Debate and Discussion

Piracy
isukun at 12:49AM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
I thought there was a topic about this a while back, but going back through two years of posts, I couldn't find anything and I figured necroposting anything older wouldn't make much sense.

Anyway, as some may know, I work professionally as an animator. I have done some studio work for MTV, Adult Swim, and Fear.net as well as freelance work on a few commercials and pilots. I'm also currently working on the visual assets for a (hopefully) upcoming Xbox Live game. As such, media piracy is a bit of a touchy subject for me, but I see the topic come up a lot these days, particularly as it relates to software and games.

I guess as piracy becomes more prevalent, you see more defenders popping up all over the place. It almost seems at time, that the defenders online outnumber those people who actually believe consumers should pay for the products they consume, a prospect which worries me. Much of the video game industry has closed its doors to countries like Russia and Malaysia, finding localization of software to be a lost cause when piracy is so prevalent and copyright law almost completely unenforced. Is this the kind of climate we can expect in the US in the future?

Some people also look to the music industry and programs like iTunes as examples of how the industry was forced to change to adapt to widespread digital distribution. Unfortunately, while that may work for a 5MB music file which can be downloaded in seconds or a video file which can be watched as it streams to a computer or console, it a little harder to convince the buying public to invest in a system which does the same for a 5 to 50GB game which can literally take days to download, especially with the generally lacking broadband infrastructure present in the US. The PSPGo was a major flop for the very reason that consumers were unwilling to switch to a system entirely based on digital distribution. While great concepts, the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade both only represent a fraction of the sales their systems pick up from physical game media, even when a game is released both on disc and as a download. So if the industry isn't ready to make the changes necessary, how can they adapt to a market of piracy?

As you can see, I'm not particularly fond of piracy and I think it can have devastating effects on the market. I'm kind of curious what people here have to say, though. I've heard a lot of arguments for piracy lately, but most seem pretty self-serving and I haven't seen any real solid logic backing up the movement.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Salsa at 10:53AM, July 12, 2010
(offline)
posts: 2,384
joined: 7-10-2008
Lord, I hope not. I have never pirated software. When there are many free alternatives to an expensive program, why pirate the expensive program? There's also the fact that I am a Comp. Sci. major and if producing software becomes unprofitable, I'm out of a job. I don't believe in handouts, so I do believe that you need ot pay for what you consume, unless it is licensed for free downloading. So I say no to piracy.
RAGE!
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:18PM
Product Placement at 11:56AM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 7,078
joined: 10-18-2007
I'm guilty of using pirated software in my youth, especially back in the days before torrents, dc+ and Napster. Gotta love the days of pre-broadband Internet when all piracy took form in bootlegged CDs. Sigh… those were the days.

Most people I know that used to be hardcore piraters have slowly matured their opinion on the matter. First they took everything they could get if they could get it for free. They just looked at new forms of copy protections as a challenge. Then they started to sort everything down to those who deserve to be exempt from ripping and those who don't. Big quality movies, epic games and good albums were placed in a “don't you dare rip this” pedestal through the logic that it would create an incentive to create more high end products as opposed to low quality crap that would just end up being ripped.

Today allot of them have embraced digital distribution. They've given up piracy and started to buy the products online. They're the ones who own Steam accounts and buy through X-box live. It's a slow transition but it is eventually gonna become more prominent.
Those were my two cents.
If you have any other questions, please deposit a quarter.
This space for rent.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:53PM
isukun at 12:42PM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
I just hope the transition isn't too slow. Piracy is still on the incline, while the industry is on the decline. I like digital downloads and all, I also have a Steam account and I do buy PSN and Arcade titles, but at the same time, the consoles aren't really offering enough for the average gamer. Most DLC is simply add-ons and budget software, while the really major releases are still on physical media. Unfortunately, these are also the games which appeal most to pirates. I think the PC market is headed in the right direction with the digital distribution model, though, at least as far as games, movies and music are concerned.

Business apps may be a different case, but I think they could easily turn that around if they actually changed their system to offer individual and professional licenses on software, with the individual licenses actually being offered at a reasonable price, but limiting the user to “personal use”. Imagine the money companies like Adobe could make if they expanded their educational versions to include personal use, as well. Most people aren't willing to shell out money in the thousands for software they simply want to learn or use non-professionally. Microsoft also seems to be moving in the wrong direction, there. Raising prices on software like Office due to free open-source alternatives only encourages piracy.

