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Educating Youngsters About Piracy 544

Colin Winters writes: "The New York Times has an article that is a follow-up to the recent raid by the government on pirates in universities. Some professors believe that "By the time we get them, they already believe it [piracy]'s right." An interesting read. There's also an interesting bit on how business software is now 1/3 pirated, down from 1/2 in 1995. In America, it's only 24%. From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing."
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Educating Youngsters About Piracy

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  • by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:10PM (#2749690) Homepage
    Could the drop in percentage of software being pirated have less to do with individuals pirating less than they did before, and just the sheer number of computer users increasing?

    In general, even the ease of use of peer 2 peer networks requires a minimum of tech saavy, and a faster broadband connection to make pirating your average 500+MB CD-Rom worth it, two things which the growing population new to computers don't have.

    In previous years, the percentages of computer users who actually were real computer users and not just people who owned one for email or web browsing was certainly higher.

    With this decrease in more advanced users compared to the general public, and the increase in the sheer size of pirated programs needing to be sent across your connection (Games, for example, going from a couple megs to a couple hundred in size), I'd see those two as the reason for the drop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:10PM (#2749691)
    Isn't knowing how much software in the country is pirated a bit like claiming to know how many rapes go unreported each year? It's a statistic that is impossible to gather by the nature of the question.

    I'll tell you one thing I hate about software these days. If I want to play a multi-player game of Ghost Recon or something with my brother, I have to buy at least two copies of the game (at more than $50 each!). However, if I want to play a multi-player game of Monopoly (pun intended) or Parcheesi, I don't have to buy a new game set for all four or eight people I'm going to play against.
  • big picture (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spacefem ( 443435 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:12PM (#2749697) Homepage
    I think piracy is a bigger issue than we think, rooted in the ideas that stealing from a big corporation isn't stealing, because they obviously screwed little people over to get where they are today, so it's alright for us to screw over "them". It's a nameless, faceless "them" kids think they're screwing with, not individual people. Where I went to college there were countless students who had no problem ripping off credit card companies ("it's the companies we're hurting, not people, and the companies have millions to spare so who cares?") to get stuff they wanted, I was appauled, but there was no way to convince them that somewhere down the line, they were hurting the guy next door.

    Piracy is about the fact that nobody cares about anybody, and that's just the fact of it.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:19PM (#2749716) Homepage
    One of the Key factors to a programs piracy rate is it's retail price. autocad3d is probably the highest pirated program in existance. Why? because it is horribly overpriced. A budding engineering student cant afford it, and you cant get a job as an engineer without expierience with it. (classes dont count, you have to do everything in it to become proficient with it) So what happens? it get's copied like mad and the cracks downloaded to bypass the dongle. Now we get to the graphics arts, Photoshop get's pirated, Tv or movie production? the rest of the Adobe suite get's copied. Why? COST. If the home version or student version was identical to the pro version but at a price that was actually affordable it wont get stolen. Businesses cant afford to use pirated software, a raid by the thought \d\d\d\d\d software police is expensive, more expensive than buying it outright.

    Orcad used to be the #1 pirated electronics engineering program on the planet... that has changed cince the release of EagleCad, it's free for home personal use, so people dont see the need to steal it.

    Want to stop piracy? dont rape home users. simple solution that works and is proven over and over. Microsoft... How about selling Office to Corperations for $3000.00 per workstation and make it $59.95 for the home user. office will no longer be pirated as people can actually afford it now for home use. ($199.99 for more for a wordprocessor/spreadsheet/whatever for home use? that is ASKING to be pirated.)

    Alas, it will never happen. greed far outweighs common sense in the business world, espically the software business world.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) < minus distro> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:21PM (#2749725) Homepage Journal
    ask ANY kid with a computer about copyrights and if piracy is illegal. I'll even do one up for ya .. ask any kid in college. Okay ... now as you're asking them ... go ahead and look at their CD collection, yup ... there's alot of "back-ups" there.

    I think that most of the "pirates" know more about the illegalities of what they're doing more than the actual people aresting them. In fact I would bet my legal software on it.

    Now comes the question of why is Piracy so big? Well why is drug use and prostitution so big? Well they make people feel good (not endorsing either, but lets face it ... coke heads like the feeling they get from stuffing their nostrils with coke) ... Getting something for free has always made people feel good about themselves.

    Let's figure in the MS-Factor ... MS makes most of it's money from site licenses and OEM's ... they don't make their money from off the shelf Operating Systems. Now their games and apps, yessir they pay for all those. According to MS Though you _can_ have a the same copy of Office and Windows at home and office ... so long as you don't use the computers at the same time (which is technically physically impossible) ... But MS does make games and I will admit that I know of people "stealing" from MS everyday. Do I think that they're criminals? Hell no ... I blame the MS for making a standard that is used in schools and accepted in the office that we are taxed for in our homes for compatability issues.

