can be CAREFULLY compared to theft, but it simply is not. The distinctions between copyright infringement and theft must be maintained, or we lose a platform on which to discuss the subject.

I think that what you meant, was probably that 'piracy' is as 'clearly MORALLY WRONG as any [other] form of theft'.

But, as you continue to expunge, that may no longer be the case. It is true enough that two wrongs don't make a right. But when the choice is paying extortion money or paying no money at all, it probably ceases to be a morally clear debate.

People who argue for piracy usually say it gets in the way of legitimate customers. But I have yet to have that happen to me since I stopped pirating games. I dare say it's made the experience, of playing games, better.

Why? I don't have to worry about viruses when going and getting the latest crack and hope that the new patch wont make me register. I have yet to experience a game I've bought backfire with its protection. Pirates are against protection sure, but why? So they don't have to wait a few days for it to be cracked and uploaded online? If it didnt cause them any trouble they wouldn't even bring it into the argument, even under the guise that it is a hassle for consumers.

Copyright infringement is theft. You use/listen/play/take something you didn't pay for its theft. Just because no one "sees" you do it doesn't mean it's ok, and you shouldn't get punished for it if found out about later.

The idea that copyright infringement isn't theft, or criminal is inane. Might as well do away with patents since copyright infringement isn't illegal we should be able to "borrow" all intellectual property.

Other then the argument that it causes trouble, which is in my case not true, they have nothing to back up why they do what they do.

Thank you, wild_quinine, your points are valid.

I admit to pirating games. For the most part, I can't afford to buy all the games I play, and I'm not willing to go without playing them. I admit it's immoral and illegal. On the other hand, I bought Neverwinter Nights after downloading it because of how good a game it was.

@fmsmoothie, I don't think anyone is arguing that copyright infringement is not illegal, but it is not the same as theft. Theft leaves someone without something, copyright infringement merely results in not buying something that you may not have bought anyway. The reason nobody likes thieves isn't because they don't pay for what they get, it's because they take what they get from people who did pay, who no longer have it. I can also give you several examples of a non-pirated product being inferior to a pirated product:

Civilization III: The v1.29f patch introduced copy protection that was not there before the patch, and, as a result, the game CD doesn't have whatever it needs to pass the copy protection. That patch effectively breaks the game.

Neverwinter Nights 2: The game often fails to load because the CD drive fails to locate the copy protection on the disc. It also never loads after opening Process Explorer, which is a completely legitimate program.

The other thing is that the only reason most games need the disc in the drive is for copy protection. All the game data is on the hard drive. That's why NoCD cracks can be applied to almost any game. One of the things I love the most about GalCivII is that you don't need the CD. In fact it has no copy protection, so you don't even need the CD key to install the game, and you can burn a backup disc in case you lose the original.

wild_quinine.:

3) It is not even clearly illegal.

Copyright infringement in, for example, the UK is not clearly a criminal offence.
.

Erm, copyright infringement is clearly illegal in the UK. It's classed as a civil offence, so the Police can't arrest or charge you. But the owner of the copyright can sue you for (potentially) unlimited damages and the removal of whatever broke copyright.
Ignoring any court ruling makes it a criminal offence, which can get you sent to jail. Repeat offending can also bump it up to a criminal charge.

Piracy (copyright infringment + distribution and or sale of/purchase of/manufacture of said goods) is a criminal offence and can carry a jail term.

If you use a full product, w/o paying for it that's theft. The excuse that you wouldn't have paid for it anyway isn't anything but an excuse. You don't pay for it you shouldn't be allowed the experience.

And I know the only reason you need CD is because they make it so. Maybe copy protection isn't the right solution, instead they need to target the people distributing the stuff. But thats far more ineffective then putting something on the game itself to at least trip up people. Since you have places like TBP that are in countries with massive gray area where the internet is concerned.

No CD cracks, can be used for legitimate products, but lets not be naive and say thats what its used for in the majority of cases.

If there was no way to get free full games without paying for them I don't doubt that more people would buy games they normally wouldn't because they have the option of not. Look at COD 4, the amount of people playing that game online w/o paying for it is a clear indicator in my mind of how unwilling people have become to pay for good games. If you have a game thats won multiple game of the year awards and theres still so many people unwilling to pay for it, it's easy to see why no one wants to put games on the pc anymore, or at least before they put them on the console. If the trend continues all that's going to be left on the pc are pay-to-play MMORPGs.

First of all, there's a difference between unwilling and unable. I don't have a single pirated game that I would have bought if I couldn't get them for free. Second, just because a person will download a game over buying it, doesn't mean that person would buy the game if they couldn't download it. I think the choice is usually between playing for free and not playing, rather than between playing for free and paying.

Also, I'm not aware of a single modern game that you can play pirated copies of online. How do you know that the people playing COD 4 haven't paid for it?

Looking at the prices of some games or the way distributor treats us.Piracy can be a form of a cold, painful slap to their faces.Personally I don't pirate...mostly.

Only some mp3's and sometimes an SP game(They're getting to big to honestly bother).I'm sorry but I am not willing to pay 30-40(waaay overprice compared to US prices) for a game with a half-assed story and gameplay, which solely relies on "teh hardorez multi experience!" in order to be popular.

@Nugoo

He was probably talking about hamachi servers etc. because unlike TF2 or CSS I haven't heard of a way to make "normal" cracked CoD4 servers.And these networks aren't as big as they appear.