With the growth of the internet and more people creating independent content, though, this sort of change to the pricing structure really NEEDS to happen. Everyone wants to be creative, but developers seem to think they can nudge the comon public into buying something way out of their price range by offering little tastes in the form of streamlined versions of their software. In the end, all they accomplish is nudging them to torrent the full version online.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
Hawk at 12:46PM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,760
joined: 1-2-2006
Most of the reasons I hear for piracy are only excuses for somebody to be cheap, lazy, or impatient. Nobody wants to think of piracy as the equivalent to walking out of a store with a movie or game and not paying for it. It's funny how many pirates wouldn't dare shoplift, and it probably has something to do with the likelihood of being caught and the more readily apparent punishment.

I can only think of one excuse that makes any sense, and that's for certain things you can't get anymore. My Amiga 500 doesn't work anymore, and I sure as heck can't go to the store for a new one. I don't feel bad about emulating games I already own in lieu of running it on my dead computer.

Product Placement
Today allot of them have embraced digital distribution. They've given up piracy and started to buy the products online. They're the ones who own Steam accounts and buy through X-box live. It's a slow transition but it is eventually gonna become more prominent.

I've noticed that trend too, and in some of my own friends. It's nice to know that people can start to develop a respect for the media they've been stealing, and it does sometimes make legit consumers out of them.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:47PM
blindsk at 1:34PM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Hawk
I've noticed that trend too, and in some of my own friends. It's nice to know that people can start to develop a respect for the media they've been stealing, and it does sometimes make legit consumers out of them.

I remember when they used to have the commercials on piracy as well as the news reports of people getting fined ridiculous sums of money for the songs that they ripped. What a joke that was…

Anyway, I agree with what Hawk said, the industry is slowly catching on that piracy can actually be countered by giving the pirates what they want. At least when it comes to music. These days anyone can “pirate” by ripping the songs off of youtube (which the record companies actually put up themselves now). Why? Now we're forced to watch thirty second ad clips before getting to the video.

I used to be a prominent member of an exclusive pirating club (which I will leave unnamed for their sakes), and when it came to video games, they often used pirating as a preview to whether they would buy the game or not. A lot of indie gamers would throw out their stuff for free, and people would realize that they developed a lot of good stuff and eventually bought it up just to support them (Braid comes to mind).

The movie industry seems to still be suffering though. I'm sure everyone remembers the predicament with the Wolverine movie. They lost a lot of money from that leak (so they say). I believe that's why we're starting to see a lot of them transition into 3D. They can use this gimmick that you can't really reproduce on a computer screen or TV just yet.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Ochitsukanai at 2:30PM, July 12, 2010
(online)
posts: 979
joined: 6-11-2008
I don't think piracy itself is morally defensible, as it's only common sense that people who provide goods and services must be compensated, but oftentimes the piracy of my youth inspired me to buy things later.

When manga I like is translated and imported, I'll go out and buy it solely because I'd been reading scanlations; reading a scanlation of Shin Petshop of Horrors made me buy the entire 10-volume original series plus the new series, for example, and I've bought several other series for the same reason. Similarly, in my youth I pirated a lot of music, but when I had money later I bought the artists' new releases and a lot of the old CDs as well. I wouldn't have heard enough to want the CDs and wouldn't have even become aware of many bands otherwise.

I'm not saying that piracy is therefore good or beneficial for industries, because it's really not; rather, isn't it great to be able to really experience something prior to buying it? The other day I was thinking that for this reason I'd like small games emphasizing the fundamental mechanics of full games, like the Flash version of Flow. You finish and you want more. Normally if I play a demo, I'm not really enjoying or experiencing it so much as I'm nervously waiting for it to stop working. It would be great if there were a way to enjoy the experience enough beforehand to know “This is totally worth it.”