    Now lets throw in the OSS factor. Of course OSS doesn't have to worry about piracy, hell they ask people to share (dumb bastards *note the previous comment was meant to poke fun as a person who is coming from the stance of microsoft*). So what's the solution, THERE ISN'T ONE

    So why is it so big??? Well it's promoted. You think someone would buy an Apex DVD player that reads CD-R's because they thought it would look better on their shelf system? Hell no ... they bought it so they could play VCD's on the thing. You think they bought their 12x burner because they wanted to make compilation CD's from CD's they already owned? No they wanted to copy CD's, make Audio CD's, and VCD's. You think that they got broadband to download on the web faster ... lol ... NO ... they got it for that wonderous P2P that is out there to make things easier for those floating in the dangerous seas.

    All in all ... and in a nutshell ... piracy won't stop ... there will never be an end ... if everyone who was a software pirate were arrested then 80% of america would be sitting in a jail cell right now ... because we've all "stole from the man".

  • by evilpaul13 ( 181626 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:21PM (#2749728)
    The difference being that what is being stolen is copies of copies. And it isn't tangible property, so dealers have just as many cars in their lots to sell to people willing to pay.

    Of the "billions of dollars revenue each year lost to software piracy" how much of that is to thirteen year olds downloading a $10,000 copies of 3D Studio Max from a warez site? I'm sure sonny just would have bought it if he couldn't have downloaded it.

  • Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Platypii ( 132649 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:26PM (#2749746)
    That's a load of crap.... exactly how many people registered their $10 shareware.... maybe 1 out of 100,000? The majority of people don't think about it as a matter of principle, they just see a way to steal without accountablity. If they were to stop and think about it was a matter of princliple, I think most people would realize that what they are doing is no different than going in to Circuit City and taking things. If you don't feel you are getting software worth the sticker price, you have the option to not use it! it's that simple.
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:40PM (#2749780) Homepage Journal

    Theres a diffrence between right and wrong. Its WRONG to steal. However its RIGHT to share. Piracy is right, but its illegal.

    I know everyone here may be confused by what I said, but honestly sharing is supposed to be a good thing, its RIGHT to share software with your friend whos too poor to buy it. So to stop piracy, bringing up moral issues just makes people support piracy MORE!

    The only way to stop Piracy is to raid all pirates, and thats too expensive. So you have a situation where, People are going to pirate software, the best thing you can do is make it so its easier to buy software from a store, than to pirate it off the net (huge long download, or buy it from a store) and there shouldnt be $500 software because no one in their right mind will buy it. IF software were $10-$20 then I'm sure most people would buy software like most people buy games. But when software like photoshop is $500, and you NEED photoshop, well, you are going to sit for 3 days downloading a 500+ meg ISO before paying $500.

    IT comes down to this, make money off of convience, not off of the product itself, its easier for me to go to a store and buy a CD, than to download it, burn it, etc etc. I'd pay to have it all done for me. I'll pay $10 and if its really good software, maybe $20, even $30, but theres no way I'm paying over $50 for any software nevermind $500.

    To stop piracy, lower prices, and offer good enough deals so that its easier to buy than to pirate.
  • by Tsar ( 536185 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:47PM (#2749799) Homepage Journal
    I have trouble with the 'software piracy' term as well. For me, it evokes the image of a pirate brigatine closing on a cargo ship in the dead of night, the murderous crew silently boarding their victim, copying all their maps, and leaving without a trace of their horrific deed.

    You're right, the analogy doesn't hold up.

    Sure, stealing is wrong, but might the term 'piracy' applied here be so over-the-top that young people simply can't take it seriously? What are our other options?
    • Intellectual theft (too vague)
    • technovampirism (too bloody)
    • software parasitism (too icky)
    Hey, wait? Why don't we just call it "copyright violation?" That's accurate, after all. Doesn't sound scary enough? Maybe because it isn't all that scary.

    We aren't talking about truckloads of baby food being waylaid by highwaymen; everyone who pays for the software still get their goods, after all. Is it really justified to fight a war on copyright violation the same way you'd fight a war on drugs or terrorism? Does anyone really think every KaZaa user represents a lost sale of Office XP Professional?

    Again, I'm not saying it isn't wrong. But so is speeding, and that could be brought under control by mandatory cell-linked speed monitors in vehicles. It would save lives, after all, so why don't we do it? It would appear that no one wants to push the personal privacy issue unless there's considerable money (not lives) at stake.

