Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 10, 2013
 
Those annoying locks

I find the locks on my car highly annoying. Every time I want to drive my car, I first need to unlock the door, then I need the key again to start the car. Why can't I buy a car without locks? It's an evil conspiracy from the car companies, I'm telling ya, I recently looked for a new car and they wanted me to pay extra for a system where I could open the door and start the car without taking the key out of my pocket. And it isn't as if the lock on the car door was actually offering much protection, my car got broken into last year by somebody literally using stone age technology: He smashed a window with a stone.

I find the lock on my apartment highly annoying. Yet another key I have constantly to carry around with me. But the insurance company insists that I have a certain quality of lock on my door, otherwise they refuse to insure me. It's an evil conspiracy from the insurance company, I'm telling ya. And when I got burgled a few years back, the thieves used crowbars on the terrace door, and the lock helped not at all.

I find DRM on computer games highly annoying. A reader asked yesterday what I thought on the always online DRM for the upcoming SimCity, and I think their explanation that it is a technical necessity is hogwash. Just because SimCity has multiplayer features doesn't mean it is technically necessary to not have an offline mode. I'm pretty sure that at some point we won't be able to play SimCity single-player because the servers are overloaded or something, whether they call it "Error 37" or not. It's an evil conspiracy from the game companies, I'm telling ya. And some hacker is certainly going to find a way to crack that DRM.

But why do all of these locks exist that seem to annoy honest customers more than they hinder the criminals? According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 43 seconds. The FBI also reports more than 2 million burglaries in the USA every year. Nobody knows how many million games are pirated every year. And those numbers are just those who overcome the existing locks and protections. If there were no locks on cars and houses, and no copyright protection on games, the numbers would be a lot higher.

So are the locks and DRM really an evil conspiracy from companies? Or isn't it the car thieves, the burglars, and the pirates who are mostly to blame. If there were no car thieves, we wouldn't have locks on our cars. If there were no burglars, we wouldn't have locks on our houses. And if there were no pirates, we wouldn't have DRM. Locks and protections are annoying, but the fault lies with the criminals, not the companies.

Comments:
There is one major difference between cars, homes, and games.

We have locks on our cars and homes to keep undesirables out.

DRM only really affects the legal purchasers of a game. Pirates use cracked games and thus don't need to be online.

To use your analogy, DRM tends to lock legitimate customers out of the products they buy. You wouldn't accept a door lock that wouldn't let you into your house if the server was down would you?

Why should we accept a lock that doesn't let us into a legitimately purchased product?
 
What Stropp said.

DRM becomes an annoyance to the legitimate buyers of the game, while someone using a pirated version is actually using a superior product.

It's like buying a lock for your house which only locks YOU out and lets everybody else in.

People who pirate games, will keep on doing regardless of DRM. But if the companies/developers came out and published DRM-free products showing faith in the community, then this really clicks well with the consumers and they tould be more willing to spend some cash.

Hotline Miami did this to the extreme (they were giving help/fixes to people that pirated the game) and suddenly everyone was talking about the game, which I'm sure boosted sales overall.
 
As Stropp said, the difference is the experience of the LEGITIMATE customers. Kinda like this old DVD stuff: http://i.imgur.com/GxzeV.jpg

I am the person who paid for the game, and I get rootkits installed on my machine, a dozen services that are running in the background communicating with remote servers and transmitting data that I have no control over, often without the ability to fully delete those things form my machine even when I stop playing the game. I am stuck with no being able to play on both my PC and my laptop. I am the one that 5 years from now can't start a game I paid for because the company went bankrupt.

After a lot of bad experiences, I am actively avoiding any games which I know have some of the more intrusive DRM systems. I just wish that Steam would be a bit more open about saying what games come with additional DRM, that would save me lots of googling time...
 
Interesting analogy but I thinks it is wrong for two reasons :
- the cars/house lock protect me from being robbed VS the DMR protect them from being stolen
- I can not have locks on my car (doors opens and key on the car), or not closed my doors; I cannot put down the DRM

I am not against DRM on game (but I want to be able to copy for private use my music and videos), as long as it does not impair me ! I am not able to play Bulletstorm I have bought because of crappy GameForLive, I was not able to play Diablo3 at launch, and I love to play old city builder games.

But they may be right, it may be necessary for their simulator to compute some things at server level. I hope that I will be able to play without other player in my region. I want to be the god, not one of the numerous one.
 
If I have a fully insured car or house, the lock is effectively protecting only the insurance company. If I lose the key, it is me who is suffering the negative consequences. So fundamentally the problem is the same as DRM. I suffer from having to use a lock, but the potential financial loss is not to me.

And Stropp is just deflecting the argument. The question is NOT "why should we accept a lock". The question is whose fault it is that there is a lock in the first place. And I say the blame is squarely on the criminals, and not on the companies wanting to protect their property.
 
Thanks for responding to this, Tobold!

