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Piracy is not theft, Lost sales don't exist, says Minecraft creator (2011) (torrentfreak.com)
301 points by ROARosen 73 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 242 comments

As a game developer, there are two conflicting stories I have heard about game piracy for multiple decades.

From the consumers: Piracy doesn't matter. Pirates were never going to buy anyway.

From the AAA producers: >50% of lifetime revenue for a game is made in the first 3-6 months after release. During that time, they sit and wait in dread for "Crack Day". The exact day the DRM crack is released, revenue permanently drops hard.

I've read similar stories from small non-game desktop ISVs here on Hacker News. That they can clearly see on their revenue graphs the release dates of updates that contain DRM changes. Of course, most people on HN work on web-based software. Web based software has pretty much completely overtaken desktop software because of it's many advantages --such as being impossible to pirate.

I wonder how many people here have actually worked on a pirate-able product? Phone apps are technically pirate-able. But, like console games, pirating is such an inconvenience (compared to desktop piracy) that it is relatively rarely done. But, even on phones, most of the revenue is to unlock server-based features. I can say from experience that app hacking for client-side features in phone apps happens quite a lot despite the inconvenience.

Meanwhile, Minecraft was a story of someone in exactly the opposite situation from a AAA developer. Having zero reputation and zero marketing budget, it made complete sense for Notch to give away his game for free at first and slowly increase the price as consumer awareness and confidence grew. At all points Minecraft was the Indie Dream Story of starting as a nobody and gradually growing an audience who hands you money out of respect for your product rather than as a requirement of transacting with you to attain it.

The "lost sales" point seems like a red herring to me.

Theft is about taking rivalrous goods. If I steal your apple, you no longer have your apple, which is injurious to you. That's why theft is illegal. Piracy and copyright are about, literally, copying. If I copy your MP3, you still have your MP3 and haven't been deprived of anything. The world is actually just a better more abundant place now.

Copyright is about granting limited monopolies as an incentive. We make it illegal for people to copy based entirely on the idea that more people will create stuff if they know they can monopolize the profits for a time. Which is sensible in some cases, but I personally believe people would still create all kinds of stuff, if not more.

Regardless, I do think lost sales exist. I made a paid iOS app that was cracked and saw my sales drop. But I also think it's important to recognize that this is still not theft. It's a copyright violation. These words mean different things.

The semantic details are a distraction.

Revenue go up? You pay your bills. You make more stuff people want. Everyone is better off. Good outcome.

Revenue go down? You can't pay your bills. You make less stuff even though people want what you are making. Everyone is worse off. Bad outcome.

In the end, we want more good outcomes and less bad. There is a lot of conversation around piracy's relationship to the bad outcome. But, a lot of it is armchair-CFO arguments and based on looking for excuses. People directly affected by piracy report that the relationship is either quite clear or that they have given up and don't bother fighting or even measuring it.

Should piracy be legal? Maybe? Doesn't really matter at the consumer level. There is it de-facto unenforced 99.9% of the time anyway. What matters for producers and consumers in practice is the practice of DRM. In practice, the vast majority of software work these days is on server-side products and a huge component of that is the implicit DRM aspect.

Desktop software has relatively been in a terrible lull since the consumerization of the internet. A lot of it is due to the awesome features of the interwebs. But, a whole lot of it is that it's a lot harder to actually get paid for desktop software vs server-based. It's a damn shame. But, no one knows what to do about it.

> The semantic details are a distraction.

But it's a distraction gladly used by those who want to promote more copyright restrictions - everyone learns as a small child "what's yours is not what's mine", and everyone learns that theft is bad.

So calling piracy theft means everyone has the gut reaction that it's bad.

Calling piracy an infringement of a monopoly has a very different flavour to it.

Copyright monopolies do serve a purpose. But one shouldn't try to distract from this purpose by calling piracy theft.

Before "copying" music or books was cheap, the situation was quite different (tunes and books were copied left and right, nobody cared, but you had to pay the musicians to perform a tune, and the scribes to copy a book), but theft still existed, and was punished.

I am not pirating games (not since 2012 and then back in 2008 anyway). I am also a programmer, not quite the gray neckbeard but I've seen my fair share of Windows MFC and Java Swing back in the day (since we're talking about desktop GUI programs as well as games).

And we all want to be paid for our work.

But apparently people think software must be free. And I've known people making $30,000+ a month who pirated games. I've known lawyers and high-profile accountants begging on forums for a $150 program (paid once for a lifetime license) to be cracked. Those people made at least $10,000 a month in a third-world country. Basically one level below the millionaires. WTF, right?

I've read enough history to notice that the vested interests are always fighting a losing battle (only long-term and in retrospect anyway). So maybe we need another approach because rebelling against reality gets us nowhere IMO.

Sorry if this is too philosophical but I thought I should offer you a point of view that doesn't involve a work life which is comprised of a constant game of tug of war. At one point we all should accept the world as it is and try to work around its flaws.

One example: there are games that can detect that you are running a pirated version and they deliberately hide part of the in-game content from you (I think Witcher 3?). That alone was enough for a guy I knew to begrudgingly buy the game (he wasn't poor either). As said in another comment also in reply to you: if piracy ushers in inconvenience then they'll buy.

We can never get rid of piracy. There's a ton of extremely sharp reverse engineers out there. But we can make it hard enough for the users of our pirated products so they just give up. I've seen it applied successfully but I'll admit that it's a hard thing to pull off.

Or ultimately, if that constant arms race tires us, we should branch out to other (sub-)careers. I myself am seriously considering exiting web programming, I am sick of it already, for many reasons.

I actually see the vested interests slowly winning, for better or worse. Web services & cloud gaming are as close as you get to the end-game for piracy. Remotely delivering apps and games like that effectively hides your code and fundamentally closes the analog hole.

Even in the video space, the analog hole is slowly being patched with hardware attested DRM and HDCP, so pervasive now that they're baked into web standards. Dolby Vision has yet to be cracked IIRC, which means pirated movies/TV can be worse than the legitimate one.

There'll probably always be insider leaks though (ie. someone with inside access to a master copy leaks it).

>I actually see the vested interests slowly winning, for better or worse.

That's why I said they lose eventually and only in retrospect. In the meantime (decades or centuries) they dominate indeed.

But entropy is always at work. The last 3 years we've seen a torrent of "X site has been breached" and I have no doubt that 80% of all breaches never make it to the news. Which means the vested interests' techniques (SaaS / hosted services like games) aren't fault-proof either. The pendulum is still swinging.

As for stuff like HDCP and Dolby Vision, yeah, those are worrisome. :|

> Revenue go up? You pay your bills. You make more stuff people want. Everyone is better off. Good outcome. > > Revenue go down? You can't pay your bills. You make less stuff even though people want what you are making. Everyone is worse off. Bad outcome.

This is a very limited view of the of the effect of copyright. The goal is not to make sure any one specific person or organization has the funds to create but to encoourage the total sum of creations by anyone. As such, any analysis of the effectiveness of copyright will have to also consider the detrimental effects copyright has on other people creating things. And these detrimental effects are not at all theoretical. There is lots of imaginarity "property" that people are sitting on and doing nothing with the monopoly they have been granted as an incentive to produce more while still preventing anyone else from building on those works. Licensing something or heck, even figuring out who owns the rights, is prohibitive enough to outright kill many endeavours that would have enriched society. And that is before come to the hyper-inflated copyright lengths we have today where creators are incentivized to keep milking something they have made decades ago instead of being required to make something new if they want more profit.

I agree that DRM sucks, but that is not an argument for stronger copyright enforcement. DRM very much relies on copyright laws that make breaking it illegal in order to remain effective. And even then, it has only ever been effective in preventing the average user from circumventing it. If you could freely distribute DRM-defeating measures then publishers would be incentivized to remove it for everyone.

> If I copy your MP3, you still have your MP3 and haven't been deprived of anything. The world is actually just a better more abundant place now.

It seems you haven't considered the point of view of, say, someone who makes music and sells recordings of it for a living. I hope you can imagine how it would sound to that person when you tell them that the world is "actually just a better more abundant place now" you have got their music without paying for it, and they're out of a livelihood.

I think that, at best, it would sound like you haven't thought much at all about what you're saying and how it applies to the real world and the people in it.

You're assuming the only possible world is one in which musicians selling music is a viable business model.

But the reality is that there are infinite business models that simply don't work, and it's perfectly fine. There was a time before you could copyright music and people still made music. That was perfectly fine, too.

It's likely that there'd be a much stronger market around live performances and experiences, remixes, and lots of other stuff that's hard to imagine. I think you're neglecting to consider the complexity and self-organizational nature of markets. We don't really need a higher power to artificially create and protect specific jobs, especially around the arts.

Thinking you could earn a living from music sales is like living in a dream land. As a musician you make your money with live shows and merch. 99% of music consumption is streaming and radio stations and both of those pay a fraction of a fraction of a cent per listen, buyers might as well pirate and you most likely wouldn't see a difference.

> Thinking you could earn a living from music sales is like living in a dream land.

Ok great, that's where I live, I guess.

What type of music are you talking about there? Seems you have a very small range of musician in mind with those comments. Like, rock/pop music or whatever you call it. "merch"? Doesn't exist for most musicians, I guesstimate 99.999%

It seems in these music "pirating" discussions, for their mental image of a musician, a lot of people imagine millionaire rock/pop musicians, signed to huge record labels, and they feel fine about screwing them however they can. I suggest they are a tiny, numerically-insignificant minority of the musicians in the world. And it seems to me that when you say "As a musician you make your money" you are thinking of these people.

I buy most of my music on bandcamp when it's available there. The genres I'm buying range from indie-synthwave stuff to classic rock to death metal to jazz and folk. I love to give them my money if I enjoy the music enough, but honestly I consider it more of a symbolic gesture. The midnight had at some point a letter that their music sales are cool and all, but they can only make a living because people where coming to their shows. They made an exclusive deal with amazon to bridge some time during the pandemic, but things are going downhill for them currently. I heard the same from fiddlers green when I saw them live, telling us the live shows and the merch are the thing that keeps them running. So I've got two artists telling me the money is in performances and merch, in addition to the statistics about the payments from streaming companies.

> "merch"? Doesn't exist for most musicians, I guesstimate 99.999%

And that's a failure of those musicians. It does not mean that society should implement draconian measures to ensure that they have another specific way of being paid.

What? There's plenty of musicians that feel as the gp. Even solo full length animated movie makers.

Aside from the unhelpful "What?", that seems like DH4 Counterargument in pg's disagreement hierarchy[0], subtype "arguing against something slightly different from what the original author said".

Presumably "someone who makes music and sells recordings of it for a living", the people I was talking about, won't "feel as the gp". It doesn't seem like your criticism really touched on what I said.

