Does any portal do *Anything* about piracy

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by cliffski, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. Thorbrian

    Original Member

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    Actually it was the december update that had the big sales boost. The July one was the second one that didn't show any systemic increase.
     
  2. Tertsi

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    Thanks a lot for the great post. I only wish more portals would do the same.
    Personally, I've never cared much about the impact of hardcore piracy on a single product, but I care a lot about casual piracy.
     
  3. terin

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    I dont really read these forums all that much - so I am late to the show for this thread.

    Based on what has been said, I offer the following thought:

    If there are 10 sites with keygens and you can easily shut down 9 of them, does it matter? I hear what Cliff is saying and understand the frustration, but as a kid (heck, even early college days) I pirated everything. I'm proud to say I haven't pirated anything since those days, but dead links and bad serial numbers didn't stop me.

    As long as one site has the key you've achieved virtually nothing for the work of shutting down the other 9 sites.

    I'm not saying portals should do nothing. I'm happy to step in and fix what I can, should I notice a pirate site... but I am saying that as annoying as it is: We can't win against people who really want to pirate products.

    Trust me, there were times it may have taken me 30 - 60 minutes to find a product and pirate it; but I never failed. I pirated games and software from age 10 to about age 19, 9 years.... and probably 200 different products.

    Hey, I am man enough to admit I was both imperfect and have improved my ethics since then. The number of sales lost from my personal piracy was probably pretty low, but it definitely was a positive number- im sure one of those 200 items I would have shelled out money for if I hadn't been able to crack it.

    So yeah, I am sure piracy negatively impacts sales. I A) Don't see any way to stop it, even IF you take the time to shut down whatever you can, and B) Am not entirely convinced that the work involved with shutting down piracy (work or strong encryption that will lead to reduced sales or more support requests) is actually a good use of anyone's time. That is, profit is not greater than the value of the time spent. This goes for persons OR portals.

    If this problem had some easy solution it wouldn't be a problem :)

    So the initial argument really can be simplified:

    Is the cost associated with increased piracy worth the increase in sales/profit from the portal. Is there a case for "in for a penny, in for a pound" mentality with portals? IE: If you work with one you may as well work with them all.

    And some second question was raised later:
    Is the cost associated with loss of brand ind identity (exemplified by search engine placement) worth the increase in sales/profit from the portal?

    While you can say I am biased, I am pretty sure if people look at the data they'll come to this conclusion:

    The traffic and sales (internal only) both increase despite the above factors. This leads us to show that the most likely risk in dealing with portals is opportunity cost, not the above concerns. It works like this:

    Lets say you move from rank #1 for your game to rank #4 or 5. While your rank decreases, it is my guess that your VOLUME of traffic increases from the enhanced exposure creating more people searching for your product. Please share stats if you have them, this is just based on a few people I have spoken with. How many searches did "Kudos Game" get before going on portals? How many after?

    We can further that by asking: Do sales also increase following this volume (Internal only). IE: are you selling more games directly due to this increased exposure of your company/game. If that is true it shows that the amount of sales lost via piracy is more than made up by volume of profit. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and focus on your strengths, piracy seems to be one of those issues. What were direct sales before portal launch? What were they in the first month after launch? What were they a 6mo to a year later?

    So on the opportunity cost idea: It is as follows. What is the LONG term ramification of this condition. More importantly, could you have promoted your game enough that search volume COMPOUNDED with improved anti-piracy factors (that should be reflected by conversion rates) exceeds the value gained through a portal?

    It's a hard question, but I am pretty sure many developers lack the real passion and will that it takes to create a successful website and brand... it really is a full time job; so if you want to make games AND really grow a brand you're working two full time jobs already - that's a lot of work for a game that may simply fail on its merits rather than on lack of trying.
     
  4. Promaginy

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    In Law = Ignoring Piracy is Condoning Piracy?

    Okay, I am not a lawyer, but what what is seared in my brain from my business law course is that ignoring a contract breach, especially over years is the same as condoning it.

    If a developer or publisher does nothing about piracy then in the eyes of common law, they would be seen as condoning it. At the least, I think that Cliffski and Reflexive is right to make a minimal effort to protect their property. I agree with some of the posters that to fixate is unhealthy, but to completely ignore the problem is wrong.

    Loved the thread. I will definately be implementing some of these anti-piracy strategies when our game is released! I would be willing to financially contribute to a web-spider that searched for pirate threads and sites and automatically sent warning letters out...
     
  5. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    A publisher would be crazy to put a "we'll prevent any piracy" clauses in their contract so I'm not sure how they could be condoning it.

    Be like a knife manufacturer 'condoning' murder because they didn't track down any killers who used their brand of knives.
     
  6. nights

    nights New Member

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  7. cliffski

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    its easy if the file is hosted by rapidshare, megaupload, yourfielhost etc.
    some of them have a 'report abuse' link that you click to go to a web form.

    I always use legal@ domain name as my email address
    my subject header is "copyrighted files on your server please remove and ban asap"
    I send these to 'abuse @ domain name'
    just with a list of the file URLS. Sometimes I've listed 300+ in a single email.
    Some take them down within in an hour or two. rapidshare always take 24 hours or more, but always have them removed.

    It's way harder to get torrents removed, and the piratebay, despite their pretence at being good guys, basically don't give a shit, but most websites will actually take down hosted files. Most causal piracy doesn't involve torrents, but rapidshare links.

    It takes less than 20 seconds generally.
     
  8. Promaginy

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    I would'nt want you to confuse the issue like that. The relationship between a game publisher and a developer is not even remotely similar between a knife manufactuer and the customer who buys it.

    My point was, if you ignore a problem long enough, in the eyes of the law you are condoning it. If you sign a contract with a publisher and they consistently pay you 10% less than you agreed to and you never, ever raise it as an issue, then that practice becomes the new contract. What is being practiced will overide what is written.

