Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 16, 2010
 
Crushing the pirates

I believe in most of the basic tenets of capitalism, including the one that says that companies making profits is a good thing, because without profits they'd fire all their employees and can't reinvest into new products. Where it gets tricky is when you look at the reasons *why* a company makes no profits. I strongly suspect that the recent news on the company that made APB firing most employees has something to do with APB not being a very good game and having received lousy reviews. That is something I can live with. Schumpeter's theory of creative destruction says that capitalism *must* have bad companies failing, so the resources are liberated for good companies to make good products.

I get a lot more angry when I see good game companies having made good games that everybody likes to play go belly up, just because the majority of players who love to play those great games nevertheless refuse to actually pay for them. Of course the numbers quoted by the game industry are exaggerated, simply multiplying the number of pirated copies by the retail price does not give you the correct number for lost revenue. But that there *is* lost revenue through video game piracy is undoubted, and as a consequence some good game studios aren't around any more, because their games were too widely pirated.

Now MMORPGs are somewhat harder to pirate than single-player games, because they need not just a running client, but also a running server, and the official servers aren't going to let you play with your pirated copy. To which the pirates reacted by creating pirate servers, so they and their thieving friends could all play World of Warcraft for free. But not only are those pirate servers not fully functional, they are also a lot easier to find and legaly persecute than all those individual small time thieves.

Thus the news is that Blizzard was able to get a ruling against one such pirate server for World of Warcraft: The court awarded them $88 million in damages, payable by the owner of the WoW pirate server. Not that they are actually likely to ever get that money, but this sets a legal precedence, and should discourage other people from running WoW pirate servers. Good news!
Comments:
I'm not sure how connected the 'pirate servers' are to standalone game piracy. I'm sure things have changed since EQ1 and 1999, but pirate servers back then were more about game hacks and what not then about avoiding the purchase price. Even then, players who logged in to private servers rather than EQ servers in order to avoid paying the monthly fee were not exactly causing Sony to incur costs for their actions. Nor were they losing customers to a substitution effect--play on a pirate server is fundamentally different than play on a 'real server'.

And the server side also has differences. Unless the pirate servers steal Blizzard's server-side scripts, the interactive portion of the game has to be written from scratch (Again, I'm extrapolating from 10 year old experience, so correct me if I'm wrong). Server operators are exploiting the 'look and feel' of WoW for certain. Even though the content is clientside, people are playing a pirate WoW server. But that is about the extent of the "theft", and I would be very surprised if Blizzard's legal strategy didn't include the same accusations of contributory infringement that they leveled at Glider--copyright infringement as the client loads content into RAM. We can debate the ethics of piracy, but it is a hard case to make that real actual harm comes from loading material from HDD to RAM.

So I don't cheer too loudly when I hear pirate servers being shut down.
 
I generally smphatize with the 'pirate' sector of our economy as they often correct a few things that don't work.

Like Madonna 'earning' millions by using a network effect.

For games. Well. In the past I downloaded from pirate sources, because it was easier than to buy the game. But if I really liked the game I always baught it later on.

Often, successful software is even more successful, because it can be distributed for nothing among those who don't have the money to pay. It is effectively a price segmentation. First example would be MS Windows / MS Office.

The are studies that show that copyright hinders scientific advancement in general.

Link in German, sorry.

So.. I do understand some of your criticism. But one has to be careful here with moral judgements or even judgements about economic efficiency.
 
Well, you'd think Blizzard would be able to claim copyright and trademark infringment at the least. A pirate server has no right to use those assets without express permission of the owner, even if they don't charge money.

I don't think Blizzard needs to worry as much as games like UO or EQ1 where a pirate server can siphon off a good amount of people by replicating past builds of the game. I'm not a fan of piracy in general though, and for non-sub PC games it's killing the market.
 
Can Blizzard lawyers go after MaNGOS? If it can legally exist as a WoW server protocol emulator, then there must be something legal about the pirate servers. Maybe like the way early IBM PCs were reverse engineered. But I don't have much idea how these things work.
 
@mmomisanthope:

Absolutely. The pirate servers are both infringing on the copyright and probably the trademarks of WoW in order to make money. My point about the specifics of the claims was to note a particularly odious definition of copyright infringement which blizzard has advanced in the courts.
 
I'm happily on Blizzards side with this one. They provide a service and people shouldn't be able to rip off their hard work. I don't buy into the whole argument about it being too expensive or the right to play without paying either. Blizzard have their product and one must simply chose to take what they offer or leave it be.

Maybe I'm getting older but I now have absolutely no interest in pirated stuff. I'd much rather buy fewer things but get everything legitimately than just illegally download or obtain games, music etc for the sake of it.
 
I've read one or two articles on pirate servers in the past year or so from people that tried it and honestly I don't even want to try it. It seems like a horrible experience anyway.

Mentioning piracy will open up a can of worms though. You will get a ton of comments on that alone, and I'll throw a comment into the mix on that also.

Piracy and DRM seem to be on two ends of a scale as it is presented by game companies today. It's strange though that a developer like Stardock that has very limited DRM still does relatively well. Yes they probably lose a bit on piracy but I don't think that it's as wide spread as some people want us to believe, and as you also said in your post. They probably get a few extra sales to make up for that though. I myself bought Demigod just because I wanted to support their view, despite it not being a game that I would have bought otherwise.
 
MagrothJ, have a look at this story, where an indie game development company offered a bundle of their games for "whatever price you are willing to pay". And in spite of it being possible to legaly buy the bunde for 1 cent, and there was no DRM, they found that 25% of their downloads were from pirates.

Worst of all, the revenues of that indie bundle were going to charity, so the pirates stole from charity.
 
More linkage
 
The pirates stole from charity. $0.01.
This is exactly the problem.

Would I go through the trouble (and risks) of buying something online if the amount transfered were $0.01? No.

This stuff needs a psychologist, not a 'rational' economist to analyse.
 
"Worst of all, the revenues of that indie bundle were going to charity, so the pirates stole from charity."

So if the pirates didn't download the game at all the charity would have received more money? Well I guess technically they leeched bandwidth cost with their downloads.

As for the pirate servers - they are not always about avoiding the subscription fee. While some people set up copies of official servers and I do think that's very similar to downloading a pirated game, some people use private servers as something more than that.

I used to play on a private Ultima Online server, about 7-8 years ago. It was hardcore RP, with GM's banning people for speaking out of character. It used a whole lot of custom written scripts - the skill learning worked different, combat was different, there were races with unique skills etc. It wasn't UO, it was a game based on UO engine. And while I agree that using someone else copyrighted game as a base for your own is not kosher, it was a non-profit server - there weren't any fees and it didn't even accept donations, everything was founded by the owners. I wouldn't play on the official UO servers, yet that pirate one got me hooked to MMO's and resulted in me having an active WoW subscription for over 3 years - which makes it hard to judge the loss of profit from piracy, since a game downloaded can result in more games bought legally.
 
