189: A Nation of Pirates

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A Nation of Pirates

Piracy in the U.S. and Europe usually takes place behind closed doors. But in Brazil, it's wide out in the open for everyone to see. Pedro Franco examines the state of the gaming economy in his home country and how the situation got to be so dire.

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This reminds me alot of the time i went to Thailand. There were lots of little stalls selling pirated software and films but the most eye-opening this was that there was a whole mall dedicated for computer shops and about half of these were selling illegal software. I couldn't belive that you could just walk into this massive air-conditioned building and browse through shelf after shelf of softare. When i was there they had the latest Adobe Creative Suite for about £5, just on the shelf for everyone to see. If you did want to buy anything the shop keeper would just disappear into the back for a few minuted and come back with a DVD with your software on.

Because so much software is available so cheap some Thai's have started up Web Design and Programming company's. My uncle, who lives their, had a website made for him dirt cheap and I suspect it was made with an illegal copy of dreamweaver and photoshop. This means that more and more people are teaching themselves to use high end software. Over here if you want to learn to use Dreamweaver legally, you have to either get a 30-day trial or fork out a lot of money where as in Thailand you just have to walk down the street grab yourself an illegal copy and your away. So although it is illegal it does open up more job opportunities for a poorer country

This was an intresting read thank you. That said there are places in the UK like the street you described, one that springs to my mind is "Blackbush Sunday Market". Basically while most of this place is legit there are some market stalls that...arn't. Pirate dvds, games and even combat knives and high powered BB guns (illegal to carry around in the street in the UK I believe) are commonplace. Police regularly patrol (on a predictable patrol route) the market but its laughable, when they stroll past the venders just chuck carpets over their wares and this for some reason stops the police from investigating them. I would assume that a lot of the markets revenue comes from stalls like this and as its privately owned they are inclined to turn a blind eye.

First of all, it isn't more than likely someone's committing a crime playing videogames in Brazil. It's just *likely*. That is exactly what the word means. Use a dictionary next time.

And you mention you pirate in Finland and... nobody cares one bit. Finland's full of high tech, plenty of content providers, game studios etcetera.

The culture isn't against piracy either, and plenty of people buy a lot of legal games. Even more pirate some games and buy others. But pirates selling their ill-earned goods is seen tantamount to sacrilege - pirate all you want for your own use, but if you try to turn a profit on the work of others, you've committed a crime against the society's morals.

Or, in short, how American of you. Be you American or not, you certainly think like one.

earning a profit from pirated games? eurghhh lazy free loading trash. what if you steal a pirated game from these guys? 'HOW DARE YOU STEAL I'LL CALL THE POLICE ON YOU!'

A fascinating read, and I get the notion that most of the eastern European countries have the same situation concerning gaming.

insanelich:
First of all, it isn't more than likely someone's committing a crime playing videogames in Brazil. It's just *likely*. That is exactly what the word means. Use a dictionary next time.

And you mention you pirate in Finland and... nobody cares one bit. Finland's full of high tech, plenty of content providers, game studios etcetera.

The culture isn't against piracy either, and plenty of people buy a lot of legal games. Even more pirate some games and buy others. But pirates selling their ill-earned goods is seen tantamount to sacrilege - pirate all you want for your own use, but if you try to turn a profit on the work of others, you've committed a crime against the society's morals.

Or, in short, how American of you. Be you American or not, you certainly think like one.

Thank you for generalizing.

SICK0_ZER0:
earning a profit from pirated games? eurghhh lazy free loading trash. what if you steal a pirated game from these guys? 'HOW DARE YOU STEAL I'LL CALL THE POLICE ON YOU!'

Perhaps you missed the bit where most of these are brought in/run by organized crime.

You want to steal from them.. that's your business.

The same situation exist in a lot of countries, especially in Asia. The alarming thing is that the police rarely do anything to stop them, mostly public "cover-up" raids in some small shops to amke it appear as though they are fighting it. Just goes to show that in the right circumstances the piracy industry (if it's as blatant as being sold in malls, which i've seen quite often)is a tourist attracting and good revenue source for the country.

