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ZippyDSMlee's picture
Joined: 2006-09-30

[QUOTE]Copyright theft is a hot topic for music, movies and games. I thought I would have a look at some of the points of view on piracy, and my thoughts on them. Most of these will cover CD's, DVD's and games, though some sections may only apply to certain media.

It's easy, free, and no-one is going to catch me
This isn't a defence I hear in favour of piracy, but I thought I would start here as it is the reason that piracy is so prolific. I know piracy is easy. I'm sure I've got a freeware program at home that can copy DVD's if I wanted to, and if I don't, I'm guessing I could find one on the internet pretty quickly. Or I could probably just download movies and PC games straight to the hard drive. Perhaps you know a mass pirate who sells them for cheap, or perhaps your mate just hands you a free copy.

And you are right, for the average person who owns pirated media (i.e. is not a mass reseller) you are unlikely to be on any authorities radar. They aren't interested in you, they want the guy selling hundreds or thousands of counterfeit items a week. So, it's easy, and you are unlikely to get caught. So what happens if you are presented with an opportunity to steal someone's wallet? Someone's bike? Someone's food? In those cases, if you know there is no way that they can pin the crime on you, do you steal it? (Note : If you would, don't bother reading any further, you won't learn anything). Usually peoples response if asked this is...

But it doesn't hurt anyone
That's a misguided blanket statement, and for a long time I've been unsure how people convince themselves that this is true. I think the problem is derived from the fact that nearly all of us know what it is like to be deprived of a physical product. Most of us have been through the unfortunate experience of having something stolen. In short, it sucks. We have to go without, or spend money and time to replace it. We've all owned physical items. I'd say more than 99.9% of us do not own any legal intellectual properties. As such, most people don't relate, and only see that they are not depriving another specific individual of the property, and thus don't see it as theft.

Think about it for a moment. Think about something creative you have done. Or something creative you could have done. Maybe an idea in your head that you think is worth something. If someone got hold of your work, or caught wind of your idea and turned it into something and was able to sell it, wouldn't you want to be paid for inventing it in the first place? There are a whole range of people, and the industry in general, that are hurt by piracy. So perhaps a refinement of this argument is...

Well, all those stars and companies earn megabucks anyway.
So Tom Cruise earns more than you. Does that mean you are allowed to say he should earn less royalties by pirating his film? If you believe he is overpaid, then perhaps the homeless deserve to take your money seeing as you are better off than them. Those companies might show some pretty big profits, but those profits are usually divided up between a large number of shareholders.

Of course, it isn't just those people who are affected by less sales. What about cinemas? With counterfeit copies available sometimes before movies even hit the cinema, or at best the next day, you can bet it has an effect on their numbers, including how many staff they can employ. The same goes for the rental industry and your local video store. While I think the stars deserve their money, it's your local video shops and cinemas that are going to be hit harder in the hip pocket.

People wouldn't have bought it anyway
So they weren't willing to listen/watch/play it if it involved any money, but if it is 'free', then they will take it? Even if these things don't cost any money, they do take up a far more precious resource; time. Thus, they already decided it was worth paying attention to instead of something else. Assume for a moment that a failsafe security measure is introduced that prevents pirating of PC software. Do the freeloaders who never paid a cent for software suddenly lose all interest in gaming? I doubt it. They may be more discerning than when it was 'free', but if such a pipe dream occurred, I'd say there is a much higher chance they will put some money into the industry instead of dropping out of it entirely. When companies tout how many pirate copies of their product is out there, I'm not foolish, and I don't expect all of them would have bought it if a pirate copy was unavailable. But some of them would have. Whether it is 10%, 1% or 0.1% of them, all the companies and individuals involved in the product deserve their slice.

If I have a pirate copy and I like it enough, I will buy a legitimate copy.
This is usually said about games. Sorry, but I say bollocks. Obviously people who say this have different criteria for when a game is 'worth it', but there is plenty of information out there to help you decide whether a game is for you without resorting to piracy. You can read Gamespots review, you can read other critics reviews, you can read player reviews, you can view gameplay footage, there may be demo's available, or you can rent it first. All these resources should give you a pretty good idea whether you will like a game and is worth your money and time. I imagine most people who say this very rarely actually pay for games that they do enjoy.

What I do has almost no effect on the industry.
The illegal copy you have might affect a few dozen people involved in that project for a cent or so each. That's pretty harmless, isn't it? And you are absolutely correct. If one person has an illegal copy of every movie, game or CD in the world, it will have negligible economic impact. The problem is that worldwide, it isn't just one person, it's millions. Do you mind if I take a cent out of your bank account? No? Would you mind if a million people did?

I can't afford to go to the cinemas and I don't want to wait for the DVD.
This doesn't happen to games a lot, but it is possible, such as the leaked PC code for Assassin's Creed before the game was shipped. But it does happen to movies all the time, and someone manages to get a master copy out, or camcorder versions make their way into the marketplace. I don't understand how anyone can watch these camcorder versions anyway; if you've spent money on a home theatre system, why would you even bother with these movies that do your investment a gross injustice? Maybe I just have more patience than others, but I don't understand why people can't wait a few months for a legitimate DVD release.

The copy protection on the game is ludicrous, and requires me to jump through too many hoops.
While I'm not a PC gamer and thus have not had to deal with this problem personally, I do feel for the people in this position. If this is your only complaint and you don't subscribe to any of the other claims I've raised here, I suggest that even if you do obtain a cracked version of the game for ease of use, that you do purchase a legitimate copy as well. You would also do well to advise the developer/publisher that you have done so. Let them know that you are willing to support their core product with your dollars, but the way they implement these features must be improved if they want to sell you their next game. The threat of losing a paying customer has much more impact than someone who wasn't going to give them a cent anyway.

I don't want to pay for it if it isn't going to run on my PC
Another legitimate concern. Obviously local law and store policy plays a part here regarding whether the game can be returned if it does not run on your system. I would hope that most PC games have demos that allow players to evaluate the performance, but I guess not all do. If such a demo doesn't exist and local law/store policy does not favour you and you feel you must head down this path, try to hold yourself to a higher standard. Treat it like a demo, play a level or half an hours worth of gameplay, and if it runs and you like it enough, go buy it.

If it weren't for piracy, I wouldn't have heard of this band. Piracy gave this band more circulation, and they wouldn't be as popular as they are now without it.
This argument is obviously specific to music, and may even have had some merit a decade ago. Now music is so much more accessible. Any time someone asks me if I have heard a band, they don't need to give me a copy; I turn to legal sources on the internet. The vast majority of bands have embraced the likes of youtube and myspace, and usually have their own website. Look them up, and no doubt you will find a plethora of their tracks or at the very least samples legally available for you to listen to before you buy tracks/albums.

Games/music/DVD's are too expensive.
I wouldn't mind a top of the range sports car (among countless other desirable items), but I'm not going to steal one just because I can't afford it. You either think they are worth the asking price, or they aren't. Such entertainment is a luxury, not a right. Companies can sell these products for whatever price they like. Buy second hand games, or wait for them to come down in price. Rent your movies or games. There are plenty of free games available on PC; you can start in Gamespot's download section. You might have to dig for quality, but there are plenty of browser-based and flash games.



Ah modern gaming its like modern film only the watering down of fiction and characters is replaced with shallow and watered down mechanics, gimmicks and shiny-er "people".
Incoherence is my friend and grammar my bane, which is the fulcrum of suffering I place upon others!:ZippyDSMlee

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