    Perhaps the industry and society as a whole would benefit if we shifted to a more palatable equilibrium point, and treated copyright violations at the user level as they've been treated since the advent of photocopiers and audiotape: frowned upon, but tolerated.
  • Re:Legal vs. Right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zmooc ( 33175 ) <.ten.coomz. .ta. .coomz.> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:48PM (#2749802) Homepage
    Well I guess you don't really get the difference between theft and piracy; with theft you take something from somebody else. This means they don't have it anymore. Piracy (in this case) is about copying. This implicitly means that the legal owner doesn't loose anything.

    And most software that is pirated is done so by people that collect warez; most of this software is never used _AT_ALL_ and if it is being used, this is mostly done by people that wouldn't have bought the software anyway; Joe A. User won't go to the computerstore to buy Photoshop; it's waaaay too expensive. He either uses the install at his work or "borrows" it from somebody else. There's no way he's going to buy Photo Shop. So that's another difference between theft and piracy: the losses for the industry a no where near the sum of pirated software. My guess it's less than 1% of the pirated software generates real loss.

    Apart from companies, nobody is going to pay a hundred bucks for software they only use every once in a while. Unless they get it "for free" with their new PC. Companies are about the only ones you'd expect to actually buy software and most of them do so.

    Conclusion: software piracy is no way near as large a problem as the "government" thinks it is. I am not saying it is good at all, but it just doesn't cause that much damage at all.

  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:57PM (#2749829) Homepage Journal
    I already have problems with the system, they want to teach my children about "Political Correctness" and other good little citizen values. I want my kids to think for themselves. I don't want the same people who tell me what my kids can and cant wear, eat, say, what to think or how to think.

    This is a war of morals, My kids should be able to back up their games, eat peanut butter sandwiches, write stories about death/god, wear black, kiss, give gifts, tell a teacher they are incorrect, tell a grown up no, refuse to accept punishment.

    Do I care if my kids are trading mp3's? No, they still buy CDs. I personally don't think an mp3 is much different than recording off the radio or cable music channel.

    Warez.. Yes its wrong, you should always buy a game you like. Even the pirates say "If a game is worth playing, its worth buying..."

    Make your own choice.
  • Re:big picture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KjetilK ( 186133 ) <kjetil.kjernsmo@net> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:25PM (#2749889) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I agree with your point. Personally, I haven't broken a software license in 10 years, because I think that if I can't accept the terms of the license, I'm not entitled to use the software. Also, if they can't sell software to me on terms I can't accept, they will not get my money.

    Technology can have an awfully alienating effect. Technology can be designed so that it becomes alienating, but it can also be designed with the opposite in mind.

    If you can't relate the tools that you use to the people behind it, it becomes alienating. If you feel that you are writing posts to a computer, and not to people, it becomes alienating (thus flamewars).

    I think that much of the trouble with copyright violations could be avoided if this alienation is reversed. People have to relate to people.

    You're not going to rip off a software developer, if you could somehow relate to him/her. It might be as simple as just getting an announcement of updates on your software now and then. Nor would you rip off a recording artists, if you could relate to them.

    We have to keep this in mind when we design our technology. Optimistic as I am, I believe it is possible to design systems to make people relate to each other, even if we're talking millions of people. I don't know how, exactly, but since I'm a strong believer of human creativity, I think we can figure it out if we just sit down and think about it.

    Actually, one of the main reasons why I support free software (and many of RMS' points) is that I think that free software does address many of the core issues. When the source is closed, and the first thing you see when you install it is that "if you do not do as we tell you, we'll lock you up for years", it will necessarily be alienating. There is something completely different when you install e.g. Freeamp on a Windoze box: "You don't have to accept the license conditions just to use the software" and a button that says "Cool!"

    I would propose an addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with the intention of combatting alienation: "Everyone has the right to seek understanding of the technology that surrounds them."

  • that 24% figure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Raleel ( 30913 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:34PM (#2749912)
    I saw a poster (I think somewhere after 1995) with that 30-ish % figure for the US. It was a poster of the world with every country labelled with a percent.

    The US was the lowest as I remmeber. Most coutries cracked 50% and a large chunk cracked 80%. I remmeber russia and china and a few other counttries were up into the 98% range.

    Then I look at microsoft. I look at it's gross product. I see that it's gross product, if it were a nation, would be the 5th largest in the world.

    I absolutely feel no pity for them. Granted, I do not pirate software anymore, but I used to, when I was a college student and was making no money at all. I buy it now, or do without. Most of the software I buy is games.

    So, I hear these arguments from the BSA saying that piracy increases software costs. I think that it's a lie. Simple economics says that they will charge what the market will bear. The market bears this price, and they will not decrease the cost just because all the software in russia suddenly becomes legit. They will charge us the same, because we'll take it. They may charge less for the russian one, because it's a different market.

    I'm sorry if this viewpoint bothers professional programmers. I really am, but I really doubt you'll be getting more money when all the russian MS Office goes legit either.
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:35PM (#2749918)

    Well, I have news for you. It is a birth right. The number one thing that all of us do from the day we're born is copy, take in, and immitate. There is nothing inherently wrong, destructive, or self centered about copying.

    Copyrights are not what they're cracked up to be, and play ruin on those who have the most value to offer society. With a mathematician who could have otherwise coppied a math book and added a few of his own formulas, the copyright market forces him to waste his resources on creating an entirely new book as a seperate market offer. Meanwhile, the Madonna's of the world lavish in wealth while being a relatively unproductive tiny minority. Not that I care about her wealth, but am pissed that it comes at the expense of screwing over productive people.

  • Re:big picture (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sax Maniac ( 88550 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:37PM (#2749922) Homepage Journal
    Where I went to college there were countless students who had no problem ripping off credit card companies to get stuff they wanted.

    You sound as if credit card companies have halos over their head. Where I went to college, I saw my girlfriend indundanted with pre-approved credit card offers with huge limits that, if she even put them halfway to their limit, would not be even able to pay the minimum. This, to a person with no credit and no job- just because she was female. I had already spent my teen years building up credit the old fashioned way; slowly, and learning responsibility along the way.

    I'm sure they did this to everyone else. Credit card companies have some evil people working for them, willing to destroy people's financial lives or force them to be wage slaves just so some execs can get gold trim on their ridiculously overpriced luxury car.

    It's not right to steal from credit card companies, but let's remember that there are no innocents here: it's screw or be screwed. At least the big companies can jigger the laws to their taste.

  • Re:Legal vs. Right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moof1138 ( 215921 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:45PM (#2749934)
    Those are all disanalogies. Some closer analogies (I do not think that there are any that are really good), might be:

    You buy a music CD make a copy of it and give it to a friend. This is the closest, but it is so close as to hardly be an analogy.

    You buy a novel and photocopy it. Less close, still the same issue, copyright violation.

    You buy a crappy Chrysler in '86, and then build a factory in your back yard and produce an exact duplicate Chrysler. Not as close, but closer the remarkably weak analogies you offered.

    You go to McDonalds, dressed as an employee. You walk behind the counter and pretend to take orders, exactly copying the movements of your neighboring employees. Not close at all, but pretty much as good as analogy as your goofy McDonalds one.

    The crux of copyright viloation is that duplicating something is illegal. Some people think that duplication is not immoral, some do not. If you are going to argue about this with an analogy, you need to make one that illustrates a moral issue by an act of copying. Perhaps you might take the license approach and say that those who copy are violating a license, so those who get upset about GPL or BSD license violations (I know I do) should be just as upset at illegal copying of software. I think that that is a better analogy, though still needing work.
  • by PeeOnYou2 ( 539746 ) <(chokeondis) (at) (> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @04:53PM (#2749955) Homepage
    This applies to much more than just computer piracy though.

    The way I see it, you follow whatever you believe. I don't give a shit what the law says. The law wasn't made for me. It was made for the goddamn mega-corporations. As long as I don't get caught I don't feel any worse for breaking the law than if there never was such a law.

    Its the same thing with most people and marijuana. Everyone who smokes it feels it should be legal. That's millions of people. Yet it still remains illegal. And as long as you don't get caught, who cares if you're breaking a stupid law that shouldn't have been made in the first place? Right?

    There's my $.02
  • Re:big picture (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:13PM (#2750000)
    Perhaps your MORON girlfriend shouldn't be buying things that she doesn't have the money to pay for. It's the credit card company's fault that your girlfriend is an idiot? Give me a break.
  • by Hooya ( 518216 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:16PM (#2750004) Homepage
    i came home for lunch one day and turned on the tube while eating. there was some cartoon on. and guess what it was about? piracy. they had a kid doing napster-isk networking to download some tunes. a couple of his friends see him doing it. they think it's wrong. turn him in to his parents blah blah... well, when i have a kid i know one thing they're not watching. unless they download it to their computer of course ;)

    I don't mean to say that stealing is right. in fact, apart from absent mindedly walking out with a pair of earrings -- with which i wanted to surprize my wife at the checkout lane, i've never stolen anything in my life.

    but having thought thru this napster-sharing thing a bit i'm finding it hard to call it stealing. stealing means that one person (the stealer) robs someone else (the stealee) of possesion and/or the use of the item stolen. that just isn't the case. the only thing stolen from anyone is the 'scarcity' created by the record companies. by napstarizing, people are robbing the record companies and the record companies alone from their ownership of the 'scarcity'.

    However, it seems to me, that by affording these companies legal protection for them to create this fabricated 'scarcity' seems very far removed from the free-market that we claim to have established.

    Although i fail to see the 'intellectual' part of the equation in the belly dancing of the likes of britney spears let's for a minute assume there is this 'intellectual property' they've been hammering me with. how is anyone destroying it? by sharing, we're spreading it (and in britney spears' case, god help us). i don't see any destruction. and like i said before, the only thing being stolen or destroyed is the faked 'scarcity'.

    The fabricated scarcity has no part in our free-market. It might have to do with lobbying, soft-monies and various other 'buzzwords' that otherwise mean bribes. but definately not free-market. so in essence napstarizing is actually in defense of 'free-market'. and no i'm not talking about 'free' as in 'free-beer' market. 'free' as in 'supply and demand unfettered establishing a fair price' market (among other things). And hence i fail to see how i need to 'educate' my kids (once i have 'em) they way MPAA and RIAA thinks i should educate them. And you can bet your hiney (not the beer, the posterior) that they won't be watching the propaganda cartoons. But of course i'm preaching to the choir here.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:19PM (#2750012) Homepage
    It isn't "piracy": that's armed robbery on the high seas. It isn't "stealing": that is permanently depriving a person of his property. It is copyright infringement, and those who do it may deserve to be sued, but they do not deserve to be imprisoned.

    Note: "Copyright infringement is not theft" is not just my opinion. It is established precedent in the US legal system.
  • by aka-ed ( 459608 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {cilbup.tbor}> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:20PM (#2750014) Homepage Journal
    Its not like developers get paid billions, no, some CEOs and guys in suits do. Same with the RIAA, So its not about right or wrong, its a matter of, should we be getting this money? or should some rich guys in suits be getting this money?

    This kind of reasoning (some would say rationalization) is exactly what the article wants to stamp out.

    Without even stepping into the unresovlable argument of reasoning vs. rationalization, what alarms me about the article is its unquestioning advocacy of "educating" young computer users to think in a certain way that is to be determined by corporate interests. The question of whether widespread piracy is a moral blight is trivial compared to this article's radical advocacy of implanting corporate moral imperatives in our youth.

    You have to grant that moral complexity plus promises of lotsa "free stuff" opens a big old doorway toward the rationalization of theft. Since the ownership of a bitstream is counter-intuitive, it won't be simple to have kids subscribe to the idea. But is the answer to this brainwashing kids into a "stealing is bad" moral reflex?

    What kids need to be taught is logic and critical thinking, rather than receive drill in corporate-endorsed moral standards. While we may get just as much software piracy, we might hear some better rationalizations than those quoted in the article; and maybe the next generation will get copyright laws that make sense for the times.

  • Re:big picture (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:18PM (#2750101)
    Ok. By extending your idea, Nabisco shouldn't make candy because it allows people to get fat. Cigarette companies shouldn't make cigarettes because they're killing off addicts. Beer shouldn't be made because it can lead to drunk driving.

    Today, people love to blame others for problems that they have started, and it makes them look fucking lame. If your girlfriend got herself into the poor house, maybe she should learn some FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY and make sure she never accumulate a balance beyond what she can pay.
  • by CmdrTuco ( 537085 ) <> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:29PM (#2750122)
    Little guy gets caught stealing: big fines and/or jail. Big guy gets caught stealing: 500 company lawyers issue a statement about how the companies actions are healthy competition and maximize shareholder value. Stock rises 10%. Company avoids punishment by generous donations of soft money to the Republicrat party. The law is so badly broken its a joke.
  • by -=[ SYRiNX ]=- ( 79568 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:33PM (#2750131) Homepage

    Some professors believe that "By the time we get them, they already believe it [piracy]'s right."

    Of course that's what students believe! What student--what consumer--believes it's "right" to ask $600.00 for Adobe Photoshop, $400.00 for Office, or $1000.00 for Windows 2000 Server? If Adobe is going to be stupid enough to ask $600.00 for a copy of Photoshop, then they get what they deserve.

    If Photoshop were only $20.00, then nearly everyone would purchase a legitimate copy because they would feel it was worth the money and (most importantly) they could actually afford it! What a concept!

    There's also an interesting bit on how business software is now 1/3 pirated, down from 1/2 in 1995. In America, it's only 24%. From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing

    It would be more enlightening to see validated statistics regarding the least pirated software. I bet it's those $10-per-CD discs of discount software you find on those display racks at places like Target and Kmart, due mostly to the reasonable pricing.

  • by bero-rh ( 98815 ) <> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:34PM (#2750132) Homepage
    I totally fail to see why "youngster piracy", as in
    some kids who couldn't afford buying it anyway sharing software,
    would be a bad thing(tm).
    The companies don't lose anything (not having the cash to buy
    a legit copy, the kids would just do anything else), but they
    gain market share, and therefore mindshare.
    And their whining about people making copies of stuff that's no longer available legally is even more ridiculous.
    Ideally, everyone would move to just Open Source Software and the problem would be eliminated; in a less-utopic
    world, we need a revision of copyright law, and fast.
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:46PM (#2750147)
    I reckon that you'd have an easier time educating kids to swear off sex totally (except for procreation within marriage) than getting them to honour all forms of 'intellectual property'.

    I argue here that the notion of intellectual property is not natural to humanity.

    While animals relate easily to concepts of scarcity, one thing that distinguishes humanity is its capability to comprehend of abundance.

    Human societies the world over have emerged from the caves by their ability and willingness to share information freely, and use this information to better their lives.

    The notion of 'ownable intellectual property' was an artificial construct used initially to protect the incomes of publishers (who faced the large costs of typesetting and production), then was extended to generating an incentive for authors and providing them with a way to earn a living from the fruits of their creative labours.

    However, to me, the 'intellectual property' system is clearly now serving the interests of the 'machine' far more than the interests of original creators.

    How many masterpiece books actually make it into print? Many bestseller authors tell stories of their work being only accepted by the 30th publisher they approached. And even for those who find an outlet, they typically get screwed, receiving a miniscule percentage of the profit from their works.

    And, it's the publishers and retailers who benefit far more from copyright than the original creators.

    But with the advent of the Internet, I strongly feel it's now time to revise the whole notion of 'intellectual property'.

    For the first time in human history, it's cheap, fast and easy to distribute information worldwide (anything that can be digitised - music, literature, art - perhaps even sculpture soon).

    I strongly suggest that instead of trying to educate kids against 'piracy', we teach them to be innovative in finding new ways of profiting from their creativity in a new climate of abundance.

    I would feel happiest with a system which limits copyright to the right of a creator to receive credit and acknowledgement for their work.

    I feel that human society would thrive and evolve far better by setting the internet free, and encouraging everyone to participate in the new Abundance.
  • Re:big picture (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aka-ed ( 459608 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {cilbup.tbor}> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:05PM (#2750178) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I haven't broken a software license in 10 years...

    This has to be hyperbole. If it isn't, then you are the only person I have ever encountered who has read an entire software license in ten years, let alone remembered every provision of each one of them.

    Or, when you say you haven't violated any licenses, are you stating that you haven't violated what you assume the license to be?

    If, for instance, you ever took a laptop across any national border, you have violated export provisions that are quite common, unless you checked all your licenses and then uninstalled the "problem" programs.

    If you've ever installed the same program on both a laptop and a desktop from the same disks, you may have violated a you always check?

    Have you ever opened an ".ini" file to view settings on a windows program? Gee, you may have violated "reverse engineering" prohibitions.

    I could probably come up with more, but I would have to actually read a license to do so.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:52PM (#2750261)
    Some say $50 is a fair value for a game. In some countries, this is enough money to feed a person for 3 months. How do you defend this price now?

    You don't do your case much good with this sort of specious argument. The people buying computer games are not living on a $17/month food budget.
  • by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug&opengeek,org> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:34PM (#2750434) Homepage Journal
    First, this article makes me sick. The overwhelming corporate morality is obvious and in poor taste. People just should not get their values from the media. Values come from life experience, peer mentoring, and plain old critical thinking, not something like this.

    What burns me even more is the reality that some people live in. If pieces like this actually are expected to sway people one way or the other, we should be more than a little scared. Popular opinion is just like popular music or popular anything --manufactured for those who just can't seem to think for themselves. This sort of thing is not what built this country, instead it is the source of the erosion we see today.

    Toying around with some software to learn something about it, or the field of interest it is written for is not stealing. This act costs the authors nothing. The lost sales argument does not hold water either because only the rich or the foolish can afford to just buy software they are curious about. The rest of us are just not going to do that when there is no planned gain to be made. People normally do not invest when they do not see a return. Why would they?

    As a kid this whole thing took a couple of days to sort out when I was presented with it the first time. It is simple. Learning is ok, profit is not, unless you are a paying customer. Pretty simple really.

    As a result of that simple ethic, I have purchased every piece of software that I actually use to my benefit. Simple again, pay back what you owe.

    Does this make me a thief? What harm does this cause the authors of the software I have learned about? The only harm I can think of happens when the software is lame, and I say something about it when asked. Paying for lame software is what started this whole thing anyway so in the end that does not hold much water either.

    So this avaliabilty of software to all of us helps the authors much more than it harms. All of us who learn about software recommend it to employers and share knowledge and advocacy with our peers. There is a substantial longer term return for a very moderate investment on the part of the software authors.

    Why should we bear the burden on this when we have very little return to show for it when the companies who profit from software sales have a clear one?

    The structure of this is obvious. If things are slanted toward the established corporations it is much harder for new upstarts to have a chance at the top.

    Return for investment works against us here where it should work for us above. Buying a few laws and maintaining a pile of lawyers is far cheaper than dealing with distruptve technologies once they are out of the bag.

    Our loss is greater though. We lose out on choice innovation and in general the fruits that our contributions to society in general promise to bring.

    How come nobody writes articles about these sort of things. Could it be structure again? Maybe those damn critical thinkers right or wrong are enough of an annoyance that it would be better to chill them before letting them speak?
  • by ryouki ( 209039 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @09:37PM (#2750594) Homepage
    I make small programs to solve computing problems at a cyclotron. I could care less if some one else at some other cyclotron used my solution I would be happy. I work SOLVING PROBLEMS not to Makeing Products .

    This whole argument is wether or not making a program is making a product or selling a service. From the product point of view, copying a program is stealing. If everyone were to "Steal" from someone else then programers would starve.

    From a service point of view copying after the job is done has no effect. The programer was paied in full for services renderd and the client is free to copy at will. Even if everyone who could were to coppy the program the programer can still eat.

    The problem is that most companies bough into the product point of view and it would be expensive for them to change perspective. There are alot of managers, lawyers, and other people involved in selling product that are needed in s service industry. This suggests that the product paradigm is less efecent. Abandoning it woud require major restructuring of a company.

    There is no perfect way to stop people from copying software. Software Copywright holders need to understand that it is not human nature to respect copywright. What they are doing in not effecent and causes all sorts of problems for them. Copywright Breakers need to remember, and Children need to learn that copying software can interfear with the way many people make a living.

  • by D Anderson n'Swaart ( 453234 ) <> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @10:07PM (#2750657) Homepage
    • What kids need to be taught is logic and critical thinking, rather than receive drill in corporate-endorsed moral standards. While we may get just as much software piracy, we might hear some better rationalizations than those quoted in the article; and maybe the next generation will get copyright laws that make sense for the times.

    And this is why corporations don't want this to happen. As long as the only way to get justice is to buy it, copyright laws that make sense will never be achieved, and brainwashing will continue. However, I have my doubts that time is on the side of corporations as the article suggests. The more computer-literate the people they're trying to screw, the less the people will put up with it. In two generations, nearly everyone is going to be using computers to a large degree, and a high percentage more than is current will be very familiar with them, and with the concept of critical thinking. I don't think a time will ever come when nearly everyone is smart enough to see the stupidity of "owning a bitrate" because human nature precludes it; people are sheep and believe what they are told because it's easier than thinking for themselves.

    But there are smart people out there too. And other people who are selfish, but realise that being screwed by corporations isn't in their best interests. That's when things will become intriguing.

  • by Kirruth ( 544020 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @10:19PM (#2750680) Homepage
    While breach of a software licence - really just another type of contract - should expose you to a civil liability, it should not leave you liable to a criminal prosecution.

    In other words, if I form a contract with a software provider or film company when I license software or content, and I break that contract by making a copy and passing it to another person, they should have the right to be able to sue me for damages. If the contract wasn't fair, the court will throw it out. If it was, they can make me pay up.

    What is unacceptable, and an erosion of liberty, is that an unrelated third party - the police - can take action against me, on behalf of the state on this issue. Unless I was using this commercial transaction to commit another crime - like fraud, or murder - it should be nothing to do with them.

    We rightly give the police tremendous leeway to detain suspects, confiscate goods and enter property. When this power is used on behalf of one party of a contract, it's very unfair. It's a dangerous extension of state and corporate power vs. the rights of individuals.

    Breaking the terms of a software licence is neither "theft" nor "piracy". It's simply breaking the terms of a software licence, a bit of paper that comes in the box, written by the software company.

  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @10:59PM (#2750781) Homepage
    Well, we can seperate the music vs. software question right off, because they are two completely different sets of circumstances. The questions at the base may be similar, but the situations of the two are completely different.

    Now, for the people saying the only people making money off software are CEOs, I have to ask if you have ever worked in a commercial development environment? Are you saying all the developers working for MS and Oracle aren't getting paid? All the developers working on Quake 4 aren't really getting paid? Last I heard, the developers working in these companies were making quite a nice living (it may not be what you think they should be making, but it certainly isn't nothing).

    People seem to forget there is more to making something than material assets. The main assets of a software company is personel. That is where the majority of their money is spent, whether it be for R&D people, coders, bug-testers, marketing people, etc. Believe it or not, this all costs money and lots of it. So yes, that CD full of software only costs $3 to make and ship, but it costs a lot more to develop and support. So rationalizing stealing something (and yes, taking something you don't have a right to is stealing, whether it is digital or material) by saying that the wrong people are making the money is a joke. If you don't like how a company works, you take a moral stand and you don't use their product. You can claim stealing it is a moral stand, but all it is is stealing cloaked in a veil of righteousness.
  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @02:41AM (#2751188)
    Except that it aint stealing. It's sharing. I agree that compensation is nifty, but not necesarry. Why would I develop open source software in my spare time? Cash? Food? No. It's love!