It's an interesting viewpoint, really and yes, one of the big problems seems to be that they've dressed it up as a technical necessity. I neither need nor want my cities to be stored serverside, (Which, from what information has been released, seems to put a great deal of strain on the glassbox engine anyway, to the point of being unable to handle particularly large cities, hence the size restrictions) I have space and processing power enough to handle this on my own. If this was a console release, storing everything serverside would be entirely understandable. Stepping out and saying "We're having an always-online DRM with Simcity. We know it's not a popular choice, but here's why we think it's the best" would still result in disgruntled customers, but at least not ones feeling deceived.

 
Locks provide a service to you, not the insurance company. Security systems lower the cost of insurance premiums because they reduce the risk category. Losses suffered due to claimed but unused security are not covered under the policy.

Control of access is a significant factor. I don't need to ask the car dealership every time I want to drive my car. Publishers would prefer to say they are selling you a service and not goods. It is expected that our passes are checked when we visit a gym. Clearly identifing where software sits between service and goods is the controversal aspect.

I consider offline games as goods. I am happy for on online licence check on installation but after that I think that I should have full control over my access. Online game worlds are services. I do feel insulted when publishers tack on pointless online modes just to justify their claims of service provision and increased DRM.
 
An interesting distinction between the physical locks and the virtual ones (DRM) is that we accept the former because if we don't use them, *our* property gets stolen. Whereas with DRM, it's not our property that gets stolen without it. Or at least that's the perception.
We accept annoying passwords and even authentication tokens e.t.c. on MMO's (though the majority doesn't use the latter still) for pretty much the same reason. It's *our* account that gets hijacked there. People are inherently selfish.

This is why you see a trend to artificial online account requirements. It puts the consumer in the position where their product is at risk rather than just the publisher
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
An extra item to consider in the goods/service debate is that that digital goods are very easy to copy. For offline items I would assume they are sold under license where I can have x numbers of copies. I am liable for any extra copies created from my key.
 
You are right. The criminals are the cause of locks existance.
That fact is established, but the question of lock quality remains.

You come to your home, insert your key into lock but... sorry, lock producer's server cannot process your key right now, so you have to spend the night on the street. But it's winter now. Minus 20 Celsium. You spend about 30 minutes in the freezing wind and then decide that the lock producer can go to hell. You take the big freaking CROWBAR and tear the lock out.

This is what happening with DRM right now. Current iteration of DRM forces legitimate users go pirate. In essence, these crude DRM schemes completely defeat their purpose.

Yes, it's pirates who are responsible for DRM existance. But crippling DRM producers, in turn, are responsible for rise in piracy.
 
If there were no locks on cars and houses, and no copyright protection on games, the numbers would be a lot higher.

With false premises, any implication is always true, so it could as well be that the numbers would be a lot SMALLER.

I join Stropp and Chris.K, BTW.

For an example which does not fit your pattern: I have several games which I bought, but I played the pirate version simply because it allows me to play without dealing with the annoyance of the DRM. And, honestly, this is completely absurd.....

As for keys/insurance companies: I lock my apartment to reduce the risk of being forced to deal with the hassle of being burglarized. Even if the insurance company were to pay me back in full (which will never happen, BTW), the annoyance to deal with a burglary is enough to make me do any possible reasonable attempt to limit it. Note the difference with DRM: it's ME who deals with the annoyance and it's ME who decides to replace it with another (and for me, minor) annoyance. With DRM, I have no such choice.

(and, second BTW, the only attempted burglary I was victim of was prevented by the additional key lock which had been installed by the apartment owner, so it worked)

On online games: what I completely hate about single-player online games is that somehow they always fail to mention that the game needs a permanent internet connection (sorry, 5pt text printed in light blue over dark blue on a box which I cannot see since I'm buying online does not count). Even worse, they never specify WHY they need an internet connection and which ports/hosts they use. I have a very restrictive firewall configuration, running a new game can require me to add a ton of stuff by pure trial and error.....
 
Certainly there would be no DRM if there were no pirates, but that doesn't mean DRM is the sensible and correct reaction to software piracy. A man who habitually punches little old ladies in the face might claim he never would have gotten in that habit if he hadn't once been mugged by a little old lady with a gun, but obviously this is not an acceptable solution to his problem.
 
People are inherently selfish.

Very true. But I would argue that software piracy has hidden cost for the consumer as well as for the company making the games. How many game development studios have perished in spite of making good games, just because their games were stolen more often than being sold? Anything that hurts the profits of a company always also hurts the customers of that company, because companies always end up letting their customers pay.

I am pretty certain that with DRM the game companies are making a factual calculation: How many sales do they lose from piracy if they don't have DRM vs. how many sales do they lose from people boycotting a game with DRM. The huge sales success of Diablo 3 suggests that DRM is well worth it.

With false premises, any implication is always true, so it could as well be that the numbers would be a lot SMALLER.

How would the removal of locks from cars and houses reduce the number of car thefts and burglaries? I'm curious.
 
The truth is DRM isn't there to stop piracy but to stop resale of the product. It would be like when they sell you your car, your key was biometric so you wouldn't be able to sell it.
 
The point that seems to be ignored is - you do not own your games, you simply have a license to use the software encoding them.

The publisher owns the software and the DRM is to protect ITS property, and misappropriation of it.

It's simply not an argument to say "I should be able to play game [X] any way I like, as it's mine", because it isn't.

