1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Can Piracy ever be Justified?

Discussion in 'Serious' started by Darkwisdom, 8 Nov 2015.

  1. Darkwisdom

    Darkwisdom Level 99 Retro Nerd

    Joined:
    27 Aug 2011
    Posts:
    2,675
    Likes Received:
    63
    I had an argument with a fella in another group i'm in about this. So I wanted some of the opinions of the intelligent people of Bit-Tech. I buy all of my games, and I take pride in helping out the people who develop my favourite games, big and small companies.

    However, there are people who go to great lengths to justify pirating games, such as being a 'poor teenager', or being a country or area where games are scarce, or there are laws in place. What do you think, is piracy ever okay? I don't think it's ever okay. I might be naive, and I gladly welcome opinions on why I might be.
     
  2. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

    Joined:
    3 May 2012
    Posts:
    5,196
    Likes Received:
    153
    If the work isn't available to purchase anywhere, but is available through sharing. I mean that in the sense of say, a book that is no longer in print, rather than media that has been region locked, or will be released in your region in the future but you want it now.

    I would take issue with the length at which something remains under copyright, especially when the media in question is the work of one person such as an author or small group of people such as a band or indie dev team. Once the originator has died, that should be it. End of copyright. I would take issue with DMCA take downs on youtube, where the work has been used legitimately used such as in critiques. The critique channel called your film sucks is a prime example of this occurring. I don't have much sympathy for large, rich, powerful media distribution businesses or their business model, or their losses due to piracy. Especially given the type of lobbying they get up to. I'm not condoning piracy though.

    There was also the case of Hotline Miami 2 potentially being banned in Australia. There was a screen shot of an email going around, with someone asking the dev if they can buy the game directly from them. The dev replied that if the game was banned to just go ahead and pirate it. To be honest I wouldn't take issue with piracy being used as a means to circumvent censorship, where no one involved in the media is actually hurt, absued etc.

    But all in all, for the majority of media that people are consuming, there isn't really a good excuse. There are legitimate reasons as I've outlined but they are all largely fringe cases.

    There are a few non-fringe cases. I have for example cracked protected media I have bought so that I could use it as I see fit, which wasn't to share it with others but to free it from being used on a single device / platform. In other words for my own personal use. Also in the UK you can't (once again) move your CDs to your MP3 players phones etc. Doing these things are probably considered some form of piracy, but nothing I would give a second thought to in doing, or feel in any way morally impacted from doing so.

    There is also the point to be made that piracy has brought about change in the media industry which benefits end users, such as netflix and steam or DRM free games provided by GOG, typically these services have given people better value, quicker delivery and a better experience than the status quo. In other words the response to piracy was to provide a service that can still be monetised, but offers a better safer alternative to piracy. You could say, its a much more effective way of voting with your wallet.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2015
  3. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

    Joined:
    30 Aug 2015
    Posts:
    11,773
    Likes Received:
    1,838
    The problem for me is unfinished products.

    The first time I learned of this was when I went to an import shop back in the early 90s and purchased Pit Fighter for the SNES for the princely sum of £60.

    I got it home and soon found out that unlike the Megadrive version which I had played and enjoyed on a friend's console the SNES version was just an unfinished mess. A fight would begin, the screen would twitch and you'd be dead. It simply did not work.

    That was when I found out how bent and twisted the laws of buying video games were. "Sorry, you've opened it that's it you're stuck with it".

    Very bitter pill to swallow.....

    That was why I moved to PC gaming. Basically pretty much every game for the PC back in the mid to late 90s came with a demo you could sample to make sure that what you were buying was what you wanted and that you would enjoy it. Then gaming changed and corporations like EA took over and refused to let you sample the game without paying for it first, and if you didn't enjoy it for any reason you were screwed.

    Don't get me wrong I actually like buying games. Good games that I can enjoy, and I like having physical copies.

    As an example (a recent one) I was gaming on a PC and I wanted Fallout 3. However, I had pirated it because it came out early via piracy. I then went on to buy the Lunchbox edition for £80 but I could not get the PC version so I bought the PS3 version and then a copy of Fallout 3 for the PC to put in it. I gave the PS3 version to a friend.

