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Has Any Creative Work Failed Because of Piracy?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the show-your-work dept.

Piracy 1115

Andorin writes "Anyone familiar with the piracy debate knows about the claims from organizations like the RIAA that piracy causes billions of dollars in damages and costs thousands of jobs. Other studies have concluded differently, ranging from finding practically no damages to a newer study that cites 'up to 20%' as a more accurate number (PDF). I figure there's got to be an easier way to do this, so here's my question: Does anyone know of any creative works that were provably a financial failure due to piracy? The emphasis on 'provably' is important, as some form of evidence is necessary. Accurately and precisely quantifying damages from p2p is impossibly hard, of course, but answering questions like this may lead us to a clearer picture of just how harmful file sharing really is. I would think that if piracy does cause some amount of substantial harm, we would see that fact reflected in our creative works, but I've never heard of a work that tanked because people shared it online."

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Short answer (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861962)


Gone must be the days when a creative work was loved for its contribution to the arts... Plato, Socrates -- failures, all of them, because their works are no longer copyrighted and thus can no longer make a contribution to society. /sarcasm

Excellent call! (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862130)

When I first read the title, I thought that kdawson (I know, I know) was asking if a creative work failed in the sense that no one accepted it, it was not disseminated, etc. Then TFS says "financial" failure.

Problem is, the question (in any aspect) is too one-dimensional. Paul Gauguin was a financial failure, as were most painters who weren't sponsored by some aristocrat or other. Yet one would hardly call his (or their) works "failures" in most aspects of the term. Meanwhile, even in just the one aspect - money - well? Today, just try and buy an original Gauguin and say it's a failure. I dare you.

Even with recent/modern creative endeavors, the question is stupid. If you're creating a work of (art, music, or similar) just for the money, that creation is almost guaranteed to suck. See also the products of Britney Spears (...remember her? no worries if you don't), "Lady Gaga", or whatever manufactured 'star' of the moment you care to name. Viewed dispassionately and apart from the personality, the music quite frankly sucks ass. If we shift to works of writing, you can almost always tell at which point a writer loses his/her passion for the craft, and instead just does it for the money - the quality drops accordingly. Visual art? Heh - I'll pick on The Simpsons... about five years ago, it was glaringly obvious that Matt was just doing it for the paycheck.

But anyway, long story short - IMHO, the only way a work succeeds or fails is in the metric of how widely accepted it is, and in how long it remains in the public consciousness. The successes become treasures that never die in spite of passing centuries, the failures are forgotten in less than a decade no matter how widely marketed.


Re:Excellent call! (4, Insightful)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862196)

It was either Hugh Hefner or someone else at Playboy who said that they realize that their work is pirated and while they have been known to crack the whip when it got out of hand, they also realize that at least their work is good enough for someone to consider to pirate and that it keeps them in the public view even if they aren't directly making money from it.

Lady Gaga sucks??? (1, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862324)

Speak for yourself there buddy, I love lady Gaga to death! And how the heck do you propose to judge her music dispassionately? Counting the number of chords per second or something?

Re:Short answer (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862246)

the most proving part of this is financial failure. Creativity runs on time, and not money - money just makes it easier. Really, this means that it can't fail in any semblance of the phrase as penguinisto has posted.

At the same time, piracy has been proven to only benefit creative endeavors, so why wasn't that looked at? gotta wonder about TFS about that.

Re:Short answer (1)

Beriaru (954082) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862304)

Yes: Napster.

If the quality is good enough. (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861968)

Then people will pay for it.

If it's half-good it may still be worth listening to/watching, but not necessarily worth to pay for. (I'll wait until it comes on TV)

And then there is the rest - that's mediocre at best. Downloaded, test listened and then scrapped.

If the quality is good enough-but what if it isn't (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862068)

You are forgetting about things people are not willing to pay for. With a really bad movie, the studio tries to cover up just how bad it is by not letting anyone see it ahead of time. They over-advertise it and hope for a good opening weekend before the word gets out just how bad it is. If the movie hits the torrents before it is released, then it tends to bomb in the box office. You might say this is only fair, but leaked movies tend to hurt the bad ones just as much (if not more) than the good ones.

Re:If the quality is good enough-but what if it is (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862112)

Falls under the last section "The rest - mediocre at best".

*Some* people will pay (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862284)

Then people will pay for it.

If the quality is good enough then some people will pay for it.

Chances are, some people also will not.

We know that artistic works can be commercial successes based only on those who do play by the rules and pay for what they take. If this were not true, all kinds of businesses would have failed already. But this is missing the point, twice.

Firstly, only a proportion of people, probably a rather small proportion in some industries, is supporting the work that many people enjoy. Those people are getting screwed, because they are paying considerably more than their "fair share", while the freeloaders contribute nothing.

