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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 Dead_Smiley ( 49033 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:04PM (#2749675) Journal
    because my 10 year old doesn't understand why I can't just make a copy of Pod Racer so we can multiplayer at home.

    Especially since his Mom has warez copies of MS Office on her machine that she uses to writes her papers.
  • A question (Score:5, Funny)

    by 13013dobbs ( 113910 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:05PM (#2749677) Homepage
    By educating you mean show them where to download the latest P2P program and show them where the warez/crackz sites are. Right? :)
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:08PM (#2749685)
    Piracy. It seems to evoke some romantic image of sailing the seven seas, drinking rum and singing sea shanties. People, when told 'you are a software pirate' seem to shrug it off. Call it its real name, and you can change people's minds.

    Its not piracy, its stealing.
    • It's not stealing, it's copyright infringement.
    • If it's stealing, why the hell did nobody say to me yet:

      "Hey you, may I steal your car? You can steal mine in return, OK?"

    • 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.
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @05:09PM (#2749992) Homepage
      Well, everyone else has illustrated to you why pirating is not stealing, so I won't touch on that all too obvious clarification.

      But call it stealing, and you're still stuck with the Hilfingers of the world, who've actually admitted to telling department stores not to crack down on shoplifting of their products.

      Why would they do that? Hillfinger astutely recognized that the demographics who steal clothes are the ones who set the trends for the suburban crowd thats all too happy to fork over the cash. They do NOT count every 'steal' of their products as a loss of sale, and neither should anywhere else. As usual, the truth is a nice big grey area. Unfortunately, computers only work in 1/0s, and thus the business types in the industry seem to believe that EVERYTHING should work (or can be explained in) such a way.

      To call a pirated piece of software a loss of sale demonstrates a complete lack of desire to understand the true ups and downs of software pirating. If Windows XP cost 7000$, would you still be calling every illegal install of XP a loss of sale? Of course not; you'd recognize that people place a value on a product, and then decide whether or not to purchase it.

      Anyhow, valid reasons why people feel its okay to copy software:

      - don't use all the features of said software
      ::: Part of the purchase price is spent on developing Wizards, add-on software, supurfluous functionality, etc. People don't expect to have to pay for driving lessons when they buy a car, or advanced features like in-car GPS if they won't use it. Why should software be any different?

      - lock-in
      ::: My personal bet on the most common reason, when it comes to MS software. I'm forced to use windows, because MS has engineered a monopoly on OS's and x86 hardware. I'm forced to use Word. And don't tell me that I could use other products, because the loss in doing so is not in less functionality, but in attempting to collaborate with other people who don't know how to share/work/collaberate nicely with users of other software due to MS's totalitarian attitude towards the marketplace, and in particular, the passive consumer. Any avid PC gamer MUST buy Windows to play the vast majority of PC games; this is MS's own damn fault that they were not interested in working nicely with other OS makers to develop common gaming or multimedia platforms (a la Open GL). If I'm a gamer, and I want to play the games, I see NO reason to pay MS for successfully driving the entire market onto their platform. This is called Just Deserts.

      - students, 'trial' pirating
      ::: Students can NOT afford to spend 1000$ on Photoshop or Emagic Logic Audio in order to determine, after a fair usage trial of a few months, if they want to pursue a career in design, or music, or what-have you. Entry level software does NOT provide a means of a student making said decision, as that student will be working on Photoshop or Logic later in their career. A jr race car driver can go from go-karts to F1 cars, because there are a variety of car types; thus, racers must know 'generically' how to drive. Industry professionals who rely on software do not become experts in 'all design software' or 'all multimedia software'. In fact, professionals themselves often have to fork over much money in learning and training costs in order to learn just ONE professional level piece of software. If we saw a more collaberative and co-operative effort on the part of software makers to define conventions and standard subsystem platforms for software, we might see the professional learn what's inside those 1000$ black boxes, but right now, no such luxery exists. Thus, students feel justified in pirating these types of packages. The mission statements of pirate groups that specialize in these types of software have mission statements exactly to that effect. On the other side of the coin, I don't know a single professional artist or musician who hasn't paid and registered for the product once they've entered their career of choice. Considering that support and upgrades are factored into the cost of products, and that pirate users (usually) cannot use such services, even a pirated copy of Emagic logic being used in a professional commercial environment does not constitute a loss of the full cost of the product. (BTW, it would be interesting to figure out, given the legit:illegal ratio of installed copies of product X, just how much of a price chop could be done if people percieved that the software was worth the cost. Imagine Photoshop cost 100$ .. I'd have bought it years ago, and I'm sure many other casual web page authors, designers, etc could justify that price. Adobe may price it there because of the piracy, but who's to say that Adobe isn't getting it backwards; ie, that the piracy is there because of the price?)

