I have written on here many times before about the way the internet has facilitated an orgy of stealing unprecedented in the history of mankind. Many tens of millions of people are stealing many billions of dollars worth of other people’s property every month in the form of digital content. And the main reason this is happening is that the chance of being brought to account for this stealing is very close to zero.
The damage this does is massive. If people don’t receive payment for their work then they don’t have a job. I have worked at companies massively impacted by piracy so I have personal experience of the trauma and suffering this brings. But the thieves are in total denial of the harm they cause. They even throw their toys out of the pram when the owners of this property try to protect it from theft.
In the game industry we have seen theft rates of over 90% on traditional boxed retail PC games, so the publishers have cut back massively on making them as any visit to a video game store will show you. Instead the PC as a platform is now reduced to supporting games that can be financed by non retail business models. This means casual games and MMOs that use micropayments and subscriptions. The glory days of the PC blockbuster are over.
Another game platform destroyed as a viable target to publish on because of the thieves is the Nintendo DS. There are about 130 million of these in the world. Very similar to the number of Wiis, 360s and PS3s all combined. So the DS should be an exceedingly popular platform to develop and publish games for. But it isn’t because the vast majority of DS owners just steal what they want over the internet.
Now an economics firm, TERA Consultants, has quantified the damage done. It could cost European countries 1.2million jobs and 240billion euros (Â£215billion) by 2015. In the UK we could lose up a quarter of a million jobs by 2015. And that last year the creative industries here suffered losses of 1.4billion euros because of online stealing.
Of course the thieves are in denial. They cannot see why a person should be paid for their work. They think that access to the internet is a human right and that this means that stealing anything they want off the internet is also their human right. But the person who has done the work has no rights.
Obviously something has to be done or we face a cultural desert. There will be no income for the creative industries and they will disappear. The anarchists among the thieves applaud this, they think that new structures will replace the old. But they miss the vital point that people must be paid for their work, otherwise they won’t eat and won’t have a roof over their heads.
Because the distribution mechanism the thieves use to facilitate their stealing is peer to peer networks, the only people in a position to actually do anything positive are the Internet Service Providers. So Western countries are introducing laws that force the ISPs to do just that. This is the only solution and it is desperately needed. Amazingly the thieves are screaming with rage about this. It is unbelievable that they have the effrontery to demand a carte blanche to steal. But they do.
Working in the video game industry and seeing people enthusiasm to steal, no matter how much harm it does to others, has done a lot to destroy my faith in human nature. These thieves are totally contemptible and I find it amazing that their conscience lets them sleep at night.