Secondly, we do not know how much better the incentive would be to create and share more and better works in future if everyone contributed in return for what they take today. Although it's popular to think of Big Media as The Enemy(TM) around these parts, the reality is that a lot of commercial creative work is made and distributed by much smaller organisations, which use a lot of the money they bring in just to pay the salaries and invest the rest in a very few new projects, often only one at once. In a lot of cases, the entire business at risk of failure if any of those new projects doesn't make it, so relatively few new projects are attempted. Instead, much of the follow-up work winds up repeating a previously successful formula that is likely to be a safe bet, rather than going for something innovative that might be a better product with rich rewards, but also carries a much higher risk.

If you doubt this, consider the number of game studios over the years that have produced a string of enjoyable titles but not survived a single bad one. Of those that have survived for a long time, ask yourself what proportion of their recent titles are new and how many are just the latest in a franchise with little real change from the last one. Ask yourself how many popular sci-fi shows that plenty of geeks enjoy still get cancelled in their infancy, because they don't bring in enough money almost immediately for those who bankroll them to continue writing the cheques until the series is established.

Now ask yourself, if there was both more money in the bank following a previously successful product and a greater potential profit from any new project, does this make it more or less likely that new and innovative products will be given more of a chance?

Flip. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861970)

Logically, if you just flip the reasoning, any artist whose work is never pirated, should be the richest one, right?

Actually Yes (5, Informative)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861986)

A film producer had his film stolen, and the thief got a lot of money for the screenings.

The producer that ended penniless: Georges Melies

The Thief: Thomas Edison []

Re:Actually Yes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862050)

This is not quite what the poster had in mind I think; While definitely copyright violation, this is more in line with the CRIA and their "Pending" lists, with willful violation for profit.

I think the poster was more asking about the impact of not-for-profit copyright violation. (EG, Torrenting and pals.)

Re:Actually Yes (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862064)

A film producer had his film stolen, and the thief got a lot of money for the screenings.

It wasn't a crime at the time of publication: Copyright only protected works produced by U.S. citizens within the U.S. Therefore, it was not piracy.

Re:Actually Yes (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862074)

No, therefor this is more like actual piracy and none of this namby-pamby "copyright violation" stuff. Oh, to be tried for "conspiracy to plunder a vessel on the high seas" :-/

Re:Actually Yes (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862136)

No, therefor this is more like actual piracy and none of this namby-pamby "copyright violation" stuff. Oh, to be tried for "conspiracy to plunder a vessel on the high seas" :-/

Piracy on the high seas didn't involve bulky projectors and pianos. It involved fire, incendiary materials, cutlasses, and violence. Secretly copying something is hardly a violent gesture worthy of committing large naval forces to its eradication, at least not by early 20th century standards. By today's standards, the use of tactical nukes and carpet bombing of entire neighborhoods is apparently considered acceptable losses... O_o

Re:Actually Yes (3, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862140)

Actually, it was piracy in Defoe's original use of it wrt copying. What it wasn't was copyright infringement (in the US) (at the time).

Re:Actually Yes (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862180)

Actually, it was piracy in Defoe's original use of it wrt copying. What it wasn't was copyright infringement (in the US) (at the time).

Umm, dude, I don't know if you've been told, but the word copyright means "The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work." In short -- the right to copy. Piracy is popularily defined as "the unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material." Piracy = copyright infringement.

So no, it wasn't piracy and it wasn't copyright infringement, unless they stole it at gunpoint on the high seas.

Re:Actually Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862262)

Piracy is popularily defined as "the unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material."

Authorization is independent of legislation.

Re:Actually Yes (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862216)

No, that ceased to be true for US copyrights in 1891; the movie in question came out in 1902. Now, admittedly, it wasn't until 1912, IIRC, that the copyright law expressly covered motion pictures, but as I understand it, prior to then, motion pictures were treated the same as photographs for copyright purposes. Now, if the film was treated as being unpublished, and had not been registered, he might have had problems with state copyright law, but I really don't feel like trying to work out the precise details of getting copyrights in the US or the several states on foreign films prior to the 1909 Act coming into effect. It's just been too damn hot lately.

Actually, vastly more than one. (4, Insightful)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862124)

You ever hear about hollywood accounting? Virtually anyone important enough that they'll receive "points" has been defrauded by their own studio/label.

You'll figure out why the RIAA/MPAA are so anti-piracy as soon as you grok that single fact. Any distribution channel or even publicity that doesn't trace back to efforts they may label their own will create a scenario where they face more serious lawsuits from their talent, plus more talent founding competitors.

It's time to put this dog to sleep. Don't buy their shit. Don't talk about their shit. Don't even watch their shit pirated unless you absolutely must based upon your childhood comic book consumption.

The next two time you feel like watching a movie, try Let The Right One In and Primer. I promise you they're both better than anything released by Hollywood during the last 5 years.

Re:Actually Yes (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862316)

That sounds a lot like Hollywood Accounting [] , if you ask me.

Mr. Melies obviously did not make some very good decisions in picking his business partners.

I guess there's some question of whether the usefulness of Thomas Edison's "inventions" make up for the evil he did legally.

Let the rationalizations begin (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861990)

Huh - I've never heard of a retail outlet that failed because of women stealing bras from the packages, but it's still illegal and wrong.

There are a tremendous number of people who have grown up in an age where it is so easy to copy information, and where it is so easy to self-publish so you *think* you're creative, and the idea that it's not theft to benefit from someone else's hard work just because their work is easily copyable in a boggles my mind.

YOU sell widgets in a store, don't you? You and your store should definitely get paid for that. I write music for a living...I should only get paid for the first copy sold?

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (0, Troll)

Gattman01 (957859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862082)

Should you only get paid for first time a copy is sold? Yes.

People with normal jobs don't just work a day or two and expect to keep the money rolling in.

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862152)

Uh, someone who writes music for a living and sells a copy of a piece hasn't worked on it for a day or two. They've worked their entire lives prior to that day, learning and studying and working hard, probably for years and years before they are able to sell a single piece. Do you think an author should only be able to sell a book once? Should authors only get paid for multiple copies of their books if they are printing the copies themselves, by hand?

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (4, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862200)

So if you write a program, you should be allowed to sell only one copy of the software? If you write a book, you should be allowed to sell only one physical book? If you develop a drug, you should be allowed to sell only one prescription?

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862280)

I was under the impression he was talking about resale. Individual copies can be and should be sold by the originator or licensed distribution units. They shouldn't get paid again if those copies are resold, is what I meant.

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862252)

Sure, tell you what so, go ahead and learn to play an instrument or wield a paintbrush or create art well enough to be considered good, then work at it a bit longer until you have something reasonably original and interesting, then roll it out and tell me that was only a couple of days work.

I have no difficulty with cutting copyrights down to maybe twelve or fourteen years, but up to that time no amount of bullshit rationalisations are going to excuse the unauthorised use of creative output. After that I couldn't care less, create more to earn more. This is something that enriches society in two ways - early endings to copyrights allows other artists to take what was created and build on it, and it encourages artists themselves to create new and original works.

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (1)

Jedi Strke (1686100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862108)

There are a tremendous number of people who have grown up in an age where it is so easy to copy information, and where it is so easy to self-publish so you *think* you're creative, and the idea that it's not FRAUD to benefit from someone else's hard work just because their work is easily copyable in a boggles my mind.

FTFY. It's. Not. Stealing. There was no physical product that was removed from merchantability. There is, however, now an unauthorized copy floating around. Unless it was a fair-use, backup, or alternate-format copy; in which case it was authorized. Now, if only the record companies and the movie studios paid those hard working creative types, I could actually feel for whatever the legitimate losses actually are. But as long as they insist on spending far more time and effort antagonizing their customers by completely ignoring any concept of consumer rights and grossly mis-characterizing the nature of the acts they are addressing there's no hope of resolving the underlying issues satisfactorily to society,

Re:Let the rationalizations begin (5, Insightful)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862202)

I write music for a living...I should only get paid for the first copy sold?

Depends. If you're any good, I'd like to see you paid for about 7 years after you wrote the work. Then I'd like to see your work go into the public domain to be used by others in any way they want, for free. Meanwhile, you're going to write other stuff, because you're good at what you do, aren't you? If not, fuck off and stack shelves for a living, like me.

The big problem at the moment is NOT that people are copying stuff, it's that artists (well, publishers really) are demanding payment for works for literally hundreds of years after they were first produced. That's wrong, and it must stop because without a public domain, you can forget about anyone producing any art at all.

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861994)

Does anyone know of any creative works that were provably a financial failure due to piracy?


Re:Answer (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862132)

Wait, who let the RIAA guy in here?

Re:Answer (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862188)


sort of.. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861996)

I did some work for a man who paid to have drivers written for SCSI harddrives, a while a go, that was his edge over the competition. The competition simply pirated his drivers and sent him out of business. This may not be 'creative works' but the process is the same.

Failed to get funding (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861998)

All the projects that couldn't get funding because piracy would reduce their profitability below the required threshold. Piracy can be chilling effect.

Re:Failed to get funding (2, Insightful)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862146)

The problem here is how that profitability threshold is calculated. Trying to sell media in the traditional way, without considering other options, is stupid. Some industries, like film, seem to be doing just fine because their model (get people to come see films in theaters, merchandising) is successful (the home movie thing still sucks though).

Now, look at, say, academic journals - demand copyright from authors, maintain a stranglehold on publishing rights, and then keep raising fees as fewer people pay. This is a bad model that piracy will eventually destroy, and replace with a better one.

Or take record sales - the RCA/sony types have trouble profiting from their old model. As a result, smaller producers are emerging that lower costs and pay artists more, making it easier to produce music. Or, small production companies specialize in a genre, so people can learn of new bands they'd like based solely off the producer.

Piracy helps destroy outdated business models. Much like carriage-drivers during the emergence of cars, there will always be someone trying to legislate, pressure, coerce, or do anything necessary to prevent being run out of business.

Halo Series for Mac (3, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862008)

I remember reading at one time that the number of pirated copies vs. legit sold copies was as high as 3 to 1 based on the people trying to connect and play the game online. The end result: none of the other halo titles were released on Mac and one of the reasons cited was because the original was so heavily pirated. Now there may have been other reasons why it was never ported, but that was the cited reason.

Re:Halo Series for Mac (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862100)

none of the other halo titles were released on Mac and one of the reasons cited...

...was that Mac is rarely the primary platform for game developers? Most mac games are ported from the PC or co-developed. Piracy has been blamed for everything from the terrorism to low birth rate. Also, while on the topic of 'citing' -- citation needed. When discussing piracy, the level of hysteria surrounding the issue thanks to corporate interests makes it imperative that you list your sources and facts, not just a vague conclusion.

Re:Halo Series for Mac (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862102)

I'm sure Bungie selling out to Microsoft had nothing to do with it either.

Re:Halo Series for Mac (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862128)

Nobody should believe that. The numbers are way off. There's usually 10x as many pirates as copies sold.

The real reason was because Microsoft took them over, and wants a stranglehold on gaming. Around the same time, they started buying up as many exclusives as possible.

Re:Halo Series for Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862266)

There were many excellent games that came out on the Macintosh first. Then when the developers were bought by Microsucks the games on the Mac were abandoned or allowed to wither away over a few years. This was part of Bill Gates insipid battle against Steve Jobs. Gates lost. He never was very good at creativity.

Re:Halo Series for Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862268)

Yeah, I'm sure it had to do ENTIRELY with piracy.

Never mind the fact that it was a resource hog, poorly optimized, dated, generic (considering the PC/Mac FPS market) and anyone who had already played it was waiting for Halo 2.

Video stores... (1)

A-Slug (890855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862012)

Not exactly what asked for, but, video stores in my local area that have been there for years have all of a sudden all gone out of business. Pretty sure bittorrent had something to do with it!

Re:Video stores... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862072)

No, it is more likely digital download either through NetFlix, iTMS, On Demand, and cheaper rental services like Red Box. Sometimes I like renting the DVD's to listen to the commentary. But anymore, there are 2 redbox sites within 2 miles of my house. The only movie rental shop is block buster and it's about 5 miles away. So long as what I want is a new release, Red Box is easier. But now with HD cable and on demand, I can order almost any movie I want for about the same price as the video store without the hassle of returning anything. You don't get the commentary tracks and you only get 24 hours to watch the movie, but honestly, most films I'd watch one and then maybe listen to the commentary on my computer while doing something else.

Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862232)

I live in Australia, and none of those things are available here, as far as I know. So I am still pretty sure it was bittorrent.

Re:Video stores... (1, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862292)

And the problem with capitalists is that when they run out of other people's money they expect the socialists to bail them out.

Re:Video stores... (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862162)

Not exactly what asked for, but, video stores in my local area that have been there for years have all of a sudden all gone out of business. Pretty sure bittorrent had something to do with it!

Nope, that was Red Box, Netflix, and now Blockbuster.

Re:Video stores... (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862230)

Same has happened around here... However, Video on Demand services and Netflix may also have a more than fair share of the 'blame'.

Video on Demand - Australia? (1)

A-Slug (890855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862300)

Are there any video on demand services available in Australia then? If not, then they can't be to blame, at least not here.

Re:Video stores... (2, Funny)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862270)

Or more likely the fact that they never seem to have anything good in.

Harry Potter Films! (2, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862014)

At least by Hollywood accounting practices.

Re:Harry Potter Films! (2, Funny)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862222)

Don't forget the to exemplars of the industry: Star Trek XI and X-Men: Origins, which were so heavily pirated that everyone went bankrupt...oh wait, with bankrupt I mean "it just earned two times it's production costs".

Amiga games (2, Informative)

KarmaKhameleon (1843244) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862016)

Not online as we know it (although BBS sharing was available) - but I recall Amiga game publishers lamenting that they couldn't get revenue for their product due to the higher skew in piracy. I never recalled seeing an Amiga owner with a purchased game back in the 80s - ever.

Re:Amiga games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862184)

You either didn't know many Amiga owners or you happened to hang with thieves. I knew several Amiga owners as well as being one myself. I was the proud owner of a 1000, a 1200, and many purchased Amiga games. Game publishers always say they are being robbed, even back in the 80's.