I'm not defending DRM, I despise it too, but at least I seem to understand the basic argument that DRM is there to protect the pulbisher's property.

Unless sweeping legislation comes in which gives property rights to purchased software licenses, there is really no argument for a consumer to state that DRM is affecting his or her property.

DRM protecting the publisher's property is exactly the same as a lock to your house protecting you from anyone entering it and benfiting from it.
 
On a side note, do get one of those transponder keys for your car. Best extra I ever paid for. It seems a bit silly, but once you have unloaded a bunch of grocery bags from the trunk or lifted a sleeping kid the back door and walk away, hearing that automatic "beep beep, clunk" is extremely satisfying!

Anyway, on topic. I love the way you omitted the third factor from your reply to Helistar, Tobold!

Regardless of cause (and I completely agree with the – arguably axiomatic – point that pirates cause piracy), I believe that there is force in Stropp's argument that DRM is sometimes more intrusive for the legitimate user than it is for the thief. I distinctly dislike the Steam system, for example, where it is impossible for my son to (formally legitimately, at least in my country) play a Steam game while I am playing a different Steam game.

To add to the flora of DRM/lock analogies: I'm not blaming the lock makers for making locks, but I just wouldn't buy a house that only allowed a single person to be inside at any given time. The fact that I put up with this in my computer world says more about me (us) than it does about Valve.

Finally, regarding burglary and insurance: I definitely don't subscribe to burglary being the insurance company's problem. The problem is not burglars hauling off with stuff worth cash, it is them destroying our memories and objects of affectionate value in the process.
 
Look up Baen sometime and still argue the lock are needed. I have brought in excess of 200 of their ebooks over the last half dozen years.

[quote]How would the removal of locks from cars and houses reduce the number of car thefts and burglaries? I'm curious.[/quote]

You sell a brand of car and your lock are well known for freezing up completely and locking the owner out. This may affect sales. True/false?

I avoid a certain game company because their games while good are problematic to get working.

The fact the last 2 sony dvd's I have brought have both had issues playing I do not consider a coincidence.

Robie, I brought something, somehow the act of buying it means i agree to the licence and all it forces on me. But the criminal did not buy, the criminal is not forced to deal with DRM. Who actually paid money, Me or the criminal.

Because the reality is DRM does not actually stop them, they still play the games, they still watch the movies, they still read the books.We are the fools that paid the money and get games that don't work, movies that won't play and books we can't read on the device we brought them for.




 
DRMs have two huge problems.

1) You only discover the details of the transaction you have entered into when it is too late. It is only after purchase the limitations on how you can play (such as being unable to take your gaming laptop away from an internet connection) or how long you can play (company perminantly switch off the authentication server).

2) They are excessive. Windows only requires authentication on installation, major hardware change and when requesting support/updates. How can a cheaper off-line only game justify much higher security?
 
You are right. The criminals are the cause of locks existance.
That fact is established, but the question of lock quality remains.

You come to your home, insert your key into lock but... sorry, lock producer's server cannot process your key right now, so you have to spend the night on the street. But it's winter now. Minus 20 Celsium. You spend about 30 minutes in the freezing wind and then decide that the lock producer can go to hell. You take the big freaking CROWBAR and tear the lock out.

This is what happening with DRM right now. Current iteration of DRM forces legitimate users go pirate. In essence, these crude DRM schemes completely defeat their purpose.


This is pretty much exactly my opinion on this.

I don't mind DRM if it's not affecting me negatively. I don't mind buying and having to activate a game if I can use it without a problem because of DRM after that.

But if this DRM at some point locks me out of playing the game when I want to, then I have a problem with it.
 
This is an amazingly incorrect and thoughtless analogy. Chris K. immediately points out the fallacy, that it's like buying a lock for your house that someone else has the key for, and you immediately double down with

"If I have a fully insured car or house, the lock is effectively protecting only the insurance company. If I lose the key, it is me who is suffering the negative consequences. So fundamentally the problem is the same as DRM. I suffer from having to use a lock, but the potential financial loss is not to me."

This response not only invalidates itself immediately but further points out how bad the analogy is, because if what you say were true, you would have the option to never lock your door because you control the locks.
 
Anyway, on topic. I love the way you omitted the third factor from your reply to Helistar, Tobold!

I omitted the third factor, because there we are bound to end up talking about different things. I would argue that a removal of copyright protection will always increase the number of pirated copies of the game. He will argue that it is theoretically possible (albeit unproven) that this increase in number of pirated copies will lead to an increase in sales of legal copies due to network effects.
 
A better analogy might be that you want to rent a nice apartment, but before you rent it you must sign an agreement to lock the main entrance of the apartment complex after using it.

You might personally prefer if tramps could sleep on the stairs, but the owner of the complex feels that it would not be in his interest.
 
But if this DRM at some point locks me out of playing the game when I want to, then I have a problem with it.

But I never argued that DRM is not bad. The only thing I am saying is that it is the pirates fault.

