How often do you pirate?

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Hatta
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Joined: 04/27/2010
That anonymous comment was

That anonymous comment was mine. Not trying to hide behind a veil of anonymity, even if copyright abolitionism is unpopular. Just forgot to log in, that's all. As for my comment, instead of "taking issue" with it could you tell me where you think my analysis is flawed?

It seems like we have 3 choices. We can continue on the way we have been, with people flaunting the law, and a few unlucky people suffering hugely disproportionate punishments to make an example of them. This does nothing but breed disrespect for the law and our justice system.

Or we can go all out and do what it would take to enforce copyright. That means no unauthorized software on computers. Every packet on the internet getting inspected. You would not even be able to create content without being licensed, since new content would be unregistered and flagged as unauthorized. This is what it would take to actually stop piracy.

Finally, we can recognize the fact that the world has changed and adapt accordingly. To me, this seems like least bad option we have available. If we have to choose between a functioning creative economy and a functioning justice system I will choose the latter every time. But I don't think it will come to that, people will pay for the things they love. The biggest pirates are the biggest purchasers too.

Where do you disagree with this analysis? Is there a 4th option, or do you just disagree on which one we should choose?

BTW, I bought Vintage Games. Great book, and I'm proud to own it. You guys do good work and I'm happy to support it, copyright or not.

Android8675
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Joined: 11/22/2010
Pirate groups, unfortunately have a rep.
Matt Barton wrote:

the pirate sites tend to be the least ethical or scrupulous when it comes to viruses, malware, and security. It's similar to drugs--can you really trust your dealer that the product is safe? Or that you won't get involved in something you really don't want to get mixed up in? After all, a pirate doesn't really have a reputation to worry about; it's here today, gone tomorrow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_warez_groups#PC_games_groups - Some of these groups are still in operation, those that aren't if you search around you can find archives of their works, most of it clean. I'm not saying all pirated software is safe, but usually if you get it from the source and from someone who takes pride in their work. It's like prohibition, though alcohol was illegal an unregulated, several ginmill/speakeasy could be relied on, gained a reputation as being safe and profited from it.

Matt Barton wrote:

The music industry seems to have lost the most; they in effect just had to sell their stuff so cheaply that it was easier to buy it than pirate it. From what I gather, only the biggest of the big have any shot at making a fortune in music nowadays, and that's mostly in live shows and licensing. Iron Maiden has survived because so many of the fans are hardcore collectors; country has survived (and is flourishing) because most rednecks have no clue how to pirate music.

Now I am no Iron Maiden fan (if I was I might feel hurt), but when was the last time they released an album worth downloading? As for being profitable in music I'd just like to point you to: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/ - Last I checked Jonathan has never been signed to any label and seems to be doing pretty well for himself on a small scale. I guess making a ton of money and selling out is good for the short term (I think Lady Gaga is already on her way out), but if you wanna become legendary it might be better to go the slow and steady route.

OK Go just dropped EMI and said, "no thanks, we'll just sell our own music." I think the music industry has suffered, but only because they have taken so long to embrace the digital age. They are coming around though, I buy more concert tickets now that I don't have to wait in line all night for them. Now we need to get Movie Theaters to stop gouging people at the box office, and what is up with the $6 for a SMALL POPCORN?

-Andy

p.s. - Great conversation, sorry if I babble or make no sense, I enjoy talking about this stuff, and don't always proof.

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Android8675
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Joined: 11/22/2010
Really?
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I'm actually afraid to pirate, since the possibility of malware is so high on the Windows platform, and I suspect that a lot of "warez" are loaded with them! The only reason I installed "BitTorrent" was so I could download the latest "Star Trek: Phase II" episode(s), but other than that, I'm not sure I trust "torrenting." What if I accidentally leave the wrong directories, or even my full machine, open via BitTorrent?

I think your fears are unfounded my friend, most top seeded torrents (the files with the most people attached to them) are probably 99% clean. Honestly the worst thing I got from a bittorrented game was a virus on a .exe file disguied as a .txt file (was called like "open-me.txt.exe"), didn't run the file, no problem.

Wares groups that distribute games are usually clean and have md5 checksums so you can verify that the file is the original distributed file. I think if you stay informed about malware you can easily avoid it. Yes the stuff is amazingly complex and incidious now a days, but a bit of knowledge goes a LONG way. I've probably gotten more viruses off of email spam than anything else, but Gmail fixed most of those issues. Websites are pretty much https, or gtfo now. I've heard there's some discovered security flaws with https so I keep an eye out for those tell tale signs.

