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Software Piracy Seen as Normal 1032

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the facts-of-life dept.
Spad writes "The BBC is reporting that people don't see downloading copyrighted material as theft, despite concerted efforts by the games, music and movie industries to convince them otherwise. The report, titled Fake Nation, claims that '[People] just don't see it as theft. They just see it as inevitable, particularly as new technologies become available...The purchase of counterfeit goods or illegal downloading are seen as normal leisure practices,' However, they also found that while people are generally not buying counterfeit software from dodgy dealers on street corners, they are still happy to purchase them from people they know at the office/pub/school in addition to downloading them. Nobody can really be that suprised by the 'popularity' of downloading pirated software, but I was a little thrown by the apparent willingness of people to pay for pirated copies of it."
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Software Piracy Seen as Normal

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, 2005 @04:59AM (#12898486)
    Piracy isn't theft. Theft is the action in wich one denies others acces to the stolen goods. Piracy doesn't deny anoyne acces to the pirated goods. So piracy is per definition not theft.
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mkro (644055) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:23AM (#12898572)
      Since we like quotes from old American geezers ("...deserves no liberty at all"), here is one from Thomas Jefferson:

      "He who receives an idea from me receives it without lessening me, as he who lights his candle at mine receives light without darkening me."

      I'm sure he didn't refer to an iso of GTA: San Andreas found on a Swedish bittorrent page, but the counter-argument at that time also could have been "Candles cost MONEY, I think I deserve something back for the flame you just infringed upon" or "Do you know how much TIME I used to come up with that idea? Now I might have to work the fields instead of thinking out new stuff in the future"
    • by hey! (33014) on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:11AM (#12898986) Homepage Journal
      From Lord Macaulay's 1841 [kuro5hin.org] speech on copyright extension:


      I will only say this, that if the measure before us should pass [...] there will soon be a remedy, though of a very objectionable kind. Just as the absurd acts which prohibited the sale of game were virtually repealed by the poacher, just as many absurd revenue acts have been virtually repealed by the smuggler, so will this law be virtually repealed by piratical booksellers. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men.
      [...]
      Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot.
      [...]
      Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.


      There's Chinese proverb that states: many laws make many criminals. It isn't just that reasonable activities are criminalized; it's that acts that ought to be criminal become more respectable by association.

      Unauthorized use of software somebody has created with the idea of supporting himself through selling it most certainly is theft. It is not theft of the work, it is theft of the revenue that the author could expect. Granted, the author can't name any arbitrary price the way SPAA does in press releases; it's ecnomically naive. But pirates don't have a moral leg to stand on: they can't say this thing has no value so I shouldn't pay for it; if it had no value they would not pirate it.

      The problem is that the entire system of intellectual property has become imbalanced, incomprehensible harmful to the public good. In part this has to do with bad laws like DMCA, in part with legal practices like blending licensing and copyright in mass market sales. But nonetheless, the public can't work productively with the current IP situation. One great overlooked advantage of F/OSS is that it is comprehendable. The most complicated F/OSS license is GPL, which (a) is not complicated by commercial license standards (b) standardized and widely used and (c) completely safe for anybody who isn't in the business of selling software.
      • Lord MacAulay (Score:5, Interesting)

        by panurge (573432) on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:53AM (#12899159)
        I can't help adding that Lord MacAulay practically wrote the Indian legal system himself, and that anyone who gets past his nineteenth century writing style will discover, as I did, that far from being some stuffy legal figure he was a serious progressive. He argued for greater democracy, for the abolition of the privileges of the aristocracy, and (although he had to be very careful how he wrote in those days) he would clearly have supported the abolition of the monarchy and the introduction of a republic. He also attacked the use of religion to exclude groups from society. Even his popular stuff, like his Lays of Ancient Rome, need rereading. The last of the Lays is an attack on the aristocracy in support of popular democracy, and they are supposed to represent the evolution in understanding as the Roman empire developed. My English teacher at school rubbished the Lays because, she said, they contained many errors and were unrealistic. It was only years later that I read MacAulay's own commentary where he explained that he had deliberately tried to write them from the standpoint of someone knowing no more than a Roman of the time, and with the exaggerations that a verse writer would put in. MacAulay 2, English teacher 0.