Always, I wanna be with mew, and make believe with mew
and live in harmony harmony oh nyan
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:20PM
BffSatan at 12:41AM, July 13, 2010
(online)
posts: 1,478
joined: 3-2-2008
I kind of agree with you. To be honest on occasion I've obtained games and music “illegally”, but the only time I've downloaded a game illegally was because I had no hope of finding it anywhere else and I'd say that at least 90% of my iPod's contents is songs that I've bought.
So the act itself doesn't really bother me; more or less I'm just annoyed at people who justify it. At lot of people have the view that it is their right to free media and throw in bullshit about freedom of information and rant about economics that they have no understanding of.
Also I'm really sick of the “all musicians are rich anyway excuse,” because this just isn't true. The top selling artists are, but with the incredibly diverse music scene today a lot of musicians do have to struggle at the start of their careers.
However, it does seem that there is potential to adjust to an ‘everything is free’ policy for the music industry; I don't see it being possible for video games. Video game piracy is probably partly to blame for the death of PC games.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:21AM
isukun at 1:15PM, July 13, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
Actually, from what I hear from my friends in the biz, the music industry is even worse off thanks to the piracy. Most of the arguments I hear trying to justify music piracy seem to center around this idea that piracy is all about “sticking it to the man” or basically this fantasy notion that piracy only hurts the big business end and not the musicians since musicians supposedly get all their income from live performances.

Unfortunately, this claim makes some pretty hefty assumptions which really don't apply to the majority of independent artists. For one, it assumes all independents are working with instruments and genres which are popular. There are a lot of independent artists who aren't working within the rock, pop, or rap genres. While they have a niche to fill, they won't ever be packing stadium seats or going on international tours. Their livelihood is basically dependent on selling recordings of their music. Advertising really only works for popular artists, so it really isn't much of an option in these cases.

Because of the fairly rampant piracy in the industry these days, though, I keep hearing from people in the industry that getting started is just about impossible without corporate help. If anything, this stifles the music industry, restricting independent and original work, while pushing the same tired crap over and over again. It just seems like there haven't been any major music revolutions since the 90's and the advent of music becoming available online. I don't think that's a coincidence.

You are right that the free model doesn't really work for games, though. Many software pirates get behind the whole open source movement without really understanding how the system works. Games can't make money the same way operating systems and business applications can, they MUST get direct compensation for the development costs. The only games which can get away with alternative payment plans are MMOs and Social Networking titles and I would hate to see the market become just those two genres.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
ozoneocean at 9:35PM, July 13, 2010
(online)
posts: 24,971
joined: 1-2-2004
There are many complexities to this and a lot hidden motivations and rather dodgy justifications on ALL sides of the equation

For one thing the term “piracy” has been miss-used terribly and redefined specifically by big copyright holders in order to favour and extend their position.

Really, a copyright pirate is someone who hijacks the work of a copyright holder and profits from it. Commonly this is done by small time black market traders, but these days spammers on the net also offer this service (mainly with software), and there are various store-fronts set-up on the net which also sell pirated material.

What Isukun is talking about is more akin to thievery, something completely different, not quite as bad, but no more defensible in any case.

The growth in file-sharing hasn't resulted from the increasing moral corruptibility of the general public, as big copyright holders would have you believe, rather it's simply a result of the new capabilities of the technology and people using them (in what seems to them) in a logical way. The challenge has always been for the producers, marketers and distributors of the work to keep up with the technology and find new ways to maintain their profits.

With the music industry there's this foolish assumption that there business model from the last 100 years is logical, eternal, and should continue in perpetuity. But this is incorrect- the business model only came into existence with the development of recording technologies (the ability to make a record of a performance and then sell copies rather than have to make money from performances). Before that it simply did not exist. How can anyone expect an industry fundamentally completely based on an older, out dated technology to exist in the same way once it's technology has completely changed?
In the same way for the same reasons monasteries no longer make a lucrative business from hand copying books for people. Printing presses ruined all that.

The challenge is not for everyone to sit up and behave like good little boys and girls, that just won't happen. The challenge is for the production, marketing and distribution people to adapt to current realities and find ways to keep their industries and business models profitable. They ARE doing that now, and they're slowly, but surely getting better at it. -History has proved that relying so heavily on a legal solution won't work in the longer term
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:36PM
isukun at 10:41PM, July 13, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
The problem I see, though, is that there is an increased demand for independent creative work, but the new system won't support it. That's all well and good for the corporations who can use new technology to get the word out and then use other methods to make money (advertising, live shows, radio, etc), but it makes it even harder to get noticed if you don't have the backing of the major corporations.

What I most often see as the biggest argument against copyright is a free and open exchange of information which opens the market to new concepts and ideas. What I see as the reality of such a market is the crushing of new and original content which gets lost in a sea of crap while the major corporate backers stick with “safe” media.