And imo Piracy does more for the game sales than you may think.People who download torrents usually have a more casual approach to the game and probably wouldn't buy it in first place.But I know a couple of cases(including me & TF2) where people downloaded the game, loved it and bought the original version just for the sake of having it.

Nugoo:
I think the choice is usually between playing for free and not playing, rather than between playing for free and paying.

In which case the only ethical choice is not playing. As the consumer, you are perfectly within your rights to decide that you are not paying the requested price for the product.

You are not, however, within your rights to make up your own price (free), and then play. You either pay what the seller is asking, or you do without. It has nothing to do with theft, it has to do with you being an arrogant prick, not respecting the time and devotion people put into their creations. Just because you can't see the software developer doesn't mean they're worth less of your respect and working time (as indicated by paying) than the plumber who comes over to fix your pipes. Sure, you might have been willing to go with that dripping faucet anyway, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay the guy.

You don't like paying for games? Fine, don't. Play free games. Play demos. Refuse to purchase things that don't have demos and let the creators know. But don't play games, refuse to pay, and then think "Yeah, well, I wouldn't have paid for that anyway". If you wouldn't have paid, you shouldn't have played. And if you do, at least understand what an ass you're being to the creator, and understand why some people think you're just a selfish little prick.

Kwil:

Nugoo:
I think the choice is usually between playing for free and not playing, rather than between playing for free and paying.

In which case the only ethical choice is not playing. As the consumer, you are perfectly within your rights to decide that you are not paying the requested price for the product.

You are not, however, within your rights to make up your own price (free), and then play. You either pay what the seller is asking, or you do without. It has nothing to do with theft, it has to do with you being an arrogant prick, not respecting the time and devotion people put into their creations. Just because you can't see the software developer doesn't mean they're worth less of your respect and working time (as indicated by paying) than the plumber who comes over to fix your pipes. Sure, you might have been willing to go with that dripping faucet anyway, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay the guy.

You don't like paying for games? Fine, don't. Play free games. Play demos. Refuse to purchase things that don't have demos and let the creators know. But don't play games, refuse to pay, and then think "Yeah, well, I wouldn't have paid for that anyway". If you wouldn't have paid, you shouldn't have played. And if you do, at least understand what an ass you're being to the creator, and understand why some people think you're just a selfish little prick.

No ad hominem attacks, please. I may be arrogant and selfish, but 'little prick' is over the line. (And inaccurate ;) )

My piracy is certainly not indicative of disrespect towards the creators of the game; I'm in the process of getting a degree in software engineering with the intent of becoming a game programmer. I've got no lack of respect for those people. In fact, that may be what motivates my piracy. In some cases, like with Portal, it's comparable to sneaking into a concert in order to see your favorite band. It may not be directly good for the artists, but it's not because I want them to suffer. Not to mention that it gets them good word of mouth advertising.

In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it? Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

Finally, a slight logical quibble: If I am willing to go with a dripping faucet, it does mean that I shouldn't pay the plumber.

Nugoo:
My piracy is certainly not indicative of disrespect towards the creators of the game; I'm in the process of getting a degree in software engineering with the intent of becoming a game programmer.

In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it? Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

The irony is staggering.

You want to get in the industry, and yet hold a stance that getting paid for your efforts is entirely voluntary? On the basis of your reasoning, you have no grounds to complain when Soulless Software Studios (a subsidiary of Omni Consumer Products) yoinks your code and stuffs it into their own servers gratis. After all, you should get lots of free resume fluffing out of having your code incorporated into OCP's library.

-- Steve

Anton P. Nym:

Nugoo:
My piracy is certainly not indicative of disrespect towards the creators of the game; I'm in the process of getting a degree in software engineering with the intent of becoming a game programmer.

In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it? Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

The irony is staggering.

You want to get in the industry, and yet hold a stance that getting paid for your efforts is entirely voluntary? On the basis of your reasoning, you have no grounds to complain when Soulless Software Studios (a subsidiary of Omni Consumer Products) yoinks your code and stuffs it into their own servers gratis. After all, you should get lots of free resume fluffing out of having your code incorporated into OCP's library.

-- Steve

There is a large difference between taking someone's code and using it at home, and taking someone's code and selling it as your own. If your saying that Soulless Software Studios (hereafter referred to as SSS) is only using my code, and not selling it, then you may not have noticed that I am arguing for the ethics of using for free instead of not using, as opposed to using for free instead of paying. SSS is probably able to afford my software, but if they weren't going to buy it anyway, it's no skin off my back. On the other hand, if SSS is a subsidiary of the new grassroots startup, Omni Consumer Products, and can't, in fact, pay for my software, then I would not hold it against them if they used it for free, especially if they notified their customers that they were using my product.

But yes, I do believe in getting paid for my efforts on a voluntary basis (Assuming I'm working solo). Call me an idealist or naive or even a socialist (I am all of these things), but I think if my product is good enough, people will buy it. Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are both taking this approach. I understand there are differences between those bands and a small company producing software, or even a small band, but they serve as a proof of concept. Hell, look at open-source projects, like Linux or Firefox.

Finally, I'm getting into the field for the love of making games, not for the money.