        It's a pity he's not around today when some of his targets are getting to be so big again.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        NO, GODDAMNIT, IT IS NOT THEFT.

        A good has to be taken from the legitimate owner for the act to be theft.

        I don't take the software away from anyone. It's a copy.

        I don't take revenue from anyone when I make a copy of something. He still has all the revenue he had before I made the copy. If a is the same as b, then the difference a-b (which is what is removed) is 0, zero, nothing.

        Everything else is just wishful thinking. Like, if 10% of the people who pirate Photoshop would buy it, Adobe could buy Microsof
      • I completely agree with your well thought out post. However, I'd like to point out that most intellectual property in the hands of the consumer is, in fact, worthless. I say it's worthless because that consumer can't sell it, hence it's value could be argued to be $0. Historically, this hasn't been the case. Consumers have always been able to resell their books, records, tapes, CDs, etc. But most software is not resalable. Music bought through ITMS cannot be resold (so I've heard, Apple still refuses
      • There's Chinese proverb that states: many laws make many criminals. It isn't just that reasonable activities are criminalized; it's that acts that ought to be criminal become more respectable by association.

        I think you have something backwards.

        I won't use the word respectable, but acts that ought to be minor offenses, or even non-offenses, are turned into major criminal acts. Robbing the muisic store at gunpoint and taking some CD's will get you less time than what the RIAA wants you to get for ripp
  • by Zebidiah (573736) <`zebidiah+newsletter' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:01AM (#12898490)
    People don't mind paying for software\music etc. They just don't like being ripped off with overly inflated prices.
    • by nurhussein (864532) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:08AM (#12898526) Homepage
      This is *especially* true in developing countries where people just can't afford to buy legit stuff, since the content cartels all want to push it at US prices.

      A legit DVD movie is around 80-120 ringgit* in Malaysia. That's enough money to eat for one or two weeks. Would Americans pay the equivalent of a week of meals for a single DVD? I doubt it.

      Try selling at prices people are *willing to pay*, like the pirates do (10-12 ringgit per DVD), and they'll be more than happy to do so.

      --
      * ringgit == unit of Malaysian currency. 1 US dollar is 3.8 ringgit.
      • I was in Malaysia a few months ago and stayed in China Town in KL. I saw at least half a dozen different people selling ripped off CD/DVD's in a 2 minute walk in any direction from where I was staying. I was quite impressed.
      • Veering off tack a little, it's interesting to consider what would happen if DVDs were sold at realistic prices in Malaysia. I could imagine malay market DVDs being sold back to the Europe and the US and drastically undermining the prices there. I suppose that was what the area code was supposed to prevent.

        All of a sudden, I get the feeling that the implications of the term "global market" have yet to sink in for some of the big boys...

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:53AM (#12898683) Journal
      I do, at least where music and literature are concerned. I find the idea that a few large corporations "own" all the music I grew up listening to and uses that "ownership" to prevent the vast majority of humanity from being allowed to listen to more than a fraction of it to be downright criminal. That being the case, I won't give them one thin dime of my money, and I'll go out of my way to make a free copy for anyone who wants it so I can further deprive them of operating revenue.

      As far as I'm concerned Universal, Sony/BMG, Warner and EMI are the enemy and I'm happy to do my part in destroying them utterly.
  • There has been a popular meme throughout history, back to the days of the Old Testament that said that beggars were entitled to the excess of any farmer's crop. If the vagrant were to walk past a farm, they could take as much as they needed from the outer ring of crops, but they were not to venture inside.

    This is because it is thought that the person doing the work of farming had more than enough to feed himself and his family, after all, he's got huge tracts of land and will sell the amount he doesn't keep for himself at the market. What little scraps are taken by the passing beggar will hardly be missed.

    The same attitude exists with regards to copyrighted materials. "I, one lone person, can't possibly make a dent in the amount of revenue that the copyright owner will make." (It's the same reason many people don't vote.) And they are correct. Individually, they make no impact on the final numbers. They aren't even a rounding error in many cases. But in large numbers, all these individuals refusing to pay for the material (to the copyright owners) make a huge impact.