This is Pedro. I haven't been able to contact the editors of the escapist on the password for the account that published the report, so for now I'll be replying from this one.

baggyn: Just as in Thailand, you can easily find all kinds of pirated PC software on the streets, not just games. Indeed, for some types of software, it's probably harder to find a place with legitimate copies than one with pirated stuff. I guess it does expand the possibilities for some people, but the overall effect on society is pretty bad, as I discuss in my article. But it really is ridiculously blatant and that easy to buy pirated stuff. The way you describe the process of buying is pretty much how it happens around here too, sans the air conditioning.

Scorched_Cascade: I imagine that you can find such places in any large city of the world, without too much dificulty. After all, it's pretty easy and cheap make pirate copies and the profits are probably quite large, which should allow for the necessary bribes to take place. At least, as long as you remain low-key.

insanelich: The expression 'more than likely' is gramaticly correct. As the word likely means "Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable", more than likely simply means "with a higher probability than that which is attributed to the word likely". I.e., a high probability, as probable usually is associated with a percentage higher than 50%.
I don't mention Finland anywhere in my article, so I'm not sure what you mean. I'm guessing you simply want to compare the situation described in my article with that of Finland, right? Well, I've never been there, so I have no ideia how it works there and what effects it has had on Finish society. When I analyse piracy, I mean only to do so based on my experience here in Brazil and the consequences it has had on Brazilian society as a whole.Maybe Finland has a different and more positive experience with piracy and maybe other countries wouldn't undergo the same process as has happened here.
But, in all honesty, given what I've read regarding a few other countries, such as China and Russia, I think that the Brazilian experience is probably closer to that with which other countries, such as the US and Japan, would go through, than what's happend in Finland.
And, despite consisting of nothing more than a petty Ad Hominem, no, I was not born in the US. I am Brazilian by birth, although I did live in England for four years.

"The piracy epidemic only came about with the combination of exceptionally high taxes (EGM Brazil estimated in their March 2005 edition that at least 45 percent of the price of a PC game consisted of taxes), the low income of most Brazilians, the lack of an effective government anti-piracy program and, ironically, the very factor that helped make games more mass-market: the change of media from cartridges to CDs, making it much easier to copy games."

Very good account! And as a Brazilian, I abhor the moralist tone of rest of the text. You see, while certainly in a country where the people is not overtaxed, it makes sense to condemn piracy and all the harm it causes game publishers. Why should they pay for the problems of foreign countries? I don't think they should be the ones sustaining the burden of a corrupt foreign government. Neither should Brazilian gamers have to pay around 50-100 USD PLUS around 25%(yes, that much, still disconsidering the fact our currency is crap compared to USD) taxes for being able to play the latest title.

The pricing is completely out of context. No average young brazilian can pay that much.

I think there are two issues here that should be of concern: The game publishers should adjust the prices of their games to conform to the Brazilian economy, and the taxing here should be lowered.

If neither is done, it is expected that regular people, not regular criminals, resort to piracy if thats the only alternative.

Don't expect people to stop playing on moral grounds: That behavior is expected of idiotic Cristian faith heads living in their carefully constructed fake world of miracles and pseudo-righteousness, not to be expected of real people in the real Darwinian world of restricted resources and fierce competition - thats Brazil.

So what to do as a gamer?

IMAO, I think piracy is the most appropriate act of civil disobedience in the Brazilian gaming scenario. I would not advocate for people to buy games in the black market, but to download them in p2p networks like bittorrent. That way, drug dealers and criminals aren't financed (directly at least).

Further, it is still possible to download some games from Steam for its real price -- the Brazilian Government still ignores downloadable content. So there still is a way to reward the games you really like, and get all the advantages of buying the original games such as playing online multiplayer games, score ranking and so on.

For the low quality titles, they deserve to be pirated anyways. How's that for a righteous attitude?!

Cheers

SICK0_ZER0: as Kwil says, organized crime is heavily involved with this type of piracy. Although they present a friendly face towards potential costumers, you most certainly do not want to try to steal from them.

Ronwue: yes, I get the impression, from what I've read previously, that quite a few countries, such as Russia and China, are in a similar situation as to the one around here.

