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An In-Depth Look At Game Piracy 504

Posted by Soulskill
from the share-and-share-alike dept.
TweakGuides is running a detailed examination of PC game piracy. The author begins with a look at the legal, moral, and monetary issues behind copyright infringement, and goes on to measure the scale of game piracy and how it affects developers and publishers. He also discusses some of the intended solutions to piracy. He provides examples of copy protection and DRM schemes that have perhaps done more harm than good, as well as less intrusive measures which are enjoying more success. The author criticizes the "culture of piracy" that has developed, saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century, and piracy has apparently somehow become a political struggle, a fight against greedy corporations and evil copy protection, and in some cases, I've even seen some people refer to the rise of piracy as a 'revolution.' What an absolute farce. ... Piracy is the result of human nature: when faced with the option of getting something for free or paying for it, and in the absence of any significant risks, you don't need complex economic studies to show you that most people will opt for the free route."
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An In-Depth Look At Game Piracy

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  • by Bobnova (1435535) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:31PM (#26185089)

    saying. "Fast forward to the 21st century"

    I'm already there, you ignorant clod!

    People will pirate when it's overpriced. When it's right-priced, most people will gladly pay for it.

    That's my view. The last entertaining game i found that was decently priced ($20, rather then $60) also happened to be free of copy protection/drm, so i bought it. The fact that it was made by a couple of independents in various coffee shops on their laptops is a bonus, but the low price, addictive gameplay, and lack of DRM is what sold me on it. (In case you can't guess, this'd be World of Goo)

  • by mr_matticus (928346) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @02:35PM (#26185127)

    O RLY?
    "The unauthorized reproduction of another's work." -- Oxford English Dictionary (2006).

    "The unauthorized and illegal reproduction or distribution of materials protected by copyright, patent, or trademark law." --Black's Law Dictionary, 8th Ed. (2004).

    Lest you think this is some modern invention:

    "[T]he test of piracy [is] not whether the identical language, the same words, are used, but whether the substance of the production is unlawfully appropriated." --Drone's Treatise on the Law of Property in Intellectual Productions (1879).

    "It's being Printed again and again, by Pyrates" --Daniel Defoe, (1703).

    "Pirated works may be seized on importation into those countries of the Union where the original work enjoys legal protection." --Berne Convention Art. 12 (1886).

    It has been referred to as piracy in court cases dating all the way back to the 1830s, and notably for scholars of copyright, used in the landmark Folsom decision as well.

  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @04:42PM (#26186067) Homepage

    Outright lies. After being half way through the second page wall o' text, I did some skimming and found certain things to just not ring true. Quoting 2D boy's erroneous numbers, further more quoting the old erroneous old figure over the newer, lower erroneous old figure? Equating DRM to a door lock? Saying that STEAM doesn't work in offline mode? Citing Titan's Quest when that game didn't work right even if you had the retail version? Figures where there's a lot of "unknowns"?

    Sure, copyright infringement, which is what I prefer to call it instead of some term to denigrate people, is indeed a problem. But you know what? There's fuck all you can do about it. You can try to slow down the crackers, but when they get the game two weeks before release, you've already failed. When you purposely put in measures which makes the game crash to piss off pirates, you've also failed. When the game doesn't work at retail, guess what? You've failed again!

    I suggest to Slashdotters, who typically don't RTFA, to not read it. It's not worth the time or effort.

  • Re:Bullshit^2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @06:21PM (#26186727)
    Agree with the above poster. The article is a classic example of tendentious writing. It wouldn't stand even the most basic requirements for an entry level university essay.

    It is written arrogantly and from an pro-industry perspective. Point by point, it consistently takes sides but continuously claims it is not doing so. There is no underlying theory or methodology other than "examine every aspect of game piracy". :rolleyes:

    1) The article starts with the author claiming neutrality and utter non-bias
    2) The article seems to have been laid out beforehand, written as intended and fleshed out with quotes and references where found as supporting his theses
    3) Sources are quotes selectively to further his preconceived conclusions
    4) Alternative interpretations are ignored or dismissed
    5) There is no source criticism
    6) Frequent hand waving and usage of weasel words 7) Interjected unsubstantiated strong conclusions, as "The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: DRM does not cause piracy, piracy results in DRM."

    Also, you gotta love an author who writes a long article, POS as it is, proves a "printable" link, which takes you to a page which says "if you want to print it, print each page, schmuck".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:34PM (#26187191)

    In this case the poster is making reference to the legal definition of piracy... ie - there's nothing on the law books that describes piracy as being "making a duplicate of a legally purchased media (be it game, movie, music, etc) so that it can be used the way the owner wants (ie - on an alternate operating system, or without the disc in the computer, or on some portable media player, or even a disc without menus - goes straight into the movie so that your child can watch their favorite episodes of Elmo or whatnot without having fiddle with the remote)...

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @07:56PM (#26187307) Homepage

    Also I'd like to debate that music and movies qualify as "useful arts" and therefore do not warrant protection under copyright.

    Well, that's actually a fairly common misconception. When the Constitution was written in the mid-18th century, the 'useful Arts' meant applied technology, and 'Science' meant knowledge, generally. Thus, the useful arts are the subject of patents, not of copyrights.

    This is clear if you look at the construction of the clause, which always goes copyright, then patents: The Congress shall have power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    There are some other remnants of that meaning of art: Patents are concerned with state of the art technology. But a patent can't be issued if the invention is already disclosed in prior art. And the patent has to be written so that it can be understood by a person having ordinary skill in the art.

    So music and movies don't have to be useful, they just have to contribute to the corpus of human knowledge, which is very difficult not to do.

    When did that right become transferable?

    It has always been transferable, all the way back to the first real copyright law, the British Statute of Anne, in 1710, and in the first US copyright law, the 1790 Copyright Act. Remember, copyrights are not directly valuable to authors. They're basically publishing monopolies. The author makes money by selling the right, or licensing the right, to a publisher. And generally, publishers would prefer to buy rights, rather than merely license them. So they pay more for the former than the latter, and often enough, won't even bother with the latter. Since there are plenty of authors hoping to get published, the market favors the publisher. Authors can always self-publish, but they may find that unappealing.

    The system is flawed, and I don't think our laws reflect the true sentiment in the Constitution.

    I agree, but I think the real problem is that Congress is more attentive to the wealthy publishing lobbies (e.g. MPAA, RIAA), rather than to the public good, which is what copyright is supposed to promote. Still, this is a general problem of political misfeasance and malfeasance, and not at all limited to copyright.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @08:52PM (#26187617)

    I suggest that you read the goddamned article. The author goes into detail explaining why you and your ilk are wrong. Read it. It's a worthwhile way to spend a couple hours if you're actually interested in learning some of the facts about PC piracy, rather than blindly accepting the rationalizations and outright lies spread by those who either a) don't know any better and/or b) just want to keep infringing the copyrights of games because's it's fun and free.

    From TFA: "The argument is straightforward and both intuitively and logically sound: for every pirated copy of a product, there is some potential loss of income to the producer of that product. This is not the same as saying that every pirated copy is a lost sale."

    I suggest you reread what I said and TFA and perhaps pickup a clue.

  • by Trixter (9555) on Saturday December 20, 2008 @09:28PM (#26187789) Homepage

    The author mistakenly thinks that the TPB's infrastructure must not cost a lot simply because the website is spartan. The Pirate Bay is a tracker, and the author should look into what a bittorrent tracker does, and then multiply that by the millions of people that visit TPB each hour.

  • by Znork (31774) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @08:01AM (#26190467)

    What kind of pseudo-intellectual babble is that?

    It's called 'economics'.

    There is already a competitive market for creative works

    Everything is fungible to a certain extent, but most creative works fall on the end of the scale where substitutes do not compete with each other to any significant extent. What would you put on a shopping list? In order of decreasing fungibility, Gas, Juice and A Game? Almost nobody would specify a brand of gas, some may specify a specific type of juice, but almost everyone would say what game. With creative works, once they near serious fungibility you'd tend to see lawsuits over copying.

    At that end of product substitution everything is basically only competing over the consumers disposable income; the options reduced to wether the customer will buy the product or do without. No other producers product is a replacement (if they buy the competitors product, will they then 'have' the product we're selling?). Once you reach that level you'll often see pushes for regional locking; a monopoly priced good over the whole world would leave people in countries with less disposable income largely untapped, but if you can lower the price specifically for them, and still keep the higher price in the richer regions by preventing competition from parallel imports you can get a bit more total revenue.

    a specific apple in the fruit store would have an infinitely high price

    A price would never reach infinitely high, as you have no buyer with infinite resources who values it to infinity. Lets take a (much) simplified example.

    Say we have a product that costs $2 as a marginal cost to produce per unit.

    For customers A1 to A10 it's worth $1 to $10.

    Set the price to $2, then you get 8 customers buying at $2, total revenue of $16, costs of $16, profit $0. Raise the price to $4 instead, now we get A4-A10 buying, 7*4-7*2=$14, ok, better profit. Raise to $6, A6-A10 buy, 5*6-5*2=$20, and we have our winner. Higher or lower price and you get lower profits. The value for A2-A5 is unfulfilled, despite being over marginal cost, being the dead weight loss, as, in a competitive market, competitors would enter and drive prices down towards the marginal cost per unit, thus maximizing total economic value created.

    So, you see, you would never get an infinite price, you'd get a price where the value to the purchasers cross your profit maximization point.

    Now, you can make a more complex calculation, add distributed costs, etc, but the fundamental economic aspects remain: the price gets set at the point where so many customers drop off that profit decreases. Piracy, if it affects anything at all, is, for the purpose of pricing, equivalent to competition, which means customers drop off quicker. Customers dropping off quicker means you need to lower the price to maximize revenue and profit.

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