Pirate Software

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by voodooshaman, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Ricardo C

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    I've used pirated software in the past. Mainly games. For some reason, using an illegal copy of a productivity tool somehow felt more wrong. Once I got serious about game development, I cleaned up. But yeah, I confess.

    voodooshaman, I have to echo what most have already said: With the plethora of excellent cheap/free tools available out there, there's no possible justification for using pirated software. I hope you'll go through the same epiphany I did, and either pay for the commercial software, or replace it with the alternatives.

    Applewood, while I have no beef with your position on pirated software, I think your take on cheap/free tools is ludicrous, sorry to say. Price and quality are not always connected, just as free and lackluster don't always go together, either. I use largely free tools, and I've never once said to myself "man, this would be so much easier if I had [insert commercial tool here]".
     
  2. Fabio

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    You've been reported.
     
  3. John Rush

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    I was really trying to avoid getting involved in this thread, but regardless of what anybody thinks about piracy the single self-evident fact is that piracy tricks me out of my exclusive rights.

    I think you may not have a clear understanding of what "exclusive" means. It means that I have the sole authority to (among other things) distribute. When you distribute a unit to yourself or to your friends you have directly "tricked" me out of my exclusive rights. My rights are by definition no longer exclusive if you are assuming them for yourself.

    Further, those rights are of some inherent value. I may profit by selling parts of my exclusive distribution rights (to allow distribution in Japan, for example) -- regardless of actual units sold. That exchange of my rights is valuable on its own. Once again, your illegal infringment is a direct assult on my exclusive rights and the monetary value of those rights.

    You may believe that the piece of exclusivity that you are stealing is of no value to me, but that is not your assesment to make. I don't care if you want to call that "theft" or not, but you delude yourself if you think you are not taking something of value away from me. It may be amusing to consider that depriving me of that which is rightfully mine may not be "stealing", but semantic sugar does not change the inherent nature of the activity.

    You can argue that I shouldn't have those rights or that you think it is cool sticking it to the man or whatever, but no matter how you justify look at it, softare piracy definately infringes on my exculsive rights to my own software.
     
  4. Anthony Flack

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    Yes, but... nah, it's not a matter of justification. It's just a side-effect of doing this kind of business.

    The same mechanisms that allow your work to be pirated also allows you bring your product to market with no factory, no store, no counter staff, and a per-unit cost of zero. The trade-off is very much in our favour. I still haven't heard of anyone who actually lost their business through rampant piracy.
     
  5. Ricardo C

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    It's not completely about losing their business, it's also about losing control of what is theirs, which is a much more personal type of affront.
     
  6. Anthony Flack

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    Only if you get melodramatic about it. It's nothing at all like truly losing control of your IP (that experience is characterised by not being able to have any control or influence over your work at all, and it is a very unpleasant feeling). This is simply the kind of loss of control you experience whenever you release anything publicly, be it software or anything else.

    Hey, I recently violated a publisher's exclusive rights to allow distribution in Japan - Outrun 2006 wasn't getting a release here so I bought a US copy on Ebay and used a swap disk to play it on my Japanese PS2. I'd hate to live in a world where copyright owners really did have complete control over the distribution and use of their work. Copyright was not created in order to give you total control over how your work is used. It was simply meant to help ensure you got a bit of money for your effort. As long as you make a reasonable profit, then the system works.

    And I do think it pays to remember all the benefits you get from (practically) free, automated duplication and distribution before complaining about the harm that piracy does to your business. If you want to avoid piracy, sell furniture instead.
     
  7. Ricardo C

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    But you paid for that copy of Outrun 2006, Anthony. At least the owner of the IP was compensated for your technical infraction. Same as me when I play Region 1 DVDs out here in Region 4. If pirates wanna send devs 20 bucks for getting their games via cracking a demo, then alright ;)

    Haven't we had this exact same discussion before? Who gets to define "reasonable"? As long as we live in a capitalist system, I'd like to be the one who decides what's "resonable" for me, especially since I'm the one creating the product in question.

    Should I also stop and think about how wonderful free speech is before I complain about Pat Robertson's hateful tirades on TV?

    I'd rather give the pirates as hard a time as possible :)
     
  8. Anthony Flack

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    Unfortunately, in my case that would mean I wouldn't be playing Outrun 2006, nor any other game in English so long as I live in Japan. Okay, that's getting pretty tangental now, but my point is that it's best if the copyright holder accepts that they can never control the use of their creation 100%. Trying to enforce that would only lead to nasty totalitarianist practices, whereas keeping things a bit fuzzy can even lead to more sales (just a pity I had to mess around with the stupid swap disks to do so).

    Oh, and yeah, the IP owner was paid, since it was a new copy. Not so for the copy of Resident Evil 4 I also bought to use with the swap disk - it's second hand!

    But selling software over the internet is very nearly a licence to print money, and there are only really two downsides. One is piracy, which is a small price to pay I think. The other, far more serious problem is of course that it's such a good business deal that everyone wants a piece of it.
     
  9. Applewood

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    You've clearly not been involved in PocketPC development. It's bloody rife there. Not sure why it's moreso than for normal PC, probably just more damaging due to the smaller audience. It seems that the number of pirates about does not scale linearly with the size of audience.
     