I think anyone who's scared of malware hasn't studied it, or does not like to keep backups of personal data. Carbonite it and forget it. Worse case scenario, if I can't clean an infected system I have no problem popping in my Windows DVD, delete all partitions and start over.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

I don't feel compelled to play latest top-tier games upon release, so generally I don't pay the ghastly costs of the newer games. If you wait a while, you can get the (largely) bug-fixed versions of these games in bargain bins, on Steam, or on GOG (or other sites) for extremely low prices, with none of the malware risk or "seediness" of the pirate route.

Heh, an update of Plants vs. Zombies on Steam a few weeks ago not only wiped out my 40+ hour save it also put a link to a porn site on my system, so yeah, no such thing as none of the malware risk, really, but your odds are certainly better with Steam or some other front end. Of course there are some exceptions (Limewire, Kazaa, not gaming, but probably more common and 100x's more dangerous than bittorrent, haha rofl)

Rowdy Rob wrote:

Maybe I'm naive, but in my mind, pirating software seems more obscure to me on the PC platform, and I'm not really sure how it works, especially without risking the safety of my machine in the process. (-snip-) It was hard for me to acquire Atari 8-bit software legally back in the day, especially since I lived overseas. (snip) But, we had "users groups" where large selections of pirated software were openly exchanged. (snip) There are no users groups anymore (in my area), (snip) but it's very easy to purchase software just about anywhere for the Windows platform! You're not just limited to department stores (which have wide selections); you can buy a game, and play it in moments, without even leaving the house! Ironically, it's much harder to acquire pirated stuff than legal stuff nowadays. Legally purchasing games is just more convenient to me, especially now that my older self has more disposable income than my younger self did.

Wow, your user groups sound much cooler than the ones I belonged too. I had a real hard time getting pirated software in the old days, but once I had a BBS setup it got a lot easier. Now a days, a 2 second Google search, and 20-30 (unattended) minutes later you have the DVD image that you can simply open or mount, run the game installer and copy a crack to skip the disk check. Each experience is different, but stick with wares distro group releases and it's usually all pretty easy/fast.

PC piracy is probably as prolific as console piracy. Consoles are usually more difficult because of the hardware hacking required, but once setup it's usually easier/safer than PC (thanks to gamefly.com).

Back then on the old Atari 8-bits you had to get the disk (difficult, but cost was nil if you could return the game), run some disassembly apps to figure out how to bypass the security check (you know, the code wheels) which required a fairly high level of coding experience, and/or figure out how the data was written to the disk because back then they used hardware tricks and bad data tracks to throw off pirates. I could never figure it out, but never really wanted to try, and don't even get me started on the time it took to transfer files at 300-2400 baud. Technology advances and I think piracy has only gotten more and more easier over time.

Why most software companies even bother with DRM and other security is beyond me. Releasing good games seems to still be the best way to thwart piracy. (Bought Pac-Man Championship Edition DX last Wednesday, don't miss it, well worth the $10)

Oh, one last link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warez

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I'm sure our government will

I'm sure our government will do whatever their paymasters tell them, and that means stricter enforcement and more tax dollars spent on it. They've done a reasonable job of making it just difficult and scary enough for the common man to feel uncomfortable pirating stuff. Some of that is also residual; the pirate sites tend to be the least ethical or scrupulous when it comes to viruses, malware, and security. It's similar to drugs--can you really trust your dealer that the product is safe? Or that you won't get involved in something you really don't want to get mixed up in? After all, a pirate doesn't really have a reputation to worry about; it's here today, gone tomorrow. Of course, software companies have tried their best to shirk their duty with EULAs, basically disclaiming any responsibility for their products and the destruction they might wreak on your computer. So, guess that's a moot point.

The music industry seems to have lost the most; they in effect just had to sell their stuff so cheaply that it was easier to buy it than pirate it. From what I gather, only the biggest of the big have any shot at making a fortune in music nowadays, and that's mostly in live shows and licensing. Iron Maiden has survived because so many of the fans are hardcore collectors; country has survived (and is flourishing) because most rednecks have no clue how to pirate music.

We might, however, look back one day and realize it was better the way it is now. It could be that the present system is the only way a truly mega-sized production could ever get off the ground.

If we really had to pay for games before they were made, would anyone do it? My guess -- maybe 1%. It'd be pretty much up to the wealthy to fund these things; maybe somebody like Bill Gates would be willing to fund a special game that he believed in.

Imagine that Bungee was accepting donations to fund the next Halo. How many people do you think would chip in, and how much would it amount to? I very, very seriously doubt they would ever raise the millions it would take to fund it. I've seen how stingy people are when it comes to supporting something they're not forced to. I'd be amazed if Bungee could even raise ten thousand. Meanwhile, the public would probably be even more draconian and close-minded about innovations than the publishers (Don't change anything!, etc.) And imagine trying to get major funding for anything that wasn't already done to death. I'm sure 99.9% of gamers would have the attitude of "let other people pay for the production; I will still be able to play it for free when it comes out."

What's the alternative? A fee on computers, similar to the fee Brits pay on TVs and radios. So, everyone who buys a computer pays a fee that goes into a fund for software development. Some of that money would go to business and productivity stuff; operating systems, and so on, but some would also go to games. Of course, it'd be very controversial which projects got funded; the developers would have to make some very appealing applications and cater to the politics and whim of whatever board we set up. But, on the positive side, all the software that did get made could be open source and available to all for free.

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Wow, so according to

Wow, so according to anonymous it's both OK to steal anything digital and smoke pot, so the stiffs out there should just get used to it because there's nothing that can be done about it? Some people, such as me, might take issue with that...

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Anonymous (not verified)
I'm glad to see that you're

I'm glad to see that you're not all holier than thou about piracy, like so many others are. Personally, I think the simple fact is that copyright is unenforceable in a digital world. Unenforceable laws are always unjust laws, so I don't feel terribly bad about breaking it. What I do is vote with my dollar. I give the funds I have to the projects I most want to see succeed and continue. I could choose not to pirate, but that would not make anyone any more money.

The thing about copyright is that it seems a lot like inventing a Star Trek style replicator, and then making it illegal to use it to feed the world. Basic economics tells us that when the marginal cost of producing something is 0, the supply is infinite, and price is 0. The problem is that our in economy our compensation is based on the production of copies of a creative work, instead of the real value, creating the work in the first place. This has to change, and it will change. You can't legislate around the laws of economics.

It's not going to be an easy change, and the status quo is going to fight it all the way. At the end, there may be fields of creative endeavor that are not possible under the new economic system. And that's OK. If people aren't willing to pay for, say, a multi-million special effects blockbuster unless forced to by the government, maybe it shouldn't be made at all. But people are resourceful, and I'm sure many new ideas will fill the void.

I'm worried about the transition though. Matt, your comparison to pot use is apt. There will be a War on File Sharing just as there was a War on Drug Users. And you can be sure that we will lose just as many of our rights meanwhile. We are already seeing legislators proposing summary disconnection from the net without a trial. Fines are being levied that are wholly disproportionate to the act. Will it be long until your ISP is required to turn you in for file sharing? Will encryption remain legal? I don't know, but in a country that's willing to imprison a hard working tax payer for the crime of relaxing with a joint at the end of the day I wouldn't put anything beyond them.

Android8675 (not verified)
(Was gonna post this on the

(Was gonna post this on the day the story came out, but your SQL db was overloaded or something)

Having started my piracy days with my refurbished Atari 800 ($250 cheaper than a new one, just as good), I had a binder with a collection of games from my neighbor who (ironically) worked at ATARI! (In Sunnyvale), when I finally saved up $500 bucks (that took a while at age 12 or so) I bought my first ever Happy Drive Mod! Copy any game no matter what copy protection you came across! Compact games that didn't use the whole disk and even utilize double sided/double density disk storage! (360Kilobytes per disk I believe)

So yeah, piracy it was awesome, and even when I occasionally bought a game (some games really needed the full boxed experience) my level of disappointment was proportionate to the amount of my allowance I had to spend on a game. I think the first game I got that I thought, "OK, that was worth it." was Ultima ][: Revenge of the Enchantress. To this day one still on my top 20 list I think (maybe top 50).

This lasted well into my Atari ST days, though by then I started running a BBS with a 2400 baud modem, eventually upgrading to a 386 with 4 14.4k modems (Mostly so I could display all those cool ANSI artwork files correctly). I kept the Atari around as my gaming and programming computer, advantage to a BBS is now all the software comes to me! No need to go look for the stuff. I felt like a pusher.

Back in the SNES days I almost bought one of those disk drives that plugs in and lets you copy carts onto floppys, but couldn't justify the expense at the time.

Now a days I have all the consoles, but I've never modded them. The money i've spent on games boggles my mind so much that I refuse to think about it for too long. Steam is my new game distribution engine of choice on the PC. It's probably dropped my piracy rate to record levels, but I have less time now, if I did have more time for games I may pirate more.

I worked at EA, Sony, and Microsoft from 97-2007, greatest decade of my life. Little reason to pirate then, we would setup trades with other companies and just swap our freebie's around.

Last game I pirated was... Crap... Last PC game I pirated was... Either The Witcher or Dead Space. Gotta be something more recent, but I can't think of it I've been getting a ton of free PC games for doing play tests around the bay area. I have the whole EA cataloge for the last year, most of it unopened. I have an R4 for my NDS, I copied the new Professor Leighton to it recently, but I rarely have the time to even play it, and I ended up buying a copy of the game for my niece for her 11th b'day. She hasn't asked me about piracy yet, but she's not a huge gamer (yet).

More often than not I will buy a game, mainly because it's so much easier and cheaper to get games, especially GOOD OLD GAMES! (Thank you gog.com and steampowered.com) I rarely ever go anywhere and say, "I wish I had x game" because I have so many other games.

I was a big ole pirate, but I've bought more software than 2 of your average honest gamers. Without piracy I probably just wouldn't of gotten into the whole scene, and i'm barely in it, now a days I'm just one of the sheep that knows how to search for bittorrent.

forcefield58
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Joined: 05/19/2006
Well, since you're asking...

Back in the 90's I traveled extensively to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and London in support of my job. The trips were typically 1-4 weeks in duration, and sometimes, we'd get bored. Usually somebody on our team knew about the places that sold computer hardware and software and we'd frequent those places most weekends. These weren't the size of a typical GameStop. I'm talking multi-story buildings that were dedicated to nothing but computer-related merchandise and with stalls on each floor from one end of the building to the other. 80 percent of the vendors sold "new" hardware and software. The other 20 percent had major reproduction rooms "in the back". You'd walk in and you'd get a card with a number on it. The entire room would be filled with strings hanging from the ceiling with clips attached to computer software boxes at eye level (unfilled of course). Each of the boxes also had numbers on them. As you walked around attendents in the room would take note of what you were interested in and they'd relay to the back room to "make a copy". Once you were done you walk up to the counter and you'd be presented with CD's in the same packaging as if it were the commercial product. You'd pay a minimal fee for the works and head your merry way. We'd hear tales of police raids at these types of buildings, but never actually experienced any. I can't imagine it as I'm sure these places made a ton of money.

My buying back then was for the Amiga platform and I found plenty of productivity and gaming software at these places. I can remember one particular purchase where I wanted to get a version of Photo Impact which typically cost around $500 USD. I ended up getting a "copy" for $15 USD.

Looking back on it, I'm not exactly proud of my actions, but it was prevalent back in the day. I've since gotten rid of all of the evidence and am happy to say I'm a frequent contributor to the Microsoft empire by buying pretty every single game that comes out the for Xbox 360!

Cheers

n/a
Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Pirating games: I don't know how to do it anymore!

I was a mega-pirate on the Atari 8-bit platform. I dabbled a bit with pirated software for the Amiga, but mostly stayed away from it. On the PC, I don't think I ever pirated any commercial games. Well, I have tried some "abandonware," and of course old MAME roms and such, but other than that, no commercial titles in current release.

I'm actually afraid to pirate, since the possibility of malware is so high on the Windows platform, and I suspect that a lot of "warez" are loaded with them! The only reason I installed "BitTorrent" was so I could download the latest "Star Trek: Phase II" episode(s), but other than that, I'm not sure I trust "torrenting." What if I accidentally leave the wrong directories, or even my full machine, open via BitTorrent?

I don't feel compelled to play latest top-tier games upon release, so generally I don't pay the ghastly costs of the newer games. If you wait a while, you can get the (largely) bug-fixed versions of these games in bargain bins, on Steam, or on GOG (or other sites) for extremely low prices, with none of the malware risk or "seediness" of the pirate route.

Maybe I'm naive, but in my mind, pirating software seems more obscure to me on the PC platform, and I'm not really sure how it works, especially without risking the safety of my machine in the process. It just seems more practical to me to buy the games legally at a cheap price than to go into the dark alleys of the Internet.

It was hard for me to acquire Atari 8-bit software legally back in the day, especially since I lived overseas. On the Amiga, it was somewhat the same, with little support in my area. But, we had "users groups" where large selections of pirated software were openly exchanged. It was very easy to get a wide selection of games this way. I stress the word "easy."

Now, the tables have turned. There are no users groups anymore (in my area), and therefore no "swap sessions," but it's very easy to purchase software just about anywhere for the Windows platform! You're not just limited to department stores (which have wide selections); you can buy a game, and play it in moments, without even leaving the house! Ironically, it's much harder to acquire pirated stuff than legal stuff nowadays. Legally purchasing games is just more convenient to me, especially now that my older self has more disposable income than my younger self did.

Chip Hageman
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Joined: 10/06/2010
You know what the kicker was

You know what the kicker was for me? I, like most people here, pirated on the C64... spent years building up a game library that was fairly substantial.. poured years, blood, sweat and tears into cataloging and indexing it...

Six months ago I download the 15.6 gig C64 "Mega Torrent"... and it's way more complete than I could have ever accomplished.

I could have "lived" all those formative years instead of being huddled over my computer like a gremlin making contacts on BBS's.

My advice... buy the games now that you want to play... 20 years from now, suck down a mega-torrent that indexes the entire history of the platform while you are making your morning coffee. :-)

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