    So that's why Cliffski is right to make a minimal effort to combat piracy. He is demonstrating through his practice that he wants to protect his property. The publishers are demonstrating otherwise. Regardless of the obvious ethical issues relating to piracy, there is also a practical legal one as well.
     
  9. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    But as I said, you're talking about what's in a contract and no publisher in their right mind will put a clause in saying they will prevent piracy (hence they can't be in breach). It just can't be done so why would they risk breach of contract to put it in?

    On a similar note, here in the UK you can lose a trademark under the "use it or lose it" clause but you don't lose copyright as far as I'm aware.
     
  10. soniCron

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    luggage is right on the button: No publisher in their right mind would guarantee any level of piracy protection -- it's simply impossible to do so. It may be in their best interest to discourage piracy where possible, but that's a purely financial interest, and certainly has nothing to do with condoning the behavior. We have a similar "use it or lose it" law for trademark in the U.S., but again, not for copyright. So, by looking the other way, the publisher may be effectively condoning piracy, it is not considered a legal stance, and thus they cannot be held accountable.

    I'm not a laywer, this is not legal advice.
     
  11. Promaginy

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    Just for the sake of pure speculation, could a developer successfully sue a publisher that basic, common-sense steps were not taken to protect the IP?
    I personally think that there is a strong arguement there.

    I would agree that a publisher could not guarantee a reduction in piracy, but to pretend that it does not happen is pure neglect. A contract could identify expected behavior and not expected outcomes - for example: Publisher will make a minimal effort to disuade casual piracy at 1 hour a week by doing etc, etc.

    Cliffski is demonstrating that it is not hard to do some steps as the copyright holder to protect his IP. A publisher would have to tell a court why it could not spend one hour a week sending out warning letters or dissuading peoeple from casualling pirating the software. Even if the effort is going to have minimal effect, it still must be made.

    Again, I am not a lawyer, but this is what I gleamed from my Business Law course.
     
  12. cliffski

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    Happily, another forum for casual game key trading got wiped today.
    There was over 100 people on that one forum trading licence codes for Kudos.
    Even if only 10% were potential buyers thats $199 in lost revenue for that one game. Well over 100 different titles were being traded.
    Closed down with 2 emails and use of tracert.
     
  13. Greg Miller

    Greg Miller New Member

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    I wouldn't expect this to work for much the same reason you don't get arrested for standing back and watching a mugging or a murder. There's no automatic obligation to protect others unless you were a contributing factor in the crime. If the publisher hosted user-created content/forum posts/whatever and didn't take down keygens posted by users, it'd be an easier sell.
     
  14. terin

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    Didn't you watch the last episode of Seinfeld? You CAN be arrested for not helping someone in need.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law

    God bless you Wiki.

    This has nothing to do with the portals though :) I just thought it was funny that in some areas it is illegal to stand by and do nothing while witnessing a crime.

    -Joe
     
  15. HairyTroll

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    Not so in France.
     
  16. Skinflint

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    cool

    Very cool...since no one else had mentioned it, I wanted to make sure that you knew that someone noticed. :)
     
  17. Promaginy

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    Please don't confuse crimimal law with civil law. There is a world of difference between the two. The relationship between a publisher, a developer, and a pirate is WAY different a mugger, a victim, and a witness.

    A publisher by virtue of their role has some rights & responsibility over the material under its care. It is acting as an agent to take care of the product. As an agent it has a duty to take all necessary steps to ensure that the product is not stolen.

    When a logistics company takes agency of your parcel, they need to take steps to protect the item. If the logisitics company knew that people were coming into their trucks and stealing the parcels and did nothing to stop it or prevent it, then they are negligent.

    In the case here, we now know that some publishers and portals are not doing anything to protect the items they have a responsibility for. They are being negligent in their duty of care. I know that if our game gets picked up by any portal/publisher, I will be insisting on some kind of clause relating to taking steps to reduce piracy.
     
  18. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Aren't you confusing theft and breach of copyright there, or civil and criminal law? A publisher's relationship with a developer is specified in a contract between the two. If you aren't happy with how a publisher deals with copyright infringement then you shouldn't agree to let them distribute it.

    Unless there's something specifically laid out in the contract I don't see why they would be held responsible. By wrapping their product with a DRM they have taken reasonable steps for starters. Surely, under your approach to the situation, the responsibility is then passed on to the DRM suppliers?

    Another point to consider, when breach of copyright takes place it's against the copyright holders which would usually be the developer. In that case isn't the responsibility on the developer? Strictly speaking I'm not 100% sure a publisher could do anything more than write a theatening letter, it would be up to the copyright holder to take legal action.
     
    #78 luggage, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2007
  19. Agent 4125

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    A lot of problems are too big for a permanent solution, but that doesn't mean we should ignore it. A 50% solution is better than nothing. Google for "broken window theory". You have to keep weeding the garden or things get out of control.

    Regarding the portals, they have an opportunity here to at least show a good faith effort toward the problem. Set up an internal incentive program to reward employees that take down sites on their lunch break. Score points with the developers that support your business by telling them "Hi, we shut down 12 sites this week that were illegally distributing your game."

    Cliffski is showing that it isn't difficult. When I release my own game, I'll be doing the same.
     
    #79 Agent 4125, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2007
  20. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    The bigger the company, the more lawyers get involved and make them do things "by the book". That means official cease & desist letters signed by lawyers at $300 bucks an hour, which then also includes follow up, and then multiply that by the number of crack sites out there. Do the math and the numbers should make it obvious why the portals aren't scrambling to take em all down (especially when they know most move on to a different server, different URL, within 24hrs). That money is better spent improving the DRM software, and marketing to paying customers, etc.
     

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