Re:Amiga games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862190)

yeah and i remember seeing sooo many Amiga titles at Babbage's.

those i can recall were high-end titles of general interest/mass appeal.

it wasn't until i set foot in a dedicated Commodore vendor that i discovered real productivity apps and saw Amiga peripherals other than an Epyx Quickfire.

i don't blame pirates. i think that's a UK argument. in the US, i blame Commodore.

Forget Chuck E. Cheese, we should have had the Commodore Summer of Code, with teens camped out at Commodore-sponsored lock-ins at computer stores and universities across the US, linked by BBS.

Oh well.

Someone pointed to a study in a previous thread (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862020)

I wish I could find the link. The study was commissioned by a book publisher trying to find our how much piracy hurt book sales. Generally when a book is published, sales spike a few days later then drop, and it's a couple of weeks before it's scanned and on the internet. What they found was that when it hit the internet, rather than a drop there was a second spike.

Piracy doesn;t hurt sales at all, it generates sales.

Cory Doctorow explains it succinctly in Little Brother. Nobody ever lost sales from piracy, but obscurity guarantees lack of sales.

Re:Someone pointed to a study in a previous thread (1)

doctorpangloss (1802380) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862272)

"Obscurity guarantees lack of sales" is the same as saying "you should be concerned with marketing." In the creative industry, there's a rule of thumb when it comes to profitability: high quality, low price, well marketed, pick two and you have a successful product.

People do lose sales from piracy. Other posters have covered this ground, typically videogames. Plenty of products succeed without good marketing. Selling creative products is complex.

Re:Someone pointed to a study in a previous thread (3, Interesting)

Orestesx (629343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862312)

That logic may work from books, where a physical copy is better than a PDF copy on my computer screen. An unauthorized copy of a video game or movie is usually the same if not better (due to drm) than the original copy.

too hypothetical (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862022)

The question is inherently speculative. It isn't terribly difficult to find examples of, say a comic book series that was canceled because sales were 10% below what was needed to break even, or a movie that didn't quite make back the investment (even assuming non-Hollywood accounting). The number of creative endeavors which are just on the edge of financial solvency is pretty darn large. But what's essentially impossible to determine is what the actual impact of "sharing" on what-sales-would-have-been was in any given case. The best you could do would be to estimate a general range, and stipulate that any work that was within that range of being profitable "failed" because of it.

effects could be on future works (4, Insightful)

mr_walrus (410770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862024)

what newer creative works were never done because a previous
one never succeeded enough due to piracy?

(so, how would you even define "tanked" for a creative work anyway?)

Evil Genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862030)

Does anyone remember this game? It was really quite creative and a lot of fun, but the studio that created it wound up folding. They cited low sales, despite critical acclaim. Piracy kill it.

Re:Evil Genius (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862228)

Would it be perhaps that the game was just buggy? I remember having a nice long argument (sorry I didn't think to save the link) over Titan Quest because the developer blames every bug in the game on piracy. This moron even blamed bugs in the demo! on piracy. WTF? I never did get the asshole to explain why exactly I would have pirated the demo when I could download it for free. Never did get that game to run stable BTW, the demo would crash or lock up less than 5 minutes in for me. Yet the developers insisted their shit didn't stink and what killed Titan quest was piracy. Well if most who ran the demo had my experience it was because their code sucked ass. I never even bothered to pirate it because if I can't get the demo to run, what are the odds the full game will?

So any time I see "it was because of piracy!" when talking about a game I think of TQ and what a POS it was. I have found you give people a good value for their money, and don't try to assrape them on price or with buggy code, and people will buy. BTW Evil Genius is on sale right now at Good Old Games [] as part of their rebellion pack. Pick any games you want or get the whole 11 game set for $40. But considering how much alpha quality game code I've seen lately, and the fact you can't return it if the thing won't even run, I wonder how many just didn't bother because of reviews saying it is buggy. I know when I see buggy in a review I stop there and walk away. I deal with enough PITA programs without dealing with shitty code in my games.

Re:Evil Genius (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862260)

Wasn't that a copycat of Dungeon Keeper?

If you believe hollywood all of them (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862032)

Just read


Re:If you believe hollywood all of them (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862164)

That's a good lesson for anyone with a business that's considering getting involved with investors and partners.

There have been deals where a person sells 51% of his stake in some business to an investor/partner, then discovers that his new partner with majority control of the business is taking every last cent from the partnership to pay his salary as CEO of another company that does business with the partnership.

You'd think the founder, with 49% ownership of the company, would get 49% of something. Not usually.

Most companies are pure democracies. Those with 51% of the vote (or shares, or board members) get to spend 100% of the money, just like most democratic governments.

Re:If you believe hollywood all of them (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862282)

> You'd think the founder, with 49% ownership of the company, would get 49% of
> something. Not usually.

Yes, usually, if he employed a competent attorney. The terms should have specified exactly how the revenue was to be shared. Better to sell the company outright for cash, though.

Ask any video games developer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862070)

Wonder why many games are released on console six month before being released on PC? : Piracy
Wonder why many small studios making games for the NintendoDS closed doors? R4 linker (you can say this is because the quality was bad, but this was only the first effect of piracy, they tried to target the very young and old public to avoid piracy)

As a game developer I think that piracy is a plague, not only because this tend to kill business models built around selling our products, but also because most pirated games are not enjoyed as they should.

Piracy is fast food, no depth.

On the other side, I should ask, what is the valued added of piracy?

What is the gain for society?

Sega Dreamcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862086)

Dreamcast was released right before CD burners became prevalent, so there was no copy protection. There may have been other reasons the system failed, but piracy really killed it.

Two words: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862092)

Sega Dreamcast

uhm, missing the point (2, Interesting)

naggingtree (1833316) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862094)

I refuse to believe the "future works" argument. It does not strike me as valid. You do not have to have PROFIT ASSURED just to produce a work. For some of us that /aren't/ shallow single-minded creatures, yes, there is a joy to creation. And a joy to having one's work shared and admired by a large number of people, even if it doesn't net us a huge amount of money. Artists are the traditional impoverished sort. This is not a new development -- indeed, the obscene profits made by those agencies which churn out mass-produced art are the new development. And that is soulless. Some of us hold ourselves to a bit of a higher and more idealistic standard still. Also, hiiii. :)

Re:uhm, missing the point (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862220)

LOL, of course you're just playing Robinhood, bootlegging Twilight films to get revenge on successful businesses that you personally determined are "too rich." Wonder if you'll feel the same way when someone decides that YOU'RE too rich.

It's all about the money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862106)

If that's true of the 'creative' work that failed...

We most likely did not lose anything of value to society.

Art for arts sake.

If money is your only reason for making 'art'. It would be far more efficient to just go shoot someone and take their cash. I hear record execs have alot of cash.... *hint hint*

Creation of works in the first place (1)

yinmoneyhuang (1368661) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862118)

Given that piracy tends to reduce the incentive to create new works, an equally relevant question is the number of works that would have been created but for the effects of piracy. An artist may abandon a good idea simply because he or she believes that piracy will make it impossible to recoup the costs of turning that idea into reality.

He sega dreamcast (3, Informative)

Phizital1ty (1755648) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862120)

Not exactly a creative art, but the sega dreamcast was the last sega game console because the copy protection on the games was so easily bypassed that many people didn't buy any games.

Re:He sega dreamcast (2, Interesting)

MoNsTeR (4403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862250)

I was going to post the same thing. A friend who had a DC had maybe 2 or 3 purchased games, and a whole spindle of CDRs with downloaded ones.

Well. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862122)

Ask Conan O'Brien

what about fair use? (4, Insightful)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862138)

It would be useful to compare this survey with one that estimated the gains or productivity arrived from fair use of other works. What literature, art, music, programs, inventions, etc. derived from building upon other works have contributed to the GDP?

You can begin by adding most of the annual income and net worth of Disney.

Right so.. (1)

matthiasvegh (1800634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862148)

I make music for a living, not because I enjoy it.. yeah, that's what an artist would say..
Seriously, how could anyone call themselves an artist, if money was the only block in producing there art?

Re:Right so.. (2, Insightful)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862218)

I like Mickey Spillane's books; he is a wonderful author in my opinion. His opinion of himself, though, is: "I'm a commercial writer, not an author. Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book."
Also, "I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends."
So you can see where he's coming from. Writing for him was just a job. According to Wikipedia, "In 1980, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time best-selling fiction titles in the U.S."

Re:Right so.. (1)

matthiasvegh (1800634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862290)

Well honesty like that is a *very* rare gem nowadays :(

Re:Right so.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862294)

Some of us are artists, accountants, techies, and secretaries at companies whose business model is based on licensing the intellectual property that we produce. We don't care that you like the image of starving artists slaving away in studio apartments, or that information wants to be free, or that *you* wouldn't mind living on the street if it meant that more people could experience your creative expression. We just want to feed our damn kids. You'd think a site full of computer programmers would understand this.

Only on Slashdot can you complain about how awful RIAA labels need to be shut down because their content is so crappy while spending hundreds of hours downloading countless gigabytes of it for your own consumption.

The question is (3, Insightful)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862160)

The question is, how many creative works fail because they are taken down, based on copyright... I'd know several fan-made game-sequels, girl-talk, DJ Danger Mouse, bitter sweet symphony by placebo...

no (2, Insightful)

jjoelc (1589361) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862166)

now.. can you prove God doesn't exist?