Reality TV is the name of the game this year. The LA TV Fest is overflowing with Reality TV pitches and those ideas are the ones the networks are looking to pick up. In the mean time, the genuinely smart and entertaining scripted content gets pushed to “webisodes” while TV ratings continue to go down. Movies are relying more on name value than strong writing, acting, directing, and visual effects. Games are becoming increasingly online-based to minimize necessary content development or lock gamers into alternative payment plans (i.e. MMOs and Social Networking Games). The music industry places a heavy emphasis on genres and musicians who have been around for the past 10+ years. New blood almost HAS to sound familiar.

For one thing the term “piracy” has been miss-used terribly and redefined specifically by big copyright holders in order to favour and extend their position.

I actually find that the pirate community takes pride in that word. They think it somehow separates them from common thieves or makes them “noble rebels” like the pirate radio stations in the 60s. They love to argue the semantics of copyright violation and theft as if it somehow makes the crime lesser if they associate it with a violation which carries a heftier penalty. So while the big businesses also use the word, it has likewise been appropriated by those people who steal content through the internet. I'd say once we get to the point where both sides use the word with that context, it's pretty safe to assume it's common usage.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
blindsk at 12:58PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
ozoneocean
The growth in file-sharing hasn't resulted from the increasing moral corruptibility of the general public, as big copyright holders would have you believe, rather it's simply a result of the new capabilities of the technology and people using them (in what seems to them) in a logical way. The challenge has always been for the producers, marketers and distributors of the work to keep up with the technology and find new ways to maintain their profits.

I wholly agree. Two years ago it may have been true that certain music artists lost revenue due to illegally downloading ripped music off the internet. Since then, most artists have adapted to this.

Take for example Lady Gaga. I'm not a huge fan of her music, but I can at least acknowledge that she's brought in quite a few viewers due to her well-scripted music videos. That's where her money is coming from. Not to mention her various concerts.

And that's just the popular end of the spectrum. Switching over to more underground bands, a lot of them have their own myspace pages where they feature their hit singles for free. I'm almost positive they know people can just rip music off of their page, thereby stealing it from them.

A good friend of mine is in what I would call an underground band, and just this morning I asked him how he generates any money what with people easily grabbing his stuff off the internet. According to him, they enter in numerous “Battle of the Bands” competitions for cash prizes, play at local clubs as well as festivals. Maybe it's just the luxury of living in Southern California and being right up next to pop culture central. Either way, he explained that money had never been an issue for them and they were able to use what they earned to upgrade all of their equipment.

Reiterating what Ozone said, any bands that follow the traditional methods are most likely doomed to fail (unless they happen to be one-hit wonders). These days it's going to have to take a creative band to get their material out there.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Orin J Master at 3:17PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 437
joined: 12-16-2007
ozoneocean
The growth in file-sharing hasn't resulted from the increasing moral corruptibility of the general public, as big copyright holders would have you believe, rather it's simply a result of the new capabilities of the technology and people using them (in what seems to them) in a logical way. The challenge has always been for the producers, marketers and distributors of the work to keep up with the technology and find new ways to maintain their profits.

there's two flaws in your point here. first, and most telling, is the concept of “if i can get it for free, then i should be allowed to and no harm's done” you insinuate which is quite real. this is a significant corruption of public ethics, as it is stealing and is usually turned a blind eye to because it's perceived as only hurting large corporate interests. in reality, the bulk of illegal downloads contribute a great deal in determaning how much these companies are willing to pay artists and what type of music the pursue and promote. the unfortunate reality of the accepted logic of downloads is that it hurts the artists and the fans far more than the corporations most people demonize when they decry paying for MP3s.

blindsk
A good friend of mine is in what I would call an underground band, and just this morning I asked him how he generates any money what with people easily grabbing his stuff off the internet. According to him, they enter in numerous “Battle of the Bands” competitions for cash prizes, play at local clubs as well as festivals. Maybe it's just the luxury of living in Southern California and being right up next to pop culture central. Either way, he explained that money had never been an issue for them and they were able to use what they earned to upgrade all of their equipment.

that's nice, they bought new gear. how about a house and tuition for their kids? as much as i love the small band scene (although really, how underground are they if they WANT to be heard? they're just as valid as those world traveling pop stars, and they sound better) i'm willing to be they usually have day jobs. making music as a career requires a lot more exposure and a much large customer base, which means you need to make steady money on albums and be able to ensure large concerts will be filled.

