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Why I Pirate - An Open Letter to Content Creators

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"I'm not going to deny myself the enjoyment of your creation just because you haven't figured out how to collect."

I once felt this way myself, but I kinda grew up. This is extremely immature, but it's also the attitude of someone (again I was like this myself) who probably wasn't going to part with a buck to support your work anyway. I jumped in and out of hoops downloading the stuff I wanted, went to the trouble of archiving and hiding it just in case. I felt completely justified and it was actually pretty fun getting stuff "my way."

A lot of what changed my attitude, though, was just basic patience. Just about every game, movie, TV series, or piece of music I ever coveted, and then some, eventually has taken one of two paths:

1) It will arrive on a delivery platform that works for me, and requires an absolute minimum of cost and hassle.

2) It won't, and I will live just fine without it.

The idea that you're entitled to exactly the form of entertainment that you desire at any given moment isn't so much self-serving as it is self-limiting. You'll be OK if you don't play Mass Effect 3 this year. You'll survive. Either Mass Effect 3 will eventually get to you in a more convenient and pleasing fashion or you'll just get over it. For cripes sake, go outside. The world don't owe you a livin', and it don't owe you entertainment, either.

This approach obviously doesn't work for everything, every person, every parcel of entertainment or software, and it isn't meant to. Sometimes you really do need to reach out and grab something. Disney is incredibly hawkish about IP rights, to the point that I feel that they have denied the public good in an interest of locking down their content. If someone denied me the works of Charles Dickens or L. Frank Baum, I'd be really pissed off. Censorship makes my blood boil. Some stuff really does need to be accessible, unfettered, and freely available.

But the stuff people get most mad about is often the most petty.

. This is a stupid debate

...content CREATORS have a RIGHT to charge whatever they want and to CONTROL the distribution of THEIR creations... -db90h (March 09, 2012, 02:58 AM)
--- End quote ---

Disagree. And I am saying it as a content creator. My work in not sacred. I want to have a friendly and respectful relationship with people that "consume" my work.
* The piracy protection in my commercial software is a joke. Even computer newbies can circumvent it if they tried.
* The price tag on my commercial software is also a joke. Why did I pick that price? To not appear cheap. That is the only reason. If every consumer tracked (or just estimated) how much value did the software bring to him and paid me like 5% of that, I'll be perfectly happy. But this does not work, because people have been controlled by the content creators for so long and are conditioned to think in a weird (bash me, go ahead) way.

In short, the consumer is at least as important as the producer. They have to discuss their relationship and come to an agreement. Attempting to *control* something *generates* the piracy.

Donation-fueled software is the answer. It does not work yet. My freeware projects are bringing home less than 10% when compared to my commercial apps. It is because of the mindset of the people. There is only one software, not freeware and paidware. They will reunite again in the future. My belief is that the more people adapt the pirate mindset, the more will donate.

Carol Haynes:
The problem is when something is available for free people take it (and usually don't even say thanks).

Donation based software is different and I think a lot of people get confused over the idea.

In both of these models supporting the product by including tons of unwanted crapware is really annoying - but I can live with it provided there is a clear way of avoiding installing it.

Fully commercial software is fine by me and most people provided you can install it and use it as you want without headaches.

As you say consumers are as important as the developers (if not more so). A commercial developer doesn't have a product if consumers don't buy it!

The problems start when developers try to protect their investment - I don't object to licensing and if it is a well established company I don't really mind activation to enforce licensing terms. But I do object to the addition of crap to software that screws with your system and I really object to enforced activation with no option to deactivate. I really don't understand why developers haven't grasped that people change computers or reinstall operating systems and it is real PITA if you have to contact dozens of vendors to ask for permission to reinstall their software or re-license DRM based media. (I have only ever once been declined this request but it is still a PITA).

One of the few companies that have got it right (IMHO) is Adobe - at least you can install on two machines and activate/deactivate as required - and activation/deactivation is quick. Effectively it means you can have the software installed on as many computers as you like but only have it activated on two at any one time.

Having said all that I get the impression pricing is more to do with market economics (how much can we get you to pay) than real reactions to perceived piracy. From what I have seen piracy seems more to do with a collection/magpie mentality than actually using things for real purposes. In real terms I would guess your 5% rule is probably about accurate for most people - certainly is for me - I have purchased a lot of software over the years and I guess the majority is no longer used, no longer compatible or has simply disappeared in some corporate takeover!

For me I watch media and try out software off the internet and if I feel it is worth watching/listening/using and fulfils a need I will purchase it. |I wouldn't buy a car without a test drive - I am certainly not going spend a lot of money on software without giving it a thorough tryout first. As for DVDs and silly warnings you can get unlock codes (or remotes) for most machines that allow you to bypass the function restrictions if it gets to you that much. On UK DVDs now a lot of the piracy warnings can be legitimately bypassed by pressing next or menu - presumably in response to all the complaints they got. I have never really seen the point of the piracy warnings anyway - why warn me, a legitimate purchaser, not to pirate? But then the media 'industry' haven't got too many braincells when it comes to their consumers.

In short, the consumer is at least as important as the producer. They have to discuss their relationship and come to an agreement. Attempting to *control* something *generates* the piracy.
-vlastimil (March 09, 2012, 04:06 AM)
--- End quote ---

+1.  But this idea that you have a *right* with anything intellectual when you have to depend on other people to consume whatever you do with intellectual work is where the insanity comes in.  It's just like a lot of other things today- there is no moderate position.  Whatever happened to not just agreeing to disagree, but compromise?  And to get around it, in a lot of case we say that *they* (pirates, media creators, etc) are worse that we are.  And that it's their fault.  And when the other side is pointed out and explained, we let our emotions get in the way and completely dismiss the statement instead of analyzing it to find out what parts of their mindset we can integrate in order to make their radical stance a bit less radical, and move more towards the center ourselves. 

I think this is one of the failures of our digital world- things move so fast, and we lose such nuances that we are rapidly becoming a world of extremes, and this is one of the cases where that becomes evident.  Both sides have valid points.  And in the case when we were dealing with something physical, we'd have to come to that realization.  Look at the devices we make to consume these digital things- the devices make that compromise, and we don't have the same problems.  Another good example is art.  If it's in a digital format, it's very hard to get someone to pay for it.  However, if it's in a printed form, that possesses a more tangible value, and is easier to get someone to pay for.

This is becoming a rambling treatise, so I'll stop there.  But it is troubling, at least to me.


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