    Anyway I'm drifting here. The point I want to make is that stealing is only really stealing-bad if by taking something that person who originally had it didn't have it post act. A-priori it can't logically be called stealling unless I grab the box , delete his copy of his hard drive and split for it.

    People really need to get there morals in order and stop cowering to corporate fucker mentality. Really, it doesnt help you or I at all, just some fat fucker suits who pay us coders penuts anyway.
  • by bildstorm ( 129924 ) <peter.buchy @ s> on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @04:52AM (#2751311) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to point out that I really wanted to moderate today. But there are just too many fools who know lots about computers, less about society, and very little about the law posting mindless bits here.

    Ever wonder why corporates and lawmakers look at open source like a bunch of freaks? Think about the guys who promote copyright infringment against corporations, and yet if Microsoft violates the GPL (a copyright infringement), they'd scream bloody murder.

    Face it, we're all intellect workers here. I doubt many of us make a career out of building physical objects, or performing physical services. Most of use here either make or will make our careers of our using our minds. And we'd probably like to make money doing it so we can eat, stay warm, and buy more equipment.

    The problem is that there are two camps. Those who say that all copying of software/music/etc costs money per copy. That's bullshit. The other camp says it doesn't hurt anybody. Well, tell that to the game companies who didn't make any money because you spent your $50 on blank CD-Rs instead of a single game.

    The problem is that no one here thinks about who benefits and loses. People all over have become way too selfish. This counts the users, copiers, corps, etc. Look at the record companies! They want to control distribution of the music through their channels. But if I play the music enough online and get it to enough people, then the artist benefits because people go to the concerts, where t-shirt sales and such benefit the artist. However, what happens to the small record companies that DO promote their artists if they don't make money on the sales? Back when Windows 3.0/3.1 was making the warez scene, Microsoft was yet another competitor. Now they're a monopoly, in no small part thanks to those who wanted the software to be "free".

    This isn't piracy. Piracy means we deprive people of what they have to trade. Maybe it's more of a conspiracy, since we all get toghether and affect companies in ways that in our own little world we don't see.

    Let me just wrap up and say that your money votes and so do your actions. You can buy all the Linux software you want, but if you're still USING copies of the latest greatest Windows, you promote the monopoly. You may love a band to bits, but if you never contribute anything to them succeeding, you're a leech, not a fan. Why do the rules that we have in the IRC rooms and trading programs and such not apply when we interact with a world in which we can vote with ballots, purchases, and lobbying?

  • by YearOfTheDragon ( 527417 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @06:27AM (#2751363) Homepage
    Copyright can't exist on a Capitalist country.

    About capitalism []:"under this system a minimum of government supervision is required; if competition is present, economic activity will be self-regulating"

    Copyright is an artificial interference.

    So capitalism don't work, what works is mixed economy [].

    Roman epire existed 500 years, but at last it collapsed.

    So "capitalism works" is a rash conclusion if it can be take into account.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @01:29PM (#2752264)
    The issue really is the len of the Copyright term. Which now stands at about 75 years.
    This is how I see it. The copyright is a contract between the producer of an information good(software) and the consumer(public) of that software. The contract gives the producer a temporary monopoly (75+ years) and in return the public gets to use the software for free in public domain after that.
    The len of the copyright term as rendered most(not all) of software value less after 75+ years.
    Not many will want MS-DOS after 75 years, or not may may want to see B grade movies/vidoes from 70 years ago.
    So the general public has little incentive to honor the copyright contract.
    It is very difficult to tell the youngsters (with a straight face) to honor the copyright contract now and wait for 70+ years so that they can freely play that game, or listen to that song or use that software when it comes out in public domain.
    the above comment is copyrighted by me A.C. 2001.
    It will be available in Public Domain after the year 2075.
  • by chompz ( 180011 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2001 @02:18PM (#2752431)
    I think a slightly revised selling system could
    totally CRUSH piracy. We all know how nice it is to have pretty books, and tech support, and such, but often times the user doesn't want that stuff, and they just want to be able to install the program and use it. They don't want to pay for tech support that they aren't going to use. Why can't software companies sell downloads of ISO's for a fraction of the cost of the retail version of thier software, but ISO users would be barred from tech support and such. They would be still making thier money, and they would be selling directly to thier customers, and a substantial savings to the customer. Retail stores make HUGE markups just because they can, why can't the software companies sell the isos below the wholesale price of thier products? I would never pirate software again, methinks.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire