On Piracy.

Well, this is a big one, not just in the anime/roleplayers’/video games’ cycle, but for all of us who live in the modern world with internet and fast connections. Piracy. Illegal downloading of goods through the internet. This was somewhat brought to my mind again due to the recent issues between Amazon and MacMillian regarding the pricing of eBooks.

Let’s begin with a couple of statements, from which everything follows:

  1. Piracy is theft*.
  2. People don’t want to think of themselves as thieves.
  3. (Well, a third: People would rather not pirate.)
Sinfest - Pirates are Bad

Sinfest strip. Copyrighted by Tatsuya Ishida.

Blog update: I’m currently in my tests’ season, well, mostly home-tests and assignments, so for the next two weeks expect posting to be a bit less timely, and be patient with awaiting comments. Thanks :)

Companies had tried to fight piracy, and companies had mostly failed fighting piracy. The draconic measures did alienate people, but those alienated were usually those who were already downloading things. But this alienation was still relevant, because those people, they’d have rather paid the companies.

In the end, all those reasons people give, such as: I have no money; it costs too much (so why not send them cash after downloading the file?); but no one is losing any money (“Victim-less crime”); it takes so long for the series/book/music to come to where I live, etc. These are attempts at self-justification. These all prove the points that serve as the center of this post.

If people had thought that what they were doing is alright, then they wouldn’t have had to explain (to themselves) why it is. Of course, it seems the same holds in case there is nothing wrong, but others claim that there is. Well, look at the reasons people give. Many of them amount to “I want to give you my money, but there are things that stop me.” Things such as the time it takes to become available, price point, and such. These are reasons where people say, “I am not stealing because I want to, I’m stealing because it seems to me you don’t want me to pay you.”

But companies, well, some companies, had been growing wiser. I’ve seen a Princeton research mentioned (and yes, researches are worth nearly-nothing at times), where they state the reason they tink only 10% of what is torrented being music is that music can be had easily online, legally. The music companies, the TV companies, they are slowly getting wise. iTunes, Amazon music store, Hulu, Steam?

This is only the beginning though, and sometimes they still turn around and sue people (or perhaps the lawsuits just take exceedingly long to come to fruitation?), and you can’t use Amazon’s virtual music store or Hulu if you live in the wrong place. I actually wired an American friend of mine money for the soundtrack of The Secret of Kells (which costs a crazy amount of money in physical form). I mean, I logged to the store and tried to give Amazon my money, but they didn’t want to.

And then you have eBooks. It seems like instead of each industry using the knowledge of the ones that came before, instead of falling into the same pits, that these people don’t want to learn, and almost seem to insist on falling into the same pits. High prices, DRM (Digital Rights Management), what are you thinking?

If people would want to share your book, they’d scan it. It’s been done with RPGs for many years. If people would want to share your movie, they’d do so well before the DVD or your movie they paid to download was available. If they want to share it, they will share it. But read the second and third points… they don’t want to pirate. They want to pay you for a non-gimped copy and have it easy to use and enjoy.

Yes, if the PDF format dies all those PDFs we’ve purchased will be dead. For DRM, it only takes your site. Here’s a story, I used to download the free PDF from DriveThruRPG (once a week, once a month, not sure). Couple years later, it told me I don’t have the right to open them, using Adobe Reader (I think it may have been “Adobe Digital Editions“?). So I didn’t pay for it, but what if I had? I would have had to go and re-download them, in their current Watermark but no-DRM forms. Annoying, but this would have only worked because the place where the files come from is still standing.

Companies have been going in the right direction, with CrunchyRoll getting episodes to us the same week (even if you need to pay for them to not wait a week), Hulu and iTunes, Steam for video games. People want to give you their money, or they’d at least rather do it than feel bad. And heck, even some people who would give you money sometimes don’t have a way. Help people give you money, don’t make it hard for them, don’t give them reasons to not trust you.

And don’t price eBooks at $15 for a new book. Not because that “makes” people pirate (it doesn’t, they have a choice), but because it’s stupid, and while people want to give you their money, they’d rather not throw it at you at all costs.

Another point that I want to make in short, and would rather not argue at length over: People who are not only torrentors, but are proud about it? They have taken an element that is seen as negative, and as an act of subversion had incorporated it into their personalities. They know it’s negative, or they did, but they turned it into an aspect that they display proudly. They somewhat fall outside the scope of this post.

