Print 17 comment(s) - last by Shining Arcani.. on Jun 7 at 10:41 PM

As the debate heats up, some question the definition of piracy.

It is quickly becoming evident that the issue of piracy is not going away anytime soon despite stepped up efforts to combat the problem. The Pirate Bay, a not-for-profit site was recently taken offline for providing downloadable software, music, movies and video games to its users.

loss of revenue stemming from internet piracy is a growing concern in Spain, while in the U.S., Voltage Pictures is in the process of suing at least 5,000 individuals for downloading the movie "The Hurt Locker" from a filesharing website.   

It appears that this hot-button topic will have far-reaching global and economic effects, but as media companies and government agencies position themselves to crackdown on unauthorized downloads of media content, some camps like the Free Software Foundation argue that it's important to first determine what piracy is before discussing whether or not it is truly a problem.

"We don’t agree with the term,” said Matt Lee, campaign manager for the FSF. “We use the term unauthorized copying."

FSF founder Richard Stallman added that while the selling of illegally licensed content is wrong, free distribution is altogether different.

"The position we take is that most creative works ought to be at least available for noncommercial sharing,” Lee said. “For example, if I copy a music file for you personally, that’s different than making 1,000 copies of it for a profit …We aren’t concerned with how to restrict people on how to get our software."

Matt Reid, president of communication at the Business Software Alliance (BSA), disagrees.  

"Theft of intellectual property is like any other form of theft," said Reid. "It is a very real impact on these companies. It may seem very small and incremental on an individual basis, but when you added up the impact of that, it really has an effect on these companies, and their ability to invest in the next generation of technology for all of us."

Reid believes that further government intervention, enforcement, and education is needed to combat the issue.

According to the Medill-Northwestern University website, the BSA just released a study indicating that the worldwide commercial value of unlicensed software reached $51.4 billion last year.  Microsoft, Apple and Adobe hold membership privileges with BSA.

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BSA what now?
By zmatt on 6/7/2010 7:54:13 AM , Rating: 2
I would really like to know how they determined that big number. It's well known that lost sales are almost impossible to calculate. Even if you count how many times a torrent of your software has been downloaded there are too many variables to consider that an accurate number. For example how many people would have bought your software in the first place? How many people didn't download and were given it by someone they knew? How many people weren't actually pirating? I know on more than one occasion it was easier to download an album I had purchased than to rip it.

RE: BSA what now?
By Frallan on 6/7/2010 9:38:17 AM , Rating: 3
Well they are not true - but don't ask Traicie to take that up. GAO (Government Accountibility Office) has said that these figures are bogus .

The only thing that they can say in support of the MAAFIA claims is that it is impossible to estimate the losses. However it is also stated that the figures that they have are not only impossible to validate but also fails to prove that the assupmtions that they have made is reasonable.

Fredrik Larsson

RE: BSA what now?
By StevoLincolnite on 6/7/2010 11:54:10 AM , Rating: 4
The only thing that they can say in support of the MAAFIA claims is that it is impossible to estimate the losses.

I agree.

Plus, can they name a single Music artist that has gone bankrupt directly due to Piracy? - I don't think it's as big of an issue as they think it is.

Records are still being set (Avatar), and sales are remaining relatively strong.

What they need to do is instead of battling piracy, they need to instead provide attractive world-wide alternatives.
Things like Netflix and Hulu are cool, but they are only available to US residence which kind of defeats half the purpose of a place where everyone on the planet is connected with each other.

RE: BSA what now?
By plewis00 on 6/7/2010 9:42:47 AM , Rating: 2
I like your point and I'm surprised no-one else has really said that much about this before.

Case in point (this is true by the way): I own a copy of The Hurt Locker on DVD but I also openly downloaded a DVD-rip and MP4 (iPod) rip from Bittorrent because I have an Alienware M11x (no optical drive) and an iPhone, and the professional converters out there will get a much more visually-pleasing quality rip with less time and effort than me doing it myself. Does this mean I have 'pirated' two copies of the film? If I lived in the US would I be liable for prosecution? Twice? If I waved my copy of The Hurt Locker would they throw the case out. I never knew the answers here...

RE: BSA what now?
By Spivonious on 6/7/2010 10:06:05 AM , Rating: 2
Technically, yes, since you only bought the rights to watch the DVD, not the rights to watch it in any form.

I believe this part of the law needs to change. I do not support any form of public file sharing though. It's a clear copyright violation.

RE: BSA what now?
By PrinceGaz on 6/7/2010 12:13:51 PM , Rating: 2
I know on more than one occasion it was easier to download an album I had purchased than to rip it.

Very good point. The vast majority of the music on my iPod is albums I purchased on CD, but rather than rip my own CDs in iTunes to get the music onto my iPod, I simply fired up some p2p software and downloaded the same album as it was quicker and easier that way (it would have taken longer to rummage through my boxes of unsorted music CDs).

RE: BSA what now?
By joex444 on 6/7/2010 3:48:44 PM , Rating: 2
In addition, it is also impossible to know how many people have downloaded the same thing twice (or more); either by accident or for a different format (eg, screener, dvd, then 1080p or mp3 then flac). Certainly these are not all potential sales; being generous, only the first instance could ever be construed as a "lost" sale. Another defect in the data is people who either did not finish the download but were picked up by the tracker, or people who did download it but then deleted it or never used it.

Lastly, given the choice between purchasing software or finding an open source alternative we have to consider the real possibility people choose open source. I use Gnumeric on Windows instead of Excel because it is actually more powerful. The fact it is free just makes the whole thing more ironic. I have no need for Word -- AbiWord just does fine for my needs in terms of WYSIWYG word processors; anything I want to actually typset properly is done with LaTeX.

A better formula would have to take all of these into account. Surely the companies have lost some money to piracy. I think a reasonable value is significantly less than those that they tout and if they actually had a proper value it would be written off as an operating cost while they drink their vintage single malt in their private jet headed to some island nation.

RE: BSA what now?
By Lazarus Dark on 6/7/2010 8:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
Lets consider this situation:
I, like many people in various countries only download/torrent properties which are NOT available via legal means. Meaning, something which is out of print, not available for sale in my country, or not available for sale in a format which I am not actually able to use.

Since there is NO WAY for me to purchase said items... where is the lost sale? So, should this not be defined in some other way than "piracy"? Personally, I think it's of great importance to the human race to make culture available to EVERYONE, not leaving out those in certain geographical boundaries or otherwise unable to gain access "properly".

Tracie McDaniel
By Frallan on 6/7/2010 9:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
This reporter is one of the reasons Im not reading DT as often any more. Either she has a private agenda or she is just not as up to date as is required when writing.

TPB was taken offline by the German court (a decision that is highly controversial right now) however TPB was not off line for long. The Swedish Pirate Party (represented in the European Parliment) agreed to provide tha bandwidth to TPB.

The result of this is that anyone who wants to go after TPB in the court right no not only have to challange the "mere conduit" reasoning but also have to sue a political party.

So please Tracie - start reporting or stop writing. A once in a while collumn with heavy tendencies towarads the MAFFIA is not good enough.

Fredrik Larsson

RE: Tracie McDaniel
By zmatt on 6/7/2010 4:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
wait, pirates are represented in the EU parliament? Holy crap. Wish I could vote in those elections. That's the opposite of things in America, over here the MAAFIA is represented by lobbyists.

Art vs business vs price
By HostileEffect on 6/7/2010 10:06:18 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of game mods are top quality because the people making them have passion for that. Passion is what a lot of game developers are lacking, they are chasing profits instead of quality games. Forcing creativity for the bottom line turns into ass.

The price must drop, $49.99 - $59.99USD is unacceptable, job or no job I do not care to pay these prices! Especially when someone is trying to sell me a license to use the software, rather than my own copy.

Upgrade the content or lower the price. I stick to $19.99 - $39.99, depends on how good the game is.

Filesharing is no different than having a movie night or reading a game magazine in a waiting room. You didn't lose a sale, you never had the sale to begin with regardless of the availability of the content.

RE: Art vs business vs price
By hughlle on 6/7/2010 11:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
fully agree on the price. society seems to have gone tits up in terms of what people believe they should be earning etc, look at sports players or music stars.

our game prices are fairly similar, and like you, i feel it's a joke, i paid £20 for killing floor from steam, it was god awful, the release copy might as well have been pre-alpha it was that buggy and awful, and it's not even posssible to get a refund from steam. same with cinema's, if i went to the cinema with my family to watch any film in 2D, i would be expecting to pay £42.50... to watch one film once... did canada previously have a law that allowed cinema goers to record the film at their desire so long as it was for personal use?

Apt quotations
By FaceMaster on 6/7/2010 7:28:08 AM , Rating: 3
Daily Tech, I love you.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

A different point of view
By freeagle on 6/7/2010 8:26:53 AM , Rating: 2
If you call us pirates, because we steal your software, we call you pirates, because you steal from us all the creative work that could be made by the people unable to afford your applications.

RE: A different point of view
By xler8r on 6/7/2010 8:39:49 AM , Rating: 1
Not to mention how companies steel from other companies. Apple from Xerox is an example.

By lexluthermiester on 6/7/2010 3:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
The Pirate Bay, a not-for-profit site was recently taken offline for providing downloadable software, music, movies and video games to its users.

Just tried that site, looks online to me... Or did I miss something?

By Shining Arcanine on 6/7/2010 10:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
... but in all honesty, these people are not depriving these companies of physical property and they are not making a cent by doing this. The outrage is probably overblown.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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