Nugoo:
My piracy is certainly not indicative of disrespect towards the creators of the game;

That's a load of bull. Your piracy is essentially you telling the developer "Don't give up your day-job, because I'm not going to help you put food on the table so that you can program these things full time." It is complete disrespect, and you getting a degree in the field does not change that in any way.

I'm in the process of getting a degree in software engineering with the intent of becoming a game programmer. I've got no lack of respect for those people. In fact, that may be what motivates my piracy.

No, what motivates your piracy is that you value your personal entertainment time as having a higher worth than their time spent developing the things that entertain you.

In some cases, like with Portal, it's comparable to sneaking into a concert in order to see your favorite band. It may not be directly good for the artists, but it's not because I want them to suffer.

No, it's because you don't actually give a damn about them or think about the consequences of your action. If you sneak into a concert, you're taking up space that could have gone to a paying customer, and making the experience that much less enjoyable for everyone else by over-crowding the place. If a paying fan then later decides that while it was okay, he didn't like getting his toes stepped on and stops paying, the bands' income, aka time to create their music, has been directly affected by your selfishness.

Not to mention that it gets them good word of mouth advertising.

Like you're providing that over and above those who actually value the group enough to spend some of their earned leisure dollars on the group. "Yeah, you should see these guys.. they were great! Really worth the money" "How much was it?" "Oh, I didn't pay.." "So.. worth nothing then?"

In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it?

The exact same logic could be used to justify theft. Nice thinking. However, even if we assume you meant, "..when there is no material loss.", it's worse because it is disrespectful of the maker. If everybody held the same attitude as you, these people would not be able to create for their living, meaning they'd be doing something else for their living, meaning they'd be creating less. It's worse because you are, in effect, sponging off of the rest of us who do support these people. If you had, at the very least, the self-decency and honesty to sit outside the store and just plain beg people for money, people would then get the choice whether to support your entertainment.

Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

No they don't. You've already said, you bought Neverwinter Nights because it was such a good game. You didn't say, "I've started buying all the Bioware stuff because they put out such great games." If you had, you'd at least be slightly less of a hypocrite in your point, but you've already admitted that you don't actually have any loyalty to the game designers, you just will eventually decide that maybe you've sponged enough off of one game to justify your deigning to support the creators a little bit. Bravo. And guess what, they don't really need free advertising from a nobody who can't even bring themselves to cough up the money from 3-4 hours work (assuming you're working a crap job) to pay for a game that took probably hundreds of man-hours. They can get that kind of advertising from paying customers, and it's worth more because those people actually.. you know.. paid.

Finally, a slight logical quibble: If I am willing to go with a dripping faucet, it does mean that I shouldn't pay the plumber.

No.. it doesn't matter if you're willing to go with it. It's if you do go with it. That's the difference. If you have the plumber in and he fixes it, then whether or not you were willing to go with the dripping is completely irrelevant. Similar to games. Whether you're willing or not to go without the game has no bearing on whether you should pay. What matters is if you do or do not go without the game. Ideally a game creator will be high-minded enough to have the attitude you do and offer the game on a "pay after you play" basis, but that's the creator's decision to make, not yours -- just one of those little side benefits they get from actually doing the work to make the game as opposed to sitting on their ass downloading someone else's game.

What you choose to do with your product, or what Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails choose to do is irrelevant. They're the creators, they can choose to do what they wish. And while it's great that they're going the way they have, this doesn't in any way invalidate the decisions of those authors who choose to go some other way. The key point is, as the consumer, you agree to *their* terms (which you may even be able to negotiate with them), or you do not use their product. Anything less really is being a little prick, because it reduces the incentive for these people to create, and reduces the time they have to create (because everybody needs to eat), which means they may well create less, affecting all of us. Thanks. Thanks a whole lot.

Nugoo:
In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it? Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

This is one of the most common arguments used by people who participate in piracy, and also one of the weakest and most insulting because it is so absolutely inane. I've had this conversation too many times with too many people who refused to acknowledge even the possibility that they may be off base, so I won't waste much time on it here except to say that I find your attitude deeply offensive.

Good luck on figuring out how to pay the rent with the love of making games, by the way.

Kwil:
That's a load of bull. Your piracy is essentially you telling the developer "Don't give up your day-job, because I'm not going to help you put food on the table so that you can program these things full time." It is complete disrespect, and you getting a degree in the field does not change that in any way.

No, what motivates your piracy is that you value your personal entertainment time as having a higher worth than their time spent developing the things that entertain you.

This is you arguing with me about my motivations. There is nothing I can say to that except that you are wrong.

No, it's because you don't actually give a damn about them or think about the consequences of your action. If you sneak into a concert, you're taking up space that could have gone to a paying customer, and making the experience that much less enjoyable for everyone else by over-crowding the place. If a paying fan then later decides that while it was okay, he didn't like getting his toes stepped on and stops paying, the bands' income, aka time to create their music, has been directly affected by your selfishness.

I already admitted that my presence at this hypothetical concert would be worse than the presence of a paying customer. I am arguing that it's still better than an empty seat.

Like you're providing that over and above those who actually value the group enough to spend some of their earned leisure dollars on the group. "Yeah, you should see these guys.. they were great! Really worth the money" "How much was it?" "Oh, I didn't pay.." "So.. worth nothing then?"

Yeah, 'cause when someone tells me they snuck into a concert to watch the band, I think to myself, "That band must be so bad that my friend was unwilling to buy a ticket", not, "That band must so good that my friend was willing to sneak into the show".