      I'm not advocating piracy wholesale. I'm saying that there are legitimate reasons why it's not exactly stealing, even besides the obvious copy/steal argument.

      And finally ... is MS software the most commonly pirated software in the world? I'd put money on that, and if it's true, it says alot about the 'destructive' nature of casual piracy, given that MS went 10 years without even so much as a profit warning, even despite the rampant pirating of their products. I guess MS's argument is that they should be X times richer and more powerful than they already are, a mental image that should send even the most rabit capitalist quivering in his/her boots.
    • 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 Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snk[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:09PM (#2749688) Journal
    "From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing."

    MS Dos is (was) incredibly easy to pirate back in the days when it was widely used. If it was never pirated, it would never have become nearly as popular as it was. This would have made Windows less popular. Microsoft has piracy to thank in part for its success.

    Successful software WILL be pirated. That's how you know that people are willing to buy your products. In the long run, the corporate clients who have to worry about staying legal within their contracts will comprise most of the legal purchases of software, while the little guy (individual persons like you and me) will still probably pirate the stuff. This is how software gains grassroots acceptance. I think piracy by some individuals is good for business. It's better than any advertising campaign.

    • 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.
      • 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.)

        The funny thing is that home-users actually have to pay a lot more for MS-software than businesses (because of massive discounts)

      • Actually, I think those who copy software illegally because they need it for some reason and can afford to buy it should be punished to the extent possible under current law. Why? The availability of copyrighted software at no charge was and is one of the main causes the Free Software Movement does not reach the masses. Why do you need Free Software if you can get almost any software for free from your friends?

        If people are forced to use what they can use legally, we would soon see a tremendous increase in manpower available in Free Software projects, and even if it's just users reporting bugs and making suggestions.
        • I think those who copy software illegally because they need it for some reason and can afford to buy it should be punished to the extent possible under current law...we would soon see a tremendous increase in manpower available in Free Software projects, and even if it's just users reporting bugs and making suggestions.

          So you think that moral/legal issues should be determined according to how they fit in with your petty agenda, is that right?

          Most everyone posting is missing the point of the article, which is not "is piracy bad?" -- it's "piracy is bad, and our children need to be 'educated' that it is bad."

          So where does the "moral education" of children into corporate-endorsed views fit in your agenda, hmmm?

    • If [MS-DOS] was never pirated, it would never have become nearly as popular as it was.

      What? MS-DOS was almost never pirated by users. 99.9% of PC users got it with their system and didn't think about it at all. MS-DOS wasn't even a retail product until v5. (Now it could be that cruddy low-level OEMs were using counterfit copies of DOS, but that has nothing to do with the end user.)

      Besides your argument is faulty. If people weren't too cheap to buy a $50 copy of DOS, they would have gone out and legally purchased a $300 copy of OS/2? I think not. It's not like there was a 'free' Linux distribution as an alternative in those days.

      You could make the real argument that MS Office spread partially due to MS turning a blindeye to piracy, but I don't think it holds up for DOS or Windows (a lossleader for Office in the early days).
  • 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.
    • 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?

      I would rather know how they calculate those numbers. I mean, what do they do? Go from door to door and ask everybody: "Sir, do you pirate software and if yes how much?"

    • Given the rise of the P2P networks, it seems that the drop is easier attributed to the rise of Free/Open Source software. The 1/6 increase of non-copyright infringing software could represent Apache/Linux/BSD/PHP, etc., being used in companies thoughout the world...
    • In previous years, the percentages of computer users who actually were real computer users

      "Real computer users"? Are you talking about people who overclock their AMD Durons and play 20 hours of counterstrike a day? Yeah, those guys are keepin it real.

      I think what you are trying to say is that in the past, a greater % of PC users were business users that ran only business applications, and it's only recently that the PC has become a home entertainment device.

      In my experience, it's totally believable that business piracy rates are much lower, primarily due to fear of being audited/ratted out.

      As for home users, for the most part any software they might need is either free or less than $50. For most people it's easier to drop the change than dink around on P2P and IRC to save a couple b bucks.
  • 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.
  • by going to: []

    OR 5HACK.html []

    Editors: please start putting in these links in the stories--you know this crowd is big on privacy.
  • 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.
    • 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."

      • Re:big picture (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aka-ed ( 459608 )
        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.

    • 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.

    • Piracy is always associated with the copying/use of software that
      should have been paid for. Strictly however, software piracy is
      violation of a software licence.