Whatever the analogy, in real life my freedom is limited because of crime: I need to bother with means of protection; I need to stay out of certain areas during certain times; etc. Crime exists, and it has a negative impact on the rest of us. DRM is just another example of that universal truth, crime exists and it has a negative impact on legit customers of computer games. We should stop blaming the game companies for that, and start blaming the pirates, because the culture of impunity and entitlement that reigns on the internet is a danger for the rest of us.
 
Yup I blame the pirates 100%. Going off topic a bit but what justification do they have for stealing games any more?

I remember Amiga games costing 30GBP.

I remember paying 37GBP mail order for Tomb Raider on PS1 in the mid-90's.

In 2013 I can buy the latest reboot of Tomb Raider for 26GBP on PC or 35GBP on console.

This is despite huge increases in development costs with large amounts of voice acting, motion capture and artistic input.

Remember these prices don't even account for inflation.

With an Amiga game being 30GBP in '92, then based on UK inflation what should be the comparable price of a new PC game today?

According to the Bank of England website (they have a fantastic calculator) a new PC game today should cost 51GBP.

With the exception of COD you will rarely pay more than 30GBP for the latest titles these days and there are far greater discounts soon after launch than there were in the past.

We are living in a golden age. We have the best games ever made with the largest budgets the industry has ever seen. Yet we are paying the lowest prices in real terms.
 
But I never argued that DRM is not bad. The only thing I am saying is that it is the pirates fault.

Then, to be frank, you aren't really saying much of substance. "If it weren't for [crime x] we wouldn't need protection against [crime x]" is practically a tautology.
 
Well since we are speaking of always online DRM a better analogy for a car would be:

You have to send your key hash to the Toyota server in order to be able to drive it. On days the server is filled with heavy traffic you must drive slower. On days the server is down you don't drive. If Toyota closes or stops supporting the car you are no longer able to drive it... ever again.

I don't think the developers are being "evil" persay, but certain things are bad trends to start setting, and you need flexibility especially since you are buying something. For instance having lived in many bad areas we would always leave our car door unlocked as we would then avoid having to replace windows whenever someone decided to rifle through our car to see if there are any CDs.

After buying Diablo 3 I really feel like this is a bad trend. We are used to really awful bugs and interactions in MMOs due to the fact that we know we are always playing with others and that loot and fairness must be managed on a server. But having a server dictate the rules for a single player game? It only cheapens the overall potential experience.

 
Try to find an insurance company that is willing to insure your video game from being illegally copied.

Seems like insurance companies think there's a difference to car theft. I agree.
 
It's really an interesting point -

I agree with Tobolds post, DRM is CLEARLY a direct result of pirates actions and it should be placed at their feet. To do otherwise is silly.

Just as it is also silly to not blame the company responsible for DRM that breaks my game.



I have not pirated a game since my first full time job.

Yet I know that I WOULD NOT be a gamer if I did not pirate almost every game I played in my childhood.

Today, video games are my #1 hobby. I spend easily S1,500+ per year on it (games, hardware, merch, local events, etc).

Still I know it was wrong to pirate the games that I did, and it hurt those who made some of the games I love the most.

-I wonder where the tipping point is, how much piracy is positive, and how much is too much. I believe no piracy would actually hurt overall sales long term. As well I guess now that gaming has matured less piracy is needed to foster growth. But clearly this not an easy question to anwser.


-- Still, if you think it's ok to pirate a game because of the DRM, you're wrong. If think so, I think you have a very childish view of the issue. The 'me first' and the sense of entitlement to the finished product of 100s of artists and professionals is not that of a reasoned adult.

If something about a product on sale makes you not want to pay for it, you ... don't buy it.

If you pirate it, you pirate it. There is no making this a better because Ubi/EA/Activison is evil, or their servers were down, the laws are stupid or even as was in my case, you couldn't afford the game.

Have the self respect and integrity (the maturity) to admit to yourself that you took something you wanted and you didn't want to pay for it. End of story.


 
"If it weren't for [crime x] we wouldn't need protection against [crime x]" is practically a tautology.

If it was so obvious, then why is everybody always blaming Ubisoft / ActivisionBlizzard / EA for DRM. Where have you ever read on a blog other than here somebody saying "Man, this DRM sucks. Those damn pirates!"?
 
DRM isn't to software what locks are to cars; there's just way too many things wrong with that analogy to know where to start.

A better analogy would be comparing DRM to paying to get into an amusement park, and only then finding out that you must be accompanied by an armed security guard at all times who will ensure that everything you do has been "approved by management".

Don't want to be shadowed like a vagrant? Well, you're free to leave the park at any time; just keep in mind that there are no refunds.
 
Galleon,

I want a "like" button here!
 
With false premises, any implication is always true, so it could as well be that the numbers would be a lot SMALLER.

How would the removal of locks from cars and houses reduce the number of car thefts and burglaries? I'm curious.

The false premise is that theft of any kind can be an appropiate analogy for copying digital goods (with or without copyright infringement).

If the only consequence of removing the lock of my car would be that other people would be able to "copy" my car, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even if this would produce hidden costs to the way the automovil industry worked, in that there would be less innovation in cars, etc...

So if my behaviour in the two sides of the analogy is so widely different I would argue, as many people have in this thread, that theft is not an appropiate analogy for copyright infringemnt. We can have a separate discussion on what kind of felony it would/should fall into, or if it should be a felony at all.
 
If you had posted this title in 2006, I would have assumed "WoW PVP".
 
So if my behaviour in the two sides of the analogy is so widely different I would argue, as many people have in this thread, that theft is not an appropiate analogy for copyright infringemnt. We can have a separate discussion on what kind of felony it would/should fall into, or if it should be a felony at all.

People who steal are very much interested in that sort of detail. "Really, I'm not a thief, I'm just an intellectual property misappropriator!".

Does that REALLY change things? Piracy is a property crime. Even if it isn't exactly like car theft, even if the damage of stealing one video game isn't exactly the retail price of one video game, in the end all you have is a bunch of lame excuses. Video game piracy DOES hurt people, it DOES rob video game developers of their living or a part of it, it DOES have a negative effect on honest customers in the form of increased prices or development studios shutting down. Semantics don't change any of that.

The video games industry and the honest customers would all be better off without video game pirates, whether you call them a bunch filthy thieves or not.
 
Winde,

Interestingly, quite a large group of people tend to get very upset when their cars are copied. And not only cars, hordes of people who have paid a premium for an "original" or "exclusive" product get very annoyed over the "cheap knockoffs". I suppose they feel that the copies lessen their experience somehow.

Kinda like the MMO elites who mourn when their gear doesn't shine as purply as in the days of yore, when you think about it.

I wonder, though, why people don't feel this way about entertainment media. Can it be that in these departments, exclusivity is not as naturally "positive"? Listening to the same music as "everybody else" gives a sense of cultural communality, of belonging. Perhaps more so than shopping at IKEA...
 
But I never argued that DRM is not bad. The only thing I am saying is that it is the pirates fault.

Wrong. The reaction to the threat of piracy is entirely the responsibility of the company, whether it be introducing DRM or otherwise. Just because my house was broken into before, does not mean I have carte blanche to rig my yard with land mines. We do not have odious DRM because pirates, we have odious DRM because the company CHOSE odious DRM as the "solution" to their problem - one choice of many. Less odious DRM (or none!) are perfectly legitimate options, and have been done by all sorts of other (game) companies.

You and others erroneously believe DRM to be analogous to locks, but do locks keep out the friends you willingly invite to your house? Does your car manufacturer sue you for driving your wife to the store?

For all the moral proselytizing, I find few people willing to commit to taking the argument to its logical conclusion(s). At its base, DRM is about limiting the experience of the product to a single individual. Ergo, are you not breaking the law when you watch a movie at a friend's house? Borrow his Xbox game? If you leave iTunes playing and someone walks by, are they not stealing from the musicians for having heard the song for free? Should garage sales be illegal too? Nevermind used records/game/etc stores.
 
Tobold said: How many game development studios have perished in spite of making good games, just because their games were stolen more often than being sold?

Tobold is correct that piracy is the root cause of DRM, just as criminality is the root cause of locks on doors. We've all heard our grandparents talk about living in communities where no-one locked their doors!

But I wonder if the figures really show how much piracy does affect game studios. The music and film industries have been screaming for years about how piracy is going to close down the industry, yet they keep posting record profits (even in a recession.)

The question I quoted at the top of the comment is a really good one. How many studios have actually closed as a result of piracy?

Do we really know if any have?

As a scientist Tobold, do you have any empirical data, or a source to quote?

I suspect, only suspect mind you, that the effect of piracy on the games industry is, like the film and music industry, minimal, and that all of these industries are spending more on DRM technologies than they will end up selling.

Remember most industry estimates count each pirated copy as a lost sale. That's very dishonest as we all know that most pirated games wouldn't have been bought anyway.
 
If it was so obvious, then why is everybody always blaming Ubisoft / ActivisionBlizzard / EA for DRM. Where have you ever read on a blog other than here somebody saying "Man, this DRM sucks. Those damn pirates!"?

Now you're changing your argument away from "pirates started the cycle."

The problem is it has become self perpetuating and the law of diminishing returns comes into effect regarding DRM. A minimal amount of DRM will stop the casual pirateer,but as DRM escalates the ones who are determined to pirate the goods will get the goods for free, while the paying consumer starts to get an increasingly less and less functional product. They erode things like first sale, they make the game difficult to play, they lock you out for absurd reasons... the pirates at this point have the better product.

And that is why we blame THEM and not the pirates. It is a fight that is escalating on only one side, the ones who are using the DRM. A security system no matter how powerful is useless if the person simply walks through the back door, or even better, simply hits the off switch. One is actively engaging in hindering action, the other is removing it.

Know who got to play their favorite games when the servers were down? The pirates, the thieves, the scoundrels. Know who DIDN'T get to play their favorite games? The ones who actually put down money to purchase the product.
 
"If it was so obvious, then why is everybody always blaming Ubisoft / ActivisionBlizzard / EA for DRM."

You didn't list Valve there.

People have got used to the fact that activating a new game once on Steam is a fair compromise for being able to download it whenever you want and play it offline.

This is the de facto standard. Why accept less?
 
People who steal are very much interested in that sort of detail. "Really, I'm not a thief, I'm just an intellectual property misappropriator!".

Does that REALLY change things? Piracy is a property crime

It does change things, at least regarding your analogy. People have widely different responses to thieves and pirates due to the inmediate consquences of those two crimes.

In a theft the direct consequence is visible and plain to the eye, the thief has transfered the ownership of the piece of property away from someone else and everybody can see it.

In a copyright infringement you haven't taken away any phisical property, you have misused someone else's rights. And not everybody sees the consequences, or agrees that they are the same, this thread should be evidence of that.

So when you wonder why people react differently to these two crimes, this would be the response. Even if your argument of both being a kind of property crime is solid, they are very different property crimes, and they affect people very differently.
 
Azuriel,

You pose a series of (rhetorical?) questions. Each of those are very simply answered: no. Copyright law may suck in a thousand ways, be the root of all evil and whatnot, but it doesn't make you a criminal for walking past a café.
 
But I never argued that DRM is not bad. The only thing I am saying is that it is the pirates fault.

My problem with DRM isn't that it's existing, but HOW it's implemented. Is that the pirates fault also?
 
In Tobold's real world examples, any stone or crowbar can break the locks. That means those measures are no protection against criminals. As criminals already have the intend to break into your home and steal your stuff.

Instead, those weak locks are a barrier for normal people, to protect them from becoming criminal if faced with opportunity. If there would be no locks at all, most of us would be criminals.

 
As has already been mentioned, software piracy isn't like other forms of property theft. If I steal a TV or car, I'm removing that piece of property from the owner who then must replace it, either through his/her own pocket or insurance provider.

So is software "locks" the fault of pirates, or is it the fault of the company for continuing to view piracy as any other property theft? And what about their blatant dishonesty in presenting how piracy actually effects their bottom line?

While the studies are fairly scarce, when independently done, the findings are drastically different from what pro-copyright groups would have us believe. A couple of recent ones have found in the music piracy side of the things that people who pirate music actually spend up to 30% *more* on music than the average consumer. It would not surprise me one bit if the same were true with software and digital gaming. So instead of archaically "fighting" the piracy fight, why not spend their time/money/effort into finding ways of getting people who pirate to actually buy their product in the end?

As a recent, personal example: I have used Adobe products for as long as I can remember. Originally for personal use, more recently for professional use. And yet I had never bought an Adobe product until 6 months ago. It was simply too big of an up-front expense. However, that all changed when Adobe rolled out their Cloud service last year. I'm spending roughly the same amount I would be spending if I bought the product off the shelf, but in much more manageable chunks. I thought that was one of the most brilliant things a company has done in a long time. Instead of designing bigger and better ways of keeping me from using their product, they designed a way to make it more accessible. It's not going to stop people from pirating, but I'm certainly proof that it generated a sale where there never had been one before.

So it isn't that DRM is bad, as you stated, it's that it's stupid. Even if they were able to reach a 100% reduction in piracy, there is significant information out there that points to that creating *fewer* sales than generation of sales.

I don't have a problem with having to log into a server to play a game. I have a problem with spending the same amount of money for less of a product than I could have by buying some other game that doesn't force you into a server access only game. The fact that I can't play the new SimCity on my regular 6 hour flights around the country will absolutely be a factor in whether I buy it, despite the fact that I *love* SimCity. It's one of my all-time favorite franchises. But if I can't play it in the normal situations I would play it, I'm not going to spend the money on it. They have effectively lost a sale with their DRM. At the very least they have guaranteed that I will wait till the inevitable 50-75% off sale on Steam before I spend money on it.

In short, in my opinion, just because the gaming companies are creating locks in response to piracy, it doesn't really make it the fault of the pirates. It's the fault of the company for choosing a solution that doesn't really fit (or fix) something they view as a problem.
 
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Even if the Chinese finished taking every single piece of technology the US has, they would still lack the education system, the economic system, and the social system needed to overtake us and become our new masters. It's one thing to have a design or piece of software, quite another to know what to do with it, and still another to be able to do it.
 
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I don't see how the Chinese system would be a hindrance in getting things done. I wouldn't want to live in China, and I don't like their human rights record at all. But if I had the choice between the American Congress and the Chinese Communist Party to get something done, I'd opt for the Chinese.
 
I don't doubt the ability of the CCP to get a generic something done. The problem is that that something is unlikely to be of any help to the world or the Chinese people.
 
You don't think that 10% economic growth every year for several decades is something that is of help to the world or the Chinese people? You were doubting the Chinese education system, but it is already producing more engineers than the American one.

But the best way to appreciate how far more efficient the Chinese are would simply be to watch the American Congress. Is there anything the American Congress did in the last 12 months which would have struck you as efficient, as of being a help to the world or the American people? They barely managed to *not* crash the economy with the fiscal cliff, and artificial crisis of their own making, and that was still their greatest achievement lately.

An authoritarian goverment which doesn't have to listen to its people will always be more efficient than a system with checks and balances. Not "better", but certainly more efficient.
 
Copyright infringement does not need compares; it stands on its own. It is illegal by law, and there's a moral argument for it as well as an economic one. Compares between physical stealing and digital copying always go moot because when something is stolen the owner is deprived from ownership whereas when something is copied the owner still has its copy. One refers to a LOST OWNERSHIP the other one refers to (POSSIBLY A) LOST SALE. If you understand the importance of this difference it is hard to take any compare serious. There's a reason why car analogies are laughed at, too, you know. Add to that the digital distribution has a zero marginal cost which physical distribution and physical products do not have. Eben Moglen has explained this crystal clear more than 10 years ago when online DRM was starting to become more popular, Google for Eben Moglen zero marginal costs.

"But I would argue that software piracy has hidden cost for the consumer as well as for the company making the games. How many game development studios have perished in spite of making good games, just because their games were stolen more often than being sold?"

Which % of those pirates are people who already own a legal copy? Maybe it sounds silly but if I bought Rambo: First Blood on VHS I am not going to rip it to watch it on my tablet. I will download it, since that saves me costs (time/effort). Also, which % wouldn't have bought the product? The kids who pirate Photoshop certainly wouldn't have bought it otherwise. They'd have bought a cheaper version or a free alternative, and for these people the amount of time they spend on piracy is worth it. The piracy of software also very much hurts the open source community (which granted isn't very important in gaming, but is in software). So people like Eben Moglen and Richard Stallman are certainly not pro piracy even though they do address the problems of DRM, restrictive copyright licenses, and lack of source code (40 years ago it was normal software was open source).

"I am pretty certain that with DRM the game companies are making a factual calculation: How many sales do they lose from piracy if they don't have DRM vs. how many sales do they lose from people boycotting a game with DRM.

The primary goal of DRM (and sueing torrent distributors) is to make the free distribution less convenient so we are forced to use the publisher's distribution platforms of choice. It is a form of damage control. This is also why the blocking of The Pirate Bay is relatively successful until the free tools are widely spread in effect. You only need 1 expert to crack the DRM and distribute this in an easy package.

DRM has secondary goals too: preventing the resale of products, for example. Advertising/profiling is another. And the social factor as well (one can only play the cracked version with other players who have cracked server).
 
"The huge sales success of Diablo 3 suggests that DRM is well worth it."

We'll see that next time Blizzard releases a similar product. Because I am pretty sure there's a lot of people who will not buy such a product next time. There's a lot of backfire from Error 37, lack of replayability/content, etc. The amount of sales doesn't reflect how well the game really was received. This is typical short-term thinking.

People don't start to oppose DRM without understanding it. If they get burned by it they'll likely oppose it next time. If you never experienced being robbed why care about robbers? According to your experience they're irrelevant. Once you get robbed 3x in the metro by night you'll sound different I guarantee you that. It takes time to educate the masses about DRM.

"But I never argued that DRM is not bad. The only thing I am saying is that it is the pirates fault."

The always-on functionality in Diablo 3 also functions against crackers who disturb the economy, kinda like stuff like Punkbuster. Unfortunately it failed: bots were still rampant. If Diablo 3 wasn't so hyped/marketed there would be far less bots.

Last but not least us Westerners are completely delusional and believe we are some kind of dominant, innovating society whereas Asia is nothing but copy cats and pirates (go sit in a corner if you believe the iPhone is innovative, you're simply a parrot who doesn't know nor understands the market and fell for brilliant marketing). Nothing could be further from the truth. In the mobile branch the biggest telecom providers are NTT DoCoMo and China telecom. Every single hardware innovation you have seen in the smartphone sector was first introduced in Japan (on Symbian before, nowadays on Android). Its massively huge market. For gaming too I suspect. Its the reason why WoW's subscription rate is somewhat stable.
 
> You don't think that 10% economic growth every year for several decades is something that is of help to the world or the Chinese people? ...An authoritarian goverment which doesn't have to listen to its people will always be more efficient than a system with checks and balances. Not "better", but certainly more efficient. <

Don't want to derail discussion from your very interesting premise on who is to blame from annoying DRM, but couldn't help it...

Efficiency isn't always the best goal.

The guillotine was designed to be efficient.

And both the Chinese people and the world may find unchecked, unmanaged growth doesn't turn out to be a great help long-term.

Case in point: http://www.businessinsider.com/chinese-pollution-is-out-of-control-2012-11


 
More engineers, but of what quality? Engineers trained to do what? Not to think. Thinking is discouraged; it leads to too many dangerous ideas.

10% growth on a small base isn't all that impressive. If they rule the US and get 10% from a large, advanced economy, then I'll be impressed.

"An authoritarian goverment which doesn't have to listen to its people will always be more efficient than a system with checks and balances. Not "better", but certainly more efficient."
True, but efficiency is not an end, but a means.

For example, it is highly efficient to take the ideas or designs of someone else, yet you don't seem to be a fan of that.
 
Azuriel,

You pose a series of (rhetorical?) questions. Each of those are very simply answered: no. Copyright law may suck in a thousand ways, be the root of all evil and whatnot, but it doesn't make you a criminal for walking past a café.


If the answer to those are "No," then most of the argument against piracy begins to fall apart. If it is legal to borrow my friend's Xbox game, then it's legal to borrow a stranger's Xbox game. At which point does the physical disc being borrowed start to become irrelevant, especially when in borrowing I save it to my Xbox's hard drive anyway? Music piracy quickly becomes absurd if it's legal to listen to another person's collection; nevermind the strange gyrations necessary to criminalize the downloading of legitimately free versions of songs, such as those played on Youtube. Or, hell, let's go old-school by putting a tape recorder next to our radios.

I don't think copyright is the root of all evil (although it has strayed far from its purpose, e.g. the betterment of society), I just think it's asinine to conflate the act of Company X copying Company Y's goods and competing with them, with general consumer piracy. And odious DRM that reduces the value of a product for legitimately paying customers. And changing the design of games in bizarre, non-intuitive ways to combat a problem that by most actual accounts has been blown out of proportion. The new Sim City, for example, does not need to be server-side for any reason. Neither did Diablo 3.
 
More engineers, but of what quality? Engineers trained to do what?

But that was exactly my point: China has engineers that are sufficiently good to take an iPad, disassemble it, and built a good copy at half the price of the original. The only thing that stands between an American company like Apple and instant ruin are intellectual property rights!

Where would the American economy be without intellectual property rights? The US is producing less and less physical goods, and more and more intellectual property. Take that away, and what remains?
 
@ Azuriel "The new Sim City, for example, does not need to be server-side for any reason. Neither did Diablo 3."

I cannot comment on Sim City.

Regarding Diablo 3: it does need DRM. The reason is the economy. If it were a single player game without an AH it wouldn't need DRM. People who enjoy "fiddling the RNG" while offline would be free to do so like cheat codes in single player games.

Some fellow above gave 3 reasons to skip content (to impress self, to impress others, to skip repetition). Sure, D3 and every other game featuring achievement system would still provide the platform (e.g. Steam, Armory, ..) to impress others. But does it _influence_ these others like it influences an entire virtual economy when fiddling with RNG? No way. So it is OK.

@ Tobold

Your example is physical and concerns patents ("hardware" patents).

Apple is a very strong brand and regarded as a luxury product in the USA and some European countries, yes. Not so much in Asia though (especially not Japan), and hardware wise the Japanese are far ahead of Apple and it has been like that ever since. There's a very good reason why the rest of the world runs on Android: the base of it is open source (copyleft) which allows everyone to make their own version of the hardware. Everyone wins. Apple wins with a niche product (queue the automobile analogies), Google wins with market penetration, profiling, search and advertising. Providers win because they can make their own version with their own restriction and unique extensions, customers and developers win because the platform is mostly the same and allows much more liberty than Apple's products. Until the next revolution in the comm industry Android is the new Symbian. Apple? Strong brand, they'll keep spinning the innovation marketing spiel, and might even start top-down marketing with cheaper iPhones to chew a bit into the Android consumer base. But it will still be targeted at USA and European markets. Apple won't break a dent in the Asian market. And those who think Apple is such an innovative power house need a reality check and look at how much Apple has spend on R&D. I did this a few years ago and compared it to a company like Nokia (before they pulled an Elop).
 
Tobold Stoutfoot said...

More engineers, but of what quality? Engineers trained to do what?

But that was exactly my point: China has engineers that are sufficiently good to take an iPad, disassemble it, and built a good copy at half the price of the original. The only thing that stands between an American company like Apple and instant ruin are intellectual property rights!

Where would the American economy be without intellectual property rights? The US is producing less and less physical goods, and more and more intellectual property. Take that away, and what remains?

What... China already produces Apples hardware anyways. In fact one of the reasons iphone did shit in China was because the Chinese had ripped it off and made a BETTER iphone that did more stuff. IP doesn't mean shit in China, in fact, since China has started adopting IP policies they've been using them to rule AGAINST American companies. America itself is practically founded on breaking IP of others, and the fact is the reason IP is less respected today is cause of it's continual expansion to cover non-novel and non-new ideas.

IP may have a place, but the place it's at right now sure isn't it. And your arguments against China are just woefully uninformed, so I'm sorry but you really need to brush up on that stuff before you start spouting things off.

And regarding Chinese economic growth, it's built on a gigantic backbone of ridiculous debt that's growing faster than everyone elses in the world and is approaching astronomical levels.

Yeah, sure hope they don't default on THAT.
 
China doesn't need to default, they can just ask for their money back from the USA.
 
Someone else already pretty much made this point, but if the locks on your doors caused your water heater to stop working, or the locks on your car caused the engine to seize every so often and ruined your gas mileage I think you'd start questioning the point of those locks when you could use ones that were nearly transparent in their hindrance.

Overly restrictive DRM is the former, something like Steam is the latter much more transparent lock. I hate having my computer cluttered up and seeing its performance drop due to unwanted services and programs set to load on boot without my permission.
 
Azuriel,

You don't need to act surprised or indignant. I believe you know perfectly well were the line is drawn between what is "legal" and what is not.

The law works like that surprisingly often. It follows a sort of joint "moral compass". I suspect this is the root cause of the heated emotion surrounding the copyright law discussion for the last ten years: we lack the societal coherence in this department to obtain the more universal acceptance that other laws (particularly criminal such) enjoy.
 
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