The exact same logic could be used to justify theft. Nice thinking. However, even if we assume you meant, "..when there is no material loss.", it's worse because it is disrespectful of the maker. If everybody held the same attitude as you, these people would not be able to create for their living, meaning they'd be doing something else for their living, meaning they'd be creating less. It's worse because you are, in effect, sponging off of the rest of us who do support these people. If you had, at the very least, the self-decency and honesty to sit outside the store and just plain beg people for money, people would then get the choice whether to support your entertainment.

I did mean"...when there is no material loss", thank you for your assumption. First, I don't think disrespecting the maker of a product is worse than actually removing someone else's property from their possession, but that, I guess, is a matter of opinion. Second, my view is only that it is morally acceptable to pirate when you are incapable of purchasing. Even if everyone had the same view as I do, no company would have less profit because everyone who has bought a game was clearly capable of buying the game. As for people having the choice to support my piracy, bittorrent requires plenty of seeds, so I guess some people do.

No they don't. You've already said, you bought Neverwinter Nights because it was such a good game. You didn't say, "I've started buying all the Bioware stuff because they put out such great games." If you had, you'd at least be slightly less of a hypocrite in your point, but you've already admitted that you don't actually have any loyalty to the game designers, you just will eventually decide that maybe you've sponged enough off of one game to justify your deigning to support the creators a little bit. Bravo. And guess what, they don't really need free advertising from a nobody who can't even bring themselves to cough up the money from 3-4 hours work (assuming you're working a crap job) to pay for a game that took probably hundreds of man-hours. They can get that kind of advertising from paying customers, and it's worth more because those people actually.. you know.. paid.

While I didn't explicitly state that I bought more Bioware games after Neverwinter Nights, you may have noticed my complaint about Neverwinter Nights 2, which I did buy because of how much I loved the original. I have also been looking for the Bladur's Gate games, again, based on my experience with Neverwinter Nights. Second, when did I say that I had not loyalty to game designers? Third, I have never cared if a recommendation came from a pirate or someone who bought the game, as long as they had played it.

No.. it doesn't matter if you're willing to go with it. It's if you do go with it. That's the difference. If you have the plumber in and he fixes it, then whether or not you were willing to go with the dripping is completely irrelevant. Similar to games. Whether you're willing or not to go without the game has no bearing on whether you should pay. What matters is if you do or do not go without the game. Ideally a game creator will be high-minded enough to have the attitude you do and offer the game on a "pay after you play" basis, but that's the creator's decision to make, not yours -- just one of those little side benefits they get from actually doing the work to make the game as opposed to sitting on their ass downloading someone else's game.

What you choose to do with your product, or what Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails choose to do is irrelevant. They're the creators, they can choose to do what they wish. And while it's great that they're going the way they have, this doesn't in any way invalidate the decisions of those authors who choose to go some other way. The key point is, as the consumer, you agree to *their* terms (which you may even be able to negotiate with them), or you do not use their product. Anything less really is being a little prick.

You're right, I misunderstood your plumber metaphor. The rest of these two paragraphs is largely correct as well, but I still fail to see how choosing not to buy the game is better for the creator than pirating it. Also, that last sentence was completely uncalled for; I have been more than civil in my response to you.

Malygris:

Nugoo:
In regards to the ethics of playing for free over not paying, how, exactly is it worse to enjoy the fruit of someone's labour for free, rather than be unable to experience it? Either way they aren't getting my money, but my way, they get not only free advertising from me, but also a loyal customer once I get enough money to actually buy games.

This is one of the most common arguments used by people who participate in piracy, and also one of the weakest and most insulting because it is so absolutely inane. I've had this conversation too many times with too many people who refused to acknowledge even the possibility that they may be off base, so I won't waste much time on it here except to say that I find your attitude deeply offensive.

Good luck on figuring out how to pay the rent with the love of making games, by the way.

Well, I'm relatively new to the internet, so I'd like to hear what's so bad about this argument.

And thanks for the luck, I expect I'll need it.

EDIT: GAAAH! Sorry about the double-post!

Let's see if I can explain this.. because your argument of not paying for the game is complete hogwash.

We already know you have extra time. We know this because you evidently have time to play the games you pirate. So, instead of sitting on your ass with this extra time, you could go mow a few people's lawns and make the money to pay for the game. Thus we see that your argument of "I don't have the money to pay for it" is simply you, as I said, valuing your leisure time over the time and effort of the people who created the thing you're actually spending your leisure time with. Real nice.

So the only argument you have left then is "I don't want to pay what the creator is asking," at which point the creator, seeing a bunch of people who can't even be bothered to mow a few lawns to support his creating, who feel essentially that he should give up his time and effort for their entertainment for free -- in essence, converting him to their slave, might rightfully go, "Screw this for a lark, I'm hungry, I'll go make accounting software or something for people who appreciate my work."

Incidentally, the last sentence is completely called for. I didn't call you a little prick, I said enganging in a certain course of behavior, one which is entirely your choice to do or not, is evidence of someone being said prick. Don't like the label? Don't engage in the behavior.

Kwil:
Let's see if I can explain this.. because your argument of not paying for the game is complete hogwash.