Try reading some posts on http://torrentfreak.com/, there are many which prove that piracy doesn't always hurt sales.

Anyway, you're against private servers but most of the population there are kids without access to credit cards. The fact is most of those servers have a load of bugs and the whole experience is far from what you'll get on the official servers.

But would those kids really pay for the real deal? Or do they get tired of playing on private servers and perhaps even purchase WoW afterwards. Perhaps the very existance of private servers gave a chance to many players to actually try the game before buying it, and works well as a promo tool too. It's not all black and white. Basically, I doubt Blizzard lost much money, if they even lost any.
 
"In the past I downloaded from pirate sources, because it was easier than to buy the game. But if I really liked the game I always baught it later on."

This is what I hear you saying:

Stealing makes you a bad person.

I am not a bad person.

Therefore illegally downloading and playing pirated games is not stealing.
 
@blachawk:

The world is not as simple.
Stealing isn't always bad. An overused sterotype would be Robin Hood, although this has little to do with 'pirate' copies of software.

From a strictly legal PoV there is often little to discuss nowadays.

But 'stealing' as defined in the law only tries to formalize a culturally formed concience. That's why laws are constantly updated and rewritten. Depending on the circumstances, theft for food can even be legal in Germany.

'Stealing' from a purely moral PoV can be anything. It can be good, bad, neutral. There are example for everything.

The legal framework is a collection of consequences which I consider in my daily actions, but this framework does not change my moral PoV.

The moral PoV is different for me. (I am probably neutral or even chaotic neutral from a D&D PoV :)

The underlying question I ask myself is: Does this action hurt anybody? For pirating software the definite answer is 'no', if I wouldn't have bought the game without prior testing. Something I alone can know.

I bought WoW or Starcraft 2 in the past. I will buy Diablo 3.
But if Funcom or Mythic ever release another MMO they'd better release a very good demo before. Otherwise I might not buy or only buy after having played for nothing for a while.

Apart from these effects there are things like network effects in the music industry. Network effects hinder market forces.

If the music industry has 10 very good talents in a year, one of them is hyped and the other 9 forgotten. I do not consider this one guy/girl to work hard enough to earn millions. Therefore I don't buy their CD - even if I like the music.
In the past I sometimes bought music from people who can barely pay their rent, even though I not always liked it.

If somebody made the MMO of my dreams, which is highly unlikely today, he would receive a substantial donation from me.
 
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Most MMOs come with a 10 days trial these days.

Some are free to play unless you want additional content, others sell you powerful weapons or sparkling ponies.

The 'try before you buy' argument in favour of piracy is nonsense. If you want to play the game, you need to play by the rules, or find another game.
 
@Nils

"If the music industry has 10 very good talents in a year, one of them is hyped and the other 9 forgotten. I do not consider this one guy/girl to work hard enough to earn millions. Therefore I don't buy their CD - even if I like the music."

I'm not sure which industry you work in, but I'd be very surprised if you'd like your customers to decide whose services in the company are worth paying for and whose should be provided for free...
 
@ Bernard:

I wouldn't like it if my customers did that. I also don't like that they donate so few money, could be more.

Disclaimer:
I have bought every singe piece of software for years now. The prices, especially those of games, are usually ridicuously low when looking at my benefit and my pay cheque.
 
I detest talking about video game pirating. It's such a charged topic that you can't begin to converse about it without things going crazy.

What's weird is, I don't even get that angry about people pirating games themselves. There is just something about people spending time trying to justify why they aren't in the wrong that makes me sick to my stomach, I don't know what it is.

For some reason moralizing wrong acts feels much worse than just performing those wrong acts.
 
Depending on the circumstances, theft for food can even be legal in Germany.

That is in the very limited case where somebody has the choice of either starving or stealing. And funnily enough people use a similar argument to justify software piracy: "I *need* this, and I can't afford it, so I'm justified stealing it".

As obviously nobody really "needs" a particular video game for survival, that whole argument boils down to "I *want* this, so I'm justified stealing it". Which is rather repugnant to me.

But then, I make my living producing intellectual property, and if everybody could simply steal my hard day's work without paying, it would be me who was starving.
 
You should reward anybody or any company that made it possible for you to enjoy a good product.

On the other hand let's cool it with the "stealing" adjective...

If I steal your computer, you'll have one computer less. If I download a game/movie/music nobody loses anything.

Some argue that the producer loses money but it's likely that only a very small percentage of pirates would buy any given product if it wasn't available through other means.

I'm somewhat divided in this question. Nils is right when he quotes studies that indicate that creativity may actually improve without copyright but I don't think is right to enjoy a product without compensating the ones who made that product available.

This is new ground on par with the digital property issues on MMO's. Can you steal something that is 0's and 1's on a magnetic (or solid state) drive?
 
Pirate servers often offered 4x leveling speed, and the ability to go up to level 120.

Many features didn't work, etc etc, you had to upgrade to a specific version of WoW, and all sorts of things.

In the end, it was pretty lame, since you essentially playing WoW as a single player rpg, without the benefit of having enough people on. Like playing on a dead server in the middle of the night, with no one else on.

It did wonders to show me the flaws of WoWs leveling game.

Not to mention, these servers are run by people who get community support for the servers, so some people were paying MORE than $15 a month for this. (and the ones who paid were usually given GM powers).

I'm with Spitfires on this though, that maybe it's my getting older, but I'm much less inclined to pirate now, than I was when I was in my late teens/early 20s. Or perhaps its because I have money to spend.

Thing is, as far as I can tell, pirates aren't really removing THAT much revenue from the game companies (or music industry, or movie industry).

When I had anything, I wouldn't have bought it (I didn't have the money). I experienced something for free. But once I HAD money, if I liked something, I would buy it, and would never think to pirate it.

I need to find the story, but one author, put his story (in DRM free pdf format) for free on torrent, and several thousand people downloaded it. He became popular enough, that his books started selling.

The thing is, if you have a good product, it will generate buzz. Piracy is a buzz that you are not paying for, as it is a "free gift" to all the people who would NEVER have paid for your product anyways (this would be considered pricing the item for each individual, in this case, free), which in turn can cause those who DO pay for things to be more apt to purchase something, as they are interested in the product, since so many people are talking about it.

At the same time, WoW private servers do not serve that function at all. But would those people really be paying for WoW? I know for the month that I played on a private server all those years ago, that I wouldn't have paid for WoW then. But if the server wasn't complete crap, would I have come back to WoW?

As far as I can tell, I came back to WoW to play with friends, and not necessarily to play the game. Now, most of the friends I'd be interested in playing with no longer play, so that made things easier for me.

So I know it was anecdotal, but that is my "evidence" of the effect of piracy.
 
If I steal your computer, you'll have one computer less. If I download a game/movie/music nobody loses anything.

That is not true.

Which is easily proved by simple logic: If *everybody* pirated the game, the game company obivously would go bankrupt, fire all employees, and shut down development on the brilliant next game they've been working on.

