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Can Piracy ever be Justified?

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

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    This is the part with which I disagree: you're basically saying that 'a significant proportion' of the populace (or at least the subset of the populace which buys Pro Evolution FIFA) is literally so stupid that they will continually buy whatever the TV tells them to buy regardless of whether or not they enjoy it. You've boiled down the population into, basically, the plot of They Live: messages tell us to buy things, and we do exactly what they say without question.

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    I, on the other hand, have a slightly more optimistic view of the UK population. That, or I'm a stronger believer in the power of cognitive dissonance. I don't think there is any way that someone stupid enough to see an advert for Pro Evolution FIFA 2027 boasting "now with 2% rounder ball" and then thinking to themselves "well, every Pro Evolution FIFA I've bought over the last decade has been warmed over shite, but this time it'll be different" would be able to draw a different conclusion if they had free, early access to the game. Especially if they were still seeing the adverts. They'll do exactly what they do now: go "wow, this is so much better than Pro Evolution FIFA 2026, you can really tell the ball is rounder, take my money" even if the only thing that's changed is the number on the title screen.

    See also: any given oogy-boogy audiophile product the purchasers of which insist creates a "night and day" improvement in audio quality despite such an improvement being against the laws of physics. (The Tice Audio Clock was my particular favourite, but I'll give special mention to audio-grade power cables, SATA cables, and gold-plated optical cables. Seriously. Gold-plated optical cables. There isn't even an electrical connection, you bleedin' idiots.)

    The reason we have so many Battlefield of Duty and Pro Evolution FIFA games is that people enjoy 'em. Offering them for free on a trial basis (which is what you argue you're achieving by pirating things) won't make those people suddenly enjoy 'em less (but without an enforcement mechanism, such as a time limit, it will mean that some of those people won't bother buying the game "'cos why should I pay when I've already got the game, innit?")

    But we have a choice. If something has been misleadingly sold, you can get a full refund. It's The Law. Even beyond statutory rights, many companies offer additional rights: if I get half-way through a sandwich from Asda and discover it tastes like arse, I can get my money back.

    Piracy, though, is not a substitute for consumer rights. I'm going to assume you're telling the truth about your habits and that you adhere to your own personal moral code scrupulously: you only pirate stuff to try it out, and if you enjoy it you'll pay for it (even for single-use stuff, like a film: if you enjoyed a pirated film, you'll pay for a digital download and not bother downloading it or buy a physical Blu-ray and leave it in its shrink-wrap until such a time as you fancy watching it again). Trouble is, not everyone is that moral.

    If we say that try-before-you-buy is a justification for piracy, it opens the doors for people to simply not bother with the 'buy' portion of that agreement. That's not fair to the content creators, especially given that there are consumer rights that would allow for refunds or other redress in the case of consumer dissatisfaction with a product.

    EDIT: Basically, for games, we need to bring back shareware. Bosh, problem solved. Somebody get Apogee on the phone, willya?
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2016
  2. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    I was editing my last post while you were posting this one, so you may not have seen everything in it, but no, I don't think there's many out there who have the last 10 versions of FIFA even though they didn't like each one.

    But there are people who have bought one sequel and been disappointed. When FIFA 12 releases, n x people (let's call them Batch 1) buy it cos they loved FIFA 11, but find they're not getting value from their £40 considering the similarity in the 2 games. I'd like to think close to 100% of the Batch 1 people won't buy two years of FIFA games in a row again due to this experience. But when FIFA 13 releases there's a new batch (Batch 2) whose first FIFA was FIFA 12, and they loved it so much they buy FIFA 13, only to be disappointed. So we have Batch 1 and Batch 2 wiser, and poorer, for the experience, but that doesn't stop Batch 3 coming along for FIFA 14 and Batch 4 coming along for FIFA 15 etc. - all learning the hard way. Every person in one of those batches would have benefitted from open-access before paying.


    Have you never sat through a film at the cinema thinking, "Well this isn't much cop, so the ending had better somehow transform it into a good film" only to find that, alas, the ending was as crap as the rest of it. Find me a cinema that offers a refund for that experience.

    Maybe you stumble across a film on the web, so you go to Amazon to check the reviews of the DVD. Lo and behold most of the reviews are glowing (because the majority of DVD buyers, I'd wager, have seen the film before and are fans of it - it skews the figures, and nobody else's opinion can be used to determine whether you'll like a film or not). Then you check the trailer out on Youtube (cos' they're always balanced in their representation, aren't they?). Wow, great reviews on Amazon, trailer makes it look really up my street, I'm getting me that DVD. Sit down and watch for 2 hours... only to find it wasn't what you expected/not your cup of tea/offended you in its portrayal of the female ethnic minority character etc. What's your recourse here?

    (a) I've said previously in this thread: it's not about morals, not at all, for me. It's just common sense. If someone has made something that I like it is common sense for me to pay for it as it supports the production of more of what I like. If I don't pay I'm biting the hand that feeds me. If I pirate a film and don't think much of it there's no sense to supporting the producer. I don't want it. If there was any way of knowing that I didn't want it before I watched it then I would not have bothered, but there wasn't. I'm sorry that cost them money to make it and that I've watched it without paying, but I don't think they should have made it in the first place.

    (b) Everyone is not that sensible/moral. I would tend to agree with that. But at no point have I suggested that all piracy is always justified all of the time. But if you use it in this sensible manner it sounds justified to me.

    Nobody has yet explained why it makes sense to support projects you don't like just because you've sampled the results. Everyone is fine with physical file-sharing e.g. going round to play E.T. on your mate's Atari; going round to watch The Phantom Menace etc. but if it turns out you thought E.T. was nothing but landfill fodder, or that TPM was George Lucas raping your childhood, did you still send a cheque to Atari/Lucasfilm for the privilege, or did you send the cheque before you went round? No. No-one did. And it wasn't because your principles told you you had to but the licence on the box said it was ok for private use. It was because you wanted to try the game/film without committing to buying it. A perfectly reasonable action we all seemed to think back then.

    But suddenly digital file-sharing is beyond justification, just because the scale is bigger and it says so on the box and in the law - but all determined by the scale (and the hope the industries have that they can enforce it, whereas they know they can't enforce no private sharing. If they thought they could, they would ban it). Why should the scale of it affect the principle of it?

    I guess only time will tell if any piracy can ever be justified or not. Presumably, if it can't be, but prevails nonetheless, the music, film and gaming industries will all be brought to their knees...

    *looks at Adele 25, The Force Awakens, and Grand Theft Auto 5 and weeps for their suffering at the hands of piracy
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2016
  3. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    I'm also confused about the whole justification thing when it comes to home-recording. How come I can justifiably record a film that's been broadcast on TV and watch it an infinite number of times quite justifiably without ever handing over a penny, but if I were to somehow miss, or delete, that recording, and so instead pirate the same film and just watch it once, my behaviour is so reprehensible?

    What if I did record the film but then forgot I had done so, or unknowingly archived it and thought I had deleted it, so pirated it anyway. In actuality I might be legally ok (as I possess a legally-obtained copy of the material), but in my own mind I would be riddled with guilt in belief of my morally-bankrupt audacity...
     
  4. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    You can't. The law is quite clear on that matter: home recording is to be used for time-shifting purposes only. You're legally allowed to watch what you recorded once and once only, just as though it were broadcast live. The fact that this is unenforceable means that everybody ignores it; see also ripping an audio CD for use on an MP3 player, which is similarly illegal and every bugger does.
     
  5. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    So what you're saying is... the law says one thing, and yet culturally it's justified because everyone does it (you're not actually saying that, but that's been the reality ever since we bought our first betamax). Surely we can agree that, no-one feels bad for watching that recording of they made of Under Siege so that they could watch Erika Eleniak burst out of the cake over and over again. Society as a whole is ignoring the money men and law makers. It is culturally acceptable, ergo it is justified. No? (we're still waiting for LennyRhys to confirm for us all when something becomes 'justified')

    ... So all piracy needs to do is get more people doing it to the point that it's culturally acceptable...

    Now excuse me while I go and masturbate furiously to delete the clip of Erika Eleniak bursting out of the cake from my VHS before the Feds catch me...
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2016
  6. rollo

    rollo Well-Known Member

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    Paypal and the banks will help kill piracy, Rumours are Paypal has blocked most VPN sites from using it services. Visa and Mastercard are rumoured to be going to do similar things, Preventing payments to torrent sites and VPN sites that advertise themselves as unblockers.

    If the sites cant get money they wont survive long thats for sure.
     
  7. LennyRhys

    LennyRhys Oink!

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    Busy life caught up with me and I forgot all about this discussion.

    There's no difference except in principle, eg how the merchandise was obtained. If I steal something and then return it because I don't like it, I've still committed a crime (read: NOT equating piracy with stealing here, it's just an illustration); whereas if I buy something and return it, I haven't committed any crime.

    There is a catch, however: much of the merchandise we (as a society) buy legitimately or pirate cannot be returned... it's a case of "if you buy it, you keep it, or you sell it on." That way, the money stays with the original seller/vendor, and cash flows as it's meant to.

    The thing is, there are legitimate ways to try certain merchandise without exchanging money, by virtue of things like game demos, movie trailers etc. I can't understand the mentality behind obtaining access to a full product and all its features without being obliged to pay for it, even for a short time. It's basically the same as you have been saying all along - you have a sense of entitlement to the product, and it's therefore up to you how you obtain it. Only after you obtain it do you decide whether or not its worth paying for.

    The question is... why pay for it at all if you know you don't have to? Your personal justification for piracy only has any merit because somewhere down the line you pull a U-turn and don't pirate, which kinda nullifies the justification, does it not? Ultimately, what you're saying is that piracy is an important cog in the capitalist machine, as long as you eventually pay up. Come again?

    This is solid gold. Piracy enabled you to obtain a full product without paying for it; nothing more. You didn't participate in an industry until you put money into it. Are you honestly saying that without piracy, you would not put any money into an industry?
     
  8. tiger-moth

    tiger-moth Member

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    I'm coming late to this discussion and can't read through all of it, so apologies for probably repeating things.
    I remember piracy really killing the Amiga as a gaming platform (though what really killed it was Commodore deliberately with-holding technology, releasing the A600 instead of the 1200 figuring they could sell us the A1200 next year)
    People got fed up with spending more money on a dead platform and mainly bought cheap pirate copies of games.
    I met a former pirate, who I'd bought a lot of games from (most of which never got played) who had moved onto PC's and was a changed man; he told me he didn't realise how much they were killing it, how much damage they were doing - I stopped buying pirated games after that.
    My brother runs a small record company.
    Genuine sales are swamped by illegal downloads.
    Even some obscure dance track would get around 10k illegal downloads in a day or two (versus a few hundred sales)
    It's absurd the notion that all illegal downloads would have resulted in a sale if something wasn't available for free.
    But it breeds a culture where it's considered normal and acceptable to download things for free because you can and that this is some kind of right.
    We used to do cassette copies and compilations, but records we liked, we went out and bought.
    Or we'd take a punt on some LP's because of the cover.
    I'm back doing music now (which is why this post is rushed because I have to go out and do some recording).
    We're figuring on just giving away the MP3 versions - I don't rate it as a music format anyway and if people want to steal it, they will regardless.
    We'd then sell the higher definition versions to people who like it - we figure we're selling to people like ourselves who are happy to pay for music content (and we'll make it reasonably priced)
    The music industry themselves should really be pushing the benefits of 96k and 192khz;
    whilst TV sales are driven by HD, 4k and so on, music has gone backwards and people are listening to lossy audio.
    People will pay 2 grand for a TV but for music they'll listen to something more akin to a cruddy VHS tape, the quality has gone backwards.
    No-one would go from HD TV back to VHS but they'll do that with music.
    May as well give away the low quality format and have a paid upgrade path for the higher def music format.
     
  9. Porkins' Wingman

    Porkins' Wingman Can't touch this

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    With respect, Lenny, you either haven't read or are ignoring much of what I've said (my first post in the thread, Post #28, outlined how pirating turned me from someone who wouldn't participate in the console industry to someone who would and yet you still ask me about it as if I never wrote it), and asked you, and you've brought it back to stating the obvious that piracy is illegal.

    I've made my justification for it. That's what I thought the OP wanted (though now I suspect he was just trolling because he hasn't made any further contribution to the thread since the opening post, if the 'Search' function can be believed).

    My justification is in no way me saying piracy is justified in all cases. I've said repeatedly that there's no sense in ripping off content that you actually enjoy, but there's equally no sense in paying for something you don't want when you trying it hasn't cost the owner anything. Pay for the stuff you like, don't pay for the stuff you don't like.
     
    Last edited: 11 Feb 2016
  10. Grimloon

    Grimloon New Member

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    Simple answer? No. It doesn't matter how utterly craptastic the content is someone has put effort in to creating it. Either reward them by buying it or ignore it. If it's a game then wait for reviews, let's plays or any content relating to it before making your decision. Don't pre-order for bollocks "extras" but give them their due.
     

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