And despite the popular claim of the opposite, you can prove a negative, generally by proving a different paradoxical positive, but still...

For my actual thoughts on it... I think there is a balancing act to be had in it. If you work is good enough that enough people will buy it to make it a success, then enough people will be willing to pirate it to hurt sales also. One of the big reasons for the online "pirating" today isn't the ease of copying (though it contributes) it is that the balance on the opposite side (copyright) has grown too heavy.

With copyrights as long as they are now, there is very little content that CAN'T be pirated, by definition. With shorter copyrights, more content would be available unencumbered. If you knew that you could get it legally, for free in a couple of years, (wait for it to come out on DVD... Wait till it is out on TV... etc arguments) would you be in such a rush to steal it? Again, only if the work was "good enough" to warrant the risk. Even then, the risk would have to be seen as less than the costs of buying it legally.

Not really the whole answer, but enough for a /. post

Back in the day (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862170)

Back in the 8/16-bit days there were always claims by game producers that they were no longer supporting this or that market because of piracy. And fairly, piracy was pretty rampant on all the platforms.

Shades of gray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862172)

I don't think there's a way to conclusively prove that piracy was the sole factor in killing a product. A popular creative work may succeed because of or despite piracy. An unpopular work may fail primarily because of piracy or because it's too niche or inferior to survive. The most pirated works are typically the most popular works.

I think, but certainly can't quantify, that the unhealthy obsession with piracy damages creative work more than the actual piracy. Case in point: the game industry has somehow thrived amidst rampant piracy for three decades now, yet the first "pirate-proof" title that comes out requires an always-on Internet connection for a single-player game and jacks the price up $10 over market, pissing off potential customers left and right. I'd love to know how well Ubisoft has done with that, but while I already buy my games I will no longer buy theirs.

There's so much hand-wringing about piracy in the various content industries, yet they'll continue happily annoying their paying customers with backdoored music CDs, region coding and no-skip intros on DVDs, etc. at a time when those customers are no longer hostage -- making pirated goods even more attractive than the real product above and beyond being free. Even when they manage to pop out something innovative and friendly like Hulu, the suits just can't resist the impulse to ruin it.

Yes, If i recall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862174)

maybe someone can help,I do seem to recall an online only game a few years back that said that due to the amount of pirated copies connecting to there servers during there first few days, the servers crashed, and there sales tumbled and never recovered putting them out of business. It was back when online gaming first became popular..

One word (1)

matunos (1587263) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862176)


What does that even mean? (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862192)

Failed because of piracy?
There number of factors that contribute to the overall success or failure of a creative work are vast, and affect each other in an endless variety of ways.
At no point can you say that something failed because of piracy.
Maybe it didn't sell well because it was crap, or too expensive, or poorly marketed, or whatever. Maybe that increases the significance of piracy... or does it decrease it? It's impossible to know, but even if you did it's still just one factor in a sea of other factors.

HMMM (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862204)

With Hollywood Accounting, every project in the film industry is a financial failure. Due to what, other than crooked accounting practices, is up to the MPAAs interpretation.

A good example, generally plenty more (1, Insightful)

doctorpangloss (1802380) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862206)

Crysis is a well known example of a video game. While technically profitable, it was not competitively profitable, in that it performed much worse than other games of its scope in the past (for example, Doom 3) as a consequence of piracy. This would imply a substantive loss due to piracy. Try Googling crysis piracy, or read a link here: [] The CEO of Stardock wrote an excellent article explaining business models for accounting for piracy, specifically commenting on the Crysis case. [] Later, piracy would prove to damage his game Demigod's short term viability, though technical measures (DRM in abstraction, though in practice just a method to detect pirated copies of the games) recovered it from likely failure. Piracy is perceived to be a sufficiently significant problem that dealing with piracy is as important as dealing with marketing, deadlines, etc. It's a core business concern. What you're asking for then is "prove to me that measles is a horrible disease. Can you show me evidence of large populations dying due to measles in recent history?" You won't accept the answer, "we vaccinate against measles, everyone knows its bad but there aren't population-wide failures precisely because we vaccinate." DRM and other measures have made serious problems due to piracy unlikely, but they still harm the product. You also are problematic with "provably": "provably" by mathematical standards or by, say, business standards? No one can "prove" why a product is a success or failure, but merely provide persuasive evidence for it. I would imagine you have the same misunderstanding with the legal system, which does not require proof of "no possible doubt" but rather proof of "no reasonable doubt." There is no reasonable doubt that piracy harmed Crysis, making it (compared to other games) a financial failure for Crytek. To the readers of my comment: my point is that there's clear, reasonable evidence of the harms of piracy. But we're faced with a questioner who has an adversarial and unconvertible frame of mind.

Spiderman 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862208)

Before the Spiderman movie even hit the cinemas, a reasonable quality copy was distributed on the net to millions of people via p2p.
The movie went on to be one of the biggest box-office hits - AND had huge DVD sales when it was finally released for the home market.