If we can easily prove that if *everybody* pirates games, the game company (and the players) lose something, then every single pirate must do *some* harm, because if the harm he does was 0, millions time 0 would still have no result.

I totally agree that the damages done by pirating a game are probably *less* than the $50 price tag on the box, but that just turns you from a $50 thief into a small time thief, and doesn't change the fact that you are stealing if you pirate.
 
If I pirate a game I wouldn't have bought otherwise there are no opportunity costs or anything.

In fact, somebody is better of now and nobdoy is worse of. One step closer to pareto efficiency :)

Now, this argumentation only works if I hadn't bought the game otherwise. True. but in this strict case the argumentation does hold.
 
Yeah, so the only thing you need to do to make stealing completely justified is lie to yourself and say "I'd never have bought it". What bullshit.

And what about the person who hacked the game, put in on Torrent, or runs the private server? How does he make sure that none of the people he enables to pirate that game wouldn't have bought it in the first place? The very existence of the same game "for free" and "for $50" makes people not want to buy the game, because they know they can get it for free. Which, in your nice circular logic, then justifies their stealing.
 
Yeah, so the only thing you need to do to make stealing completely justified is lie to yourself and say "I'd never have bought it". What bullshit.


Lying to yourself is no help as it would be a lie. And thus the premise wouldn't be fulfilled.


When I was young I pirated almost all my games. Probably 40 or more over the years. It would have been absoluetly impossible for me to buy them.
These situations exist.

I also would never have been able to buy MS office for some 2000 DM.
I pirated it. I learnt to use a computer to write. My school didn't have computers.

I am happy I did that and society should be happy, for if I hadn't done it, I later had had to visit some of these useless MS Office courses that teach you nothing and cost a lot.

There are cases when pirating software is wrong. I agree. Yet, there are some cases where it is a quite moral choice and benefits everybody without harming anybody.
 
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Pirating does not only break laws but also violates the rights of the creator. So being fine with pirating games means to not give a fuck about the ones who create games. Therefore pirates suck beyond believe.

I would however not just blindly believe the whining of the distributors, claiming pirating destroys the market. If that would be true, the gaming industry would have died during the 80s together with the Amiga 500.
 
Whether or not you feel comfortable with stealing, and indeed what you think of as stealing, depends on the culture you grow up in and your own moral philosophy. Right and wrong aren't forces of nature like gravity that affect everyone identically regardless of whether they choose to engage with them.

I was brought up to believe stealing is wrong and so I don't do it. I don't believe that people who don't share my beliefs should abide by them, however, and if others feel stealing is not wrong then they are free to steal. They would rationally need to do so knowing the potential consequences when livign within a society that does not broadly share their belief, though.

I'm philosophicaly opposed to the basic concept of "copyright". I think it's wrong to be paid for a piece of work more than once. When a potter makes a bowl and sells it he gets paid once. If he wants to get paid again he has to make another bowl. This principle should apply to all creative acts.

For example, an author should be paid only once for each story he writes, whereas the manufacturer of books, the publisher, should be paid for each copy of the book that is sold, because the making of each book is a discrete act of creation.

I don't believe for a second that we, as consumers, would suffer if copyright was abiolished because almost all good art is created out of the artist's desire to create not his desire to profit. We might be spared an awful lot of commercial rubbish, though.
 
Have you ever bought a game on Steam, only to find that a short while later the same game was available from the same platform for much less, in one of those famous sales? I bet at that point you thought "I made a bad deal". On the day you bought it, the game was worth what you paid for it to you, because otherwise you wouldn't have bought it. But as soon as it is available for cheaper, or free, it becomes worth less to you.

Piracy causes the same effect, if all your friends have a game for free, you are less likely to pay for it.

If you went to a game store and the same game was on the shelf for either $50, or you could it for free if you just signed a paper saying "I wouldn't buy this game for $50", everybody would sign the paper. And even believe that truthfully he wouldn't have bought the game for $50, as it was available for free.
 
I don't think that this:
Subscribe the "I the wouldn't have bought it' form should be put into law, Tobold.

Actually, in this raw form I would oppose it. It is ridiculous.

We need to differentiate what we discuss:
1) Are there situations where pirating software is acceptable, even socialy desireable? Yes! The poor kid that pirates Mathematica and becomes a great Mathematician is a radical, yet convincing argument.

2) How should we change the law because of that?
Now, that is a much bigger problem!
 
What I'm trying to say here is that the model must change... We are on the digital era and we cannot start to apply regulations on physical goods to digital ones.

Piracy is morally wrong but, in my opinion, only when the creator/producer (producer in the broader sense) don't get compensated by the effort they put into a product one has enjoyed.

However when I see how piracy laws could be enforced I say abolish copyright and let them pirate at will.

Stealing is still a far fetched expression. You are copying strings of numbers arranged in a particular disposition, how can that be called stealing?

And when you steal, somebody loses something. "likely" or "almost certainly" mean nothing. And if "everybody pirated" it could still mean that the ones who would buy the product would still buy it and the rest wouldn't.

Create good games/films/music, add value to your product and people will buy it regardless of being online or not.
 
The poor kid that pirates Mathematica and becomes a great Mathematician is a radical, yet convincing argument.

Doesn't convince me at all. Sounds like the same argument to me as the poor kid that steals a car and becomes a great Formula 1 driver.

If you wanted to change the law to enable poor kids to get Mathematica, the law should be that the state pays for certain software to hand out to poor children. Not that the poor get the right to steal what they think would help them.

Furthermore were discussing games here. Your argument start sounding extremely silly when the poor kid pirates Modern Warfare 2 or World of Warcraft instead Mathematica.
 
If you wanted to change the law to enable poor kids to get Mathematica, the law should be that the state pays for certain software to hand out to poor children. Not that the poor get the right to steal what they think would help them.

I agree.

Look: You attempt a strawman, even after I already tried to prevent it with my last comment. You cannot take what I write, then make a law out of it and conclude that the law would be bullshit, therefore the argument has to be bullshit.

The singular example I provided proves that it is sometimes possible to pirate software in a way that is socially desireable.

The singular example does not prove that you can generalize the situation into a naive law. You cannot. You must not.

PS: Is 1:1 commenting and discussing this topic with you considered too much commenting ?
 
Tobold says: Your argument start sounding extremely silly when the poor kid pirates Modern Warfare 2 or World of Warcraft instead Mathematica.

What if he plays Modern Warfare 2 and joins the army becoming a well-skilled sniper? Or plays World of Warcraft and starts designing his own vision which becomes the next "great" mmo?

/Devil's advocate

Where's your argument for the point about piracy generating buzz about otherwise unnoticed products? How about for piracy getting around horrifying "anti-piracy" methods such as StarForce (which bricks optical drives, OMG???) that paranoid developers would turn to whether piracy were an actual problem or not?

You also seem to conveniently forget about those people who know that they can pirate games/software for free, but make a conscious decision to purchase it anyway.