We already know you have extra time. We know this because you evidently have time to play the games you pirate. So, instead of sitting on your ass with this extra time, you could go mow a few people's lawns and make the money to pay for the game. Thus we see that your argument of "I don't have the money to pay for it" is simply you, as I said, valuing your leisure time over the time and effort of the people who created the thing you're actually spending your leisure time with. Real nice.

So the only argument you have left then is "I don't want to pay what the creator is asking," at which point the creator, seeing a bunch of people who can't even be bothered to mow a few lawns to support his creating, might rightfully go, "Screw this for a lark, I'm hungry, I'll go make accounting software or something for people who appreciate my work."

I guess you're right. If I was truly a passionate gamer, I would spend all my free time trying to make enough money to buy games. But you should know that even when I do buy a game with the money that I worked for, I'm not saying that the time I spent working was worth all the time put into developing the game, I'm just saying that the time I spent working was worth the retail price of the game (This is true of anyone who buys a game), which is worth considerably less than all of the time put into the game by the developers. At worst, when I pirate a game, I'm saying that I think my leisure time is worth less than, say, $49.99 CAD.

Incidentally, the last sentence is completely called for. I didn't call you a little prick, I said enganging in a certain course of behavior, one which is entirely your choice to do or not, is evidence of someone being said prick. Don't like the label? Don't engage in the behavior.

I'm saying the label is inappropriate. Try cheapskate, anti-capitalist, or some other term related to the behavior.

I'm going to throw a spanner in the works - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7342135.stm

I am trapped right in the middle over this issue. I can identify with all camps. I am writing two games right now (one is more in a planning stage, but hey) and the latter will hopefully be worth something. Equally, I can identify with those who pirate because they cannot afford games. I can't afford games either (I don't pirate them, though). I can't endorse the breaking of copyright law when my sister is trying to make it in the music buisiness, that would just be shooting her in the foot, yet, I would love to get music for free.

I would love to see games move towards entertainment, and not sales (There were a couple of articles on this website on this topic that I found myself agreeing with), I am not a fan of the big name games because I find them all samish, with only different guns (Oh, that and I don't enjoy killing for the sake of killing). But yet, Epic games have a point - "...These people need to eat..." (How many of you read the UT license agreement?).

I also hate to just sit and talk about problems, hence why I'm writing games myself (with help from my brother and his friend). What I hope is that people will start to group up on the internet, and make games themselves. In the words of Eric. S. Raymond - "As it is impossible to coerce effectively over a network connection.." - anyone doing work on the game would be in it for the fun, and thus you can be sure the product will be solid (If not quite as shiny as something made in EA's latest art studio...). A major step in this direction would be an engine that anyone could use, for nothing. I know that the Unreal Engine, and Source (I think) let you make and distribute mods for free, but I can't afford a copy of UT3 yet, so that's a little annoying. I can afford the bandwith to download a hypothetical free engine though (Free net connections FTW). Maybe I'll find enough time in my life to make one, it'd be nicer if it was open source, but anti-cheats on an open source engine is a modern day oxymoron.

Wow, that's my first major post.

First of all, I'd like to thank Sean for this insightful article. Very nice read.

Now, to get something straight: I'm a villain. I'm a media industry's nightmare. I am a pirate. I download content and share it with my friends and I don't care about legal repercussions. Not that there are any in my country. I'm not here to justify what I do, I'm not going to tell you it's OK to do it, but I AM going to share my opinion and experience on why I do it. If you find yourself offended by what I do, just skip this post and don't get angry because of it. It's pointless. I'm just one in a couple of hundred million people from around the world to do it.

The main reason I pirate games or any other content for that matter is: Try before you buy. I truly don't believe that the developers of a game title like " Turning Point Fall Of Liberty" deserve a single dime of my support. They deserve to starve and start eating their own offspring. After downloading that behemoth and playing for about a half an hour I was disgusted how bad it was, and was left only to uninstall it and delete the game image from my harddrive. And to hate myself for wasting the bandwidth. The game was such a turd... Even the premise of it was stupid.

On the other hand I always buy the games that I like. Why? I like to have something tangible on my shelf to brag about when my friends come for a visit and a cup of coffee. I even went that far to buy several copies of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines and give them away as birthday presents to my friends. I also own originals of every Troika game + Fallout series, Planescape: Torment, The Orange Box and many, many more... But there's no way I'm going to buy something like Far Cry or Crysis. Hell, I'm not even going to play a game that ruins a beautiful tropical island by placing a retarded douchebag in a red Hawaiian T-shirt to fight some Dianabol fags. (In my last statement no offense was meant towards gay people. Just those steroid fucks who kill people on tropical islands for no apparent reason.)

I also download music a lot. Not only that I try before I buy, but let's be honest here for a second... I cannot afford to buy all the music I like. If I bought every single CD that deserves some attention I'd be homeless. Let's see: this month I've downloaded approx. 5GB of mp3's and some FLAC. How much is that in dollars and euros? Do you know that the local music dealer was trying to sell me Rihanna when I asked him for the latest Slayer album, Christ illusion? You don't. What the hell is wrong with those retail store people anyway? When I asked him to order Flashbulb's Soundtrack to a Vacant Life he told me he couldn't find it on Amazon. (Just a little clarification: Last year I had all my credit cards canceled after a credit card fraud in my hometown committed by some asshole who managed to place fucking video cameras all over the atm machines. It took me a month to explain to bank retards that I don't need a dozen Parker jackets in the mid of July. Ever since, I'm holding on to cash and I stay away from atm and online purchase, just in case.)