(Maybe you are also assuming "No-one is entitled to make a living selling their music" or something like that.)

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

I'm assuming no one is entitled to make money off of anything in particular, so yeah, music falls in that bin.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

Sorry, but I'm convinced this exchange is pointless.

> "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize."

You literally were triggered by "What?" in your previous response so maybe you should take this guideline to heart yourself.

That's no comfort for the people trying to make a living from their work.

And? People can adapt. [0] Creating laws to artificially restrict technological advancements in order to protect one specific class of jobs is insanity.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Obsolete_occupations

I'm not sure how you expect content creators to create content when they're not creating content anymore.

How do they "adapt" to putting food on the table when they're not getting paid for the work they do?

> If I copy your MP3, you still have your MP3 and haven't been deprived of anything. The world is actually just a better more abundant place now.

As a creator, there are many things I want people to copy, fork and share - all my open source stuff. Then there are things for which I expect to get paid for - my training videos. I'll be upset if someone started distributing or copying them for free.

As a creator I should be able to make that decision - not the consumer. Or you are claiming that digital goods are not goods at all.

Yes, this is why we have copyright law. But it's important to realize that the law is artificially creating a viable business model, and your expectation to get paid is based on that artificial creation.

There are theoretically infinitely many business models that don't work well in reality, so nobody has them as a career, that we could create laws to artificially protect.

People can give away stuff for free right now if they want, so I don’t see what you mean by the “if not more” comment. I don’t mean that in a snarky way, I joust wonder what you mean.

A lot of content, and software, takes a huge capital investment to create. Blockbuster movies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, AAA games can certainly cost tens of millions. This is also why open source and and Libre software never took over the world the way many of its proponents assumed it would back in the 90s. Many applications take more than just coding chops to create, it takes QA engineers, artists, designers, project managers, market research and domain experts dependent on the market segment (medical experts, radio engineers, etc). It can take a huge capital investment to put all that together and that money needs to be made back somehow.

Even music takes recording studios, sound engineers, session and backing musicians, artists for the album covers and posters, music video production teams, etc, etc. It’s a serious business. A committed artist in their bedroom can work wonders, but not all music and associated material can be produced in a bedroom.

The world we have today is built around the laws we have today. People sink many tens or hundreds of millions into copyable content in part because they know the laws guarantee they'll be able to make a profit doing that. But if those laws didn't exist, we'd simply have a world where resources are allocated differently, and it's really quite impossible to say that world would be a worse one.

You can imagine a world in which we have laws allowing broad recipes to be patented. For example, some restaurant chain might register the patent for spaghetti, and you could only ever eat spaghetti at their chain. 100 years from now, we'd likely have some MegaBlockbusterRestaurant chains that spend ridiculous amounts of money on developing new and unique recipes they can monopolize. And someone from that era might say, "What if we stopped allowing this?" And someone could reply, "But tens of millions of dollars are spent on this. It's big business!"

And they would be right ofc. It's a factually true statement. But… so what? I don't mind living in a world where everyone can remix everyone else's recipes, even if it means we don't end up with MegaBlockbusterRestaurant chains.

Perhaps a world with no/weaker copyright laws might be one where money flows toward live performances over recorded experiences. Not necessarily worse imo.

> Perhaps a world with no/weaker copyright laws might be one where money flows toward live performances over recorded experiences.

Or even towards patronage. Crowdfunding is already a thing. Government grants are already a thing.

If I had a basic income and it'd be risk free to create arts, sure. If agree with you in that case.

But games, music, visual art, after a certain degree require so much time and effort that it's not viable or fun to do as a hobby of you need to earn a living elsewhere.

I would've out out my debut album out years ago if I didn't need to worry and stress about rent.

I agree that UBI would be a greate complement to a post-copyright world. That does not mean that it is required though, selling bits is not the only way to fund the creation of those bits.

You can define theft as taking what was not given. Piracy is theft in this case.

If you show me a cool wood car you built and I go home and make one for myself, did I steal it from you?

In what way is copying "taking something"?

Theft is taking something without paying for it. In the case of games, music, etc, you don’t pay for the file itself but for the work the artist put into it.

> Theft is taking something without paying for it.

According to this definition, dumpster diving would be theft. The harms caused by theft and copyright infringement are different. Calling them both theft is just a marketing ploy. Stealing something deprives the owner of its use. Copyright is a monopoly granted by the government to an artist on a piece of intellectual property. This is socially beneficial because it means more people can make a living by creating art. Copyright infringement means evading this monopoly, and is harmful for the same reason that granting the monopoly is beneficial.

For example, dumpster diving is neither theft nor copyright infringement. It's not theft because taking food that has been thrown away isn't depriving anyone of its use. It's not copyright infringement, because we as a society do not deem it socially beneficial to grant anybody a monopoly on food production. This is true even though the dumpster diver is taking food without paying the farmers who produced it.

> According to this definition, dumpster diving would be theft.

In many jurisdictions, it legally is. Morally, I agree that's bullshit.

> Theft is taking something without paying for it

But taking something without paying for it is not always theft; and one could imagine thieves paying a token amount for something in order to claim it is not theft.

Most importantly, copyright infringement, unlicensed use, and piracy usually fall into the category of "IP theft," which differs from real theft of physical property in important ways such as the harm caused to the owner (e.g. potential lost sales or licensing revenue vs. losing a physical item) as well as associated penalties and remedies.

> In the case of games, music, etc, you don’t pay for the file itself but for the work the artist put into it.

You're paying for the file and the rights to use it.

>and one could imagine thieves paying a token amount for something in order to claim it is not theft.

A lot of countries already have this. There's an additional tax on media storage devices such as CDs, HDDs etc. The money is then given to some copyright association that supposedly hands some of it out to the content creators.

A lot of countries have copyright levies. In most of them this does unfortunately not give you the right to copy things freely. It really should though.

In a society where copyright exists, sure. I think the point is that meatspace copyright laws don't translate well into cyberspace because they were designed to apply to a world where the act of creating copies itself takes work.

You aren't paying for the work the artist put in, if you were that would be called a commission. You are paying for the right to experience a copy of the artist’s work. Usually you’re not even paying the artist, either. The studios and publishing companies reap the profits. It’s not different for studio developed games.

Do I pirate things these days? No, I am capable of paying and we’ve figured out streaming. Will I buy a proprietary product without trying it first? Probably not. Would I pay if I didn't have the means? Absolutely not.

I firmly believe that once a work of art has been created, it is oppressive to try and dictate who can experience it. I’m copyleft, not a rampant pirate.

You're not stealing an object, you're stealing the use value of a product.

As a rule, you don't buy software, you buy a license to use it. So effectively you're stealing that license and the income it would generate for the creator.

Music and other media are the same. You don't pay for the bits, you pay for a license to access and enjoy those bits.

Which is why it doesn't matter if the delivery system is paper tape, carrier pigeon, optical media, or instant download from a server.

Meh, that's a weak argument. The software industry wants to benefit from the fact that data can be copied for free (a unique property of our world), but also wants to put a sticker price on each ephemeral "copy" as of it's a material object.

In the world if matter, things have copies and we can count them. In the world of knowledge there's no such concept and it lives by different rules. RIAA and other luddites try to turn ideas into stones to sell them.

>The software industry wants to benefit from the fact that data can be copied for free (a unique property of our world), but also wants to put a sticker price on each ephemeral "copy" as of it's a material object.

so things that have low cost of materials / low cost of delivery, but high cost of skills required shouldn't be expensive? or what?

I don't understand how is this even relevant that software can be distributed very cheaply.

Creating software, or even better - the game requires significant investment and risk, so I don't understand how anyone would want to act as if that pirating was OK.

I was trying to say that the reason we have this paradox of "pirated bytes" that simultaneously causes losses and doesn't cause losses is that we try to impose rules of the material world onto the world of ideas.

I'd argue that software isn't built, but discovered and selling the same knowledge of how to sail the discovered island is a challenge, as we know. SaaS is essentially hiding that knowledge and selling bits of derived knowledge specific to each customer. SaaS doesn't attempt to sell the same knowledge twice. Otoh, the movies and music industry hasn't figured out this derived knowledge trick, so it struggles.

All of this has been (until quite recently) purely a social construct, though. In the days of buying CDs, you were buying bits etched onto a plastic circle and you had physical possession of those bits. On Steam, you're literally buying bits, because you pay and then you download bits onto your PC (in this case, hypothetically Steam could decide to revoke future access to those bits, but you'd still have local copies of them).

Imagine if someone told you "Oh, that physical book you bought, with the pages and the words in it? Yeah, actually what we sold you was a license to a book." It's nonsense. We only played along in the digital realm because it was the only way for commercial digital artifacts to exist given the greater ease of making perfect copies of digital artifacts compared to physical artifacts like books.

That said, XaaS is now making that social construct physically real. It's still hamstringing one of the best things about digital artifacts, but at least it's honest now.

IIRC, when you set up an Apple device you agree that you're basically leasing out the hardware or something like that, which is IMO a big wad of baloney.

I make client side Mac app with trivial copy protection and unlimited free trial, and people still pay for licenses.

My app is practically almost free except for a nag dialog, and I still make a living from it.

Piracy may matter to big companies that have lots of employees who try to extract every possible cent from their audience.

If you just want to make a living from your software, you should not waste time worrying about piracy.

Conversely I know a number of music software (VST) developers who simply gave up because piracy nuked their income.

There are specific niches and specific relationship models where piracy won't do this. But there are far more where it will.

Ultimately it comes down to the ridiculous notion that because cost-of-copying is effectively zero then so is product value.

This handily ignores the hours/days/weeks/years of development effort that can go into a product, and the use value - which may translate into income - that it offers users.

As a creator you certainly have the option to decide on the relationship model you want with your customers. Piracy removes that right.

VST developers also exist in a space where their $100+ USD products are one of dozens that a person wants use, in a relatively small market, where many people are hobbyists who don't make money off their music. DAW entry costs are already high, with two of the most popular being Ableton Live Standard at $450 and FL Studio Producer at $199. They don't expect amateur Joe to license thousands of dollars worth of software just so he can post to his 15 followers on Soundcloud.

I think you're understating the size of the studio production world who are as much extensive consumers of comparatively inexpensive VST plugins as they are consumers of multi-hundred dollar workstations.

> Piracy removes that right.

But that right is entirely artificial in the first place. It was given in order to encourage more creation. Saying that some creations would have been encouraged had that right been enforced (not even that is a given - a pirated copy does not equate a lost sale 1:1) is not enough to justify copyright without weighing that against all the negative effects of copyright - overhead to licensing, enforcement costs paid by society, people prevented from creating derivativees, etc.

> Piracy may matter to big companies that have lots of employees who try to extract every possible cent from their audience.

