Some facts about the game thieves

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 (£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.


  1. FFS. It is NOT “theft”. Copyright infringement is an offence, but this constantly trying to redefine the word “theft” to make a public relations point is simply wrong – legally and morally. And linguistically.

    And “Kudos”- I live in Australia. We had to wait a year for your Life on Mars series, and Ashes to Ashes, by which point many plot points were spoilt over the internet. Unsurprisingly, many Australians resorted to other methods in order to have the same option to watch that program as someone in Britain.

    Fix up your distribution methods and piracy would be less of a problem.

  2. I don’t know about the specifics of proposed laws in other countries, but I believe they’re all substantially similar – variations on the so-called ‘three strikes’ law.

    Here in New Zealand, I opposed it’s introduction (it was due to be implemented by now, but due to the public backlash it has now gone back to Select Committee for reconsideration) but NOT because I support software piracy in any form.

    The NZ version of this law was very scary. There was no burden of proof on the accuser whatsoever, it was actually up to the individual to prove that they had not downloaded the file(s) in question (umm, how?) otherwise guilt was simply assumed (it became known in the media as the “Guilt Upon Accusation law” for this reason). I respect the copyright holders, but not as much as the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Not everyone opposing those laws does so because they support piracy.

    Even apart from that, the law would never have worked. It’s already illegal, so there’s no ‘deterrent’ gained. You can force ISPs to filter particular traffic patterns: fine, the pirates will modify their P2P programs to use different traffic patterns. They’ll always be one step ahead. Software companies have been working on DRM for decades now, on turf that *they* control (the game exe’s themselves), and they’ve always lost. Can they win the technology fight in the P2P-traffic space, where the pirates *already* control the P2P software itself? I doubt it.

    So, you’re very right, PC gaming for the most part is already dead, which is sad. The consoles have a better chance, and get to try again each generation (2 years to crack PS3 is good! With Moore’s law to quadruple the complexity for next time, and it could be secure for it’s lifecycle!). This has a much better chance of succeeding than any legal solution.

    It’s sad because I love my PC, but it’s open hardware & software nature just doesn’t give it a chance… it’s fate seems to be as an increasingly dumb-terminal to cloud-hosted games.

  3. “Economic firm” = “Lobbying firm”.

    And are these figures also based on the ridiculous assumption that all pirates would pay for what they pirate if they had to?

  4. @Common Sense
    Weasel words and semantics are no excuse. If you take another person’s labour without compensation then you are stealing.
    Just type “software theft” into Google and you will see that theft is the accepted word for this activity.

  5. @S.E. Gordon
    If we don’t address it then whole swathes of the industry will be blown away.

  6. This is what I call beating a dead horse until it crumbles to dust.

    Repeating the same statements over and over and over again does not make them become true by magic:

    Even IF someone would find the wonder-hackproof-weapon against piracy (which nobody will anyway because of the nature of reproduceable software…) it remains to be PROVEN that EVERY (or any…) PIRACY-PREVENTED COPY would turn into a SOLD COPY.

    This so-called studies could come from all scientists of the world united in The One Effort, they would still remain flawed, because they base on an assumption which can’t be verified nor falsified.

    So, I fully agree with S.E. Gordon

    Not this again 🙁

  7. Interestingly in a class on Game Development we just had recently, we were looking over the history of games and how the concept of IP and ‘piracy’ is actually very new, and the game industries main high point was actually built from this piracy in a period where almost no-one paid for a game. Many of the older systems just had nothing but pirated/free games (knock-off clones).

    Also looking at how cheaply and easily we can produce indie games and at how low the rate of piracy is for most indie games, I can easily conclude that this entire thing about modern game piracy is a falicy. It is a way for companies with weak marketing strategies and poor management, who survive on repeatedly producing low quality games and then demand massive sums of money for these games, can hide and try to push the blame onto what is actually a minority activity (piracy).
    The entire concept is flawed.

    Decent quality games can be easily marketed in the modern environment at minimal cost (yay internet!), and then given out for free with some form of in-game micro payment or other method of recouping costs. Look at the success of facebook and iPhone games who use these or similar tactics. Look at the rapidly growing games industry in China, where as you very well know Bruce, the games are sometimes pirated before they have even finished being made. Yet they turn over very healthy and steadily growing profits. Not yet in the ball-park of the obscene profits some western companies make though. Which brings up a nother point. They make millions of dollars profit in a year, then they cry poor due to the piracy issue. Greedy liars is all they are.

    What we have are self-serving greedy dinosaurs running game companies who didn’t know what they were doing in the first place and have not changed/learned new tricks since they began. The stupid method of game delivery and pricing format that has been rammed down our throats through the 90’s and since has never worked and will only become more and more unfeasible.

  8. “So the DS should be an exceedingly popular platform to develop and publish games for. But it isn’t”

    Beg your pardon? The DS is still the biggest-selling console in the world, still has more games released for it than anything except the iPhone, and generates absolutely vast sums of money.

    We keep hearing about how the industry is about to be destroyed by piracy – in fact we’ve been hearing it for 20 years. Piracy is still here, more widespread than ever before, so why does the industry keep getting bigger and bigger and making more and more money? When is this destruction going to take place?

  9. Bruce – Lawrence brings up the main point that disturbs me about the whole issue. We are already hearing the horror stories such as 70 year old seniors being presented with letters and labelling them priates (the story was on a BBC newsfeed 3-4 weeks ago I believe, so I suppose as accurate as the BBC newsfeed containing the study about how hurtful piracy is just in the past day or two) in which the accuser apparently doesn’t have any burden of proof whatsoever. People are assured this will not be the case…but like you, I have lost some faith in human nature, politicians, and many large groups in the entertainment industry, so I will believe it when I see it. You are facing the same thing now on your legal front – your accuser seems to be able to lie and fling mud at you with impunity.

    That is the part that bothers me. but let me be clear – piracy should stop, needs to stop. Personally, I do what I can, mainly in that I buy software, I pay for movies, and I also donate a couple $$ here and there to freeware software that I find useful or enjoyable. I donated a couple $$ to you because even if I don’t always agree with you, I think you are facing some injustice.

    These three strikes rules will be abused by the side that wants them (media companies), it is naive to think otherwise, just as the public has abused the ability to download content illegally.the pendulum will swing too far the other way with laws such as three strikes, and then public will come back for vengance once again…back and forth, back and forth. No, I don’t have an alternative answer, other than I think microtransactions and online pay/play are a good start and less susceptible to abuse.
    While my software development has only ever remained at a hobby or casual work level, I do understand wanting to be paid for your creation, as I used to do some writing and publishing of articles etc. You don’t want to see your work copied without compensation. I just don’t think this type of legislation is going to be balanced.

  10. Overstated, Bruce. Repeated and regurgitated, over and over again. Beating us over the head with ethics isn’t solving the problem.

    Hey, I’m all for companies being paid for their work. Heck, piracy helped kill off my beloved Dreamcast. I’m with you there. Personally, I have an absolutely insane collection of games–I certainly pay my share.

    But I don’t come to your website to see you defend the moral high ground week in, week out. I come because you offer intelligent insight of the game industry and your lawsuit involving Evony is absolutely bizarre.

    If you want to expand your dialog on piracy, why not register

    Keep up the good fight! 😉

  11. Hi Bruce – what do you make of the Digital rights bill the govt are planning to pass without debate, and which the likes of Google/BT oppose?

  12. Bruce,

    I’ve seen you’ve written a lot about this issue and you seem to be pretty hardline about the punishment these ‘thieves’ deserve.

    So let me ask you a question. In your opinion, which is worse and more deserving of a punitive sentence if the perpetrator is found guilty, copyright infringement/illegal copying OR killing a man?

  13. Bruce,

    Even though google returns a lot of results doesn’t make something true. By that stretch I could claim that I’m the most important “Joseph Brower” since I’m the first result.