    I then bought the Brotherhood of Steel edition and again, gave away the copy of the game to a mate because I could only get the PS3 version. I then went on to buy the GOTY edition with the DLC, Then I bought Fallout New Vegas box set, then later bought the GOTY edition on Steam.

    I have also pre ordered the Pip Boy edition of FO4, and I am now eyeing up the other one that comes with the survival guide.

    BLOPS 3 however? I'll admit, I stole it. And I'm glad I did, because not only does it run like turd it's also so crap I couldn't even get into the story. Just "blah blah blah blah" for a minute, then the shooting begins.

    I've deleted it, and it won't be on my PC again ever. If it were good? I'd have quite happily invested in the brand with box sets, mouse mats etc.

    Sadly it's complete junk.....

    And that's pretty much how I do it these days. If I like a game and think it's been lovingly created I have absolutely no problems at all opening my wallet.

    But upward of £50 for a load of junk that took ten minutes to make? no thanks.
     
  4. David

    David Take my advice — I’m not using it.

    Joined:
    7 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    14,487
    Likes Received:
    3,051
    Same tired old argument: "if they made decent games I'd buy them".

    What a load of bollocks - a poorly optimised or even "unfinished" game do not give you the right to play them for free. Nobody is making you buy it, just vote with your wallet and spend your money elsewhere - if indeed you ever intended spending anything in the first place.

    You know what I did when the COD series turned crap and the SP campaign was reduced to a few hours gameplay? I ignored them and resolved to only pick them up when they were in the bargain bins for a few quid.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2015
  5. Icy EyeG

    Icy EyeG Controlled by Eyebrow Powers™

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    517
    Likes Received:
    3
    I think people justify piracy of digital assets in particular because they don't see much value in them. Digital assets are inherently and indefinitely copiable. DRM schemes are artificial ways of trying to prevent that from happening, but as we all know they are circumvented, sooner or later.

    I think we need a major copyright reform and think whether copyright as we know it makes sense for digital assets. In my view current copyright laws work well only for physical assets. For digital assets it makes no sense to charge distribution, the real cost is all in the creation process. Because of this, it makes much more sense to fund the creation, in a system similar to Patreon.

    However, I know this will take decades to change, and even if I don't agree with the current copyright system, I sill believe piracy is not justified, unless it's for things like abandonware and, more generally, works that aren't available for purchase anymore.

    If people don't agree with how certain things are being sold, the solution is simple: don't buy them. If you still want to use them, then you must wonder if the rules the distributors want you to follow are worth the trouble (price included). You can't have a cake and eat it too.
    Take the example of Photoshop: if GIMP isn't enough for you, then buy Photoshop. Don't justify pirating Photoshop with the fact that GIMP isn't good enough and/or Photoshop is too expensive.

    I prefer to invest myself in works that cannot be traditionally pirated by definition (public domain, copyleft and creative commons content, for example), and whenever I can donate to the artists/project, instead of using piracy as a demonstration tool.

    Granted it doesn't cover everything I use, but at the very least I try to buy things DRM-free.

    In the case of games and the situations you mention, I use GOG and the Humble Store (if the games have a DRM-free copy). Since I don't have much money, I always buy things on sale. Even if you are short in cash, you can always save enough for a Summer or a Winter sale.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2015
  6. lilgoth89

    lilgoth89 Captin Calliope

    Joined:
    12 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    3,089
    Likes Received:
    262
    I have a pirated game on this computer...
    Battlestations Pacific, i own the game but i was forced to pirate the game in order to install it. The game off the shelf comes with a hardware scanner in the installer that was simply never updated so it wrongly assumes my computer cannot run the game and hence prevents me from installing a game i forked over money for
     
  7. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

    Joined:
    30 Aug 2015
    Posts:
    11,773
    Likes Received:
    1,838
    If I play a game I will buy it. If I can't because it doesn't work or is crap then I won't.

    I don't make a habit of buying nor collecting turds.
     
  8. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    2,192
    Likes Received:
    73
    I have heard the argument used, in the example of office that it is simply too pricy, which I do to an extent agree with. However with the introduction of 365 that goes out of the window.

    I do think that if the software were cheaper, in some instances, it would solve a lot of the issues. Retail copy of Windows 100 quid, if it were more cost effective more people would buy it and therefore there would be less piracy.