    When every vagrant takes their "fair share" from the outer ring of a crop field, the crop gets smaller and smaller until the farmer and his family starve.
    • It's like the drug trade. People want it, the more difficult (expensive) you make it to get, the more creative and inventive folks get at it.

      How would you stop the criminal side of the trade? For example, with marihuana, many have said that de-criminalising personal usage and growing of limited amounts would lead to less money made by the criminals, less crime.

      If by the same token, copyright owners would (use modern technology) lower the costs then piracy would not be profitable and people would be less i
    • Well looks like the farmer is quite the idiot, then. All he has to do is plant weeds and the like on the outer fringe and the problem is solved.

      But here's where your analogy fails. One, by taking crops to his/her heart's desire, the vagrant denied both the farmer and others from it. That is stealing. However, 'pirates' do no deny others from partaking in media they are 'pirating'. That's the difference.

      The second point is that there is no evidence that the 'pirate' would consume the product if (s)he could
    • by zoney_ie (740061) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:41AM (#12898639)
      There's another problem with piracy, besides the theory that the producers are out of pocket as a result.

      In Ireland at least, the warning that piracy (of films in particular) supports terrorism, is quite true. While those actually pirating the stuff themselves aren't, those who buy pirated movies at the market, etc., are most likely buying from the equivalent of an IRA high street store. One of the IRA's rackets is pirated goods (the others being smuggled cigarettes, diesel, etc.)

      Not sure how true the ad at the start of the movie is in the States, but just to let you know, it's not as crazy as it sounds.
      • In Ireland at least, the warning that piracy (of films in particular) supports terrorism, is quite true

        Oh, but isn't "piracy" such a lovely broad term? you can prove almost anything with it.

        Let's look at your argument.

        1. Terrorist organisations often support themselves through links to organised crime
        2. Organised crime often sells pirate DVDs
        3. Selling priate DVDs is often referred to as "piracy"
        4. Copying your mate's DVD is often referred to as "piracy"
        5. Therefore copying your mates DVD buys guns for the p
      • Maybe true, maybe not. I'd still worry more about the support to terrorism the tank of gas to get me to the black market is providing.
    • What's fair? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andrew Cady (115471) on Friday June 24, 2005 @06:07AM (#12898735)
      The basic fact is that we can copy material whether we have authorization or not. Those who would profit from our purchasing it wish us to purchase it, and they appeal to our altruism -- they want us to purchase their copies because we want them to have our money, as if they were a charity. This is not far-fetched, in general. There's nothing wrong or silly about asking for charity. Charity and altruism are things I am willing to offer, and many others are too.

      But are the people asking for charity here people who would ever give the same to us? They claim to be in need, and us to be able to help; but if we are in need, will they help? Will Microsoft ever lower its prices just because it can afford to and it would save us money? Or do they price their software wherever it makes them the most money?

      If corporations base all their decisions entirely on their own personal profit, how can they ever expect us to sacrifice our personal profit for their good? Is that fair?

      I believe in sharing, but when I share with others, and they don't share back, I stop sharing. I only pay for free software.
  • propaganda (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sweetshark (696449) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:03AM (#12898502)
    ... despite concerted efforts by the games, music and movie industries to convince them otherwise ...
    Here (germany) these TV-commercials are as bad as the mainstream (streamlined) popmusic. They are without heart. In cinemas they often get booed at. They are even less convincing than the products these guys want to sell.
  • It's copyright infringement and the punishments for that are much much higher. You're better off shoplifting a CD or Software than actually copying it. At least if you consider the possible punishments.
  • by Willeh (768540) <rwillem@xs4all.nl> on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:06AM (#12898513)
    From my own experiences, it's absolutely true what they're saying. I was copying c64 games for my friends (not for profit ofcourse) back when i was about 7-8. It moved on over the years (tape swapping in school, more games copying). It sort of snuck in. Why? Because it was so damn EASY. That's right, morals got conveniently put on the backburner, just to listen to the latest tunes or play the latest shit-hot game with my friends.

    Fast forward that to the present: IT'S STILL EASY! Games, movies music are so readily available(for free) i'd be embarassed if i produced any of it. For the less techno-savvy people under us, it's still relatively easy, maybe a magnitude or 2 less, plus they now have a little disposable income to throw around for the sake of convenience, so they might buy the latest movie released from some dodgy bloke out of his trunk. Is this right? NO. Is this illegal? YES! Is it easy? You bet! They're basically doing it because it's convenient, easy, cheap and they've been doing it for years.