  • Whether theft is wrong is something I’m going to leave to the individual reader.

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29 comments on “On Piracy.

  1. mefloraine says:

    I feel like I’ve missed something…like, you’re stating facts, but you don’t have an opinion on the subject itself? Less fun to read!

    “(so why not send them cash after downloading the file?)”
    Can you imagine, mailing some cash to a publisher/developer/whatever with a note saying, ‘I pirated your movie/game/book?/music/etc, here’s some cash to make up for it. ;D”? I don’t see that going over well at all.

    • Guy says:

      That’s about some of the arguments people make, “If it were cheaper/It’s not worth [X]”. Well, people could buy some game of the company on the discount bin, they could buy the game they pirated, say, once it hits that price/off Steam, even though they already played through it, and maybe they could send an envelope with cash to the company, perhaps with a note.

      There are many arguments, but in the end, most of them are self-aimed justifications, and it’s easy to show how they’re not followed through. But that’s hard, following through, and sometimes not “worth it”, in part because after we end justifying it to ourselves we don’t feel we did anything wrong. We convinced ourselves.

      I have an opinion: Piracy is wrong, if I pirate, I tend to justify it to myself, but it doesn’t truly make it alright, not even for me. I applaud companies that enable me to give them money, and am truly sadenned by companies who apparently do not want my money, either because they use DRM/ridiculous prices, or because me living in Israel means I can’t pay them for songs (WTF?), etc.

      I also am eagerly awaiting more “Next-day anime” translated online legally, shows that air in Israel 2-3 days after they air in the USA (Lost, American Idol), Hulu commercials that are IP-specific and thus they get something out of me watching there, and enable it (but the issue is that I’ll get to watch it before networks in Israel license and buy it).

      And well, this is more of a Geekorner post, about an aspect of geek life, though it’s long since it’s spread to everyone.

  2. If people had thought that what they were doing is alright, then they wouldn’t have had to explain (to themselves) why it is.

    That’s like saying “If gay people didn’t think their sexuality was bad and wrong, they wouldn’t have to explain (to themselves) why it isn’t.”

    Self-defense is not self-justification.

    (Also, your first point, that piracy is theft isn’t as self-apparent as you may think, at least not legally: theft requires something be lost in the transaction. Nothing is lost when the transaction involves infinite, self-replicating copies. There are other problems with a clarification that it is the loss of a sale, because in many cases it isn’t: because the individual wouldn’t have purchased anyways, or it drove a sale that wouldn’t have happened without it, or so forth.)

    • Guy says:

      1. I added that this is problematic, because sometimes it is alright. That is, that the same reaction/feeling can be true in both cases. It’s hairy, it’s life.
      Also, the issue is problematic if you interject any relativism into this at all, because then whether [X] is wrong or not is what matters, and not whether it is (and this puts all self-justification/self-defense on the same level).

      I know your position on the issue, and I do not want a bona fide (meta-)morality discussion going on here. Which will make the next point a bit “funny”:

      2. This is not about legality.
      Laws are not “right and wrong” they’re “legal and illegal”. I don’t speak about that at all.
      Also, I did somewhat speak of the issue mentioned. “Victim-less crime, the sale wouldn’t have happened anyway….” many of these are nothing more than self-justification. They are only self-defense in the legal room, but, well, elsewhere they are “Why what I did is not problematic, why it doesn’t mean I stole anything from anyone, or took money. And if I took money, it’s ok, because they charged too much/make more than enough as it is.”

      I think that the issues people make on why theft is wrong are often wrong-headed, preachy, self-righteous, etc. I also don’t think it may be a “bad thing” as in, God watches from above and says “You did an immoral act.”

      I limit myself more to how people don’t want to think of themselves as people who did something they perceive as wrong, and that they perceive file-sharing to be, even if not Wrong, not perfectly ok, and how smart companies leverage that to earn more of our money, and stupid companies keep trying to fight us, to stop us from “stealing” without giving us good alternatives.

  3. I should have been clearer about the “legality” mention…I only meant to point out that because calling it “theft” is relative — it’s not a given that piracy = theft — someone may read the top of your post and say, “Well, this whole argument isn’t worth reading, because I think the very first premise is nonsense.”

    Otherwise, yeah, I agree about the psychological aspects and how companies need to respond to and deal with the situation given that.