You can't say "if everyone knows they can get it for free, the product makes 0 revenue" because we all know that's bullshit. How many donations have you received for writing your blog (free content)? If it's more than 0, you're full of shit.

I, like others here, have played on emulated servers of WoW and UO. The UO one I liked more than the standard game because it had odd features (like unlimited overall skill cap instead of 700) and lots of GM events that brought many people on the server together into one spot. This was 5 years after I stopped playing UO. Would I have paid to play on a standard UO server instead? No. Not because I couldn't or didn't want to pay for it, but because that's not the product I was interested in.
 
Tobold: in 2006, Squeenix releases Final Fantasy 3(J) for the DS, to huge success and popularity. America pretty much as a whole wouldn't have even known it existed if it weren't for the efforts of ROM pirates and translation teams. This is because Final Fantasy 3(US) for the SNES was actually #6 from the series. Sure they still could have remade and sold it, but to what level of opening numbers if gaming nerds like me hadn't already discovered the NES version (but can't read japanese so buying it is useless)

Same story for Final Fantasy V, and a few other hidden gems. Still waiting on Seiken Densetsu 3 though...

Penny for your thoughts :)
 
MagrothJ, have a look at this story, where an indie game development company offered a bundle of their games for "whatever price you are willing to pay". And in spite of it being possible to legaly buy the bunde for 1 cent, and there was no DRM, they found that 25% of their downloads were from pirates.

Worst of all, the revenues of that indie bundle were going to charity, so the pirates stole from charity


Sorry I couldn't reply sooner. Had a busy day at work. ;)

In my opinion that's a poor example which ever way you turn it.

First off, if you post a download of a game on the web and just write "pay what you want" then it's GOING to be downloaded and not paid for, it's just a question of how much. At best I would compare it to your donate button, and to call it piracy then is quite a stretch in my opinion. Are we pirating your blog then also when we don't donate? Yeah I can come up with a few answers to that also but it's not that terrible a comparison.

Second, I was actually amazed that it was just an estimated 25% that didn't pay for a download that had no limitations. So in my opinion it was actually a bad example for your side. ;) I would much rather have guessed at the numbers being reversed so that 75% didn't pay under those conditions.

Third, I must state again I'M AMAZED that 75% paid under those circumstances. That's really good numbers. So if that's the rough numbers for a game with no copy protection what can it then be for a game with copy protection? 10%? 5%? If I started a game developing company today I would definitely try to take into account some loss due to piracy.

Fourth, I would at least link the download to some sort of payment if you really would want it to be "pay what you want" instead of the kind of "pay if you want" that it apparently became (or did I misunderstand something?). I don't mind if companies try to secure some form of payment for their services, it's the terrible copy protection schemes that I hate.
 
I think Sine Nomine put it so well that I feel a bit ashamed putting a comment underneath those words of wisdom. Really, if you didn't read it: go back up and have another look. Noone likes a hypocrite.

But still, Bhagpuss' comment strikes me as so odd I have to ask: the author should only be paid once? The rest of the revenue should go to the publisher? Why?

It seems to me that the way the author, or the creator of whatever it may be, is paid is a matter of agreement between her/him and the publisher/distributor. The "pay once" has been around for hundreds of years, and is still being widely practised. Nothing wrong with that if all parties are fine with it. But why should we step in and interfere with their bargain?

Are you reasoning along Nils' line, that some creators earn more than they deserve, and that this should somehow be curbed? If so, and like Tobold asked previously, whose call is it to decide what each creator deserves?

Authors, musicians, painters, athletes, film makers and, yes, game makers of today provide entertainment to millions, and in some cases even hundreds of millions of people. This is being done on a scale that has never before been possible in our history, they touch more people than anyone would have even considered possible only a generation ago. Why would they not deserve compensation on a positively royal scale?

And Nils: a boy pirates software that teaches him vital IT skills, then goes on to get an IT-heavy job creating weapons systems, systems that wind up bringing about the end of human civilisation. Blame piracy, the designer himself, or the people who used the systems he designed?
 
This whole argument reminds me of one of my history classes where we discussed the concept (or lack thereof) of property ownership.

Society at large has well-established concepts of property that go back thousands of years. But back in the 1500s when Europeans were exploring the globe, they encountered many indigenous peoples with different concepts of what property is and who owns it. Enforcement of property rights in one culture is often theft from the community in another, and it's impossible to simply say that one side is right and another is wrong because the concept of property is itself a social construct, not anything based in reality.

I don't believe the concept of digital property being analogous to physical property will persist for much longer. Digital theft is totally different from physical theft - in a physical theft one person loses his or her item and another person unlawfully acquires it. In a digital theft the thief makes a copy, and now you simply have two identical copies of the same item, with one being acquired unlawfully. You can argue for the rest of your life about whether anyone lost anything or not, but the facts are that digital piracy is easy, impossible to prevent, and impossible to enforce - the RIAA sued the piss out of people for years and and did absolutely nothing to stem piracy, though it did tarnish their reputation.

Instead of trying to enforce an old model on a new medium, people should be, and are, looking for new paradigms to apply that will actually work. STEAM is a great example of this - I've spent hundreds of dollars on STEAM and actually prefer it to buying a box. I don't feel like I'm buying a game like I do when I buy it in the store; I feel like I'm buying lifetime access to a game which is similar but distinct. A STEAM game is always just one click away - even if my computer blows up and I have reinstall Windows, or I lose track my of CD/DVDs, I lose interest and uninstall (but want to play again later), etc. I'm paying for the service for the game, not the game itself, the latter comes with it as a part of the overall product.
 
@Nils
The underlying question I ask myself is: Does this action hurt anybody? For pirating software the definite answer is 'no', if I wouldn't have bought the game without prior testing. Something I alone can know.

Does pirating hurt anyone? The answer is decidedly yes.

A piracy has grown more rampant the result is that legitimate customers are not being harmed with obtrusive, irritating, and sometimes broken DRM schemes that do nothing but impair them as the producers attempt to cut the rates of piracy. In such, the end consumer greatly has their fair use rights diminished by these crappy DRM schemes as the producers at attempt to protect their distributive rights.

It also hurts those that create what is pirated by denying them their rights and privileges to choose how and when to distribute the works that they’ve created.

So when you say “This action doesn’t hurt anyone,” what you really mean is there is no direct harm caused by my actions and I don’t care about the negative externalities of my decision.
 
So when you say “This action doesn’t hurt anyone,” what you really mean is there is no direct harm caused by my actions and I don’t care about the negative externalities of my decision.

I'm not trying to defend piracy really, but this is a fact:

If you would never have bought a game anyway then it does not in any way cause direct or indirect harm. Well, possibly bandwidth in some cases, and of course if it is in any way measurable the counter adds one which in itself causes the developer to go ballistic.

If you would have bought it some time then or later then yes it does cause harm right then. Of course it can have side-effects also some time later like buying other games from the same company because that game was good (but can swing both ways), but that's a different discussion.

