Stopping online theft

It is a fundamental aspect of human nature that most people will steal something if there is no danger of getting caught. And this is what has happened to the recorded music industry. Most music residing on MP3 players in the world is stolen, it has been downloaded over the internet using peer to peer filesharing. In fact most young people today think that it is quite normal and acceptable to steal in this way and they kick up a fuss when someone tries to stop them.

With the advent of broadband this stealing spread to movies. So now every movie is available online before it is in the cinema. And many millions of people are regularly stealing from the film industry. To these thieves it is the acceptable norm.

Which brings us to games. To a large extent these have the DRM protection of being on a console. Where this breaks down, as in boxed PC games, the market is decimated and the supply of new products dwindles to a trickle.

The thieves make lots of excuses for their thieving. Such as the fact that one incremental copy does not cost the producer anything. But they miss the fundamental moral point that they are benefiting from another person’s work without contributing towards it. And if everyone steals, then who will pay for new music, films and games to be made?

The only way to stop this stealing is to stop the illegal traffic on the internet. It currently comprises well over a half of all internet traffic, so widespread is the stealing. The French have introduced a law that thieves will have their internet connections stopped if they offend repeatedly. This approach is what a lot of governments and a lot of the industries involved want. So if it works in France it will be rolled out to other countries.

This stealing is not victimless, the recorded music industry has been decimated, the film industry is suffering from a huge loss of revenues and the games industry has just about deserted several gaming platforms. All this means people losing their jobs and less content being produced.

In the UK the creative industries contribute £112.5 billion (or 8%) to the economy and provide 1.8 million jobs. It has been researched that half of this is at risk from illegal file sharing. So something has to be done. Peer to peer downloading is the biggest epidemic of theft in the history of mankind. The law has not kept up with the technology and everyone will be a lot worse off until it does.


  1. Actually games have this problem totally solved, you might not like the solution but it is a fixed problem and it has been for a very long time.

    It doesn’t need any new laws.

    It’s not even that hard to accomplish.

    You just run the game on a server you control.

    No one steals WOW. In fact no one steals *ANY* server based game service and you don’t have to pay nintendo/microsoft/apple/etc for the privilege of running one.

    As for movies and music, they are simply of no concern to me. I make games. Movies and music are old media and they have had their time.

    The proposals you are supporting and championing are in fact detrimental to games and the future of the games industry. Please stop.

  2. Here in Ireland, Eircom (the incumbent telecom operator) settled with the recording industry and will operate a 3 strikes and you’re out system.
    Record companies can give them Irish IP addresses to be warned or banned for file sharing.

    Many are of course up in arms about this but it’ll become the norm.

  3. As a user who actually buys all his DVD’s, games, and would buy CD’s if I still listened to them (life is so busy the only music I listen to is what’s playing on the radio during the daily commute), I can fully sympathize with the content industries wanting to blackball repeat offenders. The only issue I have with some of these three strikes laws is that they have no burden of proof whatsoever, and as we have seen in some of the RIAA suits, some content owners don’t really care about actually getting the people doing it, as long as someone pays. There has to be a check in there to maintain “innocent until proven guilty”, but in exchange… make it like driving offenses. First offense: 30 day ban from the net. Second offense: 3 month ban. Third offense: Whatever, 5 year/life ban from the net. And if the content creator has falsely accused someone, they pay all court costs and a set penalty to the accused (say $2000) to prevent carpet-bombing from being too cheap.

    Until there is some checks to prevent anyone and their brother from claiming someone offended with no proof the result will be disasterous, with everyone “anonymously” reporting on people to get their access cut off for many nefarious reasons. Hmm, our company requires net access from home for all our employees to connect to the network… hit a few of them with the three strikes game and boom, they’re fired.

  4. How many games, films or songs will the French consumers condemned (on the flimsiest evidence) by the entertainment industry be able to buy without internet access? It’s a truly idiotic law.

  5. too many people are translating copyright into the ‘right to copy’….

    Not sure if this French way will be the solution, but it is frightning to see how many goverments have not spoken out and done anything helpful in the last decade to control this problem, which seems to have spon out of control already.

  6. let them come. smart people will leech to their offshore servers and download the goods through an encrypted connection.

    also, kriss, sorry to piss on your bonfire, but many mmorpgs are pirated, not to mention online shooters and what have you. i don’t really care for mmorpgs nowadays but when i did i’d always played on free servers.

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