  4. Ninjovee says:

    Boo. I was going to blog about piracy too! Well, my idea is blogging more about piracy in the local scene tho… so. ^^;

    The points you have are pretty much spot-on and holds much truth in it. I’m one of the people who are in with the “I am not stealing because I want to, I’m stealing because it seems to me you don’t want me to pay you.” philosophy — not because of justification, but it is true. If actually given the means to actually acquire originals without breaking the bank (or selling your organs), people would definitely go for originals.

    • Guy says:

      Oh, I don’t think most people who’re saying this are merely self-justifying. I think that people who hold this point of view and end up still pirating, well, then they come up with the other “answers” in order to reconcile their behaviour.

      But yes, sometimes, “Help me help you” can be freeing as well.
      I’ll wait to read your entry! Israel BTW is one of the countries with the most pirated content (software too) in the world.

  5. lovelyduckie says:

    Ah a difficult subject for me. I buy LOADS of merchandise from Japan, and in Japan the merchandise is what pays for the anime shows to air on TV. The shows are actually considered something similar to commercials through how their TV Network is. Shows PAY to air on a certain channel at a certain time, around here it’s the other way around I believe. So I can ease the guilt a bit because I do support the industry in many ways (I purchase all my manga officially too). BUT I’m guilty of owning hardly any anime officially. My biggest frustration with owning lots of anime (or movies) is the changing of media formats. Back when VHS was still the main way to watch movies I bought many videos at ridiculous prices, and then to see it all become almost meaningless with the release of DVDs really startled me. I will rent DVDs (and Blu-Ray) of anime on Netflix, but that can only take me so far to view the series I want to see.

    Basically I’m looking for another option for viewing anime, I’m not sure what I’m looking for yet. But I would love to have a situation where I could just pay a small fee per episode (or maybe buy a subscription) and view various series from my computer (or TV) soon after they air in Japan. The industry seems like it may be beginning to try and head in this direction and I anxiously await the answer they arrive at.

    • Guy says:

      You and the puchi nendoroids ;)

      But that may be true for the Japanese companies, but what about the fact that this hurts the bottom line of companies and TV stations in the USA, when they finally bring the anime? I think there they often don’t help you help them, because it takes them years to bring the series over. Of course, it’s not like we’re not used to DVDs coming late anyway.

      Check Crunchyroll which I linked above, you can pay $5 a month for a “Speed pass”, to get several anime (including Naruto) the day after Japan, translated, via streaming. Their site is often annoying, and I didn’t check on their current crop, but I did watch Eve no Jikan there, which was great.

      • lovelyduckie says:

        I’d rather support the Japanese anime companies than the US ones. But in the end I’ll support whoever is cheaper or has the best system for getting anime to me. Well something interesting is DEFINITELY going to happen soon. With the media format changing to Blu-Ray the current system is going to crumble. And anime in HD is way too amazing to miss out on (it really looks great). Ironically anime is cheaper to buy in the US than in Japan, and Blu-Ray is region free…so…

    • Guy says:

      I am not sure I’m buying the “Blu-Ray Revolution”, it had been promised for way too long without happening. I’ve seen an anime or two in a con on Blu-Ray and it looks great… but I’ll believe it when I see it.

      Also, I never really get it, it’s drawn, it can be made to look plenty sharp without HD. CGI anime, well, that’s what I saw at the convention. Some Appleseed movie.

      Maybe if the PS3 will become what it wants to. But live and see, live and see.
      And yes, a DVD of 1-2 anime episodes (or even only 20 minutes’ worth) for more than a DVD costs in the USA… really unpleasant.

  6. Callan says:

    Say I have a vending machine. And unlike every other vending machine in the world, it has no front cover. It’s totally possible for someone to reach in and take the candy.

    Now you might call me stupid, but indeed I actually have the hubris to jump about and throw lawsuits at people who take the candy and insist it’s up to everyone else to protect my goods and I don’t have to put in any effort. It’s up to other people entirely, like it’s their job to look after my stuff.

    Sounds stupid? That’s what selling music on eminently copyable media is. Take an incredibly vulnerable media and then insist it’s everyone else has to work for you.

    It’s a whole industry that has decided it can choose an utterly vulnerable medium and that other people should put time and effort (the legal system, paid for by tax payers) to protecting them, rather than them choosing a format where they can protect themselves.

    • Guy says:

      How about people who scan role-playing books, sometimes more than 300 pages per book?