I don't necessarily think AAA game studios are trying to extract every cent. But they do exist in a pretty unique situation in software. Since they invest a ton of money up-front to produce a game, and something like 85% of their sales occur in the first month or so. And those profits are invested back into the creation of the next game.

Piracy is very much an issue in this situation. Delaying a crack by one week is probably the difference between solvency for studios.

It is absolutely the case that some game studios might not be effected by piracy. Either because they don't make their money from the game, but instead from selling in-game items, their product needs online support for maximum fun, or some other reason. But the industry is definitely big enough for piracy to be both a problem, and not a problem for different players.

> I don't necessarily think AAA game studios are trying to extract every cent.

While this is true, the ones who don't tend to get eaten by the ones that do, eventually. Fantastic game studios are one flop away from closing their doors most of the time, so attrition is high, and the allure of recurring revenue via predatory microtransactions is hard to ignore.

macOS software automatically excludes >95% of the human population from its user base, and the remaining bit is incredibly wealthy and used to the macOS tradition of high quality botique software for a price.

The PC and Android gaming markets are slightly different beasts.

> If you just want to make a living from your software

This mindset is not compatible with creating multi-billion dollar software like Windows or GTA 5. The only way to do that involves financial structures that are more complicated than just making a living.

That's not to say I think such software is necessarily a good thing, just that it wouldn't exist without aggressive profit optimization.

This goes back to the same point made earlier in the thought experiment about copyrighted recipes. It really resonated with me and has proof that we can see. I wonder how much all these women with recipe blogs are making? Their sites are usually ad spam but people are finding recipes through them. They created the recipes or modified someone else's but they do not control them.

Target demographic plays huge role in validity of your claim.

“a living” is a matter of degrees.

The argument is that your living could be more substantial, if you did worry about it.

* From the consumers: Piracy doesn't matter. Pirates were never going to buy anyway.*

Really? Maybe times have really changed but I know a lot of people, myself included, who pirated software - starting in the mid 90s for me - because we couldn't buy software since we were too young to make money and lived in constant fear that the one time our parents do buy some game or piece of software it turns out to be total crap. At this point, even though my education have led me to a more nuanced and philosophical objection to the enforcement of intellectual property in the manner at least the United States does, and equates physical property either on par with it or even underneath it, the only times I pirate software now is if there's no trial version, and if it's something I really want to use long term I'd purchase it anyway. Effectively the only long term sort of piracy I conduct at this point is to circumvent blackout rules on sports streaming because for whatever reason a whole fifth of MLB is blacked out on mlb.tv where I am but the biggest streaming package only shows 2 of those teams. Access, ultimately, determine whether someone pirates. That includes cases when access is outlandishly expensive or simply barred, and even knowing my share of anarchists and career criminals as defined by state I really don't see people who are ideologically committed to piracy in an absolutist sense. It's like, if I can pay $25 a month for unlimited access to JSTOR it would entirely be for my intellectual curiosity but I'd do it, but that's not an option so sci-hub when the article isn't available is kind of the only reasonable option. The alternative is simply to give up and find something else to be curious about.

Some aspects of reverse-engineering/cracking in the scene was gamified to such an extent where it became a prestige sort of thing, a competition for its own sake. That tends to stop where-ever your rivals stop, and as a result it's never a sure thing that patches would be cracked, for example.

> Access, ultimately, determine whether someone pirates.

Totally agree. Netflix’s streaming service is a great example of this. Initially, Netflix provided easy access, so most people I know stopped pirating films and shows. Mostly with the exception of new episodes of shows that aired in Australia weeks (or more) behind the US air date. Nobody wants to be weeks behind on GoT, not when the internet explodes as the episode airs.

Then Netflix’s Australian library was gradually gutted. VPNs were a pretty good way around the lacklustre Australian offerings. Then that became a tenuous workaround at best, especially as major studios split and made their own platforms, each at least $10 a month, with no guarantee that the things worth watching were available to Australians. So what do a bunch of people with VPNs do with nothing to watch? They pirate.

Sci-hub is unfortunately so necessary. The whole situation feels a bit like Spotify where the creators of the content that these journals/companies charge for don’t really get any of the money. What an ’innovation’ that is.

Notch got really lucky. These views about piracy not mattering are practically survivor bias. There are the rare vendors who I think profited from the pirates in the end, Microsoft and Adobe. Them making their software easy to pirate, coupled with the existing laws at the time basically made and maintained their flagship products the de-facto standards which can be felt to this day. But these again are the rare examples where piracy was useful - for most, it just sucks money out their pocket.

> These views about piracy not mattering are practically survivor bias.

It's not about survivorship bias. It's about where he was starting from and the risks involved given that. An indie game dev's largest risk is remaining in obscurity and never making anything. In comparison, piracy is basically a non-factor. Of course large, well known studios care about piracy. Because they're already large and well known - they don't have to worry about making literally $0 in revenue on a title.

You are using part of a proof to reason about an entire domain. What happens if we treat music and software like recipes? We don't know because we have not proved it.

I used to think as you do. This is a much larger issue than trying to preserve the business model of a lobbyist.

This and at least one other post of yours in this thread were [dead] with no responses so you might have been shadowbanned.

I worked at Blizzard a generation ago and there was no copy protection and then copy protection was added to products while I was there. IIRC what a producer told me was they had sales numbers for Starcraft in Germany without copy protection. Based on projections (prior Warcraft expansions) they expected the expansion to sell 1/3 the copies of the original game. But they added a simple CD copy protection scheme to the expansion and sales of the expansion in Germany were 3x the original game, so about an order of magnitude greater sales, which one can sort of infer that piracy accounted for 80-90% of Starcraft player base in Germany. This is just my one anecdote, YMMV.

Every piece of Mac shareware I made was hacked instantly, judging by the “free license codes and patches for games” lists they appeared on. The patch must have been an automated attack, too, given I’d made the deliberate business decision to have a license code check of:

   licenseText.length > 0

The thing about revenue is I wonder how much of that breaks down demographically. While I'm sure there are some anti-culture adults in the mix, the biggest motivation to pirate anything is when you're not an adult who has independent, disposable income (and in years gone by, the whole "debit Visa" thing didn't exist and meant online purchasing was basically locked off to the young) is that it's a completely viable and easier option to just bypass the people in your life who control that access (parents).

Even if your parents are willing to sometimes buy you games or software or whatever, there's got to be an element that a much easier path is just downloading it once a crack is available since you're more worried about burning that extremely finite supply of political capital then someone else's profit.

I can confirm that publishers were begging to install the copy protection which at least lasts for several days, not even weeks or months. The math for that was pretty simple - on average, most impatient gamers, who buy the product in the first days, really do not care about the price but will prefer free option.

To repeat, this is on average and works given 90% of games die after first weeks of sales in any case. Economies of megahits are way different.

> From the AAA producers: >50% of lifetime revenue for a game is made in the first 3-6 months after release. During that time, they sit and wait in dread for "Crack Day". The exact day the DRM crack is released, revenue permanently drops hard.

I'd like to read more about this. How much revenue is actually lost? Is there a proof that this revenue would have continued coming in? If so, what is the estimated percentage of that revenue compared to all-time revenue?

I am leaning on the side of "piracy doesn't matter, pirates were never going to buy anyway" but there is a nuance. It's the same as torrenting movies as opposed to subscribing to a streaming service. If the streaming service is VERY convenient and affordable, torrenting drops. Recently it started increasing again because streaming services fragmented the market a lot and everybody wants you to subscribe to their service while realistically people want ONE entry point from which they can search and watch for anything and everything.

To me the keyword is: convenience.

If piracy is convenient and easy then yes, I'll agree with you that a real revenue will be lost. I am sure of it.

But if piracy requires people to go through a bit more hoops than they wanted then I am very sure they won't bother. Seen it happen before my eyes years ago.

But IMO it's really important to answer my questions above because without their answers the "we lose revenue on the day our product's DRM is broken" proposition remains mostly a theory. Still, I am willing to have my mind changed by looking at data. Do you have any links?

(Another, albeit unrelated, example is that many people held off their Cyberpunk 2077 buy because they wanted CDPR to fix the most egregious bugs first -- and some people shared on gaming forums they won't pirate CP2077 because they are afraid the pirated version will be buggier than the retail one.)

Not only that, but consumers routinely understimate the risks of using software of dubious origin that has been tampered with. It should be avoided for security concerns alone.

A corollary to this is that the neediest and most unpleasant clients tend to be the least lucrative. It's an open secret that raising prices can get you better business in various professions, from escorting to tailors to art commissions. Wealthier people are not only attracted to exclusivity but also prefer to dump money to save time and hassle.

With video games, raising prices directly will not work well at all. Instead it is the indirect realization that trying to attract pirates is not a good way to spend time since you won't get a lot of money out of those people even in ideal conditions. They are also the type of person more likely to complain about minute details in games.

With micro-transactions, the case gets muddled further. It becomes rational to spend most of your time catering to whales. In fact, I suspect most features of games using that methodology only exist to attract a large enough audience of normal customers that whales can then prey upon with pay to win additions, while they are themselves preyed upon by the devs.

> They are also the type of person more likely to complain about minute details in games.

I don't understand how this can possibly be true. You didn't give any reasoning, so I assume it must be related to the first paragraph.

Wealthy people are the least picky because there's less risk to purchases they make. A $60 video game for a person who makes 2k a month leaves them closer to poverty than a $120 video game for a person who makes 4k. The latter can drop to the first's living conditions and still be relatively well, while the former's next step in cutting costs is moving to a shitty neighborhood or living in their car.

Even if my reasoning isn't bulletproof (I admit I haven't given it extensive thought), I'm not sure it applies to piracy in video games. From my (admittedly anecdotal) experience growing up in a developing country, the thought of paying for video games was ridiculous, not only because of how rare they were to find, but also because everyone was worried about actually getting food on the table. II've always played a lot of video games (with my first console being a hand-me-down SNES), and the first game I got my parents to spend money on was Diablo 2 at the age of 12.

Since things were so inaccessible back then, we were also far from picky customers. Especially being in a country where English is not the primary language, half the time we wouldn't even understand the words on screen, and that didn't stop us from playing the same few games we had for hours and hours on end.

And interestingly, with video games becoming much more affordable compared to back then, the focus on piracy has also changed. People still do it, but the taboo of spending money on things you like seems to be gone. It's jarring seeing my younger brother have no qualms in asking our parents for money to buy a video game and seeing them actually consider it, compared to laughing him off like what used to happen to me. This leads me to believe piracy is fully a "problem" of accessibility, and I don't believe we gain anything from restricting access to people who literally cannot afford the product in the first place.