    I'm not saying I agree with piracy, I don't, I accept that price isn't always a justification, but it is a good starting point
     
  9. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

    Joined:
    30 Aug 2015
    Posts:
    11,773
    Likes Received:
    1,838
    Actually I take that back. £33 for Batman and I still can't play it.
     
  10. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

    Joined:
    3 May 2012
    Posts:
    5,196
    Likes Received:
    153
    I think office is way over priced. But I use Libre Office instead of paying Microsoft or pirating their stuff.
     
  11. dancingbear84

    dancingbear84 error 404

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2010
    Posts:
    2,192
    Likes Received:
    73
    Libre office is great, I used it in my last job all day every day, however in a business environment, with exchange, you are stuck with Ms office. Which is big money, at home I am using the trial of 2016. When it ends I'll be back to open office libre office or other free version.

    The trouble with libre et al is the UI is best described as dated, or was when I last used it. I know I couldn't do better, but someone must be able to make it look less 1999 which would help with its adoption from the masses.

    The same with GIMP, I love gimp and find it a very good tool but it looks so dated, like I say I couldn't do better, I wouldn't have a clue where to start.
     
  12. Icy EyeG

    Icy EyeG Controlled by Eyebrow Powers™

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    517
    Likes Received:
    3
    The only gripe I have with Office is that they don't use a proper document standard, which gives them an unfair advantage.

    Fortunately ODF is slowly becoming popular in institutions, and in college, most teachers handle documentation and assignments in PDF.
     
  13. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

    Joined:
    11 Feb 2010
    Posts:
    1,002
    Likes Received:
    90
    There are a few moments when it's less morally objectionable or even okay.

    1) Abandonware.
    If a company no longer exists or no longer sells a product, if you can't buy a copy of it, even on the secondary market, then I think it's at least justified. Star Wars Christmas Special, old TV shows never officially released that were ripped from someone's old VHS collection. If the content creators/owners aren't even trying to make money off something anymore, then I see no issue.

    2) Archiving.
    There are TV shows, books, movies, and games that would be lost if it weren't for the actions of "pirates." Harmy's "Despecialized Editions" of the original Star Wars trilogy is an example. A group of dedicated fans have spent a lot of time and money to try and get the original trilogy back to the theatrical release version. This includes buying original matte paintings, getting access to master copies of film, color correcting the really bad blu-ray releases, etc.

    Desert Bus, a mini-game from the unreleased Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors became available only through piracy, and is now part of an annual fundraising campaign called Desert Bus for Hope that has raised over $2.4million for the Child's Play charity. It started as piracy but has gotten the support of everyone who ever worked on the project. Penn & Teller and ecstatic about the charity, but it's not like the LoadingReadyRun (the group running the fundraiser) ever asked permission. It was still piracy.

    More than that, we have a false sense that all things digital will be with us forever because it's so easy to make a perfect copy, but look at the internet archive and you'll see that most of the internet would already be forgotten (and mostly still is since the archive grabs so little) if it weren't preserved in some way. Most of this preservation is technically piracy, but that shouldn't stop anyone from making a copy for posterity.

    3) Personal Use of Legally obtained media.
    If I buy a game and then crack it to be able to play offline, or make a copy of a bluray so I can keep the original safe in a binder, I'm not going to feel an ounce of guilt.

    When I rent a bluray I'll rip it to my PC (since all playback software costs money) and then delete the copy when I'm done watching. Sometimes, the bluray people will put 100+ different titles that are all the length of the movie, but only one will have the content in the right order and you have no way of knowing which to rip. In those cases I've just donned my hook and eyepatch and gotten the movie online . . . and then deleted it when I was done. I know it's illegal, but I don't think it's immoral since I paid to rent the movie, I watched the movie, and then I returned the movie. (I also know some of you here are going to think that's horrible of me).

    Heck, this consumerist article talks about the legality of saving Netflix rips for later watching. It's not something most people do, but it's possible and technically legal (in the US). In that case I almost think it's more immoral than downloading a movie I paid to rent.

    And there's the case of which product is actually better:
    [​IMG]

    I remember buying Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I went to the "special features" section of the disc and there was an unskippable "This content brought to you by cell phone company X" splash screen that I swear stayed up for 10+ seconds. I've never been so pissed off at a DVD (and the people who made it). I paid $25 for that DVD. I paid $10 more for special content, not for an unskippable ad every time I want to view it. I've never once felt bad ripping my discs to forever get rid of that garbage after that.

    Netflix has been attributed with huge drops in the rate of TV and movie piracy. Steam has been attributed with lowering the piracy rates in places like Russia. In both instances Steam and Netflix have given users a product that can compete with piracy. All of a sudden the legal product was more convenient than the illegal one.

    Once the purchasable product is competitive with piracy, then the only people you'll have left are the real thieves, who aren't ever going to buy no matter what you do.

    That's when I think it's alright. You can disagree and flame me if you want.
     
  14. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001 [DELETE] means [DELETE]

    Joined:
    3 May 2012
    Posts:
    5,196
    Likes Received:
    153
    Microsoft have never really been a standards compliant company. If you look at the history of internet explorer you can see this.

    The Libre Office UI is more coherent than the tabby thing that office has in my opinion. Libre office has a nice small in size, sensible menu system. More recent editions have updated the UI but it still holds true to its menu based UI.

    I think universities should encourage the use of open platforms. On the other hand the real world uses Microsoft in the work place.
     
  15. Icy EyeG

    Icy EyeG Controlled by Eyebrow Powers™

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    517
    Likes Received:
    3
    I pretty much agree with you, but regarding 3, things are changing a lot. Nowadays the intention is for you not actually buy media and don't own copies anymore. You buy a license to watch certain media in a certain way.

    That said, I don't know if there are EULAs for blu-rays the same way there are for modern software.
     
  16. Icy EyeG

    Icy EyeG Controlled by Eyebrow Powers™

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    517
    Likes Received:
    3
    That's key. State schools and universities have the obligation, in my opinion, to encourage open standards and platforms. If that's done long enough, workplaces are bound to change habits.

    EDIT: I realize I was an idiot and double posted. Apologies.
     
  17. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    4 Mar 2008
    Posts:
    3,280
    Likes Received:
    643
    This debate seems very superficial, so let me propose a few questions for the group

    Is it moral to exploit an economy of false scarcity with non-rival goods?
    Is it ethical to exclude people from the prevailing culture based on economic standing?
    Does the argument that those who work on games deserve appropriate recompense hold water in the real world?
    Could pro-social behaviour replace the industry in much the same way Wikipedia replaced the encyclopaedia industry? (bearing in mind that the billion dollar games like Counter Strike, Team Fortress, Killing Floor, DayZ and DOTA were all initially developed and distributed with no financial remuneration)
     
  18. Xir

    Xir Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    26 Apr 2006
    Posts:
    5,316
    Likes Received:
    94
    I'm with theshadow2001 and d_Stilgar.

    My kids watch 10 minutes worth of shy.....before every movie I OWN ON DISK.
    Much ripping followed :D

    That said, I don't pirate games. Heck I can't even play through my Steam backlog :wallbash:
     
  19. wyx087

    wyx087 Homeworld 3 is happening!!

    Joined:
    15 Aug 2007
    Posts:
    10,947
    Likes Received:
    312
    Interesting thread.

    At this current time, I'm considering pirating GTA5. For no other reason than to download 60GB worth of data ONE LAST TIME and save it in my NAS forever. I've purchased GTA5 at full price, so what I will really be doing is saving a local copy of the game I own.

    I think this whole subject is diluted by DRM. Without horrible DRM, if games we buy are just simple installation files, digital films are just mp4 files, DVDs jump straight to the film, or if every game can be managed by a less intrusive DRM, more useful launcher (Steam), the piracy statistics would be a lot lower. Especially in this digital age where games are no longer sold on disks.
     
  20. Icy EyeG

    Icy EyeG Controlled by Eyebrow Powers™

    Joined:
    23 Jul 2007
    Posts:
    517
    Likes Received:
    3
    • No, just vote with your wallet then, but pirating isn't the answer either.
    • I assume this is about geoblocking? Same as above.
    • I honestly don't know what to say about this.
    • Yes, but don't forget that all those games were proprietary to begin with, something Wikipedia is not. Community driven proprietary games either get bought and turned into a commercial solution or are destined to become abandonware either because the community/devs disappear and no one can fork the project, or due to copyright claims.
     

Share This Page