      It's worth mentioning then that violation of the GPL for example,
      is also piracy.
  • They've succesfully brainwashed slashdot as well, or what?
  • I have two thoughts on the matter:

    1) re-education doesn't work. No one likes having perceived priveliges removed, rightfully or not. No one likes being fed pablum to explain why it's wrong (Disney and FreeJackster.)

    If something doesn't seem wrong to a majority and the harm isn't directly observable, then it's not going to be curbed by re-education.

    Also, we need to make a distinction between Piracy and Copyright Infringement. They aren't the same. Where copyright infringement is being claimed, copyright law needs to be reformed to match the people's behavior, within balance, not to curb it.

    2) maturity does work, to an extent. The 27 year old quoted at the end felt he'd outgrown warez. Of course, the 45-year old who was pissed he couldn't download oldies mp3s counters that example.
  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:15PM (#2749706)

    I've been wanting to a legit copy of Office 97 rather than living on the MSDN copy from work (should I ever have to get another job). I found a guy on eBay selling a sealed unregistered OEM copy for $75. I used "buy it now" to end the auction and used eBay's own BillPoint to pay. This happened three days ago.

    About six hours later I got notice that the auction had ended at Microsoft's request because the good were pirated (VERO rule or somethign like that). See the problem? I already paid for the goods, and the charge has cleared my bank. The listing is gone, and I haven't heard from the seller. What happens to my money?

    I've written eBay about it, but of course haven't heard back probably because of the Christmas holiday. Has this happened to anyone else, and if so, what happened?

    • Read the EULA that you agreed to by coming into contact with a person that owns the product. It clearly states that if Microsoft says so, then it is so. If you order products from their website, pay for them and everything, Microsoft pretty much has the right to say, "Its pirated software" and take your money, and possibly even prosecute you for being a pirate. Someone should show them what pirates are really like, and bust into their office and steal, raze and plunder.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> 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 Trekologer ( 86619 ) <[adb] [at] []> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:23PM (#2749733) Homepage
    ...then you have an even deeper problem that neither the software industry, or any other media publishers want to address.

    And that is that more and more people, worldwide, are begining to believe that copyrights, and so-called "intelectual property" in general, do not deserve all the protections that they are afforded.

    No one wants to address this because it is the publishers' biggest fear: copyright will lose respect and eventually be abolished. Their entire revenue stream is based upon the idea that data, be it software, music, video, or whatever, can be artifically kept scarce. And that's just not true.

    What the whole Napster thing has done is to demonstrate that a good number of people (enough to make a "political majority") do not think that CDs are worth $18 a piece. People are now realizing that CDs cost under $1 to make and that the artists aren't getting the remainder. The people are making it known that the recording industry is NOT worth $16 a CD anymore. And since, unlike an ideal marketplace, you can not negotiate the price of a CD, potential customers are looking elsewhere to obtain the products at the price they feel it should be.

    Piracy itself is not the primary target of these raids. The real target is attitudes towards copyrights. Since people are no longer respecting them on their face, the industry is attempting to convert the lost respect into fear of the law.

    And that fear can only be provided by a copyright police state.
    • Well, you're right on the money. Lets not forget that it was the Disneys of the world that kept lobbying for greater and greater protection of IP and copyrights. Now they are finding out that law doth not a society-nor-its-values make; and that people, by in large, do not believe that the creation of one device, one invention, one album, one movie, should provide a right to decades of revenues by a corperate entity.

      Copyright and patents were there in order to protect the inventor from having his idea usurped before the rest of the world knew who to credit, and to provide a few years of royalties to fund their next innovation. Now, we are seeing companies that believe that once you've secured the rights to a piece of IP, that no one else should EVER be able to touch/use it without paying that company.

      It's a silly image, but according to the way I believe (and increasing numbers of others) IP should work, anyone with a sewing kit should be able to sell adorable Mikey Mouse tablecloths by now.

      Imagine the IP laws of today had they been in place centuries ago. Much of the lore, fables, we recount to our kids would not exist today, as it would still cost money to propogate them. In my mind, that's a frightening image. Intellectual property protection is NOT a right; there should no doubt be some protection for the original inventor to ensure that they are properly compesated, and can continue to facilitate an envrionment in which they made the original discovery/invention/work, but I'm very much against the copyright-ad-infinitum that corperations seem to be pushing as 'the natural order of capitalism'.
    • So what do you think is a reasonable price for a CD?

      I obviously think $15 is, because that's the price I keep paying and I buy about 3 CD's a month.
      • There is a difference between something you "accept" and something that is reasonable. In this case you pay $15 because its the only way to get what you want. The question you need to ask yourself is, if these same CDs cost $17, $20 or even $30 if you would pay the same.

        The price point currently set is arbitrary. The RIAA is guilty of collusion.

        I pay what I must for CDs because I have no choice to get the music that I want if my friends don't have it. We share collections thereby sharing the cost of music in an informal co-op. Do I think a CD is worth $15?

        No. But if for every CD I purchase my friends purchase one and we share the music the cost is much more bearable.
        • "The price point currently set is arbitrary. "

          No, it's simple economics. The price point is set to a level the market is willing to pay.

          Maybe the problem is not the cost of the CD, but the quality of the music you are listening to. I tend to prefer artists who put out albums rather than one hit wonders, and as such well over half my collection I would value at far more than I paid for the CD just from the pure pleasure it has afforded me.

          If you are listening to crap like Mariah Carey, it's no surprise you think CDs should sell for $1.
    • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:37PM (#2750137)
      Scarcity has everything to do with it, and nothing to do with it.

      Let us perform a thought experiment, and imagine that we live in a world where K. Eric Drexler's nanotechnology has come to pass, and we all have garage-sized devices in which we replicate anything smaller than the devices just by dumping in refuse or bits of obsolete technology and pressing the appropriate buttons.

      Nothing is scarce, except for maybe the garbage that we use as raw ingredients, and the objects that we want to reproduce that are larger than the replication units.

      So, in 2056, or whenever this future comes to pass, the big steaming pile of shit I've collected straight from the bottoms of dogs living comfortably in their luxury condo-kennels has incredible value.

      Or does it? It is worth more, the same, or less than the expensive "original" that I have copied? Yes, I've commissioned a unique sculpture by an octogenarian artist (or older, this _is_ Science Fiction) and, the day after the unveiling, thugs break it from its moorings and duplicate it in their own replication units. Is my original suddenly worth less? Is there any sense in visiting the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, when I can just download the pirated blueprint off of the Internet, and copy it from discarded tennis shoes in my own replicator?

      Would copying the artist be acceptable? What if he - meaning the original - gave his consent? Now we have 20,000 copies of the most important artist of the year 2056 running around creating original works which are then ripped off by admirers. Or do you object that we shouldn't be allowed to duplicate living things? Does life, then, have some special quality that that should exempt it from copying? Would that quality, perhaps, be rarity? That argument wouldn't work anymore, in an age when anything can be copied.

      To take this to absurd extremes, suppose it is an offence to duplicate persons. What do we do with the duplicates, once the offence has been committed? And the offender, suppose that he has made 20,000 copies of himself before making a copy of that formerly rare original artist, do we arrest them all, as they are all sworn to continue in their duplicating ways?

      Why would anyone, or any corporation, spend billions of dollars and years of work developing the next great consumer gizmo - say, another copier capable of duplicating objects bigger than itself - why would they bother, if their efforts were immediately stolen?

      Yes, I know, they'll just support their employees and continued research providing service and support for products that have in-built AI, hence require no service, and can always be duplicated with a downloaded blueprint using yesterdays (valuable?) rubbish, so it effectively never breaks down. I can see that as highly profitable.

      We need a new paradigm in which scarcity can't be trotted out as the supposed underpinnings of everything we value. If we can't do that, maybe the idea of "consent" needs to be discarded, as it would have virtually no meaning. But shouldn't I have the right to say no to you copying my creations, regardless of the media? If you answer in the negative, just wait until my projected Science Fiction tomorrow isn't Science Fiction, and deal with it then, but by then it will be too late, and our current selfishness will have given the government the excuse to make all of our IP decisions for us, because, darnit, I want to copy my MP3's NOW, and rip of Big Evil Corporations NOW, and not worry about the eventual consequences.

      So, scarcity has everything to do with it, and nothing to do with it, and fuck what may happen tomorrow because I want it NOW.
  • Piracy vs. Charity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LazyDawg ( 519783 ) <lazydawg AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:30PM (#2749756) Homepage
    These manufactured piracy figures would be even remotely useful if they included demographics for each group of software pirates. If the majority of that 25% were, say, Mercedes Benz driving, diamond-clad rich folk who light cigars with hundred dollar bills, then we would be worried.

    At present, these buckaneers seem to mostly be low-income students and others who have a compulsion to use the latest and greatest software, without the funding to back it up. Rather than paying bazillions of dollars towards enforcement and purchasing new laws, software companies could stand to make a huge tax write-off if they called this willful taking of their software a Charitable Donation.

    Big software companies practically print their own money giving out these wares as name brand commercial products, and they enjoy insane profit margins once the development costs get paid off. Since profit==taxes, they should try to encourage software piracy, pull a figure out of their ass equivalent to their taxable income, and then end up paying a few dollars, rather than a few hundred million.

    (did I mention, IANAL and IANAA?)
    • They already take a tax write off on these numbers. How do you think MS got so big and powerful? They have paid very little taxes because they write off a ton of their taxes as "lost income" based on these out of thin air warez numbers.

  • 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.
  • This [] is how you educate people about piracy :)

    (not porn, not


  • by Forager ( 144256 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:51PM (#2749810) Homepage
    ... said David J. Farber, a professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chief technologist of the Federal Communications Commission "If you're willing to bootleg music, you're willing to bootleg anything."

    While I can't state that this isn't true for some people (trading one blanket statement for another would make me a hypocrite) I CAN state that the majority of people I know aren't going to fill that statement. My friends and I certainly do bootleg our music; it's difficult to find one band that produces an album that has more quality than filler on it, so we pick and choose the songs we enjoy and download those individually. If an album comes out by a band we particularly like, we'll buy the album, but for the most part, we pirate our music.

    However, we don't pirate our software (except for a few big titles ... as 3D art students, we have to share SOME titles, if we expect to have any chance at all in the industry when we graduate; hell, we talked to one of the VPs of Alias|Wavefront and he said that piracy creates industry demand for their software, sort of a roundabout way of saying "we're turning a blind eye to this"). Take a look at my collection some time; over 85% of my 300+ software titles / games are legally purchased originals. The others are either backups (yeah, I DO use those) or pirates of majour titles (a certain office suite that I need to use to communicate with the college's financial department, for example).

    My friends are the same way. We don't, by and large, pirate software; sometimes we share, and if it's good enough, we'll buy it (that's how I came around to Baldur's Gate and Quake III). Music is one thing; software is a different story altogether.

    I know people who feel the same way about movies; they pirate movies, since we have faster-than-god internet access at school, but if it's a good movie they'll go out and buy the DVD or the VHS. The only thing we really pirate and NEVER purchase is pr0n =)

    I think Prof. Farber is trying to suggest that music piracy is a "gateway drug" for kids, but I don't really see any evidence of this. As someone (the article? don't remember) states, software piracy is down in recent years, even though CD burners are cheaper and broadband access is more widespread.

    What is interesting (and potentially frightening) to see is this "war on piracy" turning into the next "war on drugs"... something to keep an eye on, I think.

    Merry Xmas*,


    (yeah, I'm an atheist, but I still celebrate Xmas, because it's a social holiday, too; so to all non-christian geeks out there, have a good one!)
  • What I loathe are these kids on irc who think it's their birth right to every movie, game, and productivity application out there. They hardly even acknowledge that they're pirating software. I know people who have absolutely no legal games on their ill gotten operating systems yet somehow it's ok because "I wasn't going to buy it anyway". The people I know that do this aren't broke either, I almost wish they'd get busted just so they'd have to acknowledge that they're doing something that can have serious consequences. It just really grinds my gears when I go out and pay for a game ( I think 49.00 is reasonably priced ) and they pirate it and talk about how great it is, great but not great enough to buy?
    • Yeah, the most amusing argument that I hear from friends when I harass them about pirating software is "Well, I'm not making any money off of it, so it's not that bad." I can see their point when talking about something like maya, where it's hard to justify that much of an expense for something you're just fooling around with. I don't really agree with it, but I can see their point of view. But their argument falls apart when you start talking about games and such. Most of us will never make a dime playing games. Am I to believe that no software is worth paying for unless you can make more money off of it?
      • I agree, especially with games when I hear someone say something like "I need a cd key for halflife" I just have to laugh, dollar for dollar that game was probably the best entertainment value over the past four years. I mean fifty bucks for something I can still play with thousands of other people for years. Now-a-days it's probably even discounted, point is I just hate when people say they love some reasonably priced application and yet never go out and buy it, not even after using it for long periods of time.
    • 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.

      • No one innovates when everyone just compies everyone elses work, if code is "free speech" as much as art and art has value (astetic/monetary/cultural) though it is highly subjective then we must conclude code has a value, some code's value is greater than others as they become tools themselves. Knowledge should have no copyrights but there is a distinction to be made between a 'work' and the knowledge used to create that work. Those who simply immitate are doomed to mediocrity because we as people thrive on change and advancement. There's room for everyone on this boat we just havent distributed the weight properly yet.
  • 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.
  • Piracy and Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @03:57PM (#2749830)
    Bill Gates lying in court?
    Microsoft faking evidence?
    Microsoft illegaly using their market domination (apologists please note that I don't say monopoly) to lock out competition?
    Microsoft forcing customers to buy another license although they already have one?
    Microsoft forcing people to buy the product over and over again by breaking formats and standards?

    The response of the average Microslave is:

    "Oh well, that's just normal business. Everybody would do it if they could."

    People pirating software?

    "Oh well, that's just normal. Everybody does it."

    P.S.: No, I don't pirate software, I even paid for my Linux distribution.

  • We should stand up against this kind of nonsense. It is little more than the industry trying to brainwash our kids to believe in their warped way of thinking.

    Most of us here are young, and we, not the sickly old men that sit in CEO positions at music companies, are the future. We should teach our children ideals that will propel this nation beyond the dated zero sum game of economics that's been played for ages. We should teach them that information should be freely available to all, that US citizens rights should be respected, irrelevant of their differences, or the consequences of doing such, or "national security concerns".

    Undermining the traditional system in the "real world" -- where politicians say that rights are important, but then disrespect and ignore them (i.e., Katie Sierra, who was prevented from wearing an anti-war T-shirt at school; Brandi Blackbear, who was suspended from school for "casting a spell on a teacher") -- will require resolve, disobedience, and awareness.

    To undermine the traditional intellectual property system is something of slightly another matter, because its more convenient and easy. I do not propose that we take the moral high road, as Martin Luther King did when he fought racism by peaceful protests, and by allowing police to brutalize him. I suggest we take the path taken by Malcom X -- violent disobediance. Get roudy. Here's my recipe to undermine intellectual property:

    (1) Support open-sourced software, or "open-information". Support it namely by using it, wherever possible, in place of closed-sourced software or information.

    (2) Support "free" software or information, which is different from "open" software or information. This is software or information which is freely obtainable, but in which the source is closed. Normally, these endeavers are supported either by ads or by promotions for the "full product".

    (3) If you use "free" software or information, don't support the sponsors economic endeavers by upgrading to the "full" product or watching their ads. If you want the full product, find a hack, or download a crack -- either a warez version or a crack for some serial numbers to be entered. If its ad-based, don't support the ads.

    (4) To avoid supporting ads -- remember, we need to undermine the current zero-sum economic system as well -- create a HOSTS file for your browser. As a reply to this message, I'll post my HOSTS file. Disable animations or sounds from your browser -- many ads come in such form. If there's an ad-based program, like LimeWire, try to block the ads by deleting the file that might be responsible. If not, try to find a crack to block the ads. For LimeWire, since its open-sourced, this should be easy -- surely, someone must have released a patch to remove the ads. If you cannot remove the ads, simply ignore them. NEVER buy anything based off an internet AD. That support the ad-system which clogs our bandwidth.

    (5) If you must get a commercial product, there are still ways to avoid supporting commercial endeavers. i. You can try to find warez for the product you want. Search the web from This is hard, because very few warez sites actually offer software -- most are just fronts for advertisements and porno. You can also try searching from a P2P program, like LimeWire. ii. Sometimes, a retailer will allow you to return a product even after its been opened. So open up the CD package and copy it. If it has copy-protection, you can try making a 1:1 copy by CloneCD.

    (6) For textual information -- i.e., books, textbooks, scientific papers published, etc. If possible, offer these in pure format -- i.e., a PDF file or html file -- if you can overcome copy-protection. Otherwise, transcribe them. If only each person transcribes one book, out of every 10, that's millions of books you have online. You don't have to do it all at once. Many of you are very adept typists, and this should be no problem. I've found many transcribed books on LimeWire...even a copy of Crichton's "Jurassic Park".

    (7) Most obviously, publicly protest against the intellectual property system.

    Hope you found this helpful...
  • "software piracy" isn't really piracy, and it's not really stealing either, because the origional product is still there. It simply is sealing value, something we consider inflation. Some people would even say it's not stealing very much value, because most people who "inflate" software woundn't buy the product.
  • and how MS leveraged them to lock out innovation all over the map

    and how the music industry has used them to lock out any distribution channel that they don't approve of

    and how the movie industry is trying to use them to region code the whole planet, and used them as an excuse to try and put a 15 year old who wanted to play DVD's on linux in jail

    and how they lead to laws like the DMCA that have nothing to do with copying, but everything to do with speech

    and about how they call it piracy, as if those who copy are aken to those who board ships beat and kill people Yeah, I'm all for educating people!

    • ... and about how they call it piracy, as if those who copy are aken to those who board ships beat and kill people.

      That was a triumph of spin control. But it was done by the pirates. Anyone remember far enough back to when "Pirate's Harbor" ran full-page ads in Byte for tools to remove copy protection?

  • From the way companies like Microsoft whine about piracy, I'd assumed the figures were increasing, not decreasing.
    Or maybe, just maybe, piracy is less common in America because Microsoft (and others) are harrassing people? Maybe, even though they're slightly inconveniencing law-abiding customers, they're going to keep "whining" as long as it keeps working?

    You can claim that piracy is lower for whatever other reasons, but the fact is, tricks like the Windows XP Auth Code do reduce piracy. Granted, they don't stop the tech-aware people -- you can find cracked copies -- but I've personally watched it stop piracy in from "normal folk". People with XP preinstalled can't just share their OEM CD's and let others install from it. Families now realize they're supposed to buy multiple copies for multiple PCs -- and if you recall the Slashdot article about the sales of additional licenses, that has been even more successful that MS expected.

    Now for something else you don't want to hear: Microsoft is justified in whining. They do have many, many people using their software without paying. Even if we see the software as crap, it's apparently "good enough" to be pretty damn popular. They deserve payment for that 24% (for Windows, probably more) of their software that's being pirated.

    And their attempts to stop piracy haven't been unfair, either! There's all this complaining about the Windows Auth Code -- and not even anecdotal evidence of it harming anyone. So you let the software authorize itself, big deal. For the tiny, tiny percentage of people who upgrade a lot, they just need to give MS a call, and MS will authorize their new code. Big deal.

    So let's get this straight: MS isn't whining, it's trying to educate consumers who don't realize that sharing copies or installing on multiple PC's isn't legal. And they appear to have been very successful in stopping piracy of XP among the "common" people.

    I hate MS as much as the next guy, and I could drone on for hours about their monopolistic, anticompetitive actions that are unfair. But I'm not going to slander them for trying to recover a few billion bucks that they have rightfully earned.

    • You can claim that piracy is lower for whatever other reasons, but the fact is, tricks like the Windows XP Auth Code do reduce piracy.

      No, the authorization code in Windows XP has no effect on "piracy" at all, nor was it ever intended to. Those people who have never bought a copy of Windows have not been stopped. They'll aquire a copy the same as they always have. What the Windows XP authorization scheme attacks is legimate users putting the same copy on multiple machines in the same household - on the family and home office machines. Those people have always bought their copies of Windows, by either getting a legitimate copy with their pre-packaged computer, or by buying it off the shelf. They've been honest. And now their honesty is being punished by this scheme to force them to buy multiple copies of the same operating system. MS already has the entire market - the only way it can keep up it's cancerous growth is to force the same people to buy the same product multiple times.

    • Now for something else you don't want to hear: Microsoft is justified in whining. They do have many, many people using their software without paying. Even if we see the software as crap, it's apparently "good enough" to be pretty damn popular. They deserve payment for that 24% (for Windows, probably more) of their software that's being pirated.

      Microsoft has gained their wealth in far worse, illegal means than piracy. Do they really deserve any money at all? If money is an incentive, is Microsoft the example to set as the model of gaining money? Would the people ""pirating"" this software really pay to use this software?

      And their attempts to stop piracy haven't been unfair, either! There's all this complaining about the Windows Auth Code -- and not even anecdotal evidence of it harming anyone. So you let the software authorize itself, big deal. For the tiny, tiny percentage of people who upgrade a lot, they just need to give MS a call, and MS will authorize their new code. Big deal.

      Calling "Big Brother" for every upgrade, and/or having troubles upgrading and/or using the system is unacceptable to many, many people.
  • 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.
  • but that doesn't make it a biscuit.

    No matter how many times people scream from the rooftops that unauthorized copying is stealing, that doesn't make it so.

    No question about it, copyright infringement is illegal. When discussing a company like microsoft who (allegedly) stole Stac's code for doublespace, it's hard to get a groundswell of sympathy for their "lost revenue".

    If people don't feel too bad about copyright infringement to do it, some people think that they can change this by calling it stealing. The use of that word conjurs up imagery of parents scolding children about not ripping off candybars from the corner store.

    Let's examine this, by making an illegal copy of Windows 2x, you have denied a sale to Microsoft and have cost them money. By costing them money, you have stolen from Microsoft.

    Every linux distro that includes Samba is a potential lost sale for Microsoft. For every one of those lost sales, Microsoft has lost money. If one follows the logic train, RedHat, Mandrake, SuSe, Debian, Slackware, Yellowdog, and countless others are stealing money out of Microsoft's pockets by costing them sales of Win2k.

    It doesn't add up. Even if it is illegal and morally wrong, the former example is no more stealing than the latter.
  • 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 foqn1bo ( 519064 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:02PM (#2750079)
    Let's set the record straight

    You can dislike illicit software copying if you like. You can think that the participants are morally suspect, you can say that it does harm to the can say quite a lot of things. But lets get something very clear here:

    Comparing Software Piracy to theft is a stupid analogy!

    Meriam Webter defines theft as
    1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it
    b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

    1)..When someone illegally copies a piece of software, a physical piece of merchandise that existed in a warehouse does not just magically disappear. Unlike in the real world, the proprieter of a business (Say COMPUSA, or MICROSOFT) does not have to spend extra money on recovering lost inventory.
    2)..You can argue against it all you want, but the vast majority of pirated software on many people's PCs would not have been bought in the first place. I know there are exceptions, as always. But seriously, look at the Start menu on your average (artist I suppose since I went to school with art students)College Student's PC: Photoshop, Premiere, AfterEffects, Office, 3D STUDIO MAX, an assortment of expensive 3D games (Not to mention about 10 GB of Mp3s, which is a different but incredibly related discussion). Oh Good Lord, this one student has cost the industry thousands of dollars in software, and has cost the music industry nearly $2000-$3000 in revenue! What a load of carp. Apparently most people have forgotten that college students are poor!

    Yeah, I suppose you could argue that through pirated software one is stealing profit--depriving the company of the profit it deserves. That is a dangerous argument to make. Because then how would you like it if a company had the right to sue you over persuading a fellow citizen that it would be unnecessary to even wrong to buy a specific product. Would that then mean that you have stolen what would have otherwise been a positive cashflow from said company? I think not. A corporation does not have the right to determine what a consumer should or would have done under their ideal circumstances. That right lies solely within an individual. If we want to crack down, lets crack down on real piracy, where a piracy group sells contraband copies of another person's material. That's what copyrights are all about in the first place.

    Plus, Bill Gates really kind of needs to suck my wang, a little bit.

  • 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.

    • 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!

      Photoshop is $600 for a reason. It's the best pixel pusher on the planet, and the price is well deserved. You don't need Photoshop. 90% of the people who use it (including people who pirate it) don't need Photoshop. If Adobe sold Photoshop for $20, that would be a lot like a certain company releasing a certain web browser for free.

      I'm glad that Photoshop is $600, because there's already enough people who won't buy my software because they say "Sorry, but I already have Photoshop."

      You don't need Photoshop, or half the shit people pirate. Pay for and use software you can afford. If people keep pirating Photoshop instead of buying cheaper alternatives, there won't be any more alternatives.

  • 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.
    • 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.

      This is totally against known history. Even mythological sources from the dawn of civilization embrace the concept of not sharing information. Why do you think Vulcan and Waylan are lame? It's so they can't leave their place of employment and share trade secrets with competitors.

      Face it, from the early days of the caves survival often depended on an advantage over the neighbors - and that advantage was often in the form of information - where the best water source was, how to make the best bowstring, etc.

      Human society coexisted with a nature red in tooth and claw. Intellectual property was often a life or death matter in an environment where nothing was abundant.

      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),

      Again totally ignoring actual history. The concept of intellectual property related to written works arose during Greek times in order to preserve the claim of origin by the original author. The first copyright law "Statute of Anne" [] arose with the spread of the printing press to codify what was common law long before the printing press was common. This law was designed to prevent piracy since the wide availability of the press made it easy to print something without the author's permission. If you take the time to read the Statute of Anne you will see that the fact of the matter is that copyrights were originally designed to protect authors - and it is still true today.

      Do you think Sony would pay one nickel to any musician is they didn't have to???
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They need to quit loading crippleware on cheap boxes.

    A lady I know was mentioning that her PC came preloaded with a crippled version of Abobe Photoshop. After awhile it quit working on her and tells her she needs to upgrade to the current version.

    When she found out how much it costs she said there was no way in hell she would spend more money on a paint program than what she spent on her computer!

    So, she asked me if I could "obtain" a usable copy for her. Being "little people" that can'
    t afford huge price tags like that just for playing around we feel no pangs of guilt downloading warez.

    No big deal when it's just for private playing around. BUT, when you use it for profit or business that's a different story. I own a very small business and I BUY legit copies of the stuff I use. I DO downloaded and TRY the warez versions and when I decide that they WILL be used for my business I purchase them.

    They need to get real on the prices. Make stuff afordable and more people will buy it. If Windows was $40 they would sell lots more copies.
  • 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 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 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.

When you go out to buy, don't show your silver.