      Also, the eminently copyable, well… the ability to copy it usually came after. TV is being had by special recorders, or by things that enable you to watch TV on your computer, and then tape it…

      That’s very not convincing Callan. Maybe it is why companies should protect their stuff better, or not try to retaliate when people have it “easy” taking their stuff, but it doesn’t really answer anything. It doesn’t say it’s ok to take, just that if it’s so easy to take, that we should expect people to take. We also expect people to lie.

      Honestly, if you want an accurate analogy, it’s the constant addition of DRMs and anti-crack layers. Because you have a vending machine, then I create a phasing tool that can enable me to reach through as if it has no front cover. Now your argument is that in a world with this tool, it’s the same as if there was no front cover.
      It’s not. The law can’t stop those who are dedicated about breaking it. The analogy is to a locked house door; those who want in can get in, but most people would stop once there’s a locked door.

      Also, what about media that has no use if it doesn’t come on “easily ripped format”, such as software?

      • Callan says:

        I’m not trying to pedal you a convincing morality to adopt. I’m simply pointing out the morality you probably already have and illustrate how that morality would cover this already. Which is to say protection is something both parties need to be involved in, not just one side being told they have to protect/not copy, while the other party leaves their shit in the breeze, so to speak. Your morality expects the vending machine guy to put some effort in and stick a front screen on. Then everyone else puts in the effort of not bringing a cutting torch or other entry tool.

        I’m not talking about people dedicated to breaking the law – I’m just pointing out that really non piracy aught to involve effort/cooperation on both sides. And putting out something which is completely vulnerable and expecting everyone to keep it protected is no effort and expecting effort from everyone else. That’s not co-operation.

        I mean, you would find a vending machine without a cover kind of stupid, wouldn’t you? Ask yourself why.

    • Your analogy is deeply flawed: a vending machine holds a limited amount of items, therefore a thief is taking something that costs money to create and will also cost money to replace. This is not the case for digital media, which is infinite and lossless.

      Second, many companies have already tried to utilize protected formats (DRM, frex). Which do not actually protect them but do cause more inconvenience, problems, and frustration for legal owners than it does for pirates.

      Finally, at least here in the States, we are supposed to have the right to make copies of any media we have purchased in any manner we so choose. Reducing or negating the ability for the home user to make copies of media they have purchased legally is stepping on their legal rights and inconveniencing them by assuming criminal intent on their part.

      This is why you have courts “paid for by the tax-payers” (tangentially, you can start whining about that when more than half our taxes stop going to the military’s budget) deal with the issue: to punish offenders who abuse the system, rather than treat every customer as a potential criminal…which is what you are arguing needs to be done.

      Of course, all that is really besides the point: does piracy actually hurt companies? Numerous studies over the last decade have shown pirates as a group are the largest consumers (as in “paying money for”) of the very media they are downloading, and that non-pirates buy considerably less of the same media. Apparently, piracy is incredible advertising.

      • Guy says:

        Raven, I really don’t wish to argue with you in a manner that does not fit the atmosphere of this blog, but that’s just bull.

        While there’s a potentially limitless amount of copies, the number of customers is not limitless. Not just in the potential, but in the actual real world where companies sell their wares. And in the infinite potential, so you’d get 1 cent every year for a billion years or more? That’s very helpful right now.

        There’s a problem with trying to apply the rigorous and formulaic logic and mathematics to this real issue. So if there’s an infinite number of copies, even if it costs you money, you could sell each one for $0.00, which would be a case where logic had failed you, just like in Xenon’s paradoxes.

        The amount of copies they can make may be limitless, but it does not matter, because the amount of customers is not. The fact I can make endless copies, though a person will only need one, but I can run out of customers before I run out of copies has all the relevance in the world.

        Regarding the uses of piracy, and whether it actually loses companies money… well, read below for a comment or two on that, and that is besides the point of this blog, which is not everything related to piracy and the money companies can lose through it (aside from the fact they don’t seem to capitalize on ways that give them money and seem to reduce piracy).
        Also, I did address DRM and such, it’s not like I’m supportive of it, or those “measures” that actually make the customers less likely to pay or use the product, in any of the comments, or the original post.

        Also, please think a time or two again before replying, what works on my LJ does not work here, in terms of atmosphere and arguing over (and for) points.