Now the problem with this kind of thinking is that there's no real way to distinguish one from the other. Not even the pirate may know that himself because he probably tells himself that he wouldn't have bought it anyway.

Of course it's easy for game companies to say that 1 act of piracy = 1 lost sale, but that's not the whole truth.
 
@MagrothJ
If you would have bought it some time then or later then yes it does cause harm right then. Of course it can have side-effects also some time later like buying other games from the same company because that game was good (but can swing both ways), but that's a different discussion.

You're only talking about one type of harm, which seems to be the only ones pirates care about. That's fiscal harm. The argument "I wouldn't buy it anyway," is loose but only deals with fiscal harm. Harm can be many things, not the least of which is the diminishing of the rights of copyright holders to choose how to distribute a work along with the diminishing of fair use rights to the end consumer than to DRM.

Me? I honestly don't give half a rat's ass about the monetary harm that developers accrue. Yes, I would like developers to be paid for what they create. I am more concerned about the erosion of rights that is occurring thanks to piracy.
 
Of course it's easy for game companies to say that 1 act of piracy = 1 lost sale, but that's not the whole truth.

You know these cases where they want to make an example and pick out one guy and sue him for millions ?
Unfortunately the guy doesn't own millions.

So could he have bought the software?
Quite apparently no. Full Stop.


However, as soon as you venture into law and what should be done now it gets much, much more complicated.

Bhaggpus' concept isn't even that bad, if there was a feasable way to make it real.

If you want to taggle the topic at a large scale, feasability is at the heart of it, really.

Look: The air I breathe I mine ! Mine alone. Why do you steal my air and breathe it again or use it to run your car?
This is my air!

Why did this silly conversation never happen? Because there never was a feasable way to claim air as your property. But if there had been a way at any time in history - trut me: We had property right about air and wear breathing masks just so that we would not accidentyl breathe somebody else's air.
 
You're only talking about one type of harm, which seems to be the only ones pirates care about. That's fiscal harm. The argument "I wouldn't buy it anyway," is loose but only deals with fiscal harm. Harm can be many things, not the least of which is the diminishing of the rights of copyright holders to choose how to distribute a work along with the diminishing of fair use rights to the end consumer than to DRM.

I'm not entirely sure I follow you. Why would they want to be able to choose how to distribute it? To make money of course. Well they can of course make up some story about artistic mumbo jumbo but what it all boils down to is money.

Of course piracy leads to more and worse DRM, that's a given. But what I tried to say with my earlier posts (and which I think was reinforced with the links that Tobold posted) is that I don't think that piracy is that wide spread that game companies try to say that it is. If something that's free to download and has no DRM at all and is announced as "pay what you want" has 25% "piracy" then something that has copy protection of some kind have much less piracy logically, say 5-15% depending on how advanced the DRM is. Yes I know this is guesstimating a lot but it's not like we've got a lot to go on here. Well why not ease up a bit on the DRM then and not alienate your customers? It might mean a few more percent piracy but is that not worth it to not piss off your customers? Yeah I guess that customer satisfaction and loyalty is too hard to grasp. Too short sighted.

In any case it sounds like the big companies are losing like 50 or 75% of their income due to piracy but that's just not the case. They are just trying to justify their use of DRM to gain two more percent sales while pissing off 30% more of the customers.
 
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You know these cases where they want to make an example and pick out one guy and sue him for millions ?
Unfortunately the guy doesn't own millions.

So could he have bought the software?
Quite apparently no. Full Stop.


Well as I said I'm not here to defend piracy. I'm merely stating the fact there. Should he have bought it? Of course he should, or not have downloaded it at all. But it's still a fact that one act of piracy is not equal to one lost sale. I don't know law but I do know that it deals with the perception of truth or fact more than the real truth or fact because otherwise the justice system would be flawless. And we all know that it isn't.
 
If I make a painting, and set it up to sell, as an exclusive, for $100, and somebody comes along, and paints several copies of it, and gives it away for free (or at cost of materials), then the value of my painting is now the average of $100 and all those $0 copies. If he made 4 copies, then my painting is now only at 1/5 the value, which is $20. Is that the damage that piracy does?

I can keep it at $100, and eventually sell it to who ever wants an Original Pangoria painting.

In the case of video games, is playing through a game, and recording it all and posting it on Youtube stealing?

I've watched several games, and have been satisfied enough to not feel the need to purchase a game. Is it NOT stealing because they didn't copy ALL the 1s and 0s, or because they changed the medium? Is taking a photo of the Mona Lisa, and distributing it for free online considered theft the Mona Lisa?
 
Idle tangent:

What about "classic" WoW servers, now that Cataclysm is slated to effectively obliterate the Old World?

I wonder if we'll see such servers pop up and what sort of demand they will have... and if Blizzard is trying to stay ahead of it.
 
"I'm philosophicaly opposed to the basic concept of "copyright". I think it's wrong to be paid for a piece of work more than once. When a potter makes a bowl and sells it he gets paid once. If he wants to get paid again he has to make another bowl. This principle should apply to all creative acts.

For example, an author should be paid only once for each story he writes, whereas the manufacturer of books, the publisher, should be paid for each copy of the book that is sold, because the making of each book is a discrete act of creation."



If I build a house and the buyer of that house pays me $1000 per month until the house is paid for, am I being paid once or many times? They're paying me what the house is worth, they're just doing it over time.

For an author of a book, the problem is deciding how much the work is worth. A book could be a bomb which is worth $5 or a massive success that is worth $500,000. The value of a book is not fully determined until you see how well that book sells.

In effect, an author of a book is only paid once, it just takes a while to determine what the value of the book they created actually is.

The whole point of American copyright is to ensure that the creators can make money off of what they create. It is a way of funding the arts and sciences. Instead of having to find a wealthy patron who supports you while you create, you create something and then own the rights to your creation for X amount of time so that you can earn the money to live and eat and to create further.
 
It's weird, I actually think this is very different than music piracy.

For music downloading, it is fact that most of the time groups lose very little. Most people wouldn't of bought ANYTHING instead, and in fact downloading is often responsible for incurring MORE sales.

You can't "lose" money from customers you never had, and free downloads are one more way to make a new fan.

But for MMOs its way different. I bet that 50% of the people playing on hacked servers are just avoiding fees.
 
Of course it's easy for game companies to say that 1 act of piracy = 1 lost sale, but that's not the whole truth.

I repeatedly said here that 1 act of piracy is *less* than 1 lost sale. I'm still waiting for any of the pirate-defenders to admit that 1 act of piracy is *more* than 0 lost sales.

Up to now I only hear people saying that their piracy actually *helps* the company they stole from, which is complete nonsense. There have been numerous examples of good game studios, e.g. Looking Glass, which went bankrupt, because everybody played their games without paying for them. That the next version of Thief never got made hurts all of us.
 
Feel free to disagree, but don't call the people you disagree with "retarded", or your comment will get deleted.

And Nils: a boy pirates software that teaches him vital IT skills, then goes on to get an IT-heavy job creating weapons systems, systems that wind up bringing about the end of human civilisation. Blame piracy, the designer himself, or the people who used the systems he designed?