    Piracy is bad, but it isn’t theft. Continually calling it theft and not copyright infringement is a disservice to yourself.

    The market has to adapt or die. It’s been that way with any market. You do realize that at one point the horse drawn carraige business was trying to make cars illegal because of the damage it would cause the economy, right? Just because people lose their jobs doesn’t mean that life is horrible, it simply means that they lost their job. The market will adjust, unless it becomes artificially propped up, in which case, it will cause other collapses to continue.

    I don’t pirate software, and I teach people not to, but if companies want to persist in disabling my device because I might pirate it, then I’ll simply avoid purchasing it (and using it) and they won’t see any money from me. it’s a bad idea to treat you clients as thieves. People are realizing that, and what used to be a livable problem has now become a major problem. People won’t buy games that have DRM, people won’t buy games from companies that accuse them to be a theif, and sadly, some people will pirate games that they would have bought otherwise.

    Ubisoft is an excellent example. Look at what has happened to them recently. People that have bought the games can’t play the games. Selling defective products is in many cases illegal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see legal action taken against game manufacturers because of their DRM. Even some publishers have released patches to remove the DRM, and in the changelog they refer to the DRM as a bug.

    If publishers want to curb piracy, then they need to fix the problem. Pushing for laws won’t fix anything, it will only make things worse and less balanced since independant game creators won’t be able to have the same benefits.

    Sorry about the rant, it’s just that between you insulting people that have probably paid you (by purchasing games that were created by your employer) and your obsession with Evony, it’s getting difficult to take you seriously.

  14. Bruce, it’s not “semantics” or “weasel words”. Theft is a very specific thing. Copyright infringement is something different.

    This is a third thing you should ask a lawyer about.

    The content industry wants to call infringement “theft” for public relations purposes, but that doesn’t make its claim true.

  15. @Common Sense

    Language is about usage. Gay means a different thing now than it did 40 years ago. Google tells us that software theft is a common usage term. Therefore people who steal games online are thieves.

  16. Google tells us that Dogs often have tails. Google tells us that Cats often have Tails. Thereore all Dogs are Cats.

  17. Nothing will be resolved arguing over terms 🙂 People will use what they use. I argue with people over the use of the term ‘hacker’ – it seemingly originated at places like MIT back in the 50s and 60s, and referred to someone who had an interest/aptitude in something (most commonly then something technical) and could think outside the box in finding solutions. It had nothing to do with trashing people’s computers or stealing data. The term has been perverted these days, but the ‘kids’ now tell me to get over it and accept the new meaning. I don’t think so…but who is right? What does it really mean? Both? Difficult business, assigning hard and fast names and terms.

  18. “Those industries generated 860 billion euros ($1.186 trillion) and employed 14.4 million people in 2008. But in the same year, 10 billion euros and 186,000 jobs were lost to piracy, the study found.”

    In other words, piracy causes big media companies about 1.16% of their annual gross, and 1.29% of their jobs, per year.

    Sorry, when was the end of the world again? I need to set my watch…

  19. >Language is about usage. Gay means a different thing now than it did 40 years ago. Google tells us that software theft is a common usage term. Therefore people who steal games online are thieves.

    So if enough people repeat something, then it becomes auotmatically true?

    That’s nonsense.

    Bruce, I’m sorry, but you’re not only utterly wrong about this, but you seem to be bordering on obsession, with your constant mis-referal to copyright infringers as thieves. Yes, they are morally and legally guilty of non-payment for something that they have made use of, but that is not theft, and no amount of people labelling this crime as theft will make it so.

    By your argument, if I get a taxi ride somewhere, and then when we get to my destination I jump out and run away without paying, then I have commited theft, which I clearly haven’t. I would have committed non-payment for a service, which is wrong any way you look at it, but it’s no more theft than it is mugging or trespassing.

    Or if you have no TV license, but watch BBC anyway, then that does not make you a thief, no more than copying a computer game does. Of coruse, if you have no TV license, but watch ITV or Sky One, or any non-BBC channel then that’s still ilegal, although morally it’s no crime at all, as the license only goes to the BBC, not to other channels, so you should only need a TV license to watch BBC channels. Of course, the TV license fee is immoral anyway, and would be illegal in any decent country, as you are being made to pay a tax to a private business, whether or not you use their service, which is totally wrong. And if they take you to court, you have to prove that you are innocent, they don’t have to prove that you are guily, which is unconstitutional. But I’m digressing, the TV license fee is only relevent here as an example of using a service that you might not have paid for (as opposed to stealing from it).

    And whilst I did copy games when I was younger (tape to tape, in the 8-bit years) I did so because I thought that it wasn’t too much of a moral crime. I was wrong, I admit that now, but if it had been real theft, as in depriving someone of a real game cassette, then I wouldn’t have done it, as it would obviously have been wrong to do that. I, and many other people, commit piracy largely as we don’t see it as morally wrong. We took (or take still, in many cases) the view that if we weren’t going to buy it anyway then the people who coded the game will lose nothing by us pirating the game for ourselves.

    This is technically right, but it’s no moral excuse at all, as if we are not willing to buy the game then we have no moral right to own the game since we have not paid for the game.

    But software pirates are not thieves. Freeloaders, parasites, dishonest copyright infringers, perhaps, but not thieves. Perhaps a new term is needed to refer to software pirates, as pirates sound right.

    Oh, and I don’t play PC games, but I do think that if I did, and I wanted a game that had intrusive DRM that would inconvenience me greatly, even to preventing me from using the actual game on disc that I’d bought, then I really would be tempted to buy a pirate version instead. Not morally right, certainly, but you won’t find too many gamers who’d blame me. Thankfully consoles are free of the protection systems that make PC gaming such a chore, so I don’t have to suffer them, but if I did, then I wouldn’t take much convincing to avoid the protection altogether.

    Software houses have all the right in the world to protect their games from pirates, but they have no right at all to hurt their genuine customers. Yet they do this all too often, regardless of both the moral implications and the financial stupidity of spending a fortune on protection methods that mostly just hurt the people who paid full price for the games.


    Quite a lot of people think access to information is a human right, by the way, Bruce.

    I’m also a little confused as to why you characterise selling physical boxed product as being an anachronism whenever you talk about the iPhone App Store, but when you talk about piracy, it’s apparently the only form of distribution that you consider legitimate*. (Third paragraph: “…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.”) Perhaps you haven’t thought this through properly.

    *Of course, ignoring PC digital distribution entirely to be able to claim this. Looking at Steam’s catalogue gives the lie to the idea that nobody is making or selling ‘trad’ PC games.

  21. Please, please, please stop writing about this subject; you have an incredibly biased view that is not fact based. And each successive post you prove that you’re not open minded. That you’re not listening to anyone but yourself. Enough!

  22. …..

    ?this “old chessnut” again?

    (bruce? …if you dont mind..i’m going to go straight into /rant mode. PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DECIDE WHETHER TO DELETE IT OR NOT…./waits a bit … hears no objections…)

    /rant mode active.

    copyright infringement IS NOT THEFT!

    …DISCLAIMER (DON’T try this at home/real life)…

    go into a game store …steal a game..THAT’S THEFT…get caught..go to court..get found guilty.
    “slap on the wrist”, community service,and/or small fine…possibility of small prison term if you’re a repeat offender.

    all still with me so far?

    (i’m going to use “Rule 1” of the internet here….namely “if you haven’t got proof – then it didn’t happen” here’s the proof…read it and /weep)

    copyright infringement here in England is now governed by the “Gower Review” Published in December 2006

    link to the gower review (pdf format)

    it’s only 146 pages long…so happy reading

    still to lazy to read it ????
    okay…i’m make it easy for you…
    lets cut to the chase ..
    …and get right down to the punishments for infringing copyright.

    link to “the Register”

    still too lazy to read 1 page?
    let me spell it out to you.

    COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT = £50,000.00 fine and up to 10 YEARS IN PRISON.

    so…in easy to understand terms for the terminally stupid..
    THEFT = small fine, small punishment
    COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT = HUGE FINE + 10 years of prison!

    /rant mode off.

  23. so…if any one wants to say that piracy isn’t wrong…ask yourselves 1 very simple question.

    do you want to get fined 50 grand and spent the next ten years of your life in a cell getting raped senceless by some geezer who’s on a life sentance for murder ?

    yes/no (delete as appropriate)

    any more questions ?
    lets hope we’ve laid this one to rest at long last.

  24. @ bruce.

    it’s your blog , and your right to say whatever you like on it, whether that be fact, opinion, or all out /rant.
    i accept and respect that…

    but please…for the sake of my (and other’s) sanity, would you do us the small favor of providing a direct link to post #22 above …
    (heck .. put in post #23 as well if you don’t deem it too rude and delete it)
    …so that we dont have to read all the drivel about “it’s not theft” from the whingers and moaners.

    many thanks ;D

  25. ERRATA:

    post #24 should read
    “but please…for the sake of my (and other’s) sanity, would you do us the small favor of providing a direct link to post #22 above …

    …in any future posts about “copyright theft”

    (sorry about that)

  26. Yes society’s accepted use of certain words can change over time but legal terminology is strictly defined. It has to be otherwise you couldn’t aim to have a have a fair and consistent legal system. The definition of theft in English law is:
    “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘thief’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.”

    Making a copy of something does not deprive the owner of the original so it cannot be construed as theft and nor the can the perpetrators be declared “thieves”.

    I am saying nothing here about the rights or wrongs of piracy itself (perhaps I’ll write another post about my views on that) but if you want to have a sensible discussion about anything then you have to have a common language. That’s Philosophy 101 and its the basis of any law.

  27. “Language is about usage. Gay means a different thing now than it did 40 years ago. Google tells us that software theft is a common usage term. Therefore people who steal games online are thieves.”

    It’s only “a common usage term” because the content industry, far from being broke, has lots of money to throw at redefining basic words.

    Doesn’t make it true, though – as coey points out, “theft” has a very specific legal meaning, and it’s simply dishonest for the corporate copyright lobby to try to pretend it covers infringement, just to win some public relations point.

    Also, comparing gays appropriating a term that was used to denigrate them with the powerful copyright lobby cynically trying to redefine one of the most well-defined words in the criminal law, is pretty offensive.

  28. @Common Sense

    Nowhere near as offensive as stealing another person’s work.

  29. I am in total agreement with stamping out of large scale and organised piracy but I also think the entertainment industry have always failed to grasp two things with respect to home copying:

    1. Many of the people who are copying stuff are by and large the same people who buy legitimate stuff. This has been going on for years – remember “Home taping is killing music” – when was that? 30-40 years ago? I remember buying some albums and taping others, as did my mates. And did it kill music? No. Why? Because we were still buying stuff as well. In fact I went on to buy many albums multiple times – vinyl, cassette, CD, Remastered CD, Special Edition Bonus track CD, MP3 downloads…

    2. Just because someone copies something doesn’t mean to say they would otherwise have bought it. Most people live within their means and they only have a certain income. Be that little Johnney’s pocket money or Dad’s salary. They can only justify spending a certain amount of their income on games/music/movies. If they spent more on entertainment they’d have to spend less on something else and thereby make someone redundant in another industry in your world view Bruce. There’s only a set amount of money in the economy.

    My view is that by-and-large people are decent and law abiding and they buy what they really, really like and they naughtily copy a few other things they quite like but cant afford to buy. Your view Bruce is much more stark and dare I say it prejudiced by your interpretation of what caused Imagine’s demise way back in 1984. I think you would do well to move on from that experience now mate. Imagine’s collapse wasn’t all down to piracy in my opinion anyways – it was as much about being unable to cope in the rapidly changing landscape of those early pioneering days. 40 years on and people are still making money from music. 25 years on and people are still making money from computer games. You just have to keep up.

  30. >“but please…for the sake of my (and other’s) sanity, would you do us the small favor of providing a direct link to post #22 above …

    >…in any future posts about “copyright theft”

    Eh? Your badly argued, patronising posts add nothing of any value to the discussion. So what if the punishment for copyright infringement is more severe than real theft (even if the latter is the more immoral crime)? That has nothing to do with the topic under discussion, which had already been clarified prior to your posts.

  31. “Nowhere near as offensive as stealing another person’s work.”

    I think you’ll find that comparing the plight of gays with the plight of some of the most powerful corporations in the world – that are busy using the US Trade Representative to force through ACTA, a treaty to give them even more power to override the public interest and corrupt copyright law in their favour in other countries – is *much* more offensive.

    Gay people are denied basic human rights. They’ve been real victims of oppression. In contrast, the corporate copyright industry are powerful aggressors. Corporations are busy denying the public its interest in created content, trying to lock as much of it up forever as possible. Copyright terms continue to be extended every time they’re about to expire on a powerful corporation’s “assets” – completely contrary to the original purpose of copyright. The content industry continues to discriminate against people based on where they live, and it gets governments to penalise people for simply trying to access material that’s denied them on such pathetic grounds. The public domain? It’s anti-capitalist! It must be squashed!

    The copyright system is a corrupt mess. The reason people feel contempt for the copyright industry is that it treats them with contempt, and yet it’s got enough money to get OUR governments to do ITS bidding to OUR detriment.

    If the system was in any way fair, people would respect it more.

    Meanwhile, admit it – the only reason the industry wants to use the word “theft” is that it’s one of the most basic, fundamental crimes in the criminal law – and copyright infringement isn’t. It’s trying to take the moral approbation that applies to PERMANENTLY DEPRIVING PROPERTY from someone – which is theft – and applying it to something different.

    And who knows? Given the amount of money at the copyright industry’s disposal, over time it might succeed in this redefinition. (Particularly if consumers keep giving it their money.) But that doesn’t make it true.

  32. I’m in full agreement with CommonSense here, comparing the plight of ANY repressed people, in this instance gay people, with large and powerful corporations is just disgusting.

    Sort yourself out Bruce.

  33. I feel software piracy/copyright infringement etc is wrong – I feel the people doing it should be penalized. I think we need to better system globally to deal with this.

    As others have said though, putting it in perspective…I can’t get as up in arms software piracy after reading a news story about women, children, and old people being hacked to death by machetes in another country just because they belonged to a different group of some type than their attackers…

  34. This business of twisting Bruce’s words around is abusive. Listen to yourselves!

    “Sort yourself out Bruce.”

    No! Readers kindly sort out the thread about word usage. Bruce spoke simply of changes in word usage, using “gay” as an example. No, “gay” is not something “appropriated” by gays–listen to any schoolyard bully and you will figure that out–and therefore there is no analogy comparing corporations with oppressed groups, implicit or even possible in Bruce’s text. Criticisms of this guy on those terms are stunningly wrong.

    “Quite a lot of people think access to information is a human right, by the way, Bruce.”

    Let’s start with information about you, Robin. Everything anyone wants to know. Any of your work that can be translated into bits, in the bargain. It isn’t information _qua_ information that’s at issue. It’s a specific kind of information produced by human labor and traditionally protected by intellectual property law.

    Calling software piracy “theft” on the theory that one’s copyright, granted by the state, constitutes a form of property, is perfectly defensible. I agree that mincing little distinctions between “infringement” and “theft” are misleading. They may be legally useful, but they cannot be used to bully common usage into line. Did corporations bully us all into thinking something was theft when it wasn’t? That’s a semantic battle, regrettably, where they have the logical high ground.

    Are we to pity them, the infringed? Different story. Subject to dispute and personal judgment. I won’t try to figure that out for you.

    But the semantics are obvious. Bruce is right to tar his dissenters for “weasel words.”

    Perspective? A couple of notes are warranted:

    (1) Commenters who jump on Bruce for things he did not say have literally not put what they have read in the perspective required to read it accurately.

    (2) People being hacked to death? Well, that sure does put things in perspective, now, doesn’t it? So if I am out of a job in an industry where a combination of automation and theft of intellectual property have empowered my competitors to defeat me in the market using my own code, well, hey, things could be worse! I could be a Jew in the Spanish Inquisition and about to be burned at the stake for the glory of some joker’s idea of God!

    Here’s the deal: This guy’s complaints and travails do not stack up well against the great wrongs of history–but I really don’t think he has put them on that level–others here have tried to portray him as doing that. And that’s a little perspective that should give you something to think about, in itself. It’s another illicit argumentative maneuver trying to justify one wrong by contrast to a greater wrong. It’s a distraction.

    As I say: Bruce isn’t talking about genocide on his Website. Would you even come here if he were? Would you really care? He’s talking about software piracy. If you want to discuss a different topic, ‘blog about it or do something else. But don’t try to use it as a cheap tool to beat down someone else’s argument.

    Do you really want someone to waltz in, shake their finger in your face, and say, “now, now–remember Hitler!” when you’ve got a gripe that has messed up your life somehow?

    That’s perspective. Here you are discussing software piracy. It’s the subject. Not something else.

    It isn’t even my fight. I don’t care. I don’t buy any games and hardly any other crap that gets sold for entertainment. This is my choice, because I feel like I have been severely ripped off in the past by entertainment companies (try returning a CD that is defective some time). I just can’t abide the moral outrage a person is subjected to for trying to defend his profession against what are, by any reasonable measure of judgment, thieves.

    The animus evident in some of these post makes me wonder if some people need to get their blood pressures checked, for the sake of their health.

    May you all, uh, level up soon, and gain new skills…


  35. In my humble opinion I think the “industry” has succeeded in distracting us from the real situation. In making us forget the difference between taking something to make a profit and experiencing something for enjoyment.

    There is NO question in my mind that if someone was to break into a corporate network and STEAL the source code to a project and release it as their own, they WOULD be a thief of intellectual property.

    The blending occurs when you look at how the property is treated. According to industry standards we must pay to enjoy things.

    To listen to a song on the radio we must listen to commercials, that pays for the song. If we want to listen to it in our own home we must buy the CD.

    By that standard when your friend comes over and plays his copy on your stereo you are stealing it. You are enjoying a song you didnt pay for.

    People who watch glance in theaters looking for their friends are stealing. They didnt pay for the pleasure of watching that movie, even if it was only for a moment.

    People who fast forward with their DVR through commercials are stealing. They are not watching the commercials that pay for the show!

    People who play {‘(“stolen”)’} games are stealing interactive experiences. Not the intellectual property that creates them.

    The real issue is that humans have never had a global system capable of cloning massive amounts of data almost instantly. We have never had any base for comparison. Old conventions can not apply to a medium as “slippery” as the internet is.

    Copyright law was created to protect people and companies from having their work taken and distributed for profit. Bootleggers, publicists , musicians, people selling work. It was not prepared for the free distribution and should not prosecute the same or worse.

  36. Ahh s**t not this c**p again.

    Bruce is running this line (again…, and again and again) because he’s personally invested in the industry and has been for 30 years apparently.

    Despite “massive” levels (“Oh no, teh sky is falling on our heads” etc.) piracy within the gaming, music, movie, television and, increasingly, the text publishing industries they all appear to be here still. In fact, they all appear to be growing and thriving with new players entering the respective fields even.

    In spite of this the industries – with Bruce as a part of this – continually run the line that they will “die”, millions will be out of work, the world will end etc. They also make ridiculous assertions such as “every pirated copy is a lost sale” and “piracy killed PC gaming” like it had nothing to do with development costs of PC vs. console and market share.

    All this is done in the name of increasing profits.

    Well frankly most pirates really don’t listen to the industry, or Bruce, anymore having been fed this complete garbage for X number of years. Time and again “the sky has been falling” and yet the aforementioned industries have continued to grow, thrive and expand.

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