    Having said that, personally i'm now working and have a lot more money to spend, so i'm buying stuff all the damn time. The solution to all of this: I have no clue, but DRM-short-of-a-gloved-hand-up-the-ass isn't the way to do it.

  • by Yath (6378) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:06AM (#12898515) Journal
    Who knows, people may be smarter than the entertainment industry gives them credit for. Illegal copying isn't theft, and insisting that it is does nothing but alienate people and foster mistrust.

    What's sadder is that the BBC is going along with this campaign of misinformation. They imply that there are only two viewpoints: It's theft, or it isn't a crime at all. Way to inform your readers... not.

  • Piracy isnt theft at all.
    If I download a piece of software made by NoWares Corp. on eMule, does the NoWares Corp. immediatly feel that they are missing one copy of their software product?
    No matter how you put it - Software piracy is not theft. Even if there are pirated 100.000.000 copies of any give software, the "offended" company can still sell a billion copies to anyone.
    Software Piracy is just what it is. When will people get that apples != oranges, and that piracy != theft?
    Piracy == piracy != theft

    Also
    • I'd also go as far as to say that illegal copying of date != piracy. The whole "Piracy" thing is yet more scaremongering tactics to make the practice sound really bad.

      Just as you're not actually stealing anything,neither are you plundering vessels at sea and brutally murdering their occupants!

      You may be right in justifying it as less bad than stealing, in the same way that mugging someone is less bad than murdering them, but the fact is it's still illegal.

      The content owners really ought to make a better
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:10AM (#12898532) Homepage Journal
    I am too young to remember the age of freedom before the commercial world took over software. But I can make out how it would have felt from whatever Free Software is doing to the youngsters today. It must've felt like the current astrophysics or higher mathematics of today. I wonder what happens when those things have real applications and multinationals pushing reasearch ( already grant money seems to be corrupting them ).

    > [People] just don't see it as theft. They just see it as inevitable, particularly as new technologies become available...

    Userfriendly has hit the nail on the head with this explanation [userfriendly.org] of the economics of software piracy. The costs of piracy had hit companies way back in late nineties, these days the piracy factor is calculated into the initial pricing. Where I was working before, they had estimated ~19% piracy rate for a mobile phone app. It is slowly starting to become a market force for the software industry - and the companies hate that. (price it too high, we'll pirate !)

    The american corporate's blood sucking is slowly starting to show on the economy. what price for - America Inc (specializing in mergers with oil rich countries with dictators) ?.
  • Can we agree? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ImaLamer (260199) <john@lamar.gmail@com> on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:15AM (#12898546) Homepage Journal
    Downloading software or music is one thing - making money off of "pirated" copies is another. I don't even think about using Gnutella or downloading MST3K DAP releases from eDonkey (using eMule) because no one is making a profit from those actions(ok, my ISP). I would never use Kazaa, because piracy is their business model (and if you think Kazaa is just a tool, I think you are).

    In fact, one torrent supplier of rare Star Wars stuff always points out to *NOT* buy stuff from the "Dark Side Dealers" and make copies available so those trying to cash in on piracy can't.

    I'd copy Windows, Office or even UnixWare for you no problem - but if I saw you selling copies of any of these I might just kick you in the nuts.
  • Pay for it? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327)

    I, too, can't understand why people would pay for copied software. I suppose people just don't have the time to technical knowledge to get it for free. Perhaps they also kid themselves that they are helping a poor self employed buisness man. Who knows?

    While I don't condone wide spread piracy there are some types of pircay that I don't have that much of a problem with. For example, go back a few years, you were interested in ray tracing and 3d modelling. You had a choice of pov-ray and coding all the scene

  • by NoNeeeed (157503) <slash@@@paulleader...co...uk> on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:28AM (#12898591) Homepage
    Every time I go to the cinema there is some advert or other by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft, a UK org) telling us how naughty copying is and how much trouble we'll be in if we try to record the film.

    And every time there is a ripple of giggles. The more serious and ominous the warnings, the harder people laugh.

    For better or worse, most people just don't think that copyright infringement is a serious crime. Most people acknowledge that it is "wrong", but probably regard it as no more serious than eating a penny sweet from the pick-and-mix. I am of the generation that grew up home taping (LPs, CD, Spectrum/C64 games), most of my friends don't see a little low level piracy as being a bad thing, in fact most would say they discovered new bands from friends tapes and ended up buying more (some would be lying, but not all).

    The media world has got an uphill struggle before it convinces people that casual copyright infringement is anything like the serious crime they think it is.

    Paul
  • changes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by n0rr1s (768407) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:32AM (#12898602)
    From TFA:

    "The government has spent millions of pounds to change public awareness of drink-driving and smoking.

    "As a society, we need to go through a similar process for creativity and intellectual property."


    This isn't the change that needs to happen, and it won't happen. People don't see downloading material as wrong because it isn't wrong: nobody gets hurt by it.

    I think big change is required, and the new system should consider these points as axioms:

    1. The transfer of digital information deprives nobody of anything, and should be lawful.

    2. People who create digital works that society considers desirable should be compensated.

    This suggests to me a system whereby the creators are paid once, up front, for their creation, and then it must be freely distributable.

    Of course, that's the thinnest shell of a new system, and it would raise many questions and problems. But people aren't going to drop their belief in points 1 and 2, and I see this sort of system as the only way of resolving them.
  • I'm doing a bit of copying for my friends, and every time I burn a DVD I ask for a few bucks to cover the media and my time burning. Now, I would charge the exact same amount even if I were burning out something completely legitimate, like Linux ISOs. In my eyes they aren't charged for what's on those DVDs, they are paying for the media and labour involved.

    So, are my friends (and probably the people in the article) really paying for the pirated software?
  • The anti piracy messages and lawsuits came in too late. Many people have grown up with piracy (I prefer the phrase copyright infringers more) as a way of life. I copied my first game in 1984. A whole generation grew up knowing and doing these sorts of things and due to the popularity of 'free' and the growing momentum of these numbers, its too late. Even now children at the school my children go to talk about how they watch all the latest movies at home before they hit the cinema (or while they are at t
  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:37AM (#12898623) Homepage
    The reason people don't see breaching copyright as theft, is because it isn't theft.

    In order for something to be theft, there has to be an "intention to permanently deprive". You have to take something away from someone. That's the legal definition.

    If you copy something, the original is still perfectly usable. Nobody is deprived of the original for a moment.

    The copyright "industry's" attempts to equate breach of copyright with theft has fallen upon deaf ears because people aren't that stupid; they know the analogy is stupid from the start.

    Bodies which name themselves using the phrase "copyright theft" are open to public ridicule, because everyone knows that breach of copyright absolutely not the same nor even similar to theft.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DuranDuran (252246) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:52AM (#12898680)
    Actually from my own research, it's much more likely that the participants knew that it was wrong but have developed fairly compex ways of justifying their activity. It's called "neutralization", whereby deviants 'neutralize' the social controls that normally inhibit illegal behaviour. This theory was originally put forward in 1957 by Sykes and Matza, and you can read about it here [norfolk.sch.uk] and here [umn.edu].
    • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andrew Cady (115471) on Friday June 24, 2005 @06:31AM (#12898837)
      Actually from my own research, it's much more likely that the participants knew that it was wrong but have developed fairly compex ways of justifying their activity. It's called "neutralization", whereby deviants 'neutralize' the social controls that normally inhibit illegal behaviour. This theory was originally put forward in 1957 by Sykes and Matza, and you can read about it here and here.
      You could say the same thing about the media lobbyists creating the copyright law, etc. Research on psychology cannot presume anybody "knows" what is wrong, because that presumes the researchers have that knowledge themselves.

      That copyright infringement is wrong is a difficult case to make; directly it hurts no one. That copyright is wrong is much easier; it directly deprives most people of access to most of the world's artistic work, and also prevents us from doing a lot of great things.

      From an economic perspective, copyright is just a very bad mechanism to fund a public good. Copyright infringement, on the whole, most likely increases the efficiency of the mechanism, by increasing the number of copies, and thus the value, of the copyrighted works.