This is one of those comments where I'm not sure whether it is extremely personal and should be deleted, or just a random comment that accidentaly hit far too close to home.
 
The immaturity in this thread astounds me.

Copyright laws exist for a reason. If you design something, you should get paid for your design. It is beyond self-righteous for you punks to say the people you're stealing from get paid too much so taking it is OK.

You're not stealing bread to feed your family, you're stealing a frickin computer game because you're too infantile to pay for it. Steal it, don't steal it. I don't give a crap. Just don't steal and then try to say it isn't stealing. At the end of the day, you have possession of something that you have no legal right to possess.

Detritus like you make it extremely hard for the artists of the world to make a living.

I downloaded a ton of .mp3s in college. But I didn't kid myself that it wasn't stealing. I'm ashamed to say that at the time I rationalized that it was a small theft and no one would be the wiser. These days I use iTunes and I feel a lot better about it. I was simply too poor to afford what I WANTED and decided to do the wrong thing. At least have the balls to say you're in the wrong. I'm talking to you, Nils.
 
This is one of those comments where I'm not sure whether it is extremely personal and should be deleted, or just a random comment that accidentaly hit far too close to home.

Probably the latter ;)



I repeatedly said here that 1 act of piracy is *less* than 1 lost sale. I'm still waiting for any of the pirate-defenders to admit that 1 act of piracy is *more* than 0 lost sales.


Here! I agree with that if you look at the average, which is what you do.
 
I repeatedly said here that 1 act of piracy is *less* than 1 lost sale. I'm still waiting for any of the pirate-defenders to admit that 1 act of piracy is *more* than 0 lost sales.

Up to now I only hear people saying that their piracy actually *helps* the company they stole from, which is complete nonsense. There have been numerous examples of good game studios, e.g. Looking Glass, which went bankrupt, because everybody played their games without paying for them. That the next version of Thief never got made hurts all of us.


Well I've repeatedly said that I'm not a pirate-defender but I'll certainly agree that 1 act of piracy is more than 0 lost sales. According to the links you posted I would say that it's quite likely that its somewhere between 0.05 and 0.25 lost sales per act of piracy. It's a bit hard to pinpoint the exact number though of course. :)
 
I downloaded a ton of .mp3s in college. But I didn't kid myself that it wasn't stealing. I'm ashamed to say that at the time I rationalized that it was a small theft and no one would be the wiser. These days I use iTunes and I feel a lot better about it. I was simply too poor to afford what I WANTED and decided to do the wrong thing. At least have the balls to say you're in the wrong. I'm talking to you, Nils.

I hear you.
And since you mentioned me explicitly, I conclude that it is ok to answer, even though it means that two of my comments appear after each other. (?).
Will be my last in this post ;)

Point here is:
Assume you hadn't downloaded that files illegally. Would anybody have been better off ? No, because you would not have had the money to buy anything.

Has anybody been worse off? Yes: You.
And it is absolutely possible, even probable, that you later bought a song from an artist/style that you first listened to from the 'stolen' songs.

In this case even that artist is better of now.

Remember: It is impossible to use this truth to make a naive law.
 
The artist was worse off. He lost a potential buyer because I stole the product of his imagination. He had to wait eleven years for the payment he should have received in 1999.

But keep telling yourself that copyright laws are a result of naivete. In your self-serving mind, copyright law has nothing to do with protecting people's livelihoods. It's all about keeping the man down because you can't get what you want for free.
 
Is there good evidence that Looking Glass Studios went bankrupt because of piracy?
 
The artist was worse off. He lost a potential buyer because I stole the product of his imagination. He had to wait eleven years for the payment he should have received in 1999.

But you yourself admitted that you weren't willing to pay for the music then. So how has the artist lost anything by you illegally acquiring his music rather than not buying it at all? Money not gained =\= money lost. Your case of downloading music due to not having the means to buy a CD is no different than taping songs from the radio to make a mix tape. Will the RIAA break down your door for that?

Sounds to me like your argument is that piracy prevents IP from making future profit, which is nonsense. For proof, look no further than Final Fantasy III once heavily pirated for NES (due to translated ROMS), now for legitimate sale on NDS, and made millions of dollars. I'm one of many many people who owned a copy of it (since sold to Gamestop who will turn around and sell giving no profit to the developers) even though I had already beaten the NES version of the game.

Tobold: I apologize for the "retards" comment, but it is astounding that people still write that argument to abolish piracy. Legal issues vs. moral issues will always have lots of gray area, but numbers exist to back up certain claims.
 
People who 'believe' in capitalism don't actually understand capitalism at all - it does not include belief. It does not care that you believe. If you fancy some sort of faithfullness to it will count in the end, you do not understand it at all.
 
Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong! /thread! Is this what you want to hear someone (especially me or Nils) say, Tobold?

But it's not that simple, is it? As Christopher writes, digital property cannot be so easily "owned" as physical things can.

If I steal money out of your pocket, you lose money. Therefore you are directly hurt by my actions. If you produce a game and I download a copy of it instead of buying, you don't gain money that I may have spent. Therefore you are indirectly affected by my actions. Not hurt, and not helped. Taking it a step further, I tell about the game to one of my friends who is on the "piracy is wrong" side of the argument (many of them are). He's never heard of it, but now that I've bragged it up, he goes out and buys a copy. Better yet, if it's a game like StarCraft2 that enforces online play through a secure system, I now definitely go buy a copy so I can play together with my friend online.

Have the moral discussion all you want, but stop trying to tie it to numbers. Nobody can know how many sales are affected by piracy. It may be more than 0, it may honestly not be more than 0, we don't and can't know.

As for Looking Glass studios, I found them on Wikipedia and saw the list of games they've produced. With the exception of the Ultima Underworld and Thief games, most of what's come out of their studio is not successful. Quality products and a good business model will keep a company in business, regardless of piracy.
 
I usually read this type of thead all the way through before posting, but I'm going to save myself some time.

Here is my take. I'll purchase a game if I feel that it is good and I'll like it. If I know it is a good game, I don't bother with pirating it.

On the other hand, if I'm on the fence, I'll pirate the hell out of the game, and see what comes. If it is good, I'll purchase it. No shit. I've done it before. Most of the time, my suspicion is correct, and the game isn't something I like.

Here's an example. I've never been into RPGs, but I've heard good things about Fallout 3. I pirated it. I installed it, played it for a good 3 hours, before deciding that it was garbage (IMHO). I uninstalled it and deleted it.

Now, if you consider Intellectual Property coded into 1's and 0's property, then I guess I stole it. Throw me in jail and sentence me to ass-rape right?

But I'd argue no. There is no way for me to try out Fallout 3 for free for a few hours to see if it is worth it. I guess you can argue that I should have spent $50+, found it to be garbage, and then regretted it. But that is dumb. And I'm sorry, but I'm not dumb, and I pride myself in not losing money for dumb reasons.