As far as TV shows go there aren't any worthwhile on the cable where I live. Does that mean that I'm supposed to deny myself and my girlfriend enjoying Battlestar Galactica and Tricia Helfer's overwhelming charm? Or Dexter's butchering and identity crisis? No. No, and shut the fuck up already you bunch of RIAA/MPAA dimwits! I didn't steal anything from anyone! I'm not a criminal! It's not my fault that I can't enter a media store and buy my media at the reasonable price! It's not my fault that I can't enter a media store and buy my media at any price at all! It's not my fault that sometimes I have to keep my computer running 24/7 in order to leech and seed back what I've downloaded! It's not my fault you retarded, obsolete, dimwit information gatekeeper fucks! It's your fault. And you deal with it. With all these new EU laws about filesharing, I actually hope to see your asses in court.

P.S. I'm willing to give one free invite to a good private site to Yahtzee, so that he can stop bitching about Australian release dates. This offer is for Yahtzee only.

P.P.S. If this post gets me banned for being a pirate, well it was worth of it. At least I spoke my misery.

@ Dr. Evil: Yes life is so tough leeching off the teet of all media. I pity you because you have to resort to stealing things because you are so poor. And you can buy media at a price, you just don't like the price.

Also the argument that you buy the games you really like, how many games have you downloaded that weren't worthy of a buy? Probably hundreds more, and thats taking away from the industry that you obviously would be lost without. Since you have to try every single p.o.s. game that comes out.

What about borrowing media? Am I a selfish little prick if my friend lends me his DVD and I watch it? Or if I buy a used music CD? Either way, the creators get nothing and if everybody did that, the creators would die of hunger...
Fortunately I live in a country where downloading music and movies is legal so I can only pay for what I like. And even then a lot of people think I'm stupid for paying for something I could get for free. Yeah, those crazy post-communist countries. :)

Don't fool yourself. There is no country in the world that endorses stealing. Its just not illegal. There is a difference.

On the other side of the coin, i am sick of being blamed and punished as a legitimate consumer for the actions of others. The next time an anti-piracy check is even remotely more complicated than typing a CD key, or invades my privacy even a little bit. I'll get a pirate copy, no questions. Even the fact that i require an internet connection to use certain product, i find offensive.... I buy media off the shelf for a reason!

It's big media's fault in the first place. By trying to stop the flood of media out onto the internet (can anyone smell books burning?) instead of accepting it as new business possibility, they precipitated the problem.

This is your new business environment you dinosaur - adapt or die!

I will happily pirate music. The new Killers album? Got it! The Doors collections? Got them. I dont think Jim Morrison minds (yes I know he is dead. It was meant to be ironic to prove a point). Who is losing here, honestly? What, Im going to feed Jim Morrisons beneficiaries because they happened to be related to a talented man?

Who can honestly say that they have never gone to a friends place and listened to a CD? Or watched a movie? Or played a game? Dont have double standards, and dont be so quick to call hypocrite. Can you say you have never had a 8 hour lan-fest playing Starcraft or had a night long Halo competition, even if you dont own a copy?

I went to watch a DVD I hired out (legally) the other day, and had to sit through every warning and advert on it. All this anti-piracy garbage? Give me a break. All this is doing is punishing people who are doing the right thing by making them sit through ads attacking people who will never see them.

Games, however, are different.
Ill admit, if its possible to, I will download it. Here is why: Im in Australia. A PC game for me can cost well over $100, which, for you Americans, is about US$92. A little steep? Perhaps!
Especially considering I am a full time uni student making next to nothing and spending $25 a week on bus fare alone.
Dont overcharge so much, you money hungry monsters.

I dont know. I like downloading music. I even get a little joy out of it. A sick little thrill.
Games are different, I almost always feel a little remorse when I download something (except Superman 64. All I felt then was a bloodthirsty rage.) I buy games when I can, and when I love them more than my own friends (thankyou Half Life 2).
But, god willing, I would rather castrate myself then spend $300 on Microsoft Word. To everyone who is crying tears of blood for the money that the EA corporation is losing when I download a copy of Fifa 08, do you all own legal and legitimate copies of all the M$ merchandise?

Nugoo, I admire your love for games. You are getting into the field for the right reason.

I literally cannot understand the thinking behind force-feeding me "don't copy this movie" propaganda when I start up a DVD I've bought. I already bought it, you idiots! Movies are so cheap these days, I don't see who would rather go to the trouble of downloading them. If you pirated the movie, however, I do think you wouldn't be looking at insulting infomercials... So why bother your customers?

With music, I think it's a matter of convenience. Online retailers are finally catching up and it looks like it's currently easier to buy online than pirate. Now, if only more retailers offered me proper versions (no DRM, high quality, choice of formats). Because the pirates are used to getting the superior product.

With videogames, I think it's a matter of so many gamers being so young and poor that piracy is the easy way to go. I used to be unable to buy new games until my mid-20s. This was not a problem, as the shelves are stacked with used and older gamers at a bargain. I was never short of games to play, even if I got the latest titles half a year later.

