A self-described game lawyer explains why arguments in favor of piracy are bunk.
Whenever the prosecution of game piracy is mentioned, the pirates (or, at least, apologists) come out of the woodwork to defend the crime. There's no sure-fire way to go after IP addresses that have downloaded games illegally, they say, because the hackers can just mask their IP address. Or just because a game was downloaded doesn't mean that the computer's owner was the pirate. Worse, pirates say that any prosecution is just a way to scare people or that most of the time pirates become real customers of the game. Jas Purewal is a lawyer based in London and he pointed out today that most of those arguments don't hold up to any real logical scrutiny.
Purewal says there is really no evidence that most pirates have the desire or technical chops to effectively mask their IP address, and even if some did, that's hardly a reason to stop going after pirates. "There's no empirical evidence so far to support how often IP spoofing is done," he said. "In reality, I suspect fairly few pirates actually go to the trouble of disguising themselves. Besides which, just because the method is not perfect, doesn't mean we should throw our hands up in the air and do nothing, does it?"
The notion that piracy does not equate to lost sales is just as erroneous. "Piracy might result in an eventual purchase of a game, but in the meantime it means a financial loss for the developer," Purewal said. "Sadly developers are not gamer banks, willing to effectively loan gamers money until we decide we like them enough to pay them."
Even though Purewal is a lawyer and should therefor be on board for litigation solving all problems, he's also a gamer. The solution to piracy should come from publishers offering better ways for customers to enjoy their games, not suing willy-nilly. "If we can reduce piracy through the means of technology and via the market, then that's got to be better than getting lawyers involved," he said. He applauds platforms like Steam that are a form of DRM which don't slap paying customers in the face.
The arguments for game piracy seem a bit flimsy in response to stories like CD Projekt's DRM-less Witcher 2 being pirated more than it was purchased or this abominable list of pirated games from TorrentFreak. The games industry can't just ignore these thefts, and no amount of backwards logic can argue the impact of piracy away.