      • Callan says:

        Your arguing against something I haven’t said, dude. I use the vending machine example simply to show how both parties, not just everyone except the company, need to put effort in if were actually going to be co-operating rather than warring with each other.

        I’m not saying it to prove anything about suppy. Yup, a game can be copied alot of times (not infinitely – the universe isn’t going to last long enough – ha! Joking – basically it may as well be infinately)

  7. Yi says:

    I think that the majority are not part of the group that want to pay but cannot. They simply don’t want to pay for certain things.

    • Guy says:

      Well, a couple of things:

      1. When it comes down to that, most of us would rather not pay, for anything, period. But I’d like to bring Kant up here, “Those who want the goal must also want the means.” Or in the context that is relevant to us: Those who want to not be thought of as pirates, “want” to also pay for their products. Those who want to not pay, must also desire to be thought of as pirates, or at least not object to that. It’s a game of what is wanted more. And cannot be separated from wanting to be rewarded for one’s own efforts, which is why you see adults having a harder time with it than kids who do not work and as such have no problems with a “Free world”.

      2. I am thinking more of people my own age and older. I am curious what people about aged 17-15 and under think. People who grew up with Kazaa, eMule and torrents already existing and in ubiquitous use. These people might truly see these things as ok, or will they? They’ll certainly see them as “Things people do.”

      I might ask my brother and his friends. I think that they will accept some of what they do is piracy, and I think if I’ll ask them point blank, they’ll also say they know it’s wrong.
      Which is where we come to with this post. These people will know it’s “wrong”, but it’s not enough to stop them in this case, it’s not like they’ll think it’s alright. And if they do, it’ll be interesting (if only because the perception is wrong might be just because of the environment some of us grew up with, which includes the zeitgeist, the time).

  8. Theft is wrong. “Piracy” is not theft. It is copyright infringement. It is a civil matter, not a criminal matter like theft. The companies don’t want you to know this or believe it. Does that mean copyright infringement is OK? Not really, but it’s in a completely different category than theft or stealing.

    When you are steal something from some one, you deprive the owner of their possession. If I break into your house and steal your computer, it has an immediate and profound effect on you. You no longer have a computer. If I go to the Piratebay and download Modern Warfare, does the publisher no longer have their game? This is why “pirating” (that term is not accurate) a.k.a. copyright infringement is not theft. Copyright infringement is just that. You copy something even though the “right” is supposedly some one else’s. While some people may not want to admit it, going into the digital world does change things.

    You can copy bits over and over and never lose any quality or performance. The “supply” for Modern Warfare is therefore infinite. If we used classic supply and demand theories, the price should be $0 ;) (Do you pay for air?) Sure, to get the final product, a lot of real materials were used. Computers, artists, programmers, etc. Those things cost money but the infinite supply issue is against the consumer from the start. I think it is for this reason that many people don’t find it as “evil” to commit copyright infringement and I can somewhat relate.

    I’m fine with paying for items that I think are worth it and are reasonably priced. But if a company is overcharging, artificially limiting supply (complete juxtaposition with the infinite supply thing), or has draconian limitations on purchasing or use… then I will download it and I don’t really feel bad about it ^^. Companies will need to change their business models to compete in an all-digital world and accept the fact that people will take their products if they aren’t attractive enough to purchase. I really think it’s as simple as that. People will buy the product legally if it offers enough value to them ^^

    • Guy says:

      Check my reply to Raven. All legal issues can be more or less left at the door. The core of the post is the psychological aspect, and how stupid some companies can be in actively going against that or just not using it when it’s so easy. This was brought to my mind through the eBook price issue again, and the recent news on suing citizens over having illegal MP3 files. They should use people’s inherent desire to not do “wrong”.

      Now, is piracy (the term we’ll use because it’s both accepted and shorter) evil? Hell no. Is it illegal? Well, I don’t care. Right and wrong only have a coincidential correlation to legal and illegal, though countries and legislators would like us to believe otherwise, mainly that the laws have a direct correlation to the ontological Right and Wrong, which has plenty of holes there.

      I think this is self-justification, on one end, but also somewhat legitimate. This is saying “This product is worth money, to get it for free is obviously wrong, but it’s not worth the asking price they ask from us, and this also makes it not as wrong as taking physical product.”
      I do want to bring up something, this is more true for products that never exist in physical format anyway, such as if a book is released in an eBook format, or a song is released exclusively to iTunes. But that Modern Warfare does get produced, in physical copies. And while you did not take copies from the store, it is competing with that – the number of some products that do not get online legal downloads (movies?) is limited, so you are taking numbers from there.

      This also has a complex relationship to stores, and what companies “owe” stores. Which is nothing, if these stores are not theirs. Brick and mortars making money and the companies making money does not always go hand in hand, and this has a lot to do with it. I often think and find that the anti-piracy movements are more on the brick and mortar front, and well, the solutions such as iTunes help the companies fight piracy, but only serve to further cement the death of brick and mortar, so they lose either way, except from making all illegal piracy stop and having all legal downloads crap (DRM, cost more/same as physical copy), or by just suing illegal pirates and not bothering to replace them with legal downloads… just like before the onset of the internet.

      With games that can go on Steam later, or songs on iTunes, this is a complicated issue, and I know some people in the RPG industry already try to deal with it, with the physical copy, the PDF copy, and their relationship. In the case of PDFs, especially searchable ones, I think it’s less of an issue, because their uses can compliment one another, but as we get more laptops, slates, ebook readers, one may directly compete with the other more and more.

      I actually want to tackle artificially limiting supply in another post, but more in the case where it can be done and is not infinite (limited figures, limited comics?).

      And for the parting point, that was part of my point: Too late, DRM and other gimping mechanics, they make the product non-attractive. Companies should make the products attractive, and products are in a way naturally attractive. We download things because we want them, so you know the core thing is already something people find attractive. I sometimes think companies almost fall over themselves to make the products not attractive.

      EDIT: If you look at books and games, because of the issue of stores, and paying tax for books in storage in the USA (say), then things have a limited shelf-life time, so the infinite is hard to get, and the stores need to make the money for the physical product anyway. This might mean we need to do away with stores, which is fine. But that’s also something to consider. The online models also enable companies to use “The Long Tail”, they stop making a lot of money (say from the release of Mass Effect 2), but once they recuperate their costs, even $1 a year is well, profit, and having a huge selection of games on Steam, or books as eBooks, or songs on iTunes… it adds up.

    • Guy says:

      I want to add, the “Limitless amount” is also crap, because it’s just not true. There’s an infinite amount of potential users, but a finite amount of people, not just who are interested, but that can actually use the file. Even if we could all use the file if there were to be an infinite amount of humans, there just isn’t.

      But this goes into money-making, so they also have to count how much money they need to at least recuperate their costs, obviously. So even if an infinite amount of people were to use the file, the price would still not be 0 if any money went into it, just a number rapidly approaching it.

      So there isn’t actually an infinite amount in any sense that matters, and that leaves us with “finite”. Of course, the question of “But would they have purchased it if they hadn’t downloaded it?” will make us go blue in the face and our answers would still not be conclusive when we die of old age, probably. But some people wouldn’t have purchased, and some people would’ve, and some people would’ve probably purchased once the game went to the $20 rack.

      • Logic fail, Guy. There is an infinite supply, regardless of how many people can or do utilize it or how much they do.

        Just because you can’t eat an entire field of strawberries doesn’t mean there’s only a handful of strawberries. Likewise, just because you can’t download an infinite number of copies doesn’t mean there isn’t an infinite number.

        It isn’t a case of “any sense that matters”, because it actually does matter. The problem is the argument you’re trying to bring up in response isn’t a counter to the “infinite supply” idea, though it is a valid argument (just not in response to that idea).

  9. Reltair says:

    Meh, it’s because of the illusion of anonymity along with the fact that it’s so easy to do. It’s like paying for drawing water from an unlimited well when there’s no one around to watch you.

    Or the more simple reason, everyone is just cheap – including me.

    • Guy says:

      See my reply to Yi. This post is more about the psychological aspect, and well, the marketing aspect and choices companies can make.

      Yes, it’s easy. Yes, many of us choose to do so. But do we want to do so? How cheap are we, if it’s a movie for $5, legally, would you pay? What if it’s $3?

      Yes, we can do it, yes, it is profitable to our pocket. But by your reasoning, if we could steal from a bank, and we wouldn’t be caught, would it be ok? That’s for the anonymity part. The “unlimited well” is both false, self-justification, and belongs to the legal aspect, of “Victim-less crime” as I pointed in the main entry and am about to reply to Anonymous Object above you.
      Not all those who will download a game will purchase it, and downloads will sometimes lead to purchases, but to say none of those who would downloaded it will not purchase it as a result is an indefensible position.

      More interesting is the network issue, with commercials, Hulu commercials, and the money involved in licensing and broadcasting a series, where “I’ve watched it” is plenty relevant.

      • Callan says:

        Dude, unless some god has stepped out of the sky and given you the go ahead, nothing is known to be ‘okay’.

        I think to peoples basic needs like food and shelter and suchlike first and foremost, then after that extra stuff. I don’t know if this is an ‘okay’ way to think, but it’s what I do (if I’m a monster to do it somehow, that’s the monster I be)

  10. Guy says:

    Here is also a reply to everyone, about “But I just don’t want to pay.” While Kant’s talk about constitutive definition and contradiction regarding “Promise” also has some objections, it also has some valid points.

    Or now to speak in English: You can’t want everyone to do what you do, when you download things for free, which were not made for free. If everyone would, then most things you download, most things you want to download, would not exist, using the current economical model*. You can’t desire having high end computer games without also desiring to pay for them, or at least that someone would. The “No one needs to pay anything” just doesn’t work.
    You need to desire that while you download freely, others will still pay, and Kant calls the “Moral Law” what you can want to be the law that will apply to everyone. That’s objectionable, but one thing does stand out, you want different parameters to apply to you and others.

    Or of course, that the game will be $10 from day one, and then maybe the companies will make out the same/more money, due to more people paying (because at this price, you want everyone to pay, let us say). This is something that I’m sure the companies look into, at which price point and at what pricing strategy they make the most money, which is what they care about.

    Also: I was trying to address, or begin, with the psychological aspect. People pirate, and they do not think this is the right thing to do, or not fully (by using caveats to why they do it even though it’s not fully right). This is interesting, and companies should make use of it, to help people pay them.

    * Yes, you can have hybrids, like Hulu, or put commercials into your games (which some companies have been doing), but this still relies on there being goods you pay for. If all the TV shows, all the news networks, all the music songs, etc. could be had for free, using commercials as a way to get money will have a lot less import.

  11. Ningyo says:

    Hasn’t it become a bona fide morality debate ^^;?
    It’s one of those posts where the comments say more than the post, mm.
    I don’t think I’ve anything to say that hasn’t already been said, but I wonder, is there always *that* much psychology to it? Is the process always pirate -> guilt -> self-justification? To anonymously obtain something usually much more pricey for much less/nothing at all and thus be able to have larger expenditures in whatever else… I think its one of those situations where the super-ego shuts down to unsurpassable odds. When one has to win one’s bread, such decisions become second nature. An id thing.
    I’m not saying people don’t feel ‘guilty’, but it’s less guilt from some cognitive process that determines what they’re doing is stealing, and more as a conditioned response from the countless fine print sections and articles one reads about. Piracy is bad, piracy is bad, copyrights, theft, don’t pirate, don’t pirate.

  12. Guy, I wish you’d listen to what I’m saying and quit telling me something is bullshit when it isn’t. That was a response to a flaw in the analogy as I perceived it, and you’re trying to make it something more than that.

    But let’s deal with what you’re saying anyways; so this will also be a response to what you said below that about the same. The problem with arguing about limited customers/limited market in regards to piracy, as a response to the idea of infinite supply and competition for dollars, is that it relies on the assumption that “one download = one lost sale” and therefore a free copy is directly competing with a for-pay copy.

    It’s the “library = piracy” fallacy. That is, if anyone can, at any time, go to the local library and check out a copy of their book to read, for free, this qualifies as a “lost sale”.

    The assumptive binary model of limited customers turns out not to be the actual case in practice, in that a download (or check-out) can also equal a sale (and according to studies, actually increases the chances of a sale). As such, one can not say a free copy is competing with a for-pay copy because it doesn’t map out 1-to-1 that easily.

    On that note, to return to the psychological angle: how would you characterize someone who goes to the library to check out a book to read, or borrows it from a friend, because they don’t want to or can’t afford to pay the asked-for price? Is that not also piracy of an equivalent sort to what is being discussed here, and thus is my use of the library/friend rather than a bookstore also self-justification for stealing? Is it not equivalent? So should the discussion of self-justifications not include this?

    Or are there cultural self-justifications as to why using a library or borrowing a book is not morally reprehensible or an act of theft?

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