So, let me throw my voice into the mix. I'll pay $60 for Starcraft 2, knowing it is a good game and that I'll have fun playing it for years. I will NOT pay $60 for a game I am unsure about. I WILL pirate said game, "stealing" digital information, to make a choice as to whether or not I want to reward game developers.

If that makes me a criminal, then so be it. Sure, I don't possess that game now. I didn't really use it besides as a trial. And I certainly didn't sell the game (which is about the only way you can "steal" something digital, IMHO).

This is a topic that most people on the internet have a strong opinion on, and that is my opinion. I do not consider myself a criminal. If I couldn't have downloaded and tried Fallout 3 for free, I NEVER would have spent money on the game to begin with. How is that my taking, possessing and enjoying someone else's property? The company still has the code. I don't possess the game. And I certainly didn't enjoy it.

Might there be some gray area?

If I was stealing actual, physical property and depriving someone of their livlihood, then I'd see the point of a lot of the posters. But honestly (pun intended) a copy of the digital content is only "stolen" if the "thief" would have actually spent money on that copy, or, the copy of the game cost the developer something. You can argue until your face is blue, but if all I do is make a copy of digital content, and I would have never spent money on it...did I really deprive someone of money, or did I just...make a copy of it.

The problem is in the gray area. Good luck coming to a consensus on it, without trotting out Intellectual Property laws that don't really address the issue.

Oh, and by the way, the reason that some music artists, film artists, etc, have no problem with pirated media is that it often...

Gives an audience to products that wouldn't have gotten an audience because that audience was able to actually see the content, that they never would have paid for.

So, remember. There are bands and film directors that LOVE when their FUTURE CONSUMERS PIRATE THEIR STUFF.

So, lets not pretend that it is a black and white issue. There are now artists who make money because their work was pirated and an audience for their work resulted.

Please, don't forget to address that issue, or you're purposefully leaving out an argument that specifically refutes your whole point.
 
Do you have any examples where a VIDEO GAME had a better financial success because it was pirated? All the examples I heard where piracy made an artist better off were about songs. And face it, while writing a song is a creative act, you can do it on the back of a napkin, and it doesn't cost you thousands or millions of dollars, like a video game does.

The thing is that every act of piracy causes a small amount of harm. Not the full sales price, but some fraction of it, lets say for arguments sake $10. But with a game like Modern Warfare 2 being pirated 5 million times, that still adds up to $50 million of damages to the game company.

Now ActivisionBlizzard is unlikely to go under because of those $50 million missing. But there have been a lot of video game development studios having closed down because they ran out of money. It is impossible to prove exactly how much of that damage was caused by piracy, but if they had had a few million dollars more, maybe some of these studios would still be around.

Thus saying "video game piracy causes no harm at all" is wrong. It causes harm to game companies, to the employees of those companies, and to the players themselves, who see promising games not developed because the developers went belly up.
 
Not exactly an example, but a non-negative portrayal of piracy by an EA executive:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/sims-piracy-bittorrent-game-sales,8126.html
 
Tobold says: There have been a lot of video game development studios having closed down because they ran out of money. It is impossible to prove exactly how much of that damage was caused by piracy, but if they had had a few million dollars more, maybe some of these studios would still be around.

As I said in my previous post, good business model will keep a company afloat.

If their games "cannot bear lost sales to piracy", why don't those indie developers use a more secure method of releasing their game such as PSN or XBLA/XBLIG or WiiWare, or even officially licensed console products? Everyone and their mother knows that PC games are the easiest and most common to pirate.

If your game "has to have a mouse", why couldn't it use a Wii controller instead? More people own Wii than either of the other mentioned consoles, so your potential demographic is quite large.

Don't blame piracy for game companies failing. Blame their inability to properly advertise their product. Blizzard doesn't go under when people pirate their games because enough other people will buy them. Everybody has heard of Warcraft, how many people outside of hardcore gamers have heard of Thief?

It certainly says something when more people PIRATE a product than another product's total production run, and yet the designers of the former still make millions. Linking that a game was pirated 5 million times speaks to immense popularity. How many of your theoretical starving developers would cry themselves to sleep if they only sold 5 million copies of a game instead of 10, even if we assumed the piracy rate to be 50%?
 
Why should the creator of a game or a song be punished because their creation doesn't take a tangible form like a chair?

The problem with saying that it's okay for people to take a person's creation without their permission (ie without paying for it) is that it discourages people from creating.

If I were an amazing writer, but I could not make a living from it, because every time I wrote a story, people photocopied and gave it to their friends for free, then I would have to have another job. I would be tired every night. I would have less time to write. Where I may have written twenty books over a lifetime that people would have loved, now I may only write one or two while supporting myself another way.

The way that people justify piracy shows just how spoiled or society has become. People feel that they deserve luxury items for free that they cannot afford. At one time, if you wanted something that you could not afford, you saved money until you could purchase. If you decided to take it without paying, you were stealing it, plain and simple.

No one needs a game or a song or a movie. It's a luxury. If you can't afford it, then use the time you would have spent using it working hard to get into a position where you can afford it. Until then, if you take something without the creator's permission to take it you are stealing, whether he loses anything or not.
 
I get a lot more angry when I see good game companies having made good games that everybody likes to play go belly up, just because the majority of players who love to play those great games nevertheless refuse to actually pay for them.

There's very little evidence that this has actually ever happened so if you're ever getting angry, I guess it was misplaced. =p I've seen companies *claim* this, but in reality it's a murky issue that's hard to sort out.

They look at download numbers and get all drooley imagining those if they'd been sales. But as you point out, many, perhaps most, wouldn't have been. And they discount the word-of-mouth effect that piracy does bring about.

Don't get me wrong, I like copyright, I make my living from copyright. Copyright is there, in my opinion, to protect me from the publishers. Not from the consumers. This focus on consumer piracy is an attempt by the publishes to distract from their exploitation of the small teams that actual make things.

But that there *is* lost revenue through video game piracy is undoubted
And if you believe this, then you haven't done basic research. It -is- doubted. In fact, there's a great deal of evidence that piracy actually increases revenue, not decreases it. Are there exceptions to this rule? Sure. I very much doubt that WoW pirate servers have had any significant improvement on WoW sales numbers... it's already very nearly at saturation in its market. They are, however, the exception, not the rule.

should discourage other people from running WoW pirate servers
And if you believe that's true, I've got a bridge to sell you. =p People who do this sort of thing aren't exactly top-flight when it comes to risk assessment. In order for it to have a deterrent effect, they would have to be aware of it AND believe they could actually get caught.
 
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KT said...
Why should the creator of a game or a song be punished because their creation doesn't take a tangible form like a chair?

Hi KT, I thought I'd reply to this as a professional software developer, someone who's livelihood has been based around copyright for the last 16 years.

The reason is, is that intellectual property doesn't have the same characteristics as physical goods. If you copy my software, I can still sell my software to other people. If you steal my chair, I can't sell that chair to someone else. As such, under law, it doesn't get protected the same way. Giving intellectual property the same rights as physical property would be a radical change to the laws of this country.