  10. cliffski

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    Amen. I think it was FOSS who said that ts almost our 'duty' to make getting a pirated copy of our games as difficult as possible. for the really determined pirate, they will probably always find a way, but it can only help to deter casual piracy if you make at least some effort to make it difficult or risky. A large number of people who think they have downloaded the full copy of Democracy just got the demo + lots of padding, or a video of cats chasing each other in a zip file. Im sure eventually they could persevere and find a full copy, but the point I'm making is that every hurdle, however small, that you can put between the pirate and your product, is another opportunity for them to do what most people do and actually dig out the credit card.
     
  11. Ricardo C

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    No physical media to buy, no discs to burn, smaller game sizes than even indie PC games, it just makes it that much more convenient for pirates.
     
  12. Applewood

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    There's probably truth in that. I still know of a couple of small devs that effectively went out of business due to ludicrously bad sales though. The games offered were all over the various warez sitez etc so it's not an unreasonable leap of faith to lay at least some of the blame at the pirates' door.

    Sales for some of my own offerings fit the profile too. Massive (relatively) sales for a week or two, then instantly nothing further. Downloadle games sales should really be fairly constant, possibly even increasing over time, so I don't see who else to blame.

    Anyways, I'm well out of it.

    I wish I could take a more pragmatic view of piracy like some here advocate, but I personally want to find everyone with a warez copy of one of my games and separate him from his testicles.
     
  13. Ricardo C

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    One more thing I wanted to add...

    Most people who pirate software do it because it's so very easy to do, and so hard to detect. They don't have to shoplift, they don't have to break into anyplace, they just have to download a file through *ahem* "alternative" channels. They would never physically lift a copy of a game at a store, but digital piracy screams "victimless crime" to them. They tend to think "surely enough people bought the game that one little bootleg is not gonna put them out of business". The problem is that if that attitude continues to grow (and with broadband becoming increasinly commonplace, making downloads faster and more convenient, it will), this type of casual piracy WILL put people out of business. So I'd rather fight the problem now, rather than wait before it's become too big to handle. I view as quitting smoking now rather than after I'm diagnosed with emphysema.

    Throwing hurdles at pirates, like Cliffski and others do, probably won't end "professional" piracy, but it might just deter enough "casual" pirates to make a difference for the industry as a whole.
     
  14. Anthony Flack

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    Oh hey, I'm all for deterents, and fake download files and stuff like that. As long as you don't inconvenience your customers with any intrusive security measures, why not? I just don't think I could really be angry with a casual pirate; that's not to say I wouldn't want to discourage it.
     
  15. GBGames

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    Actually, I made no such argument. I didn't say that copyright infringement isn't a crime or that it doesn't have an adverse effect on the value of the business involved. On the contrary, I believe there is a very real effect. All I said is that it isn't theft.
     
  16. GBGames

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    Actually, copyright in the United States was created to promote the sciences and arts BY securing exclusive rights for the creator of the works in question for a limited time. A lot of people tend to forget that the purpose is not to protect their works. Protecting their works is the means to the end.

    If you listen to some voices, like the RIAA, you would think that copyright was a natural right guaranteed by the Constitution. It's not. The Constitution simply gives Congress the right to pass laws related to copyright to promote science and art.

    And I would argue that giving total control to creators over their works means that fair use rights and the public domain are in trouble. No Outrun 2006 in Japan, no backup copies of anything, no way to store copies of books for future generations to read on library computers, and countless other restrictions imposed on the public due to the need to protect works as if the whole point was to prevent others from doing anything but what you explicitly allow.
     
  17. Anthony Flack

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    Indeed. I've read Free Culture so I'm well aware of the distinction; and I agree entirely. Copyright is not (or at least, was not) intended to give authors restrictive control; it was created to ensure that they were able to make a reasonable profit in the short-term, so they had an incentive to continue to enrich our (shared) culture. There was never an assumption that you would "own" ideas you created - just that it was reasonable for you to be rewarded for your invention with a short period of exclusive copy right.

    These days it is being used, in many cases, to restrict culture. If the original copyright laws were still in place, we'd be able to include old songs (at least from the 80s on back) in our game soundtracks. Once you are able to get past your (learned) moral outrage that that is an infringement on the author's rights, you'd realised that would be pretty cool, people would enjoy it, and selecting your soundtrack could be pretty fun and creative. As it stands, only big publishers can afford to use "real" songs.

    However, that is absolutely getting right off the original topic now, since even though 15 years would be a perfectly reasonable amount of time for software copyrights to expire, we're not talking about abandonware today.
     
  18. GBGames

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    Now that I have a little more time, I'll add that I agree that infringement is a violation of your exclusive rights; however, it isn't stealing it. Someone copying your game without your permission isn't preventing you from exercising your legal rights, while stealing a physical product from you would prevent you from exercising your rights to that property.
     
  19. Karja

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    Some blame certainly lies with the pirates, but one mustn't forget that many people might think that a program is worth using if it's free, but they would never pay for it. I'm not saying that this is the case for everyone - I can only speak of my own experiences.

    I have a small product that people download; it's not much, but around a thousand downloads per month at least. It generates extremely few sales, though - barely enough to pay for my cheap webhosting. I've noticed some traffic from a few warez sites, but I wouldn't dream of blaming my poor sales on that; the truth is simply that my hobby projects aren't good enough yet.

    Note that I'm not saying that everyone else make bad products; I'm just saying that in some cases, this might be the case: it's just decent enough to use for free.
     
  20. Escapee

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