Also, the average PC gamer is rather tech-savvy, and thus the trouble you have to go to in order to pirate a game isn't much of a hurdle for them. I personally use no-CD cracks on my PC games: again, why do you inconvenience your legitimate customers? I've had a case of the copy protection software telling me my media was not legitimate - I had no trouble downloading an illegal copy to actually play the game, but why am I made to suffer through this? Then the next game's installer recognized the image mounting software on my PC and told me that I was a dirty pirate. Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I'm not at all convinced that the copy protection schemes do much good for the PC market, but certainly they make me wonder just what am I paying for. Stop being such jerks towards your fans.

@fmsmoothie

I'm sorry, what are you trying to say? I can't understand you completely, try harder. BTW, if an industry can hyper-produce only a pile of well packed shit, it deserves to collapse with or without the help of piracy. I hope the blaze of downfall starts with EA.

@Kemmler0

I understand you, man. I couldn't state my frustration enough with the Bioshock protection and required internet connection to install it. But, it was my own fault. Never buy before trying it out first. But I was moving and had no internet connection for a week or so. Annoyed and frustrated I sold it for a quarter of it's original price A SINGLE DAY AFTER THE PURCHASE, just to get rid of the damned thing. The soon as I got my connection back I snached it of the dark, vile, disruptive, stealing, copyright infringing network harboring millions of lowlife scum like me - Usenet. No copy protection, no connection required, no hassle.

Now, I go a little easy on Valve and I let them annoy me with Steam. So far. But hey! I'll let them do it as long as they promise to make a sequel to Portal. :) And if they cancel my account for any reason, no problem. The internet still exists.

If you are living in some advanced country - USA, in the vicinity of Britain, Scandinavia, Japan and in the general direction of north-west from German-Polish border - you are a piece of turd if you pirate. Sometimes I look at the game prices (and it's always not hard to find someone who's peddling the game cheaper than the other money-thirsty bloke)and think "Damn, if they'd cost the same in my money (20 euros for eve online a month - 20 Lt a month here would be cheap), i'd dam piracy to hell". But, since crap like Gears of War cost 250 Lt (just think "lots of mycountrymoney) even when the whole world has already forgotten it, is hard no pirate. Of course, there are cheaper games, but they're mostly translated into russian. And they have two guys in russia - one does voiceovers for every pirate movie in russia. The other does the same to games. Plus, i ain't learning russian. So you end up in computer game section looking like a pedophile at the kindergarten wall: you can see, but you can't take. That busts balls. The only games that get close to being reasonably priced are some of the oldies. You can buy Morrowind with Bloodmoon and Tribunal for 30 (not that much). But space quest anthology (all parts) cost 70, despite the fact that noone is buying quest games, old games and crappy looking games here. We didn't do it when we had paid piracy. What's that, you say? Well, when were just out the Soviet Union (for some ten years) bootleg games were runing rampant. Almost anyone was selling them. Heck, you could buy 'em in malls downtown. The crashed with the rise of internets. When they got sufficiently fast to download some game (it was about the time when freelancer came out, maybe earlier) paid piracy was dropped. Now, FTP, p2p and torrents roam the sea of stealing 1 and 0. So now we're stealing because: a) we're fucking used to it and have traditions of stealing and such. b) we can't realy pay for new games, mostly because they don't reach our country c) as games are immaterial (hand me a wad of electricity) we don't feel giulty of theft (I do) d) Everyone thinks you're a fucking moron (and grannies beat you with enormous purses) if you buy the game. Realy, I haven't told my family i bought Morrowind because I don't want to cast out of the tribe. There is one crappy, but still valid point for piracy: you're buying a cat in a sack. You don't realy know what you're getting, even after reading every review in the net and watching "zero punctuation". Also, i don't have brain-internet link when I'm in the shop. So, consider Battleship Millenium, where there are no control keys listing, a marine is controled like a cruiser and interface is all flight-sim like, greeen and what not. So you've just wasted your parent's (or your's) hard-earned money for some game made by junkies in a damp room in Amsterdam. Heck, even the 16 punds for W40K Soulstorm didn't look much. Then I played it and realised, to my horror, that Iron Lore had taken fun out of W40K. I didn't buy the living shit out of that game, though i saving money for Fallout 3 and DoW2.
All in all, this is the view into piracy in the Eastern Europe.

@ Dr. Evil: I'm saying near the end of your first post you're playing the victim, and that we should all pity you for pirating.

@fmsmoothie

Well, maybe you should. I pity myself sometimes.

EDIT

For all who have missed it, here's a very nice article by Kieron Gillen.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_94/525-Playground-Piracy

For starters, copyright infringement is neither theft nor piracy, it's trespass.

It's still illegal, however, and sometimes immoral.

What do I pirate? Mostly British tv shows that are unavailable here, fall season pilots, for a sneak preview, and pilots for series that never got picked up. And vintage arcade ROMs. But I'm far worse than a pirate...I tend to buy used games, and games that wind up in the clearance bin.

Now, when might pirating stuff be not immoral?
If it's simply not for sale at all:
Win98. Microsoft has suspended all sales and support for Win98, and doesn't sell an OS that runs on Win98 class hardware.
Fallout and Fallout 2, or other abandonware. Unless of course, they get bundled with the new Fallout 3, or somebody's got them on some shovelware compilation.
Old arcade machine roms. No, not Namco museum or Atari classic titles. Rather, things like Venture, or Trogg.

Or maybe when the proceeds are going to causes you disagree with.
Michal Moore has already given blanket permission to download his movies, though whether that permission is his to give, I can't say, but his reasoning is that the people he most wants to see his movies are the least likely to pay for the privilege. After all, how much would you pay for a movie ticket, if you knew all the proceeds were going to benefit Scientology?

Or, when you've already paid for the content.
There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with buying a game, and downloading a cracked, consumer friendly version, or a nocd patch. Well, there could be some discussion as to whether your desire for a cracked version is complicity in encouraging others to crack and distribute the game, but I'm pretty sure that a legitimate purchaser's desire for a starforce-free version of a game is less motivation than the cracker's non-game buying peers.

Illegal, yes. Immoral? Tain't necessarily so.

However, did nobody read Brad Wardell's essay?

Point the First:
Don't spend more to develop a title than you're going to get back in sales revenue.

Point the Second:
Imaginary Pirate Revenue cannot be entered in the balance sheet.

For a title like Gish, yes, piracy can mean the difference between Gish II: the Reckoning, and no more games from the author.

But not for EA. Or Ubisoft. Or for sequels. here you have companies with sales records and experience, that know about how many units of each title they're going to sell every christmas, and the wherewithal to make reasonably accurate forecasts of any new titles in the planning stages. Again, who's to blame if they spend more in development than they're going to make back in sales? They need to have a sound business justification if they're going to count on the latest version of SnakeOilRM to convert x,000 torrent leeches into paying customers of the newest installment of Bob Hannigan's Spectrum 7: TacOps Reno.

You can't write off Imaginary Pirate Revenue as a business expense, or a loss. Believe me, if you could, the RIAA and the MPAA would have done so a long time ago, the better to eat away at any potential payoffs to writers, musicians, craft trades, etc. This is why you don't see any record industry executives or movie producers on line at Hollywood soup kitchens. And as long as Snake Oil salesmen and industry watchdog spokescritters trot out ludicrously large numbers of Imaginary Pirate Revenue, which nobody actually believes, all the rest of their claims are going to fall on less than sympathetic ears.

Is it wrong to download copies of games you haven't paid for? For the most part. Can you blame the death of PC Gaming on piracy? Nope.

Simply put the PC gaming industry is dying for a lot of reasons. Piracy not being one of them. I could say a lot about Piracy, but forget the morality and legal repercussions. In this day and age of keyloggers and "phishing", going to some "hidden" site or grabbing a torrent from the wrong guy can do all kinds of nastiness to your system. Sure, some people take the risk, but on the other hand an increasing number of people aren't willing to risk an expensive computer to get a free piece of software.

Generally speaking though I think the PC gaming industry is dying because of a combination of consoles, and the fact that most of the really good designers are involved in MMO projects which is where the greatest potential rewards are. Very few PC game companies seem interested in developing a single player game that can last someone hundreds of hours anymore when for a similar amount of work they can make an online game and try and get subscription fees along with the software sales.

Not to mention the fact that most game designers don't want to bother to make their stuff compadible with all the hardware out there. Every gamer has had a head-banging experience with the Game company insisting you contact your hardware manufacturer for a solution, and the hardware guy (if you talk to them) insisting it's the software (which it usually is in the long run).

I think a lot of game designers are defecting to consoles in part because it's easier to work with standardized hardware. [shrugs]

Pirates are a conveinent boogey man, and I think that game designers delude themselves into thinking that almost everyone using their software is a thief or potential thief, rather than wanting to look in the mirror to realize that the problem is them.

Of course then again I find the definition of "Pirate" among the industry to be rather messed up in my opinion. Like the Pay Per View/DVR example, I tend to believe that when I buy something it's mine to do with what I want more or less, and use as I want to. All of the copy protection, and needing to keep CDs in drives, and everything else just serves to annoy me.

What's more, I am not a big fan of the "attitude" of many software companies, communicated in their EULA that I am simply using their software, and it in no way belongs to me, and that they have any say over what I do with something I own. Yeah I can understand them not wanting me to run off a million free copies and throw them from my car as I drive down the street, but otherwise they can pound sand.

I will also mention as a side note that I do not consider Abandonware, Fansubs, and similar things to be "Piracy". Basically if something is out there to buy, that's one thing. But if your not releasing it for sale where I can get it, then it's fair game, as it's not costing the company anything as I was never a potential customer.

Basically if some company in Japan for example is concerned about people translating and reading/watching their work in the US, then they should have put it on the market to begin with. When it comes to issues of censorship, I believe people who want to see an uncensored version ALWAYS have that right, so if a company releases a work edited for the US, it's still not piracy if you obtain an uncensored version.

I for example imported a copy of "The Witcher" simply to avoid censorship issues. In that case the company received money because it was possible to do (and was in my language). But in some cases things like fansubs, or running a translated rom through a modded game console are nessicary (though I don't do the latter due to the potential to damage the machine).

>>>----Therumancer--->

I have pirated games I have legitimately bought because of DRM. I openly admit to downloading cracked versions of both WC3 and SC1, both times because something happened to make the CD key unreadable, so when I formatted my computer, I lost my games. I would have lost them for good if not for cdgens and cracked versions. But I had already paid for the product, so I figured I was entitled to a copy, original or not be damned. Same thing with the spore DRM, only going to let me install 3 times, MY ASS it's going to restrict my installation rights, cracked it.

In those situations, were my actions justified? I think so.

 

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