It was not my intention to imply negative things about people in the developing world. It indeed does make perfect sense to pirate in such conditions. In any case, I was not making a moral argument, more of a strategic one from the POV of a dev. I also made the comment mostly in reference to the West and to the demographics likely to pirate there, although I obviously should have made this more clear.

>This leads me to believe piracy is fully a "problem" of accessibility, and I don't believe we gain anything from restricting access to people who literally cannot afford the product in the first place.

I completely agree, and that is the point I wanted to make: there are many reasons not to obsess over piracy. Most people who do pirate will not be a lucrative market in any case, therefore little effort should be expended on anti-piracy measures. It is more lucrative to focus on the people likely to casually dump money on your product once you meet a certain standard of accessibility and quality.

The lost sales argument generally only works in isolation.

Imagine if Adobe, say, had come up with a way to do perfect DRM so that it was impossible to pirate Photoshop back in the days when it cost several hundred dollars.

It's probably true that a huge number of the people who pirated it back then would not have bit the bullet and coughed up the hundreds of dollars for a license, and so them pirating it did not represent a lost sale to Adobe.

But...I doubt most of them would have thrown up their hands and said "I can't pirate Photoshop...so I'm just going to give up on graphics editing!" or decided to just do their graphics editing all in MS Paint.

A lot of them almost certainly would have bought some other commercial graphics editor that is much less expensive than Photoshop, such as Pixelmator Pro for around $40.

That's where the lost sales from piracy turn up--in the sales of the less expensive alternatives that people would have turned to had they not been able to pirate what they pirated.

I was actually of the opinion that Adobe for a long timer turned a bit of a blind eye toward piracy because many of the people who learned on it once they became professionals became paying customers. Almost like an unofficial free trial that felt more valuable in a way. They would stamp it out once in a while, but often it felt like until they became dominant that they were barely trying to do much about it.

Microsoft definitely had this strategy with early versions of Windows and quite a lot of specialist tools that cost thousands of dollars per license seem to have something similar going.

I can attest that when I was living on a few hundred dollars a month as a CS student, I pirated a very early version of the IntelliJ IDE. I don't feel bad about this, especially as I've been responsible for tens of thousands dollars worth of license sales for the same product over the years - if only a full-price version of IntelliJ was available, I'd have stuck with Netbeans/ Eclipse instead.

I mean Jetbrains free offerings are substantial anyway and I think just as effective these days. As soon as I found I needed remote debugging to just work, the money for an Ultimate license for myself was just sensible - I wanted to make sure I had the exact tools I needed at work everytime.

>Microsoft definitely had this strategy with early versions of Windows

I question this, purely because the "Open Letter to Hobbyists" shows Microsoft as pretty hostile basically immediately.

Agreed. Adobe creative suite being integrated in educational settings is exceptional advertising. Get the high school and uni classes using Adobe CS and people will go straight for pirating it instead of looking for alternatives. Same with proprietary OSes, or CAD software. If people learn the skills they need with your product, you’ll have the loop closed; the professional world uses the tools, and the next gen learned on them.

This was also Microsoft's model with pirate versions of their software paving the way for MS to take over the developing world.

I learned all my early MS sysadmin skills on a homelab made up of eBay HP servers/Cisco switches and pirated w2k/sbs2003. It allowed it to gain MCSA and get onto the operations career ladder where my employer had legit licenses.

I would bet good money the same applies to graphics people and Photoshop.

Now they offer github, vscode, typescript, .net core, azure(?) and have a big foothold in webdev ecosystem. And Microsoft knows how to monetize it and is well equipped to pull it off. We see history repeating before our eyes.

Interesting theory, although didn't they still make the DRM more advanced and harder to crack with each release?

They changed it so as to invalidate old cracks. Whether or not it was harder is up for debate.

There were certainly better ways to do DRM at the time (even now) that Adobe was well within their monetary limits and interests pursuing. But of course, it was still cracked.

Also, for a hundred buck fee and some TPB/Demonoid credit, it's almost always worth it to a cracker to go after a flagship product.

There's also the running theory that Adobe was the one to release some of the cracks, namely because new releases of the Creative Suite back when it was new would be cracked nearly "instantly".

It's speculation, but the above theory would make a lot of sense - and, in my opinion, that's exactly what ended up happening, and what made Photoshop the industry leader over a pretty decent selection of alternatives at the time (though admittedly PS had already mostly established itself at the time anyway, but it could have probably been swayed).

I believe all this as well. If they wanted to, Adobe could invest heavily in DRM that would take at least a few months to crack. But it's far cheaper to stick a login wall in front of download pages and support forums, monitor for corporate email addresses, and spend the money on going after companies that pirate their software. e.g. https://www.theverge.com/2015/1/29/7948241/forever-21-pirati...

As late as 2010 one could copy the install folder to any other Windows PC and start a licensed copy, or one that worked the same. That drove maaany people with easy access to a decent (phone) camera to pirate. People my age went hard into the "Facebook Photographer" and a surprising number are still doing well in that area (anecdotal and maybe not so much last year).

I know some of those old friends stuck to Adobe while others looked for open source/free alternatives depending on budget/revenue. I think one even works at/with Adobe these days after trying to hack on more features more than 10 years ago. But it's the same reason Apple/Google want kids using their devices in schools. Train the next gen to want your product and let the marketing flow.

Apparently, Adobe deliberately allowed pirating of photoshop, to maintain its status as a standard. Deny oxygen to competitors.

Adobe has always struck me as a company that understood software economics really well and really early on. They'd make money from proprietary stuff, then give it away before it made an opportunity for a competitor.

Actually, it's probably less the understanding, than the actual acting on it.

> Apparently, Adobe deliberately allowed pirating of photoshop, to maintain its status as a standard. Deny oxygen to competitors.

I can't confirm whether it's true, but I once read that Microsoft takes a similar approach to the unlicensed use of Windows in less wealthy nations. Even disregarding that it would likely be a losing battle, they'd rather it remain the norm than push people to the alternatives.

It's not just Adobe & Microsoft either. Lots of large companies with "product lines" do the same thing. e.g., an office equipment manufacturer might prefer that your entire office runs on their machines, even if it means that some of their machines have to sell at cost, or as a loss leader. If everything from paper printers, to bulk scanners to ID card printers are all sold by Acme into the same corporation's offices, it makes it much harder for AcmeCompetitor to get a foothold.

I used to work for a company that had a couple of "me too" products that they barely made any money on, but it was worth it to them to block a sale to the competition.

Seems very plausible.

> Apparently, Adobe deliberately allowed pirating of photoshop, to maintain its status as a standard. Deny oxygen to competitors.

I've often wondered about this claim. I've heard it as well, from many different sources. I could never find a source, every time I've looked, it's a web of "I've heard".

Obviously Adobe wouldn't issue a press release to this effect, but does anyone know where this wisdom originated?


If you do business, you will study the market, those are results of the study.

That's a good point could be just rumors but it does have a strong foundation of truth to it. One of those things that seems like we will never know for sure.

I've seen an interview with the EA guys who say they would rather you pirate their product over someone's elses.

So true, and now that it's subscription-only, I only use Adobe when I don't have an employer willing to pay for my subscription. When I'm in a job that's less graphics-oriented or just messing around with personal projects, I use Affinity, even though I prefer Photoshop.

Similar situation. Learned Photoshop in high school for an art class, got really good with it in college because my school gave it to us for extremely cheap. But now I don't have it, it's too expensive to pay for, I'm unwilling to pirate, so I've been getting pretty good with Gimp.

Or more contributors to GIMP.

Let take an art student PoV, one doing MANA in France right now (16-17 yo not eligible for free version) or at any study level before Adobe did this "free for student" stuff. If he can't pirate it, he will use GIMP, probably. Considering my CS school had 5% ex-art student (with or without a complete art degree), if those had used GIMP instead, i'd dare say GIMP would have been close to PS in GUI and ahead in functionalities.

So piracy take contributor away from GNU projects!

My idea is that people pirating Photoshop were mostly hurting PaintShop Pro.

PaintShop Pro has always been Photoshop's little brother. It is quite capable though not as much as Photoshop. It is also much cheaper. If piracy didn't exist, I would expect a lot more people to buy it, but since for a pirate, they are both free, there is not much reason not to go with Photoshop. And pros will also go with Photoshop because even with the high price, it is worth it, especially if they learned on the cracked version...

Former pirate here, I definitely would've shifted some spending around to get a few more games if I'd had to.

I probably would've bought fewer DVDs. My money went to movies - harder to pirate at DVD quality back in the late 90s! - because they were better protected than a lot of the games in the late 90s. Or maybe fewer console games, same story there. But those we could rent, too...

This wasn't "ecosystem" stuff like Photoshop either, this was games we played for a few months and then moved on.

I wonder if Adobe putting more effort into anti-piracy would have made the GIMP better. For a while, I saw their stance on piracy as look the other way unless it's a business. Photoshop definitely has a learning curve (probably better than the GIMP's), and I could see amateur designers having experience with Photoshop as an asset.

That said, Photoshop and Minecraft are completely different products and markets.


Obligatory photoshop piracy for an entire generation was the single biggest advertisement Adobe could have ever had.

This is the happy meal of the 21st century.

Before I pirated PS I used GIMP.

After years of pirating PS, I ended up paying Adobe for 6+ years for Adobe CC because PS and Illustrator didn't even compare to GIMP/other softwares.

If they had perfected the DRM, and wasn't able to pirate. I don't think I would have ever paid for it.

Do you think the guilt (was there even any guilt) of having pirated it for many years also made you guy in? I ask as a function of a business strategy they could have let people ride for free until at a certain point they might feel some kind of obligation. I doubt that was ever part of anyones strategy but in hindsight is kind of interesting to riff on.

Non-business users will absolutely continue to pirate for as long as possible. Adobe products are basically unpiratable at this point, and the $20/mo subscription service is expensive, but reasonably affordable compared to the $600 or whatever the boxed software ran all those years ago.

This is purely anecdotal, but my own experience backs this up.

I have known at least a dozen people who pirate software and entertainment purely because it's cheaper than paying for it. These are other software engineers, they all make plenty of money to afford this kind of stuff. I doubt they would stop watching TV or playing video games if piracy suddenly stopped being an option.

I torrented lower decks when it came out because they refused to take my money. It was out in Sep/Oct in the states, but not until January in the UK. Exactly the same reason I DCCed voyager episodes in the 90s

I've seen american TV, it's unwatchable. If there's no option to actually buy the content without pop up adverts for other shows, breaks in the narative, squishing of the screen, etc, I'll go to a supplier who can do that.

Mainly my reason for not pirating is legal, but I think it’s actually cheaper to pay $2-$4 to rent something than spend the money on hard drive space and a faster internet connection.

probably not. you can just delete the file when you're done if you don't want to watch it again. 50 GB is more than enough to maintain a queue of a few movies/shows. if you have enough bandwidth to stream legally without buffering, you have (roughly) enough to do the same with torrents. most tv show torrents are just rips from legitimate streaming sites anyway.

Why would you buy it anyway ? It's not like the music / cinema industry is in trouble.

If it's only to be the "good guy" then well congrats.. here's your medal.

I'm somewhat apathetic regarding the health of the music/tv/movie/game industries as a whole. I do care about specific shows, artists, and games though, and revenue is an important signal that businesses use to decide what to make more or less of in the future. if you don't pay for anything, you're essentially throwing away your vote. as a group, pirates are accepting that they only get to select from things that other people are willing to pay for.

Why would I not just leave my empty plastic bottle on the beach? It's not like the beach is in trouble because of my one bottle. People only avoid littering because they want to be the "good guy".

Part of the point is perfect DEn costs. Even shotty DRM costs a lot. To develop, to maintain and upgrade as it is defeated. On top of that is costs to customer frustration and loss of utility.

It is better to spend on making your product better, your customers happier. Then chase tiny amount hostile users.

>> "I can't pirate Photoshop...so I'm just going to give up on graphics editing!"

Jasc's Paint Shop Pro was ~ $99, Corel was about half the price of PhotoShop...

Interesting to me how communities form ideas around this. While “piracy is not theft”, you’ll see people talk about how some repost “stole my content” with lots of support for the supposed victim.

Simultaneously, some people will say that they are contributing by using a product and telling their friends while others will post on /r/choosingbeggars to mock the exposure argument.

This implies we are somewhat short of universal agreement on this subject: perhaps far enough that we cannot determine that just because “piracy is not theft”, it does not mean it is acceptable.

There's a difference between copying for personal use and distributing to others against payment of any type. Redistributing against payment implies that the purchaser is willing to pay in the first place and of course that payment should be made to the original creator / rights holder.

Piracy not being theft only applies if you would have _never_ bought the product in the first place, had it not been free to copy.

If you redistribute some content on youtube you are "stealing" eyeballs and ad money from the original creator.

> Redistributing against payment implies that the purchaser is willing to pay in the first place and of course that payment should be made to the original creator / rights holder.

This argument can get muddy because of parties that are involved between the creator and the consumer, like record companies. Where sometimes the original creator does not see any money (or an unfair low amount) and all the intermediates reap the most profit for basically sitting on an acquired IP or copyright.

I'd love to give money to a original creator for their effort in creating their art to support them to create more, but I hate to fuel an industry that is actively fighting creation and innovation by lobbying for extended copyright and artificially fragmenting supply and hindering paying users with DRM (digital restrictions management).

You can argue that piracy is wrong if you please but you can't argue its theft in the same way you can't argue murder is rape its a category error not a judgement on its moral acceptability.

"Stealing" eyeballs is another ethical misjudgment as you have no moral right to someone else's attention even wherein you have an ethical/legal argument.

They haven't stolen eyeballs they have violated your legal right to authorize copies according to copyright law. This isn't just a semantic argument. Misidentifying the source of the ethical issue leads one to nonsensical conclusions.

By that argument, libraries and resellers are "stealing".

It's only stealing if the person who's being stolen from no longer has something they used to have. Potential things can't be stolen.

I think it's important to talk about the difference between interpersonal violations ("rudeness") and legal protections ("crime").

The former really is whatever people feel it is - notch can feel any way he wants about how people get minecraft! He could feel it was rude if people didn't send him extra money. We all get to decide for ourselves how we feel about his feelings and we can impose whatever social penalties we want on people for how they are acting. The legal system doesn't need to come into it.

The latter should (imo) be based on a theory of an information ecosystem. What rights do creators need in order to be able to make fair agreements with others? How do we draw the line between new works that are "derivative" v.s. "inspired by"? Obviously people will have feelings about these things too! But at the end of the day how people feel about the law doesn't impact the proper administration of the law as-it-is-currently-written, though feelings will probably influence how laws are changed in the future (after all, we're talking about how we feel about laws right now!).

Isn't this just plagiarism? No one is downloading Photoshop and saying they created it (probably lol).

To me, there is a moral distinction between two kinds of infringement, and I think most of the community will broadly feel the same way.

On the one hand, you have filesharing-esque infringement. This is typically indicative either of social norms that are prohibited by DRM (e.g., loaning things you own to other people), or of demand in a market segment that the copyright owner is uninterested in providing (e.g., digital downloads, demo software). In either case, it is pretty strictly a matter of personal consumption and it often doesn't reflect a lost sale (and in many cases, it can create more sales later on).

The other kind is reflected in bootleg copies, or even outright plagiarism. In this case, the people making these copies are seeking to directly profit off of it (note that this isn't restricted to monetary profit), and they are doing so without any recompense or sometimes even acknowledgement to the original owner. It's fundamentally dishonest.

I see no issue with not calling the first kind of piracy theft but referring to the second kind as such.

Neither is theft and protecting copyright is only justified if society experiences a net positive from enforcing copyright. There is no inherent moral right for a certain pattern of bits to belong to anyone. If you own a handful of quarters and flip them from Heads Heads Tails to Tails Heads Heads you don't inherently have a moral duty to pay me because I registered that particular combo.

If copyright is justifiable which I think is by no means settled those who benefit from the net positive nature of the system have a moral duty to support it.

If you don't believe copyright is a net benefit then all that's left is the legal matter like a speed limit. You go from having a legal motivation to a desire not to be punished. Have you ever felt moral qualms about going faster than the posted speed limit when it was excessively low?

Small wonder if people disagree on the ethics.

The problem is that both forms are treated identically by law, at least in the United States. You can be charged additionally for profiting from piracy but not profiting or not taking credit and mere distribution does not absolve you of the crime. The stakes are always higher when there's a literal loss of liberty hanging as a sword of Damocles and because the terms of protection tends to be arbitrary and punitive in nature, philosophical nuance gives way to legalistic absolutism in applying absolute consequences to potentially speculative harm. As long as the law exists and can be enforced in a way that makes no distinction between the two, anyone who may be affected by its reach must at least put that interpretation first in doing the cost/benefit analysis before more subjective aspects can even be discussed.

A bootleg of a music show done in your city gets created. It get's passed on to friends who love it. Someone sells a copy to a friend of a friend.

There is profitting off from the bootleg. There is a benefit to the orginal band (new fans to buy official releases). The world is better off (think of how many bootleg Dylan recordings wouldn't exist, lost to time)

Things can start off as #1 and move into #2 but it doesn't have to be negative.

If you can wrap SQLite as close-source and sell it for a price, great, go ahead and do that. Because it is public domain, there is no restrictions, and it could be a good thing even it doesn't contribute back to the original author.

The other controversy around Fat Fritz 2 and Stockfish is a clear cut though. You wrap around Stockfish and sell it, which in itself is fine. The argument on why that practice is not OK is not about the harm to the original author (Stockfish) but to the users.

Fat Fritz 2's practice (of hiding itself as a Stockfish variant) stripped the user's right to know there are free-alternative.s By depriving that knowledge, their users will not make the best choice they can make, and that is a net loss (you can make the argument that the price user pay is what the market exploits the information asymmetry, therefore, it helps to create "efficient" market, but ...).

OTOH, if you can display both the free alternative and the paid version, successfully at selling the paid version. Even without any of that come back to the original author, it is a net gain in exposure. The society at large can also benefit (potentially encourage more derived work, and more knowledge sharing besides the original authors etc.).

>Interesting to me how communities form ideas around this. While “piracy is not theft”, you’ll see people talk about how some repost “stole my content” with lots of support for the supposed victim.

You're conflating piracy with plagiarism. Usually when someone says "they stole my content", they mean "they reposted it without giving credit and after removing any watermarks", which is squarely in the latter camp.

When I’m buying a service I want it to cost as little as possible. When I’m working for pay, I want to get paid as much as I think I’m worth.

How someone feels about the impact of piracy on Taylor Swift, and how they feel about getting credit and payment for their own intellectual work, might vary similarly. It’s not inconsistent from their perspective.

I think Minecraft is a pretty unique case based on it being incredibly successful and it being a game.

The article was written in 2011 but even back then he had over a million individual sales. I forgot how much it cost back then but at $20 you're looking at $20 million in its first year. As a solo developer I can't imagine a world where I would be upset about piracy if I had multi-generational wealth after incrementally developing a game for 2 years.

His story is really inspiring tho, it definitely has a ship fast mantra about it if you follow the timeline of its first public release to 1.0'ing.

But it being a game is also interesting when talking about piracy. There's a lot of ancillary value in having more exposure. If someone pirates your game but streams it or creates videos around it and those videos get millions of views there's millions of chances someone will buy the game. It becomes organic advertising. Also, the value isn't something you can copy (like a book or video course) and reap the rewards from. The value is the experience of playing the game.

Notch's quote from this article is very relevant: “If you just make your game and keep adding to it, the people who copyright infringed would buy it the next week”.

This was huge factor for early Minecraft to become such success. Pirated sources were always few versions behind and fear of missing out was strong.

I find it strange that it didn't inspire more studios to follow similar open style of development.

I am not sure if I would say Minecraft is the impetus, but a large (if not a majority) of games that come out these days are follow an "early access" style development that Minecraft did. Even large AAA games, while not "early access", have content release plans and are constantly adding new features.

IIRC it was $5 on the alpha, $10 on the beta and $20 on the final version. I recall getting sad that I waited too long until buying it and it was already out of the alpha.

I bought it for $5 on alpha, mostly because I thought Notch was being a bit of a fool trying to sell a hugely pixelated game that ran on the JVM but I thought that he might need a little moral support and that I could be one of the very few people who would ever pay to play it.

If only I knew.

I remember playing it on alpha and I realize that it was one of the coolest software phenomenons ever. I bought it early and was well rewarded. What a fascinating story, especially to all the minecraft clones

I think this is a big part of why games have moved to the continuous development/games-as-a-service model. It's not just for longer-term recurring revenue; continuously adding new content is the ultimate DRM, as pirate versions keep falling out of date (for single player games) or the content isn't even accessible without a legit version (for multiplayer games).

The confluence of DRM, recurring revenue, and the social nature of humans are why the biggest and most successful games these days are centered around multiplayer elements. I believe it's also why so many companies are trying to produce e-sports titles or shoehorn competitive spectacle into their games.

Honestly, the only piracy that's really a problem is larger studios ripping off indie games and either beating them to market (off an early release), or out-marketing them. I'm not a mobile dev, but I've heard tons of stories of independent devs with a decent release getting their games rapidly cloned by the likes of King, who have bigger marketing channels, more money to spend, more devs, and preferred access to spotlight spots on app stores and industry publications. This isn't the kind of piracy the article is talking about, but I think it's the more relevant discussion around software and IP theft.

What he says is true for games with a multiplayer component, lots of replayability, very long lifetime, continuous development, frequent updates etc. (so – Minecraft). However, a majority of single player releases don't fall into this category. The reason why DRM like Denuvo is so widespread is that most sales for such games happen in the first few weeks of release, and people forget about them after 10-20 hours of play time. A $60 single player game which can be pirated on day 1 will absolutely lose a large chunk of its real sales to piracy.

> most sales for such games happen in the first few weeks of release, and people forget about them after 10-20 hours of play time.

Hot take: I support piracy because it hurts the firms I want it to hurt. The market would be much better if AAA games were pirated out of it.

Yes, a couple of days ago there was a story of the guy who made the "dark themes" package and how he got to $100k USD. One thing that got my attention in his article was the purchases chart he showed. When he originally released his product he got pretty high sales; he could not reach those levels of sales after that.

In my memory Gabe Newell was one of the first to articulate this point in the game dev community, however going back to check the dates, it seems that it was in October or November of 2011, suggesting that Notch may actually have kicked off this thread.

2008 report from 2D Boy: ~90% piracy rate for World of Goo


It was one of the first reports with halfway solid data. And the argument dates from way before that.

And the other article it links shows that 1000 pirated copies only convert into 1 single legitimate copy.

So if you have a 90% piracy rate, and eliminate all pirates, your sales increase by roughly 1%.

I'm 40 years old so I quit pirating games years ago, when I was 14 and got my first computer I was flat broke so I pirated everything.

If somehow it magically became impossible to pirate games when I was 14 they wouldn't have made a dime more off of me then they did, cant get blood from a stone.

It's pretty much the same for me, then again I also didn't have a cent to spend on anything at that age. Even if I would've gotten a small allowance, I wouldn't have been able to buy the volume of stuff I was pirating. And even if money wouldn't have been a problem, availability was.

I don't pirate these days, because paying a few bucks for a movie rental isn't that much to me, but availability is still a problem. For awhile Netflix seemed to be a solution but now there are so many streaming services that "Hey, lets watch movie X" can be cumbersome. Wouldn't be the first time that only some service has it that I can't see in my region.

This might be true if you have a hit product with multiplayer functionality, but for regular Indie games piracy absolutely leads to lost sales.

I implemented anti-piracy techniques into my Indie PC title and saw about a 20% improvement in sales as a result.

It's not a "lost sale". There's no such thing as a "lost sale". Sales of software isn't quantum physics, there's no superposition of "sale" and "lost sale".

Your example isn't even meaningful. You had a game for sale and during some period say a 20% improvement in sales. You attribute this to your anti-piracy technique like you added that in isolation of everything else. You have no way of knowing what generated your increase of sales.

What's far more likely than the anti-piracy techniques having anything to do with sales is the upload date updated on your distribution platforms and people not only saw it in the "new" section but it had more (or more positive) ratings than the last time you pushed an update.

There's only customers and non-customers. There's no difference to you between someone playing a competitor's game, just not buying your game, or pirating your game. They're all just not your customers. There's seven (eight?) billion non-customers on the planet.

I agree with you. I don't get why people are denying the experience of others: DRM and anti-privacy measures improve sales, period. If it's free, people just take it and don't think twice about the creators. Best observed in open source software, where even maintainers of critical components can go without much of a payment, never mind a living wage.

Could you elaborate? I am nearing the release of my game on PC and would appreciate some tips, thanks.

I simply do not understand folks that pirate executable code. You're practically begging for malware and viruses. All it takes is one piece of malware to keylog your bank details, and it will cost you far more than all the software you pirated over your lifetime.

> You're practically begging for malware and viruses.

The dark net isn't as "wild" as you make it out to be. Release groups (hackers who upload the content) rely on their reputation and fame. Tracker sites where "consumers" discover content also have reputation systems, where "trusted" uploaders have special status visible to all. You know what you're getting and who it's coming from. If you run effective virus scanning on top of that, the risk of actual infection falls to near zero.

You're more likely to leak your banking details by installing a free browser extension.

> All it takes is one piece of malware to keylog your bank details, and it will cost you far more than all the software you pirated over your lifetime.

A quick web search says the median income worldwide is less than $1,000/month. Assuming retail game prices of about $50, a person would only have to pirate 20 games to break even, even if robbed a single month's income. Over an entire lifetime that person might save $10,000 by pirating.

I agree with the first part about release groups and reputations, etc.

But the income comparison is not fair: it's far worse for an individual to lose their real savings (no matter how small), than for them to lose (e.g.) $10,000 of pirated content. This is especially true for people with low income. The former pays the bills, the latter is entertainment.

How would keylogging my bank details cost me money?

Yeah I'm not sure it would. I'd assume the bank would take care of it.

Key logging won't accomplish anything without bypassing the 2FA

And it's rare to get malicious software from official binaries, right? You got less exposure to malware by avoiding Sony Music CD's and pirating them.


Yes, it's rare. could you name other incidents where this happens? I feel like this is always brought up in these discussions, but it really only is an outlier. There'S not much to conclude from this.

Feels a bit like an exception proving the rule. If everyone is pointing to the same individual example that a rule doesn't hold, the rule probably holds for almost all cases.

Here is another example of malicious software from official binaries.


That incident is 15 years old. I think it's about time we stopped wheeling it out as an exhibit whenever this topic is mentioned. Executable code viruses are not such a big deal these days, when everything is based around web technologies anyway.

There are millions of pirate so you can assume this doesn't happen to most people. If the expected return on piracy was negative people would not pirate. With trusted uploaders you can also reduce the risk further because if they release malware their reputation will be ruined. That's not even taking into account the fact that people already run non-pirate executable code without auditing it from basically anywhere so the risk is about even I'd think.

The phrase 'if you're not the customer, you're the product' comes to mind. I could easily see malware being installed that flies under the radar, and the type of person that runs random executable code willy nilly is not the sort of person that would be able to trace malware back to one vector.

>The phrase 'if you're not the customer, you're the product' comes to mind

That doesn't really apply to the warez scene. People aren't releasing cracked software for profit, they're doing it for the challenge and to say they were the first to do it. It's pure ego.

I think that's almost certainly the case for the people actually cracking the software, but because a lot of the time there isn't like a "Steam Store for Cracked Videogames" or similar for software, it can require significant effort to find the canonical source.

If you know of some common Adobe patcher tool, or Windows activator, and just do a Google search for its name, what fraction of those download links will have a matching hash to the original release?

You are right that, in the non-repackaged-with-additional-malware case, it seems a lot of the guys doing the cracking are just puzzle-solvers. Weeks to crack some Ubisoft DRM but probably never even touched the game.

I'm not sure that precludes that cracked software being redistributed with added malware.

I think pretty much all developers run random code willy nilly. People don't check the stuff they install through their package managers nor the dependencies of those packages, except the most anal ones.

> If the expected return on [X] was negative people would not [X].

Not that your conclusion happens to be wrong, but you do know people buy lottery tickets, right?

Altium is like $8k or something. Unaffordable for most individuals.

Having bought Altium (then Protel DXP) in 2004, and still paying for the licenses and subscription for several seats (this is one of our main tools, running a team now) I can say:

- I most likely would have not started using Altium if would have not been exposed to a pirated copy two years earlier by another engineer. Would have used more expensive alternatives instead (Cadence/Mentor Graphics/Zuken).

- At <10k and <2k subscription this tool is very well priced. (Compared to salaries and prototyping costs). I have also used more (10x) expensive tools and can say in many aspects those are not better. On the contrary in most cases.

- The hobby needs are quite filled with GPL3 licensed KiCad it was not always so. I would still not use KiCad in a professional setting as a main tool, but that may change as KiCad has made huge progress ever since CERN started using it. However, CERN electronics development guidelines still have Altium as preferred option. Altium is just much better tool for complex electronics.

- Altium has cheaper CircuitStudio now as an option, that was a very reasonable compromise last time I looked. Also they have free CircuitMaker for tinkering and hobby use, which I have not used so can not comment on.

Individuals really aren't Altium's target market, though, are they? "I can't afford this" isn't a license (no pun intended) for copyright violation -- especially when there are cheaper or free alternatives. There's free PCB design software out there, including Altium's own CircuitMaker.

As an aside, I've always found software at this price level to be a bit of a paradox when it comes to piracy -- Altium, Autodesk Maya ($1620/year, currently), and similarly priced vertical market solutions are big fish in tiny ponds. If you're in a business that needs Altium or Maya, you're almost certainly going to pay for it, and conversely, folks who pirate software like that almost certainly don't need it. If I ran such a software company I don't think I'd bother with DRM; your true copy protection dongle is (or at least better be!) the level of support you're giving licensed customers.

> Individuals really aren't Altium's target market, though, are they?

So what? Does this mean I shouldn't be able to play with the big boys' toys? I certainly am not skilled enough to get to the break-even point where I earn back enough money to cover the cost of the program.

Well, I suppose it depends on whether you're comfortable with "I can't afford this, therefore it's okay for me to copy it." The rest of my original comment -- about how the kinds of people who pirate Altium and other stratospherically expensive, highly niche software are highly unlikely to actually represent lost sales -- might apply in your case.

For me personally, if I was actually going to be using niche software like that to make things I was going to sell, I would not be comfortable doing it with pirated commercial software for both ethical and legal reasons, and I would look for adequate cheaper alternatives, only moving up to Altium when and if my sales justified it. This is why I don't actually own or use any Adobe software anymore -- it's less niche, to be sure, but I wouldn't use Photoshop and InDesign nearly enough to justify the price of Adobe Creative Suite. And, again, personally, I don't feel like "but I'd use them occasionally and I wanna use the big boys' toys" justifies me pirating Adobe's software rather than finding much cheaper alternatives that I still like.

There are cheaper alternatives now that are decent, but the situation was different a few years ago.

That's what virustotal.com is for!

Which will give you warnings for many legitimate safe executables from "AI" heuristics while not detecting many new viruses.

Definitely not true. I have a "friend" who will buy an ebook if he can't find it on LibGen.

I feel like this largely depends on the book. A novel between $10 and $20 that you may get multiple reads out of is better than a $100 university textbook that you only need for one year. The former you can bite the bullet on, the latter becomes harder to justify.

Pirating novels also, well, should make people feel at least a little bad. I think there's this perception -- and, candidly, I think it's a perception that sites like TorrentFreak (where the linked article is on) push -- that Greedy Big Corporate Publishers take all the money and the creator doesn't get anything to speak of from an individual single sale. I can't speak to all industries, but in fiction publishing, this is absolutely, unequivocally not true.

- First, you really do get per-unit royalties, and it's not "just a few cents"; even with traditional publishers, ebook royalties are 25% or more. (With my publisher, I get 50% if you buy directly from them and 35% if you buy on other ebook stores.)

- Second, the vast, vast majority of fiction books sell in the thousands. Not millions, not even hundreds of thousands, and way more often than you think not in the tens of thousands. For a small press, a title that sells 5000 copies across its lifetime might qualify as a runaway best seller.

- And third, contracts for future books often depend on how well previous books sell. A friend of mine published a book a few years ago that sold decently and was even nominated for a Nebula Award. Its sequel was well-reviewed but didn't sell as well, and even though it was meant as a trilogy, the publisher doesn't seem interested in the third book.

So don't use the sales of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or the like as a yardstick for how piracy affects fiction writers. A few thousand "lost sales" of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Gender Essentialism is a rounding error; a few thousand "lost sales" of my novel Kismet would literally double the title's revenue if they were converted to real sales.

How do you feel about libraries? Should I feel bad about the hundreds of unpopular fiction books that I borrowed when I was younger?

I believe that writers, video game creators and other targets of piracy should be fairly compensated for their work. However, for products that require $0 to be duplicated (by the creator or not) it doesn't make sense to charge per-unit.

Questions like "how do you feel about libraries" feel like they're saying "this is complicated," and, I mean, yes. It is! Is copying an ebook for free the same as checking it out of the library? There's some similarities, but there's also pretty clear differences, right?

> For products that require $0 to be duplicated (by the creator or not) it doesn't make sense to charge per-unit.

Well, when you buy a physical book, most of the cost is not actually in the production. The cost structure allows us to use that physical book as a proxy, but as the reader, you're probably not buying that book because you care deeply about the paper stock and typography choices -- you're buying it because of the words. It's the story, the style, the author, the subject matter, the genre. Those are the things that ultimately have value to you, right? Those are really what you're paying for... and they're identical between the physical copy and the zero marginal cost ebook.

And none of that really requires a per-unit charge, I know. But the question shifts to "okay, then what's the alternative?" There are possible answers for that, to be sure -- e.g., Patreon-style models where the most enthusiastic fans are essentially subsidizing the production of the work. Yet for every Patreon success story -- and let's loosely define that as "making more than they would if they were selling their works in a traditional fashion" rather than "making most or all of their income this way" -- there's a hundred creators who are just making enough to buy a dinner at Chili's once a month. And half of them will have to skip the Presidente Margarita.

Going back to the subtext I was reading into your question: this is complicated. :)

Libraries buy copies (and the creators get paid). And the copies (on average) circulate a lot less often than you'd think.

High volume authors would probably opt out of the library system if they could, but the average author probably gains from libraries (since they buy a bunch of copies that otherwise wouldn't be bought).

I like to borrow ebooks from the library. I could pirate them but I'd like to think that the borrowing traffic from the library is the least I could do for the author.

Questions from a mostly-legitimate-but-occasional-eBook-pirate[0]:

1) Do you believe piracy has any legitimacy in cases where the publisher simply refuses to release an eBook version in your region? Example: try finding "One Hundred Years of Solitude" for sale anywhere in the US.

2) Do you believe there is a moral/ethical way to protest perceived price gouging among eBooks from publishers?

Example: A book from a well-known British fantasy author is £2.99 in its own region, but nearly double that price on the US store:



[0] Submitted in bona fides is my catalog of legally-purchased e-books: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Aganar

I'm sort of hesitant to opine on "legitimacy"; while I believe in the abstract concept of copyright as a tool to protect the interest of creators, the actual real world implementation of copyright seems to often be a cascade of shit sandwiches. If copyright law is making it effectively impossible for you to give a creator money even if you want to, like the One Hundred Years of Solitude example, it's hard to see how it's helping anyone. (And that's without getting into the question of whether a 50-year-old work should really still be under copyright.) While I'm sure the current US publishers would disagree with me, it doesn't seem unreasonable to "pirate" the book in that case.

As for protesting perceived price gouging, uh... [shrug emoji] I really don't know what to tell you. In the case of the Moorcock book, there are two different publishers there -- the US publisher is the independent Titan Books, while the UK publisher is Gollancz's "SF Gateway" line of low-priced reprint ebooks, which notes on their web site, "we have English language rights on all titles everywhere in the world except for the USA, its dependencies, Canada, and the Philippines." The problem child in this case isn't Gollancz; it may be Titan, but it might also be Moorcock or his agent. At any rate, "this price is obviously too high so I'm just gonna pirate it" is a road I'm not entirely comfortable going down, even when it seems that, well, yeah, the price is too high. (That's stopped me from buying any of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels in ebook; they're barely longer than novellas -- about the same length as the Elric books, if I'm remembering them right! -- and should really be priced at $2.99 or $3.99 a pop.)

FWIW, the Elric books are also unavailable in the US, for some reason--I had to use some trickery to make Kobo think I was a UK citizen for a bit, which then allowed me to buy the books from their UK store. It was there that I also noticed the price disparity between the Corum/Hawkmoon/Eternal Champion books in both regions.

So that, too, might be an example of "I'd really like to support the author personally, but the publisher is doing their damnedest to make this difficult."

That's very strange. It looks like the Elric books specifically are out of print now but coming back to print (or "print," in the case of ebooks?) in a new (more expensive!) edition in September.

"Make Kobo think I am in the UK" really sounds like the right call. :)

Something I never really thought about until now is that I tend to feel okay with pirating "classics", or books by authors who have since died. At first, I felt like this was probably fine, since it's almost rent-collecting for the publisher at that point, but I suppose for more recent works, the royalties are still paid to the family of the deceased?

Otherwise, I feel like a decent rule is that if the majority of your friends haven't heard of it, you probably shouldn't be pirating it.

They might be, if the deceased has an estate. Or the estate could be a corporation. At some point, though, it really does feel like rent-collecting for somebody, doesn't it? I don't know what the "correct" length of a copyright term is, but I'm pretty sure it's shorter than what we have now.

I think I had to pay 1 USD to print 10 pages or something. "University Physics" at 1600 pages was cheaper to buy then print.

Using a laptop to read it would have been doable, but I found that distracting and cumbersome.

I'm 10x more likely to buy a print copy of a book if I get a hold of a full copy of it in PDF form first.

I'm very much down to buy a book if they provide a free electronic copy. What I'm not down to do is buy the physical book and then have to pay for the ebook just so that I can read on my kindle... It's absurd to me that this isn't standard already

Right. Clearly not every pirated copy is a lost sale.

But a lot are. It's easy to say "I'd never pay 60 bucks for that" when you just copy as many games as you want for free.

And I'm sure for some art, piracy adds value by creating demand. But that's the exception, not the rule.

This framing is just this: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/PeSzc9JTBxhaYRp9b/policy-deb...

"Politics is the mind-killer. Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back. If you abide within that pattern, policy debates will also appear one-sided to you—the costs and drawbacks of your favored policy are enemy soldiers, to be attacked by any means necessary."

The truth is there's a tradeoff, and it's a bit of a mixed bag.

Jonathan Blow (Braid & The Witness) on Piracy: https://youtu.be/2MIEVvv1QP0

The title reminded me of the now old "Copying is not Theft" video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

I've commented this quote from Gabe Newell on HN before, it appears this article predates the quote.

"We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem”

Not sure how accurate this quote is, and I agree that it is mainly a service problem, but a pricing problem is a giant chunk of it too. Otherwise Steam wouldn't have such a significantly different regional pricing on games.

Pick any AAA game on Steam, and then check its price on SteamDB for each region (SteamDB provides a nice table for it, so you don't need to bother with VPN and checking it on Steam manually yourself). For example, here is one for the recent Yakuza game[0]. $59.99 in the US, $27.61 in Russia. I can pretty much guarantee that without that kind of regional pricing, the sales in Russia for Steam games would be many mani magnitudes lower.

0. https://steamdb.info/app/1235140/

Interestingly, they used to have to different EU price regions, which is not legal [0]

[0] https://screenrant.com/valve-fined-9-million-eu-geo-blocking...

It's much easier to watch a pirated movie copy than pay for a movie service. Just open a website and select video. Done. Registration is not needed, no payments, no subscriptions etc.

and if you use an app for a movie service, then they will usually install dozens of trackers. Here is the list of trackers used by a tiny app LastPass:

AppsFlyer, Google Analytics, Google CrashLytics, Google Firebase Analytics, Google Tag Manager, MixPixel, Segment

When I use a website, most of trackers are blocked by uBlock Origin, so I don't care that much.

Are you saying it is easier for the average person to download a Torrent than sign up for Netflix? Because that is absolutely not the case.

It's easier for the average person to download a Torrent than sign up for Netflix, find out that the thing they wanted isn't there, try to look where it would be available, find services that say it has it, sign up for that, find out that it is available there only for other countries, and when you finally find it somewhere it's not with the language dubbing/subtitiles that you want - meanwhile, the same option you couldn't get legally is easily available on torrents where it Just Works.

The illegal services are strong when they win on selection and availability; in markets where it is easier to just sign up for Netflix (I assume they exist, perhaps you live in one of them) undoubtedly privacy gets less popular. And Netflix is a good example, I know people who view on Netflix stuff that's there and pirate the stuff that's not.

How do you sign up for netflix without a credit card?

How do you sign up for netflix if your total monthly budget us $40?

There's a lot of groups for whom torrents are easier than netflix.

(Even in forst world Germany, an affordable CC is hard to come by)

> (Even in forst world Germany, an affordable CC is hard to come by)

For kids, yes. For adults, you can get "free" bank accounts with a credit card. Might not get much of a credit limit, but you can always move money onto the card beforehand.

That heavily depends. Most banks (excluding Bunq, DKB and N26) only offer a "free" CC with a paid account, or a paid CC with a free account.

Even branded products like e.g. the Amazon CC or the BahnCard CC have an additional monthly fee on top of everything else.

(A significant factor being that the EU has a limit on CC fees of 0.2%, which is exactly the same cost as cash costs on average, and is almost twice the cost of the GiroCard system. The second largest factor is simply that Germans usually don't go into debt, so all the profitable traps the CC companies have designed won't work)

Don't the three options you listed show that it's not hard to get one?

They make it easy to get a debit card (CC costs extra even with those banks) - but you can only use it at an ATM 5 times (usually per month or per year), you have fees if you use it for certain purposes, and you can’t get a regular GiroCard (which is free, always and for all purposes).

So sure, you can get a debit card for free, but that's got so many asterisks attached, it's not worth it.

No, I mean websites like putlocker etc.

It's still not easier than netlfix or any major video store.

Those sites have 50x the amount of tracking, popups, spam and straight up malware than even the most intrusive commercial product out there.

I dont understand why its even a debate. If the creator didnt allow you to use his software, its theft.

Sure, there are methods to actually mitigate and make good use of piracy, but then, it effectively become free-to-use-unless-for-business/enterprise model of business. And that should be something that the owner decide, not the user.

If I sneak into a museum (one you would have to pay for) and look at all the art they have on display, but otherwise don't leave a trace, am I stealing?

No. Stealing implies taking something and depriving its oriignal owner of it not copying against the wishes of the creator. Whatever piracy is, it isn't theft.

There are definitely lost sales when it comes to video content. Scenarios like geographic restrictions on streaming certain content, or limiting downloads for offline viewing often drive people who are paying for streaming services to pirate content instead because it's easier.

can confirm, I buy games I enjoy playing after I pirate. if I can't pirate it I don't play it. if u got ads or microtransactions then I don't play. sure the world has moved on to live services and mobile games but I won't play those.

Some games surely has lost sales due to piracy.

Recent example: Doom Eternal was shipped with an unencrypted exe in a subfolder by mistake. Surely lots of people that would have impulse bought the hot new game didn't when it could be torrented on launch.

I think people who impulse buy will impulse buy no matter what.

About people downloading illegal copies, in TFA Notch is quoted as saying:

> “If you just make your game and keep adding to it, the people who copyright infringed would buy it the next week”

He also argues that the concept of "lost sales" itself is dodgy, or at least used carelessly. Some examples he mentions:

> “Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?”

Lack of product awareness among consumers is far more of a suppressing force to profits than converting every last bit of interest in your product to monetary value is a boost to profits.

This is likely less true for certain AAA titles, but on the whole, most people who buy things are busy and not avidly following any one brand in particularly. Fanboys (despite their clamor) are rarer than casual purchasers for most everything. In an absolute sense, there may be "lost sales" due to piracy, but that comparison misses any potential additional sales due to piracy helping to spread awareness of a product.

> Recent example: Doom Eternal was shipped with an unencrypted exe in a subfolder by mistake. Surely lots of people that would have impulse bought the hot new game didn't when it could be torrented on launch.

I don't think it counts as an example when the lost sales are an assumption and not backed by data.

Does anyone have a working video link to Mr Minecraft saying this? The link quoted in the article is dead.


“Piracy is not theft,” he said to those gathered in San Francisco. “If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world.”

On this post are many singular experiences being touted as rules rather than exceptions. I notice an intense need to simplify, quite often in the simplifiers favour.

Can we at least agree that, despite Mr Minecraft's quip, some people still need to be paid for their work to live? And not everyone can work for free?

Previous discussion with some interesting thoughts on the topic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2283785

There's a difference between a stowaway and taking the ship.

One's infringement, the other is piracy (or theft in the more general case).

I can't deny that taking the ship counts as piracy, but I think that's somewhat different from the kind being discussed here.

You don't take the ship though, you copy the ship. There will be two ships, one for you and the original. It's a win-win situation.

It's easy to have this position once you are already wealthy from your product.

It's a bummer he disappeared though I understand why. He had a lot of good stuff to say.

Edit: Oh I guess he's still on twitter.

Did he? His Twitter is still active and his last message was 34 minutes ago.

wasn't he transphobic and racist? I remember seeing a lot of news about how bad he was online.


Salient paragraph (the article has linked references for those who want them):

"Since becoming a billionaire, Persson has earned something of a bad reputation. He made such family-friendly tweets as 'I'd rather be a fascist cunt than have a feminine dick' (though this was subsequently deleted), and he has tweeted endorsements of both the Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories. He has propagated the false claim that people face fines for 'using the wrong pronouns' to refer to trans people. Persson has also tweeted right-wing slogans such as 'It's OK to be white,' and he's said that anyone who recognizes systemic racial biases and imbalance within Western society is racist. In 2017, he tweeted, 'If you're against the concept of a #HeterosexualPrideDay, you're a complete fucking cunt and deserve to be shot,' though this, too, was subsequently deleted."

While I appreciate seph-reed's eloquent reply about cognitive shortcomings, hoo boy, there are a lot of shortcomings happening there.

Unsure why you are getting downvoted. You've provided the factual answer to the parent who was asking, "Didn't he say some bad stuff?"

That's the way of anything that touches on our current culture wars, I think.

Honestly, I'd say he was making the same logical fallacies that pretty much every other human on Earth is making. But it is the case that the output of his errors were extremely socially unacceptable.

This is how I feel about most situations where someone tries to claim they are good and the other is bad. To me, it's really just that one is lucky and the other is not. Neither is substantially more aware of their own cognitive shortcomings, and -- even when they are -- that's a form of luck as well.

Of all the privileges in life, I think the last I'd be willing to trade is sanity. And sanity is basically just more or less fallacies per thought.

I'm tired of the words "good" and "bad" being applied amidst people who are all running the same OS.

>people who are all running the same OS

I don't think we can claim that by any stretch.

Compare it to DogOS or CowOS or even FungiOS.

We are extremely sensitive to our own differences. But humans are by and large very, very similar when put in perspective of all life.

I still disagree on the latter part. Our OS is largely cobbled together by our brains on the fly, and so everyone's is quite unique and based on their life experience.

Ah. We're on a nature vs nurture debate.

Ofc, it's a spectrum. And as we evolve we go from being more nature based to being more nurture based. But I'd say we're a long way off from being more nurture than nature, given that 100% nurture would be a being fully capable of self design. Most people can't even stop themselves from procrastinating (like me right now). We can't even manage to coexist with the planet, when we know it's going to destroy everything when we don't.

If you want to believe that us big great humans are in control of ourselves and unlike those stupid animals we're products of nurture, that's your dopamine hit to take. But based off everything I've seen, the only time we really become our brains is when the the Pre-frontal cortex is engaged and suppresses all the other more instinctual parts of the brain. And even for very smart and/or dedicated people, it's extremely difficult to quiet all natural instincts for any extended length of time.

IMO, we're barely out of the bushes in terms of the path from being beasts of nature to becoming beings of self-design and nurture.

Customer service is expensive.

This viewpoint is myopic.

I actually agree with pirates about IP, copyright, and ownership. The problem is, they're arguing for public ownership of these things only for themselves. They believe the producers of these games should provide them for free...yet the producers have costs to pay. Sure, at some point, the costs have been repaid, and any additional sales are profit, but without that information being public the only people who can make that determination are insiders.

So they wish the producers to make these things but they don't see why they should have to pay for it. In effect, they're arguing for communism without knowing they're doing so, and only arguing for it in a very limited way (while many of them would swear communism off completely).

So what is it: do you want the producers to make things for other because they wish to do so, and in return they have their own needs met regardless of the exchange-value of the things they produce? Or do you want capitalism for everybody except yourselves, and for producers to have to suffer your ill-formed view of economics?

If you're communists, then great, let's extend this logic to all production. If you're capitalists, then shut the fuck up and pay for the things you buy, as is done in the system you support.

I've seen the same logic used by lefists: food is post scarcity! Well, no, it's not. Food itself might be overproduced such that every person could be fed, but the inputs to food are not post-scarcity. The same applies here: game developers make things that are non-scarce, but in order to do so, they themselves require scarce resources. So no, you don't deserve the fruits of their labor for free unless you wish this for everyone.

says the guy that got paid $2.5 billion.

I don't see how that's relevant, he said piracy won't matter for the games success and he was able to cash out 2.5BN even though this was the stance of Mojang.

If anything, it proves his point.

He said this in 2011, 3 years before he got paid $2.5 billion

Minecraft has been heavily pirated. Despite that, he still ended up getting a massive payout after his claims about piracy.

Doesn't that support his point? Game was pirated, still made bank?

I have a strong intuition that if you price things fairly, if you're governing well, people will be willing to pay - and that piracy ultimately happens because either 1) society isn't providing enough foundational resources to the largest cog in the wheel of capitalism (consumers), or 2) to my first point: things are overpriced, or say - someone paid for a movie ticket - and then they feel like they've already contributed enough - but want to watch it and download it later, etc.

I also have a growing intuitive that "piracy" being legal is the counterpoint to the capitalistic system unfairly gouging/extracting excess value from society.

Also an unrelated intuition: ads are a virus related to greed and control which bypasses regular, natural trust and growth mechanisms, e.g. word of mouth learning/education of products/services/communities that normally would warrant analysis, curation, by trusted community leaders - and then those community leaders would meet and share, that knowledge then shared with each community; tribes of people who didn't do this well, who didn't have a good sense of trust or this kind of hierarchical structure for sharing/learning, would have arguably been more easily killed off by other tribes, dis-ease, etc.

> Lost sales don't exist

That's easily disproven. When SWIM was young, he used to pirate lots of games, most of which he wouldn't have bought, but some of which he would have bought if there had not been a working day zero PDX release. In this manner, SWIM saved some money to invest in weed instead.

... says billionaire.

Piracy is relatively harmless to those who are selling tons of something. In fact it may help them due to increased virality. It could be thought of as deferred revenue or "unintentional marketing spend" if you've got something viral that piracy is helping spread.

It can be extremely harmful to small creators and smaller/startup companies who are attempting to make a living or get a business off the ground.

It sort of boils down to the diminishing marginal value of money. A small creator losing 20% of barely enough sales to make a living could find themselves in real financial hardship, while a large creator or corporation losing 20% of sales of something high-margin like software or media may not even notice.

Edit: Then there's perverse incentives...

Piracy is a driver for so much software becoming a "service" with components (or even the whole app) that live only in the cloud. The cloud is the ultimate DRM; you can't pirate it if you don't have it at all. This is creating a generation of software that can't be downloaded or run independently at all. I can run old DOS apps in a VM, but when this stuff goes obsolete or fails it will vanish forever and often take your data with it. It's also a privacy nightmare.

Piracy can also create a dumbing down effect if it requires skill. It results in older and/or more educated people pirating and therefore reducing the revenue outcome for the more sophisticated and higher-brow content they consume. I've wondered if this might not be a hidden reason behind the horrid state of pop music. Cheap catchy low-brow pop aims at a younger and less educated audience that doesn't know how to pirate.

> Piracy is a driver for so much software becoming a "service" with components (or even the whole app) that live only in the cloud.

There are many reasons for moving into saas space:

You move into cloud and now your client doesn't have to maintain additional servers, they probably get support too. This becomes a trap because if they decide they don't like your service... now you hold their data too and since it's in your service you control how locked-in with you they've become and how difficult it's to replace you.

Now you charge in subscription, you get monies all the time! If your clients are individuals you can now have all manner of stoppers and dark patterns to keep them subscribed!

To me... greed, and then more greed are two main drivers for saas.

> Cheap catchy low-brow pop aims at a younger and less educated audience that doesn't know how to pirate.

Be careful on that high horse up there, if you fall you'll break your neck.

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