  • white collar crooks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by epine (68316) on Friday June 24, 2005 @05:53AM (#12898686)
    How can people take copyright law seriously when it's completely obvious that the laws in these areas are formed by negotiation among white collar crooks? This notion is deeply embedded in popular culture.

    Spoiler Alert

    Raising the question of what Tony does for a living, Meadow asks bluntly, "Are you in the Mafia?" Tony replies that some of his money comes from illegal gambling, and probes, "How does that make you feel?" Meadow replies, "Sometimes I wish you were like other dads. Like Mr. Scangarelo, for example. An advertising executive for big tobacco."

    If you can handle the sex, violence, copulatory interjections, and (most difficult) the moral ambivalence, rent the episodes and pay attention. It might haved saved the poster of this topic from his career in gormhood.

  • by RichardX (457979) on Friday June 24, 2005 @06:13AM (#12898758) Homepage
    Seriously. Don't do it.
    I thought I was getting a bargain when I bought a bunch of stuff off this pirate I met in a pub, but I later found out that the parrot was in fact dead, and not just pining for the fjords as he claimed, the eyepatch was for the wrong eye, and the cutlass was made of plastic.

    Still, at least I didn't feel quite as ripped off as the time I bought a DVD from this bloke I know - he works in a place called "HMV". Paid £20 for the DVD, I did.. what what do I find when I get home and pop it in my player? I'm forced to sit through a bloody two minute intro lambasting me for my evil criminal pirate ways, and how I, personally, am causing the entire film industry's collective children to die a horrible death from starvation. And it was all encrypted so I couldn't (legally) make a backup of it for my own personal use.

    Bloody inferior quality goods. I've learnt my lesson. I'm sticking to Bittorrent in the future.
  • Software Piracy Seen as Normal

    I'm lucky. I know lots [gnu.org] of [kernel.org] really [apache.org] fast [postgresql.org] FTP [kde.org] servers [php.org] with lots of high quality software on them. And best of all? It's completely free, and legal.

  • Morality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keean (824435) on Friday June 24, 2005 @06:20AM (#12898795)
    When justifying war, the argument is often made that the death of a few is justified by the saving of many more.

    We often say the moral action is the one that brings the greatest benefit to the largest number of people.

    Therefore copying software, many gain something for free, at the cost of depriving a few of income.

    By the above argument you have a moral obligation to copy as much software as possible... Or the justification for 'moral-war' is invalid. Both cannot be true as that would be a self contradiction.

    You could argue that by copying, people will stop writing software - but that is obviously rubbish as we can see from the free-software movement.

    Besides, if people stop writing generic software because of piracy, people will have to pay programmers directly to adapt free software to their needs. If the ammount of money available to invest in new software is constant - more money will now be spent on new features and entirely new software products... In other words copying software stops companies writing one product and then sitting back and collecting money for effectively doing nothing.
  • by R1ch4rd (710276) on Friday June 24, 2005 @06:36AM (#12898857)
    On the subject at hand: I agree that illegal downloading is copyright infringment and denies the copyright holder of revenue.

    But I was wondering about the bigger picture here. If the public at large condones such behavior and doesn't see it as a crime, should it NOT be a crime in the legal sense?
    If laws and guverment are put in place to represent 'the people' shouldn't they reflect the people's view?

    Here I'm thinking of: illegal downloading, speed limits, ID cards, airport security checks and other laws that differ from the general public's view.

    Richard
    • But I was wondering about the bigger picture here. If the public at large condones such behavior and doesn't see it as a crime, should it NOT be a crime in the legal sense?

      What exactly are you proposing? That we abolish copyrights? Patents? Cut their time limits? Enable use right that allow for unlimited copying of music, software, books and movies? Do you understand that there will be economic consequences to the industries that produce these media?

      Someone actually make a real proposal for a soluti
  • No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peaker (72084) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .rekaepung.> on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:17AM (#12899003) Homepage
    Most people have long forgot the purpose of copyright.

    And no, folks, it is not meant to reward authors.
    Copyright has for a long time stood without legal basis (Violating the "Limited Times" clause), but for the last 20 years, its also violating its original purposes.

