Blame Markets, not Criminals for Piracy (Canadian Study)

Matt Barton's picture

What's more to blame for piracy: a lax and ineffective legal means of going after and punishing offenders, or lack of access to your products? It's more the latter, according to a Canadian study by their International Development Research Centre. This probably applies more to foreign markets than domestic ones, obviously, but it makes sense--people are most likely to pirate when it is difficult or impossible for them to buy something legally. Maybe the product simply isn't physically or legally available in their country (such as new BBC shows in the U.S. or abandonware), or it could just be that the product is priced too high for the locals to afford (which is the case in developing countries). The study also suggests that anti-piracy measures (legal and educational) have completely and utterly failed to demonstrate a significant result. I should probably put that last sentence in bold.

Would you still pirate if the game was widely available and priced to match your budget? It could be that publishers would be better off simply lowering prices than investing in DRM, regional lock-outs, and fighting so many legal battles over piracy. Or would this simply make it impossible for publishers to make profits on their games?

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Nous
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Shiver me timbers!

I'd say there's a lot more to it than what this study seems to suggest; after all, iOS games are widely pirated as well and it can't get any cheaper (or more accessible) than that!

However, Nintendo seems to have got it right with the 3DS! They've explicitly stated that piracy will be impossible on it (something to do with the 3D not working if you close one eye?)

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Nathaniel Tolbert
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I don't know. There are many

I don't know. There are many people out there that feel they are entitled to the latest and greatest products on the market with no regard to the hard working people that made them. It doesn't really matter how available the product in your area is, there are people who are going to prate it. It's a simple matter (it appears) of haves and have nots. The have nots with a little bit of work can get what the haves got, only they can brag that they got it for free. And you see it in forums on many an occasion. 'Why did you pay for it? I pirated it and it's working fine for me.' I don't know about you but I laugh when I read those posts, because you know it's very easy to find the user information from a post. Even if they give false credentials, I can track down through spoofed IP addresses (anyone truly can) and locate where they are at regionally, and then contact the ISP and get more information. Simple.

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Bill Loguidice
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3DS
Nous wrote:

However, Nintendo seems to have got it right with the 3DS! They've explicitly stated that piracy will be impossible on it (something to do with the 3D not working if you close one eye?)

There is a big fat warning right on the 3DS box that if you use any type of piracy device on the 3DS, Nintendo has a right to disable/ban your system. To me, this is an open and shut case--if you don't agree with those terms of ownership, don't buy the damned device. You just know though that there will be people who buy the thing, put a piracy cartridge in it, have their system banned, then bitch endlessly about how unfair Nintendo is with a device that bought fair and square and should legally own. It's like those pirates on the 360 who got their consoles banned from Xbox Live--they KNEW what the ramifications were, yet they still bitched when Microsoft blocked them (and their consoles) from the service. That to me is the height of arrogance. If you don't agree with those terms in the first place, don't get the device. Either enough people will agree with you where it hurts sales, or enough people will use the thing legitimately where you'll have to get your "free" fix elsewhere and just not be able to partake.

In any case, that's one of the caveats to our brave new world of connected devices--creators have more control over how their devices get used. It's one answer to the question of piracy. If you wish to pirate, fine, you have to use the thing exclusively offline and you won't be allowed to mingle with the legitimate users who are connected.

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Bill Loguidice
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Whatever the "right" answer,

Whatever the "right" answer, it's a horrible mess. On the one hand, you have a complex system of creation and distribution where many parties need to make some type of profit to survive, on the other hand, you have people who simply don't like to pay for anything if there's any way they can avoid it and not have any ramifications. We can try to find excuses, justifications, scapegoats, etc., for the actual act of piracy, but it always goes back to the simple idea that it's absolutely black and white whether or not its wrong to do so for a commercially viable product--it IS wrong and it really doesn't matter how we get there.

Let's face it, people pirate .79 music and .99 games, so really there's no price point that will ever make a difference for some people. The irony is is that sometimes the effort that one goes about to pirate costs more in time than it would be just to pay the actual costs for a legit copy that might actually help someone in the creation chain make a little money.

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Matt Barton
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I'm just glad to see somebody

I'm just glad to see somebody doing some actual research instead of relying purely on anecdotes and speculation about it. Most of us here were probably most active as pirates when we were kids and literally had no cash to buy games. Later on, it might have been "necessary" because you had an Amiga or other platform and no software for it was available at your local shops.

We can always argue that nobody "needs" games and thus any piracy for any reason is wrong. I find this attitude philistine at best. It's more likely that people make decisions based on their income and how much the product is worth to them. An intelligent person will realize that purchasing software (preferably directly from the developer) is beneficial to everyone, whereas piracy is in most cases strictly parasitical. I guess the typical pirate has a herd immunity like attitude; as long as the herd buys software instead of pirating it, the games will still be made.

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Bill Loguidice
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Options
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm just glad to see somebody doing some actual research instead of relying purely on anecdotes and speculation about it. Most of us here were probably most active as pirates when we were kids and literally had no cash to buy games. Later on, it might have been "necessary" because you had an Amiga or other platform and no software for it was available at your local shops.

We can always argue that nobody "needs" games and thus any piracy for any reason is wrong. I find this attitude philistine at best. It's more likely that people make decisions based on their income and how much the product is worth to them. An intelligent person will realize that purchasing software (preferably directly from the developer) is beneficial to everyone, whereas piracy is in most cases strictly parasitical. I guess the typical pirate has a herd immunity like attitude; as long as the herd buys software instead of pirating it, the games will still be made.

What's funny is that it's arguable that all the old reasons for piracy like you stated above are moot these days, with things like rentals, ubiquitous demos, plenty of free software, plenty of ad-supported software, low priced/clearance items, etc., all super easy to get. It's entirely practical that once you buy the hardware, your software outlay - without ANY piracy - could be minimal, or even nil. Even with those options, though, piracy remains.

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Matt Barton
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Demos
Bill Loguidice wrote:

What's funny is that it's arguable that all the old reasons for piracy like you stated above are moot these days, with things like rentals, ubiquitous demos, plenty of free software, plenty of ad-supported software, low priced/clearance items, etc., all super easy to get. It's entirely practical that once you buy the hardware, your software outlay - without ANY piracy - could be minimal, or even nil. Even with those options, though, piracy remains.

That's partly true, but let's face it...Would you like to be limited to rentals, demos, and free software? I don't know anyone who, all else being equal, would prefer a demo to the full version. That's like saying, well, you can go to Sam's and eat all the free samples you want. Sure, that's possible, and people do it, but again--who would prefer being limited to that instead of just being able to buy food?

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Bill Loguidice
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Not exactly
Matt Barton wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:

What's funny is that it's arguable that all the old reasons for piracy like you stated above are moot these days, with things like rentals, ubiquitous demos, plenty of free software, plenty of ad-supported software, low priced/clearance items, etc., all super easy to get. It's entirely practical that once you buy the hardware, your software outlay - without ANY piracy - could be minimal, or even nil. Even with those options, though, piracy remains.

That's partly true, but let's face it...Would you like to be limited to rentals, demos, and free software? I don't know anyone who, all else being equal, would prefer a demo to the full version. That's like saying, well, you can go to Sam's and eat all the free samples you want. Sure, that's possible, and people do it, but again--who would prefer being limited to that instead of just being able to buy food?

Do most of us actually beat all the games we play/buy? I doubt it. So that's where demos work perfectly. Also, there are always freebies of full retail games. For instance, Sam & Max The Devil's Playground was offered for free on both PS3 and most recently PC. You could still buy the occasional game, say .99, say something on clearance for say 80% off, etc. We're not talking about a truly poor person here. If you're THAT poor, how did you get the hardware to play this stuff on in the first place? If you're that poor, playing games is the least of your concerns.

Again, this all represents a VERY realistic scenario for even kids to not have to pirate. If you have a connected device, there's zero reason to pirate other than theft. To experience more games than you could ever possibly need to, you don't need to spend another dime. That's the beauty of today's world. All the old arguments start to fall down.

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Matt Barton
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This article will provide

This article will provide some fuel for the fire. It also ties in with what we were talking about on the Angry Birds thread--

Quote:

The traditional way gamers are used to buying their games -- dropping $60 and then determining if it's something they like -- isn't a fair method in the mind of Easy Studios general manager Ben Cousins. In fact, he says it's a "really harsh business model" and is "exploitative."

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Nous
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Demos, Reviews, Rating systems

But we have access to reviews, demos and so on ... if there is no demo then don't buy ? But most games do have demos and it's not hard at all to find reviews (and videos!) for just about any game out there

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