Wait a minute..... Huh!?!?!?

Starsiege: Tribes took quite a hit from piracy (4, Informative)

6350' (936630) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862234)

I don't know that I would call it an outright failure, but the PC game "Starsiege: Tribes" from Dynamix certainly got walloped by piracy. I chatted with one of the engineers after the game's launch, and he sadly reported their server stats showing 300k+ people playing the game, with just 70-80k or so sales. They had a complete and utter lack of any DRM (not even a simple disk check), making the game wildly easy to copy. Hell, the install process was just a straightup file copy from CD to HD.

No two ways about it, the game sold poorly, but was quite successful with players. I certainly don't mean to imply be any stretch that every player represented a lost sale, but I definitely believe that the complete ease with which the game could be copied (ie, right click on the install folder, and select "ICQ this to my buddy") led to very disappointing sales.

Most games that sell poorly are poorly made games: the market is the final judge of quality. However, I also firmly believe that had Tribes had some basic form of copy protection, the sales would have been much much stronger. I hate that I am now sounding like I advocate loads of DRM, but Tribes represented an almost pathological case with its utter lack of any protection, and I think this wound up hurting sales very markedly.

Ummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862238)

You do realize that most of the "creative works" that fail due to piracy will, by definition, not be known, right? A garage band that fails because three people buy CDs and share them with their friends will never be heard from. World of Goo has a 90% piracy rate but their popularity makes it a success, how many games developers look at that stat and don't produce any titles because they know the odds of actually making money is pretty much nil?

YES - Frantic Freddie For the Commodore 64 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862244)

YES - Frantic Freddie For the Commodore 64.
Everyone had a copy - pirated. I meet the makers and they made virtually nothing.

One legal case and outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862274)

Provably is hard. Lower (or negative) profits versus just what exactly? Expectations? You need to run a parallel Earth.

But you may find this interesting:

Here it is suggested the film made $4m with a budget of $3.8m to make. So $200,000 profit rather than the claimed $700,000.

big music retailers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862276)

Tower Records, Virgin Megastores, HMV. These stores were doing fantastic business during the 1990s, then the stores emptied out pretty quickly as Napster and file sharing became popular. Then came Amazon and iTunes. Now most or all of their US stores are gone. People say, that's because the CDs were priced at $16.98, lacked genuine creativity and artistry, had only one good song, etc, but that wasn't entirely true and at any rate didn't suddenly become true 8-10 years ago when the decline began.

Sione's Wedding - NZ film and a court case (1)

waynemcdougall (631415) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862288)

Provable losses is hard. Lower (or negative) profits versus just what exactly? Expectations? You need to run a parallel Earth. But you may find this interesting:'s_Wedding#Copyright_violation_case [] Here [] it is suggested the film made $4m with a budget of $3.8m to make. So $200,000 profit rather than the claimed/expected $700,000.

Sure. (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862298)

I used to work for a small game publisher in the mid '90s. We estimated the piracy rate of our product to be at around 90%, and we were probably optimistic about it - I personally met many people who admitted to copying our products, and we even got technical support calls for pirated copies occasionally.

Since not every pirated copy automatically translates to a lost sale, everything that follows is guesswork. We know that pirates liked our products and kept using them, so most of these copies weren't DIY product demos (most of the pirates were parents of young children, who were our target end user - if you think your job is rewarding, you haven't seen a 4 year old being dragged kicking and screaming (literally) from your product. Now that's job satisfaction!)

So I think assuming that 10% of all pirated copies would have been paid copies if copying was suddenly made impossible. That would have been enough to avoid laying off a couple of developers, and would certainly have made a huge difference for the company, which was just profitable enough to stick around.

I think it's easy to look at the MPAA and RIAA, and the amount of money involved in their products, and not feel too sorry for them. I sure don't, but I always felt the story for small developers, less popular musicians and independent film makers can be very different.

If you count programming, sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862308)

I had a program that was designed for a very limited use, maybe 5,000 users on a game, back in college (12+ years ago). I planned on selling it for 5 bucks a copy. My alpha tester uploaded an early version to a public site and told people where to download it, and suddenly I was swamped with emails for bug fixes, changes, the whole 9 yards. Problem was, it was little things they wanted fixed. The major portions worked, and people didn't really feel like paying for something they already have. Sure, I could have eventually come out with a new version and charged for it, but just the way it happened turned me off of the entire project, and I put a big F.U. reply to my email address to people requesting fixes on a stolen program.

Programs are different than creative works in many ways though, and not sure if they count as creative works this week.

A Less Vague Question.. (1)

Unka Willbur (1771596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862318)

and one much easier to answer would be "If the sky weren't blue, would people still eat hot-dogs?"
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