Brotherofwill: the raids you describe also happen here. Let me tell you a quick and interesting story.
Before the Paulista Center Mall existed, there was another 'pseudo-mall' called Stand Center that was the reference point for piracy in the Paulista Avenue. I was told that the police used to raid Stand Center every so often, but would usually do so near the holidays, so that police officers could use the confiscated software as gifts for their children.
On a more general note, the city goverment actually tried hard to close down Stand Center for years, but failed to do so on charges of piracy. This lasted until they cleverly realized that the mall failed to live up to certain hygine and sanatary conditions, and they finally managed to close it up for good.
BUT, as I've already said, the Paulista Center Mall opened not long after they succeeded and simply took its place. In this case, consumer demand for pirate goods means that even when the goverment tries to tackle the problem, they might not succeed.

mercutio22, I recomend you read my article more carefully. It's not just foreign publishers and developers that lose out as a consequence of piracy (and 'corrupt foreign goverments'), but the whole of the Brazilian society. Maybe gamers, who enjoy the benefits of piracy, end up with a postive bargain in short run, but piracy also leads to:
- No official support. Red rings on the Xbox360 = a new Xbox360.
- Organized crime. And it seems impossible not to buy at least some things through the 'grey market' and help organized crime.
- No translations into portguese, which means that people who can't speak english, i.e., the poor brazilians, can't enjoy most games.
- Almost zero game development.
So you're saying that gamers, who probably have better incomes than most brazilians, should have the benefits of cheap games, whilest the rest of Brazil pays for the consequences?
I do agree with you that downloading from p2p sites helps avoid some of these issues, but I can't imagine why on earth you think that just because a person is from another country, that allows you to steal from them.
Nor do I expect people to stop pirating simply on moral grounds. As an economist, I reconize that the incetives to pirate are immense. Quite simple, the benefits of pirating consists of a large private gain, while the costs, which are larger than the benefits, are shared (and thus hidden to the pirate gamer) by brazilian society as whole.
I agree with you that it will take a concerted effort by both the goverment, by reducing taxes on games, and companies, by adopting other pricing policies, to help end piracy in Brazil. But don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

The exact same situation happens here in Argentina. There are only a few shops which sell original games, and no one buys them, except for the odd Guild Wars (or other un-piratable game) purchase. 4 blocks from my house, a shop sells pirated PC games. You simply look at their list, say, for instance "I want this. GTA IV." And they'll make you a copy if they don't have one at hand. The price is 15 pesos (1 dollar equals about 3,50 pesos) for a DVD, 20 for a dual-layer/DVD-9, and 10 for a PS2 game.
2 blocks further away, a shop sells ONLY, and ONLY pirated games. It's a perfectly legal shop, all the paperwork is in order, but they sell exclusively 3rd party peripherals and pirated PS2, 360 and Wii games. Right around the corner from that shop is yet another PS2/360/Wii pirating shop which recently closed down.

Sounds like a rocking good time overseas.

Just out of curiosity, what percentage of titles are officially translated into Portuguese, d'yathink? Is there a big fansub community?

Clashero: in this aspect, at least, Brazil and Argentina are very much alike.

Clemenstation: As far as I can tell, zero titles were officially translated into portuguese in last year. Except, perhaps, any new MMORPG (which are moderatly successfull in Brazil). The best one can hope is for a translated manual, which is commom in PC games.
Regarding Fansubs, apart from Winning Eleven (which is massive around here), I've only heard of a single other game being translated into portuguese: Fallout 2. As far as I know, Fansubs are incredibly rare. I.e., you want to play games, learn english.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that curious fact: in Brazil, reasonably priced, legitimate PC games can be found for around R$100 (roughly $50) and there are plenty of stores that sell them too. For complex reasons that I won't go into, legitimate PC gaming exists to a greater extent in Brazil than console gaming. Or, to put it better, one can buy a legitimate PC game for a very reasonable price here. Which is why it is much harder to justify piracy of PC games than that of consoles.

"mercutio22, I recomend you read my article more carefully. It's not just foreign publishers and developers that lose out as a consequence of piracy (and 'corrupt foreign goverments'), but the whole of the Brazilian society. Maybe gamers, who enjoy the benefits of piracy, end up with a postive bargain in short run..."
I wholeheartedly agree. Thats why I think Brazilians should download from p2p networks when the title is overpriced. Totally pro-Brazilian community.

"No translations into portguese, which means that people who can't speak english, i.e., the poor brazilians, can't enjoy most games."

There's one good reason for them to learn. Most the english I learned came from the top quality pirated Lucas Arts games, which where for the most part not even published in Brazil in the 90s(e.g. Maniac Mansion, Sam and Max). I did buy from them when they published Grim Fandango =].

"...And it seems impossible not to buy at least some things through the 'grey market' and help organized crime."

Come on, you can't speak for everyone. I beg to differ.

"- Almost zero game development."
Sad but true. I would not be a game developer in Brazil under these circumstances.

"So you're saying that gamers, who probably have better incomes than most brazilians, should have the benefits of cheap games, whilest the rest of Brazil pays for the consequences?"

No, I am saying we should P2P and refrain from buying from places like Santa Ifigênia.

"I do agree with you that downloading from p2p sites helps avoid some of these issues, but I can't imagine why on earth you think that just because a person is from another country, that allows you to what to steal from them."

I don't think it allows stealing, I do think stealing is *necessary* in the context of the lack of reasonably priced games available in the brazilian market. I don't know how to emphasize this enough - People should buy, when the option is available: for instance, you can buy UT3 for USD 19.99 from steam while it would cost 89,90 reais in americanas.com. Thats is ABSURD! Its twice the true value. YES! I exhort all Brazilians: in the case of steal or be stolen: STEAL! MuHUHAHAHAHA!!!! (performing Mr. Evil's little finger impression)

"Nor do I expect people to stop pirating simply on moral grounds."
Then quit calling the civil disobedient "unscrupulous"as if it was demeaning to pirate in the given circumstances. Some of us do piracy while being principled. In fact, some piracy is definitely benign, specially in the case of proprietary software tools (as opposed to leisure software, gamez) . It furthers opensourceness. Is that even a word? =]

"As an economist, I reconize that the incetives to pirate are immense. Quite simple, the benefits of pirating consists of a large private gain, while the costs, which are larger than the benefits, are shared (and thus hidden to the pirate gamer) by brazilian society as whole.
I agree with you that it will take a concerted effort by both the goverment, by reducing taxes on games, and companies, by adopting other pricing policies, to help end piracy in Brazil. But don't expect that to happen anytime soon."

Me neither, so lets get practical. Teach your friends some bittorrent.

Cheers.

By the way, good essay. Otherwise excellent without the reckless admonishing.

Its kinda sad, people are wondering whats causing the economical problems when they are doing it, The olny time i pirate a game is when i cant buy it AT ALL. Like recently, i was trying to get my hands on a copy of summoner, no luck so i pirated it. But if i want a game like gta4 or hitman bloodmoney or what ever if they have it at gamestop, deal. Ebay, maybe depending on the pricing

Clemenstation:
Sounds like a rocking good time overseas.

Just out of curiosity, what percentage of titles are officially translated into Portuguese, d'yathink? Is there a big fansub community?

Not many titles are officially translated, but it wouldn't be fair to say only a few are. Usually those are huge AAA releases, take Halo 3 and Mirror's Edge, for example. Halo 3 was not only was translated, but also got a dubbed Portuguese version. Mirror's Edge, for example, like many other translations available in Brazil, provides Portuguese subtitles in-game and for the menus. Most of the games that see Brazilian releases usually have a Portuguese copy of the game manual included and a warning mentioning that the rest of the game is in its original language.

Winning Eleven, on the other hand, is an impressive collaborative-pirate example of how Konami's soccer game gets Portuguese narrations, local teams in faithful uniforms along with ads for Brazilian companies next to the field.

As a Brazilian gamer, I acknowledge the situation isn't good, but it definitely favors those who don't want to pay big bucks for games (which come at a very high price due to importation taxes). As a Brazilian game developer, I fight these urges and buy games the legal way. There's no better way to support the industry I am part of, though we all must admit the grass on the other side looks greener.

As a Brazilian, I agree with pretty much everything mercutio22 said.
And I, too, should say that your article sounds an awful lot like what a rich North American puritan would say... But that's just me.

And to The Escapist Webdesign Crew, a warning: the image on the article (the one that contains it's title) is rather offensive. You *know* that that photo isn't from Brazil, so using it just gives everyone else the *incorrect* idea that we live in extreme poverty (even though that is the case in some regions of my country, it is hardly the case of the major cities and metropolitan areas - where gamers, the focus of the article, live). IMHO, you could have done a little more research and done a more "accurate" job, to say the least.

When I lived in Beijing, even the official games sold in department stores and the like were of dubious quality. I could buy xBox games for 5 kuai (about 90 australian cents) each, DvDs for 10-20 kuai. It was excellent. The fact that people could sustain a living while selling their merchandise for so little (granted the cost of life in China isn't particularly high, and they might have supplemented their income by sharing it with a brother in the clothes section of the market) makes me resent western game retailers a little bit.

mercutio22: Well, rationalize it all you want, the bottom line is that you're stealing. And I disagree with you that is the correct thing to do. But, I agree that by using P2P, you are causing less harm to Brazilian society as a whole and, ultimatly, we agree to disagree, so no hard feelings.
Oh, and let me make something clear here: there is room, from an economics standpoint, to debate on whether poorer countries should be allowed to violate copyrights of certain products, the best example being pharmaceutical products, but I'm not convinced the case can be made for games.
By the way, I think you're demonstrating vivadly the sort of mentality I mention in my article. The fact that other countries lack this is one of the key points that has stopped piracy from expanding to even greater heights, in my opinion.

Nanissimov: And you represent the sort of mentality I believe is prevalent in 'developed countries'. As long as the majority of gamers in these markets stick to this sort reasoning, the industry will florish. But, as I say at the end of my article, the current recession is going to make pirate software awfully tempting for a lot of people...

calelogan: thanks for clearing that up! Since I don't have a major console right now, only a DS and intermitent access to a games worthy PC, and have been in this state for more than a year, I haven't been able to keep up with the latest releases and I was unware of the current situation regarding most translations. I was aware, of course, that they continue to be rare, I just didn't know how rare.

Coalhada: I agree with you that the choice of image wasn't the best (the editors of the escapist choose the accompaning images for each article), since, as you correctly point out, the people who'll sell you pirated software don't look like the person in the photo. However, it is an compeling image and I highly doubt that most people will think that brazilians live in 'extreme poverty' from seeing a single image on a videogames magazine. So you're right to complain, but don't overblow it.
Oh, and I don't resent to being compared to a North American, as I sincerly believe that you're just falling for a steriotype. How many North Americans have you met in your life? Have you ever talked to any of them in person? I have and let me tell you a secret: they're people, just like you and me, and they're each individuals with vastly different opinions and beliefs.

urprobablyright: I think you're failling to see the bigger picture here. Western retailers charge so much for legal, expensive games because games have become extremely expensive. After all, game development costs for hardcore games now routinely reach the scale of tens of hundred of dollars and although the industry has expanded thanks to the Wii, these new players aren't the most likely to buy hardcore games.
In short, games are more expensive to make, but the market hasn't grown proportionally, means that games have to be expensive. If people stop paying for hardcore games, companies will stop making them.

Ehh.

Is it just me or is The Escapist grasping at straws here?

I know, I know, editorials benefit from having varying views but eh, rampant moralism just ain't my thing.

insanelich: I notice you haven't replied to my argument, that my article is relating what some facts and trying to extend my experience here in Brazil to other countries, and, instead, you have commited the common falacy of simply disqualifying my whole line of reasoning, by calling it 'rampant moralism'.

Vert:
insanelich: I notice you haven't replied to my argument, that my article is relating what some facts and trying to extend my experience here in Brazil to other countries, and, instead, you have commited the common falacy of simply disqualifying my whole line of reasoning, by calling it 'rampant moralism'.

I don't find you have any valid points to reply to, frankly. Finland's experience - as one of the most high-tech countries out there - with piracy has been uneventful at best. It's accepted as a fact of life and plenty of people do it - and plenty of people don't. Most mix somewhat. Convenience, amount of free time and cost compared to lifestyle expenses seem to have the biggest influence.

And your "facts" reek of, well, rampant moralism. You appear to assume everyone has to share your values, your projections are too laughable to counter and your callings of doom fall on ears that have long, long since learned to tune out doomsayers.

Piracy's been here longer than most of the companies fighting it, and them having enough money to fight it seems to convey it's own message.

Vert:
mercutio22: Well, rationalize it all you want, the bottom line is that you're stealing. And I disagree with you that is the correct thing to do. But, I agree that by using P2P, you are causing less harm to Brazilian society as a whole and, ultimatly, we agree to disagree, so no hard feelings.
Oh, and let me make something clear here: there is room, from an economics standpoint, to debate on whether poorer countries should be allowed to violate copyrights of certain products, the best example being pharmaceutical products, but I'm not convinced the case can be made for games.
By the way, I think you're demonstrating vivadly the sort of mentality I mention in my article. The fact that other countries lack this is one of the key points that has stopped piracy from expanding to even greater heights, in my opinion.

I never said stealing was right, I just said you have to take the context to measure right and wrong. You obviously have a problem with that. I agree that stealing is wrong in some circumstances, in others its unfortunate but necessary. Now when I say necessary, I don't mean it in the sense of a survival need, either you do it or you die, but necessary nonetheless. Either you do it or you don't get to play games or you get stolen by the lame game market system. So yeah, lets just disagree. I am tired of rephrasing the meme. You can't move an yota on this one.

The lack-of-piracy-mentality-in-other-countries statement is an empirical one and I challenge you to show your references. I suspect thats just preconception.

I'm from Mexico and the image of the pirate avenue is exactly what you see on a particular avenue in downtown Mexico City. Nothing different at all. Yes, there has been an incredible boom in legal gaming stores and sections in other stores (Blockbuster, for example) in Mexico, most of them in malls. Yes, 360's sell a lot, as do Wiis, and way behind the monstrously expensive PS3. Yet piracy is still running at max settings, even moreso now that the price of everyhting has gone up. What I've come to conclude, however, is that the problem is not just the people here.

Problem one: Price. Even for the most basic of software packages, not even games, the price tags are up in the stratosphere. They are not worth it. I know a lot of people who would rather buy legal software since pirated copies can fail to work, sometimes bring along a friendly virus or trojan, or in some cases the disc you bought isn't the program you thought you were buying. Your risk all of this with pirated software because of the price. You don't feel you're losing out on much if it turns out you got scammed. P2P piracy becomes the alternative for those that know how. I understand games have become terribly expensive to make, but other software tools are not, yet they hover around the same prices. So, when everything costs the same one never stops to think how much was spent to develop each piece of software. Guilt dilutes itself.

Problem two: Distribution is downright laughable, especially for PC. In Mexico, though there has been an increase in legal gaming stores they're exclusively for consoles. PC games and software must be purchased at Office Max, Office Depot or some similar outlet, where everything can fit rather nicely in three or four shelves, usually also besides some console games as well. The prices for PC games, in contrast, are a third or less of what you would pay for a console game, but they are mostly games no one wants to play, or games that are 2 to 3 years old (or more). For example, I wanted to play Tomb Raider Underworld. I wanted the PC version. I went to every single one of the places where I could buy a legal copy. No one had it. This is a high profile game almost a month after its release, not some obscure game from an indie developer. Despite a lot of billboard advertising, the PC version is nowhere to be seen. Aaaah, but who has it? Your local ilegal software distributor. So I'm forced to buy this copy if I ever want to play the game. That was 3 months ago. If I go to any of the stores I mentioned, the PC version of TRU is still not there. This is the publisher's fault for having lousy distribution. I talk of TRU because it was the most recent example of something that has happened to me several times. Many times I end up ordering the game from amazon IF (and there's a big IF) they are allowed to ship games to Mexico. So yeah, sometimes publishers make it impossible to buy legally even if you have the money and the disposition to send profit their way. That's when I pirate out of spite (usually through P2P to avoid dealing with organized crime).

Ok, I think a lot of you are missing the point here.
Yes, the authors opinion is that Piracy is bad for society.
Yes, he believes you shouldn't do it.
But quite frankly, ask him if he hasn't done it already?
You can bet your a** that he has, just as I have (and will still do, as a p2p enthusiast). BUT! he choose to acknowledge that this does bring severe and several cons to video games market/companies, in a local and a global picture.
I don't believe his essay is moralist! It's down right "easy-going" in my opinion. Being a former video games developer, I can say without a doubt that piracy takes it's toll from the gaming industry. I ended up without a job, for one.
There is simply a choice that each on of us has to be make.

mercutio22: I do beg to differ from you. Being a Brazilian as well, if I had to guess a number, I would say more than 80% of piracy is offline (in other words, on the street, helping organized crime). Think about the favelas (slums for non Portuguese speaking people)... think about all the people with PS2... the broad band network of brazil is still small if you consider the whole country (according to INFO Online 8 million as opposed to 190 million from IBGE)... And come on, take that 8 million and think about how many of these even knows what bit torrent is...
And I'm being generous here. Take a look at the number:
"Abragames estimated in 2004 that no less than 94 percent of the country's games market consisted of pirated merchandise. Similarly, Brazilian internet portal UOL reported in 2006 that the so called 'grey market' of illegally imported products made up 80 percent of Brazil's games market and 94 percent of its console market. "

Lets not be hypocrites here. If you do pirate, than you should know the consequences.
I do and I know.

EDIT: spell check!

Interesting article. I find it a good counterpoint to my own article or maybe half a year ago, where I argued that publishers need to compete with pirates if they want to see any profit or if they want to truly stamp out piracy.

The truth is that you cannot ignore the economic conditions of the market that you are trying to sell to. In one extreme case that someone pointed out, medicine is finally being sold to developing nations at lower prices than pharmaceutical companies would like. While certainly medicine is a much more serious topic, the underlying sentiment is the same: If you can't afford it, sucks to be you. The result with a lack of affordable medicines is death. The result of a lack of affordable games is boredom...or piracy. People don't like being bored. If you'd like to know more please read (not really a plug, but look at it as additional information):

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_158/5045-Piracy-and-the-Underground-Economy

Pedro, while you have good points and I don't think that you were being moralist, I think the weakness of your article is that you don't really offer a solution other than "man up and buy legal goods". I'm trying to do this myself, having been a game developer for a few years and fully realizing the impact that piracy has on developers. However I find it hard to lecture people who haven't come to the same conclusions I have simply because it makes no economic sense for them to do so.

interesting article.. Well written..

Games are like drugs, everybody needs their daily dose, i will do whatever to get a hold of it..

Unicamper:

mercutio22: I do beg to differ from you. Being a Brazilian as well, if I had to guess a number, I would say more than 80% of piracy is offline (in other words, on the street, helping organized crime). Think about the favelas (slums for non Portuguese speaking people)... think about all the people with PS2... the broad band network of brazil is still small if you consider the whole country (according to INFO Online 8 million as opposed to 190 million from IBGE)... And come on, take that 8 million and think about how many of these even knows what bit torrent is...
And I'm being generous here. Take a look at the number:
"Abragames estimated in 2004 that no less than 94 percent of the country's games market consisted of pirated merchandise. Similarly, Brazilian internet portal UOL reported in 2006 that the so called 'grey market' of illegally imported products made up 80 percent of Brazil's games market and 94 percent of its console market. "

As if I had said otherwise: the statistics are a counter-argument to none of my assertions.

Unicamper:

Lets not be hypocrites here. If you do pirate, than you should know the consequences.
I do and I know.

Acknowleged: see for instance post 17, paragraph 2.

Interesting read, thank you!

Reminds me of the stories my half Korean friend tells of Seoul. I still have his pirated copy of Half Life and Opposing Forces somewhere. The text is printed in Korean and has the CD keys printed onto the top of the disc. Worked perfectly for a long time!

Demand not able to be legitimately satisfied = counterfeit markets. It affects everything from electronics to AIDs medication. Its big business (to the point drugs gangs are turning away from dope to conterfeits coz the profits are better & very light punishments). & in many cases theres nothing the legitimate companies can do because the fakes are coming from the same factories/warehouses etc that make their products. Its a consequence of mass market globalisation & its here to stay.

insanelich:
I don't find you have any valid points to reply to, frankly. Finland's experience - as one of the most high-tech countries out there - with piracy has been uneventful at best. It's accepted as a fact of life and plenty of people do it - and plenty of people don't. Most mix somewhat. Convenience, amount of free time and cost compared to lifestyle expenses seem to have the biggest influence.

And your "facts" reek of, well, rampant moralism. You appear to assume everyone has to share your values, your projections are too laughable to counter and your callings of doom fall on ears that have long, long since learned to tune out doomsayers.

Piracy's been here longer than most of the companies fighting it, and them having enough money to fight it seems to convey it's own message.

Again, you're cleverly avoiding the issue here by simply disqualifying my line of reasoning. Let me try to state the facts in a simple manner, then you can simply tell which of these facts are 'rampant moralism' and which aren't. I'll instersect this with my reasoning and finish with my arguments for my projections. Since I disagree with you when you say that I have any 'callings of doom', as I wouldn't say that my article is that pessimistic, I'll just ignore your final argument.

Before we begin, piracy, in my definiton, means everything from p2p, illegal 'grey market' imports, people on the streets selling CD with 'warez', R4...
I think you may be disagreeing with me because your definition of piracy differs from mine, so don't forget that I include all of the above.

The facts:
- Piracy is rampant in Brazil. The links provided in my article show that, at the very least, this is a fact we can both agree on, right?
- 'Grey market' imports make up 80% of the games market in Brazil. Again, that's in a link of mine.
- These imports are handled mainly by criminal gangs. Now, I freely admit that this isn't based on one news source alone, but on my lifetime experience on hearing the news. I coudl provide with many individual links of cases where pirates where However, if you ask any other brazilian participating in this debate, I think you'll find they agree with this statement. I may be mistaken here, but if I am, then its only in the extent of that criminal gangs are involved and I honestly doubt it.
- Being a part of organized crime, these gangs help spread other types of crime into Brazilian society. This is pretty straight foward if you accept my previous fact.
- The goverment, publishers, developers, manufacturers, importers, retailers all lose out due to piracy. Obviously.
- Piracy discourages game development, as the local market presents less oportunities for a developer/publisher to make money first. I'm not saying that this is the only thing stopping brazil from having more game development, but it surely is one of the biggest factors.
- Piracy hurts consumers who don't buy pirate games. This is economics 101, if you compare what the market would be like with and without piracy, consumers in the market with piracy pay a higher price for games, as the market has shrunk.
- Consumers who buy pirate games get some benefit from doing this. This is obvious, as they pay a smaller price.
- Gamers in Brazil are people with above average income. Although piracy has spread out gaming into Brazil, the costs associated with buying a console or a PC are still high enough that I'd be willing to say that most of these consumers have above average income.

So, those are the facts as I see them. I'll now present the costs and benifits from piracy from the perspective of everyone involved:
- The goverment: only has costs, as it loses taxes revenues and has to use resources to combat piracy and effects associated from it (i.e., other crimes). These resources are taken from the society as a whole.
- Non-consumers of games/non-pirates: only has costs, as the goverment ends up increasing taxes on them, there is an increase in crime and, for some, there is a loss in potential employment that would come from having more publishers/developers, importers, retailers...
- Pirates: have large benefits from pirating, with no associated costs.
- Consumers of games that don't pirate: has the same costs as the 'Non-consumers of games', but with the added costs of having to pay higher prices for their games and not having translations into portuguese.
- Consumers of games that pirate: have some costs, due to an increase of crime and the lack of translations, but have very large benefits from paying much smaller prices.

From this analyses, you can see why I believe that brazilian society as a whole has lost out from having piracy, right? Some parts, the pirates and consumers of pirate products, have large gains, but the rest of the society has even larger costs.

Why do I think that this experience with piracy would be closer to that which I believe would happen to other countries such as the US and Japan than the Finish experience? Well, that's a somewhat subjective point of view, but it comes mainly from the following: Other countries that have large populations and large amounts of piracy, such as Russia and China, seem to have an experience that very similar to that of Brazil. This is based on what I've read about these places in magazines and websites. You can also see that other people who've written here seem to share a similar experience.

So, insanelich, I've presented things in a very clear manner. I kindly request that you point out where exactly you disagree with me and why. It's the least you can do after such an extensive post.

I dont have much to add, just that you cannot compare Finland with Brazil. Specially with technology.

Most of what I could say was already said, specially that piracy does hurt the former market - and the moral bounds are in that when you spend money in illegal march you are not paying taxes and as a consequence you are not contributing to the government for investing on public education, public health, infrastructure and all those things taxes were meant for. The trouble is: our politicians are corrupt in the whole majority and is not of their interest to spend a penny on it.

PS.: Im not a 100% favour or against piracy. I think that it will always exist. And to be honest, I do make use of piracy - though downloading from internet and burning them my own.

EDIT:

I also did not like the photo used to illustrate. most of the store owners here in my city are white guys. most of the fatty kind.

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