Copyright infringement, trademark infringement, patent infringement, none of these is classified as theft, and for good reason.

Copyright originally applied to written works, as those were the only that could be meaningfully c opied at the time. The purpose of copyright is to protect authors from publishers. It codified the standard contract at the time of its inception between authors and publishers.

What's more, the purpose of copyright law in the United States is "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". Not to guarantee a living to authors and inventors. Copyright, in that it attempts to limit the exploitation of authors by publishers, is helpful toward those goals. I find for arguments harsher copyright dubious in light of those goals.

The problem with saying that it's okay for people to take a person's creation without their permission (ie without paying for it) is that it discourages people from creating.
I wouldn't argue against this, however. I, like most people, would get upset if I saw someone else trying to profit off my work, and would exercise my copyrights in order to stop them from doing so further. Individuals I would shrug off, however. The potential market for my goods is far far bigger then the number of people who've ever heard of my goods, so the harm in someone copying for personal use is very likely negative. That is, more buzz about my products, however they come about, is likely to bring in more sales then getting the copiers to pay. Beyond that, I know that it's simply not worth the emotion to worry about these people.

The amazing author story is... well, not set in the real world. The reality is that people are in fact willing to buy things, even if they could get a copy "for free". There are lots of ways of making this happen. With authors in particular, people value professionally printed books. And people who love their books want to support the authors of them, and will do so by buying the book, even if they read it for the first time on a photocopied page. What's more, if you generate a lot of buzz with a (truely) widely copied manuscript, then you'll surely be able to get a contract and an advance on a new work.

What about computer programs, games in particular? There are LOTs of ways of monitizing games that either makes copying the games difficult (eg, WoW, where private servers exist but provide a massively substandard experience), or meaningless (various ad supported mechanisms, nagware, etc). Oh, in the latter case people -will- distribute modified versions that remove the ads/nags but very few people will seek these out.
 
Oh Tobold <.<

First, you use the term piracy, but I think that's a very poor term for a variety of reasons. From what I can tell what you mean by it is "personal copyright infringement". Eg, getting a torrent of a popular game, or copying it for friends. Not, for instance, someone selling you a copy on a DVDR at a seedy trade show.

Do you have any examples where a VIDEO GAME had a better financial success because it was pirated?

It's very hard to tease the details apart. I can say that in SOFTWARE, the biggest shining example is MicroSoft, who many have argued, owe much of their success to personal copyright infrigment. Similar claims have been made about Adobe Photoshop.

All the examples I heard where piracy made an artist better off were about songs. And face it, while writing a song is a creative act, you can do it on the back of a napkin, and it doesn't cost you thousands or millions of dollars, like a video game does.
Apparently you haven't spoken to the record industry lately. =p They seem to think that it does in fact take millions of dollars to make a song into a hit.



The thing is that every act of piracy causes a small amount of harm. Not the full sales price, but some fraction of it,

Uh, I call bullshit. Please justify this claim. I can as easily claim that every act of piracy helps companies a small amount. Every act of piracy also gets the game in front of more eyes, on more people's tongues, talking about what they like. I would argue that you'll find that most people buy most of their games. That the people who regularly pirate things are a minority, but act as a recommendation hub for their friends, as they end up playing far more games as the risk of a new game is just the download time for them. Where as if I'm considering buying a new game, I risk $60 or so. As such, I hardly play computer games any more, having been burned by the crap that it produces year after year far too many times. Reviewers are unhelpful, as most video game reviews are just sycophantic fan boy raving. And that's the stuff published professionally.

Now ActivisionBlizzard is unlikely to go under because of those $50 million missing.
Unlikely to? That's a rounding error on their budget. =p

But there have been a lot of video game development studios having closed down because they ran out of money. It is impossible to prove exactly how much of that damage was caused by piracy, but if they had had a few million dollars more, maybe some of these studios would still be around.
I think your loss numbers are still grossly overstated. But even if they aren't, it's not clear to me what you expect to do about it. Trying to stop electronic copying is like trying to turn back the tide. Better to figure out how to float in a world where things are easily copied. Trying to stop personal copying is a losing fight, I think, and a waste of time and money. On the other hand, stopping publishers from copying is a fine goal, and easily done.

Thus saying "video game piracy causes no harm at all" is wrong. It causes harm to game companies, to the employees of those companies, and to the players themselves, who see promising games not developed because the developers went belly up.
The real question is: Are the theoretical lost sales made up for by the theoretical gained sales? The reality is there's no way to answer that question. Maybe a better question is: Are game companies harmed more attempting to fight persnal copyright infringement they they are by the copyright infringement itself?
 
And if you believe this, then you haven't done basic research. It -is- doubted. In fact, there's a great deal of evidence that piracy actually increases revenue, not decreases it.

Says the man who then has to admit that he has zero evidence that piracy ever increased revenue for any video games. I think your ideology stops you from looking at the facts: It is a FACT that several video game development companies went bankrupt, and it is a FACT that at the moment they went bankrupt they had games out there which sold not enough to keep the company alive, but which were played by a large number of pirates. And it is a FACT that if those companies had had *all* the potential revenue from those lost sales, they would have survived.

The only thing that is doubtful is how much more money exactly these companies would have made without piracy.

On the other side the fictional added revenue from word of mouth through piracy are a concept which is theoretically possible for unknown indie music, but does not apply at all to big budget video games. The games from development companies that went under were all quite well known through gaming media, blogs, etc., and nobody needed a recommendation from a pirate to become aware of those games.

The pirate server owners that Blizzard won their law suit against have been *proven* in a court of law to have made $3 million from their "Free2Play with item shop" private WoW server. They had 420,000 paying users. And you honestly are trying to tell me that Blizzard was better off with those 420,000 players paying somebody else than Blizzard, because of "word of mouth"? Bullshit!

The private server owner stole $3 million from Blizzard, and has been found guilty in a court of law because that theft was a proven fact. In what kind of fairy land would Blizzard have been better off without closing that private server down? You must know, as you appear to be living in it.
 
It incenses me to no end that so many people who pirate games try to justify their actions as being morally neutral. Usually this consists of a very strained form of act utilitarianism where the net happiness of pirating Modern Warfare or World of Goo is equivalent or greater than not doing so. Then the discussion usually descends to ad hominem attacks over numbers no party to the conversation have any real claim to or confidence in.

So maybe we could take a step back and take a leaf out of Kant's book. Could I will it as a universal maxim that everyone pirate games? Or would that be fundamentally self defeating in the same way that I could not will that everyone lie as a universal maxim? I think Kant's Categorical Imperative brings to light some of the hypocrisy at work here, and I'm more willing to adopt its guidelines than a narrow form of utilitarianism that can be twisted to justify morally abhorrent behavior.
 
This thread is too unbelieveable for words. God bless you, Tobold, for dealing with it.
 
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