    Lets restore the original copyright:
    1. Limit all copyright times to the minimum required to pay back for creation costs (along the lines of 5 years).
    2. Cancel copyright on functional information (such as software). The power it grants the copyright holder over its user, even in a limited time, is too great. Software creation, in most cases, requires little to no financial incentive, and in niche cases where it does, payment to programmers is still possible.
    3. Allow copyright, but only apply it to inter-legal-entities copying. This would mean that EULA's have no effect (You really shouldn't need extra permission from the copyright owner to run the copy you bought!).
    4. Disallow copyright of the binary-form of software and creations. Only allow copyrighting Software in source form (And yes, music in its "source" forms). This is because copyright is all about making the derivative works possible in the future, in order to grow society's information base. You can make derivative works from public-domain software source, but you cannot make derivative works from binary blobs, even if they go into the public domain. How does it promote Science and Useful Arts to create dead-end pieces of information?
    • by Vladan (829136) on Friday June 24, 2005 @09:15AM (#12899694)
      2. Cancel copyright on functional information (such as software). The power it grants the copyright holder over its user, even in a limited time, is too great. Software creation, in most cases, requires little to no financial incentive, and in niche cases where it does, payment to programmers is still possible.


      I don't understand how this comment gets modded +5 Insightful with no dissenting opinions on a forum for computer technology professionals. When did the average Slashdot moderator become a warez kid?

      How else could I explain such support for cancelling copyright on software? Software patents yes, copyrights no. I know this is an open source community but you can't seriously believe that you should ban closed source software development.

      Open source is great, forcing open source on companies isn't. If someone should decide not to disclose source for his program, that should be up to him, it shouldn't be up to the warez kids to scoop it up and claim "oh, but I am entitled to violate the contract because of my interpretation of the historical meaning of copyright."

      All software isn't fun to develop, and even if it is, you can't waste time trying to assemble a team of dedicated and qualified volunteers to work on your huge project. That's why finanical incentives sometimes are necessary. And don't forget that developers are being paid as we speak to develop open source software.

      As is often repeated, most software development is done in-house. If a company develops a tool for itself, do you really believe a competing company should be allowed to use that tool without the creator's permission just because it is in binary form? Even the GPL enforces terms on binaries.

      Finally, don't forget that the distinction between binary and source is only in your head. Assembly language may very well be the only source for some programs.
    • No way. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Stu Charlton (1311) on Friday June 24, 2005 @10:47AM (#12900610) Homepage
      And no, folks, it is not meant to reward authors.

      Progressing art & science in a market system usually implies innovation, and innovation usually implies profit. Profit isn't necessarily a reward, though it could be used as such. Profit's function in an economic system is covering the costs & risks of future development.

      Limit all copyright times to the minimum required to pay back for creation costs (along the lines of 5 years).

      Limiting terms is fine, and the current trend for unlimited extensions is dangerous, but I disagree that it's about covering creation costs. It's about creating a market for content, thus ensuring revenue flow for the creation of future works.

      Cancel copyright on functional information (such as software). The power it grants the copyright holder over its user, even in a limited time, is too great.

      I'm curious why you would think this. Copyright is what allows things like the GPL to exist. Without it, you don't have a community of open source with forced contributions, you have public domain artifacts.


      Software creation, in most cases, requires little to no financial incentive


      In most cases? In general, this could be applicable to any profession in which one gains pride and/or fellowship from their work -- Habitat for Humanity building houses, or Amish barn raisings at one end of the spectrum, pro-bono legal work as another example.

      Just because financial needs aren't the ONLY incentive, this does not eliminate the fact that people need money.

      and in niche cases where it does, payment to programmers is still possible.

      Niche cases? Those niche cases would be where someone spends 8 hours a day developing software, and thus don't have time to make money in exchange for another form of labour? That's a strange definition of niche.

      Let's break out this scenario....

      Software creation, as with all forms of human activity, requires incentives. Financial incentives certainly aren't the only incentive. However, if one is to spend the majority of their time creating software, they require financial incentive. That means a wage, or a salary.

      Wages and salaries must be paid by people or groups of people that undertake some kind of activity that provides economic value. Thus, they too must have incentive.

      In a world where software licenses are no longer valued (i.e. public domain artifiacts), then the value is in:
      a) the time you spend (e.g. customization or support time); or
      b) the complementary products you associate with the software (e.g. retail websites, advertisments on the web, or selling hardware or business consulting)
      c) the usage of the software (e.g. software-as-a-service, metered usage, etc.)

      So software-for-hire is developed by a consortium of volunteers in their spare time for certain classes of software plus full-time developers that are remunerated by manufacturers or software-service firms, or consulting / support firms.

      Is this the model you seek? Is that really superior to today's model? I wonder.

      Most popular open source software today is subsidised by hardware sales, business consulting, support contracts, and advertising (IBM, HP, RedHat, OSDN, Google, etc.).... Is this sustainable if the hardware business starts to falter, or if the business consultants lose large deals?

      I do agree something needs to be done about the perpetual tax placed on desktop software upgrades, but I think that's slowly fixing itself -- people are upgrading less as the software becomes more commoditized and clones/alternatives appear. It's a long process, but probably in the next 10 years, Office won't be the cash cow it is today for Microsoft.

      Allow copyright, but only apply it to inter-legal-entities copying. This would mean that EULA's have no effect (You really shouldn't need extra permission from the copyright owner to run the copy you bought!).

      Hm
      • Re:No way. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Peaker (72084)
        Progressing art & science in a market system usually implies innovation, and innovation usually implies profit. Profit isn't necessarily a reward, though it could be used as such. Profit's function in an economic system is covering the costs & risks of future development.

        Innovation does not usually imply profit. It may require incentive for profit, and that incentive may or may not require copyright. That is why it is so important to remember that the purpose of copyright is to promote Science an
  • by pipingguy (566974) on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:26AM (#12899049) Homepage

    It's revenge for not having flying cars and a 3 day work week by now.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:47AM (#12899124)
    Of course Piracy sounds nefarious, but we really know it is sharing and that is what we should call it.

    Before the net we used to make mixed tapes for our friends. Loan them books or VHS tapes etc... Now I share TV episodes often sharing the Download effort to get multiple episodes.

    I am old enough that I had pretty much bought all the CD's that I was going to own when Napster Hit the scene. I might have bought 1CD in the previous 2 years. Napster rekindled my interest in music. I bought 10 new CD's in my first year of Napstering. But after the lawsuits and my growing awareness of the way the industry operated, I have sworn to never by another RIAA supported CD.

  • Bad analogies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gilroy (155262) on Friday June 24, 2005 @07:50AM (#12899138) Homepage Journal
    Not only do we have the usual insulting "equivalnce" between copyright infringement and violent pillaging on the open sea ("piracy"). We also find that casual copyright infringement is as bad as drunk driving:

    The government has spent millions of pounds to change public awareness of drink-driving and smoking.

    "As a society, we need to go through a similar process for creativity and intellectual property."

    Yes, I'm sure this shrill overreaction will work in changing people's minds... 'cause getting that copy of Batman Begins is definitely the same as driving a car while drunk, endangering and possibly killing innocent bystanders.

    The problem faced by the Content Cartel and their lackeys is this: Copyright infringement is in fact not as serious as these "sexier" crimes. People won't take it seriously because the harm is of an entirely different type.
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Friday June 24, 2005 @10:25AM (#12900407) Homepage Journal
    Here's the analogy I've always used to compare piracy with conventional theft.

    Let's say a teenager goes into a supermarket and steals a Mars Bar. After the teenager took it, that then meant that there was one less Mars Bar *physically on the shelf.* The Mars Bar is a physical object. So the supermarket has to suffer a loss on the money they were expecting to make from that physical object.

    Now let's say that same teenager goes home and later that night, uses his T1 cable to download a warez copy of Windows XP. The teenager has downloaded a copy of XP...but in doing so, there has actually been an *additional* copy of XP created...one which didn't exist before...as a result of the downloading process. Nothing is missing from the shelves of any shrink-wrap boxed software shop, either.

    So that's the difference. Shoplifting *removes* an item which the store then has to cover the loss of. Piracy on the other hand does not physically remove merchandise...what it really does is to create alternate sources of said merchandise...sources which are not necessarily under the software author's control. The software author might not make the amount of money he/she/they were expecting, but given that software doesn't exist as a physical object, it's a lot harder to quantify with any real accuracy the amount of money you could expect to make from it anyway.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

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