piracy is bad, but not for the reasons or to the degrees they're usually trumped up legally. the problem is mostly that the music industry has run afoul of the consumer culture that they, like all corporate industry, has paid into where people don't ask if they need and can afford something, or if the money they spend will be used well, but only if they want it this second and how they can get something the cheapest. people need to stop centering their whole life around their gadgets and buy albums from groups they want to succeed rather than torrenting entire catalogs of music for free because they kinda liked that one track.

actually, i wonder if bands could make a profit offering singles for sale cheaper than full albums for those people that just like one or two of their songs….
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
blindsk at 6:22PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Orin J Master
that's nice, they bought new gear. how about a house and tuition for their kids? as much as i love the small band scene (although really, how underground are they if they WANT to be heard? they're just as valid as those world traveling pop stars, and they sound better) i'm willing to be they usually have day jobs. making music as a career requires a lot more exposure and a much large customer base, which means you need to make steady money on albums and be able to ensure large concerts will be filled.

Underground music culture has told me that they usually have a pretty die hard fan base. Even if these fans are pirating the music to begin with, they're still going to buy up their albums and merch just to support the band - they realize this is a necessity.

Not sure about you, but I have a few friends that breath their underground bands down my neck, just for the sake of them being underground (I'd rather them describe the quality of the music first). They attend concerts with the other 300 or so die hard fans that have also bought all their albums and merch. Owl City comes to mind…

The opportunities are still there for people in these types of bands. Just restating: playing at local clubs and festivals can land you some money. Play for a studio. The film industry is looking for music filler all the time (most likely independent films, go figure).

I'm not trying to be an advocate of piracy, nor do I agree with the “stick it to the man” approach as described previously. I'm just trying to explain that the music industry has found ways to work around illegal downloading of music. It's too bad that people believe they have a free right to access it. I'm just happy to see that the bands that used to be in bad shape are now fighting back. It has…evolved.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
isukun at 7:05PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
That's all well and good for the underground scene, but it really doesn't work so well for other types of music (and honestly, the friends I have in the underground scene paint a very different picture).

Independent films may be looking for soundtrack work, but have you seen what most independent films are willing to pay for that work? It's kind of the same situation with us animators. Lots of people want animation work done, very few are willing to pay for it. It's similar situations on both sides, though. For us animators, it's the fact that there are too many students trying to break into the industry. In order to get their names out there and put together a strong portfolio, they try to undercut the professionals. This gets them the job, but undervalues the work we do. People think they can get away with hiring professional artists to do a month's worth of work for $500.

In the music industry, those trying to push the free market undervalue the work that professional musicians do, making it harder for them to actually make a living off of their craft. It's great if you're in a band and can do live shows at clubs, but if you're a composer or play something that isn't related to that underground market, you're kind of screwed.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
blindsk at 7:34PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
isukun
In the music industry, those trying to push the free market undervalue the work that professional musicians do, making it harder for them to actually make a living off of their craft. It's great if you're in a band and can do live shows at clubs, but if you're a composer or play something that isn't related to that underground market, you're kind of screwed.

I suppose it is a different perspective for me, after you pointed that out. I'm among many of those new students trying to get their name out there.

But I'm still not going to sell myself short here - the friend of mine I keep bringing up as a reference did some guitar/saxophone work for a short film. The creator happened to enter it in this South American film festival and scored second place garnering a cash prize of 50k for her. She promised him 20% of the cut - so that's 10k just from one gig.

Am I wrong to think that opportunities such as these are reasonable to come by? I figure there are more gigs out there, anyway.

Maybe he's just lucky with connections. Before I met him though, I had the same opinion as you.

And just throwing this out there, but maybe some of you see these extracurricular gigs as equivalent to having that part-time job to support your band. But hey, at least they're still doing the stuff they love to do.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
isukun at 10:26PM, July 14, 2010
(online)
posts: 2,481
joined: 9-28-2006
Yeah, those opportunities are pretty rare. You really can't bank on competitions in this industry. While there are a lot of film festivals, there are far more productions each year. It's really hard to make a career out of independent films, but everybody seems to think they can. The independent film scene is more about shorts and getting noticed than it is about making money.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved