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Piracy Economics

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the lawsuits-make-a-poor-marketing-strategy dept.

The Almighty Buck 347

Reader Anonymous Coward the younger sends in a link to an article up at Mises.org on the market functions of piracy. The argument is that turning a blind eye to piracy can be a cheap way for a company to give away samples — one of the most time-proven tactics in marketing. The article also suggests that pirates creating knock-offs might just be offering companies market feedback that they ought to attend to. (Microsoft, are you listening?)

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Arrrrr!!!! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19216971)

Firrrrrrst pirate post!

Re:Arrrrr!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

im_rotting (543266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217045)

First punch in the face

Re:Arrrrr!!!! (1, Offtopic)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217821)

Praise the FSM!

Ramen.

Piracy is marker of immature market (5, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19216979)

Or the marker of a market that changes very quickly. And I think that currently the OS market is both.

Once a market is mature and stable, each major supplier within that market will have a product for all market segments. ( With cars, almost every manufacturer has a cheap sedan, a mid-size, an SUV, etc. Books come in limited signed editions, then the hardcover, then the quality size paperback, then the pocket paperback. )

There are some markets that are inherently unstable - like fashion - in which illegal knock-offs will always be practical. But in most mature makets the legitimate sellers fill every niche so well that the marginal costs of piracy are not worth it.

MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.


PS: This even applies to labor markets. In that case we call the piracy 'slavery', and the low end versions 'volunteers'.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217013)

"MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.
"

hmmmm I was under the impression that they *ALREADY* have a dozen versions of their product on the market, none of which are being given away... unless you want to run it for an education institute on cheap (OLPC type) hardware, for which you can pay a meager $3 or so.

The practicality of giving away the low end version won't make sense to MS as they would still have to support updates, security patches etc. I doubt they want to be known around the world as the makers of the least secure OS on the market. While they may have that reputation now, it would be solidified if they were to give away products and not support them.... oh wait, sorry, that model seems to be working if you support the product.

Now, just to figure out the steps to getting MS to do this...

1. design OS
2. support OS
3. give it away for free
4. pay lawmakers to make this legal (not sure about this step or how it might work)
5. ????
6. Profit !!!!

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217217)

Sorry, I should have been more precise about the 'dozen versions' comment. Sure, the have several versions ( Itanium or not, 32 bit, 64 bit, etc ). These are what one might call 'horizontal' versions.
I was thinking of 'vertcal' versions, in which each version is a superset of the lesser version. The more you pay, the more frills and features you get. Supporting the low-end versions would not be too difficult because most of the features would be 'off'.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217331)

They did start going in this direction with Vista, and no one (as far as I know) likes it. The layman thinks it's too confusing, the geek (well, the Slashdot user, which isn't a very fair cross-section of geeks) just mocks Microsoft. How is taking the idea further going to benefit them?

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (1)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217379)

I doubt they want to be known around the world as the makers of the least secure OS on the market.
hmmmmm I was under the impression that they *ALREADY* were known as the makers of the least secure OS on the market... unless you want to run it on a standalone PC.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (2, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217437)

With built-in WIFI, even a stand-alone PC with Microsoft software is not trustable.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217439)

> I doubt they want to be known around the world as the makers of the least secure OS on the market.

Oh, wait ... nevermind

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (2, Funny)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217037)

We prefer the term "undocumented workers" to slaves.

Volunteers are the open source version of labor. If you decide to let some guy off the street extract your rupturing appendix, there's a slim chance they might actually be qualified to do that at their day job. Of course sometimes guys on the street will tell you they are "just as good as a doctor" but most of them are just trying to infect you with viruses.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217129)

MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product
That's why they say Vista won't be pirated.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (0, Offtopic)

Dacelo Gigas (1077179) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217173)

PS: This even applies to labor markets. In that case we call the piracy 'slavery', and the low end versions 'volunteers'.

For once, I'm glad to be lower than a slave, courtesy of the American Red Cross [redcross.org] .

Dacelo Gigas

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (2, Insightful)

mcarp (409487) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217197)

Except that you dont have to install an OS in yer car to get it running. You dont have to chose between windows/linux/bsd b4 you can drive it off the lot. The OS market was flawed from the beginning. MS could have seen fit to make tons of $$$$ off windows compat apps and given the OS away long ago after making it on the map with their buy off of qdos and subsequent bluff/save to ibm. Dont get me wrong, I dont mind ppl making money, thats how markets work, but lets face it. How many ppl would be irate if they had to chose an OS b4 driving away a new toyota?

I for one am sick of this OS/copyright/ip/uspto/riaa/mpaa war.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217241)

This is absolutely brilliant! If Microsoft released some version their OS for free, I can guarantee that would significantly curb piracy.They could disable multi-core support and maybe some other features only high-end and gaming users would care about if they still want some control. However, all these people who pirate just so they can have an OS to do their homework, or have on the family's internet(disposable) computer will be less inclined to do so. They'd also be more inclined to buy other MS products such as MS Office, because the overall cost would be less(they won't have to spend the money on the OS initially) and their wouldn't be the fear of buying legit software for the fear os some time bomb ready to turn off their OS in some secret update or requirement of activation. Hell, they could follow RedHat's model and sell subscription support, which, if they market it the same way, big corporations will gladly pay.

I'm speaking strictly in terms an alternative business model for MS.

Me personally, I say fuck that shit, I'm still running gnu/linux

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (5, Interesting)

Khaed (544779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217393)

MS will get pirated until they have half a dozen or a dozen versions of their product. It would be practical for them to give away the low end version.

They have quite a few versions of Vista.

MS will always be pirated. If they give away the low end, people will pirate the high end because that's what they want. Paint is given away for free with every Windows computer, Gimp is free, yet Photoshop is probably one of the most pirated programs in existence, after Windows and possibly Office.

While the car and book analogies make sense, Microsoft isn't actually hurt by people pirating Windows. Windows has always been pirated and they're a billion dollar company. One of the reasons for this is that you can pirate all you want at home, but if you're a business caught pirating, you are going to get screwed. In an uncomfortable place. (and not like in a station wagon)

Short of giving all versions of Windows away, MS will be pirated. They might as well make the best of it and work it to their advantage.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (3, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217493)

Yes an no. Piracy can really only apply to copyable objects. You can can steal a Civic but you can't "pirate" one. Intangible goods that can be pirated haven't been around as long as "tangible goods", like wheat and clay pots. You really can't pirate music until tapes, you really couldn't pirate movies until VHS, and software is somewhat of a recent invention itself.

I would suggest that piracy is associated with newer markets, not because the markets are immature, but because the newest markets are easily commoditized. Sure there was piracy long ago with books (since the printing press), and music (with sheet music), but we've found more efficient distribution methods go hand in hand with piracy. I don't think the music market is immature, music is just easily distributed.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217603)

Gah! You vagina. You've taken the RIAA's bait, hook line and sinker. You're so confused, you don't even know what you're talking about.

"Real" piracy involved scruffy hoodlums, with guns, swords, and canons, taking over boats and other sailing vessels. It had a lot more in common with commandeering a honda than it does copying a file.

Re:Piracy is marker of immature market (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217695)

Right, so if piracy only means commandeering ships on the high seas, we've got a gap in English. What the heck do we call making a copy of an object--where it costs almost nothing to make, and takes property from no one else. It isn't theft, theft deprives another of property. It isn't invention/creation, it is merely duplication. What do we call that?

I'm afraid you're the one who bought the propoganda - hook, line and sinker. In English, words can mean two things, and in deed piracy does. Whether you want to take your head out of the sand or not, piracy can represent the unauthorised duplication and/or use and distribution of a copyrighted work.

As I recall... (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19216985)

...wasn't there some sort of memo that was leaked from Microsoft that basically said the only reason why Windows 3.1 became popular was because it was the most pirated software ever?

As it so happens, I used to sell a product which required a simple registration key to upgrade to the full version. (The free version never shut off, but it had fewer features.) After noticing a few Google searches for " crackz", I thought about seeding a few reg numbers to promote the product. Alas, I never got around to it, but it would have been a cool marketing trick.

That being said, I don't agree with piracy in general. Only that it can fullfill certain market needs. If it gets too out of hand, though, it can become a serious problem to the producer. (e.g. Napster) Of course, you don't get in that position unless you're failing to meet your customer's needs in the first place. (e.g. lack of legal MP3s)

Re:As I recall... (5, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217619)

One particularly significant benefit (to the companies being ripped-off) to piracy is lock-in. As you said, Microsoft might not be where it is now, if it were not for piracy. I think the same goes for programs like Photoshop. Teenagers won't/can't pay $600 for Photoshop. Adobe doesn't lose anything by teen pirates who can't afford Photoshop--but they do gain another crop of kids proficient with their software. If any of these kids use Photoshop professionally, they buy a real license.

I think this is the biggest stumbling block to free software. No one wants to use the GIMP because they can get Photoshop. If fewer could get Photoshop, fewer professionals would have Photoshop experience, and more would be willing to contribute to GIMP. Why use Ubuntu when you can get Windows?

But you are right, if any program can be pirated without any repercussions, it WILL hurt both the company and the product's future. It is too costly to stamp out ALL piracy--costly to the produce, the enforcer, and the legitimate customers who will get some spill over--so determining the right amount is tantamount to success.

Re:As I recall... (2, Interesting)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217661)

That doesn't make any sense. Apple, Commodore, and Amiga software were highly pirated as well. Piracy certainly didn't help them. Apple limped through the '90s. Commodore and Amiga both died.

No, Microsoft became dominant because they were the operating system for the IBM PC, the computer used by business. Businesses back then were the same as today in that they tend to not pirate software. Microsoft became dominant because they were pirated less than the rest.

Re:As I recall... (2, Informative)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217817)

That doesn't make any sense. Apple, Commodore, and Amiga software were highly pirated as well. Piracy certainly didn't help them. Apple limped through the '90s. Commodore and Amiga both died.
You can't make that comparison as both Apple and Commodore's OS only worked on their own hardware. So, there was no point in pirating AmigaOS since it already came with the machine. Ergo, it was not "highly pirated" at all.

If you are going to compare with other platforms, you can compare Deluxe Paint. This was probably the most pirated software program on the Amiga - everyone and his uncle had a copy. Still, sales from this program helped propel a small-time software company named Electronic Arts to great heights. Heck, I personally bought four copies (different versions; DPaint II NTSC, DPaint II PAL, DPaint III and DPaint IV) even though it was trivially easy to bypass the copy protection.

BTW, I have bought PageStream three times - versions 2, 3 and 5. An excellent program and IMHO InDesign is just now starting to catch up to PageStream 3's featureset. PageMaker never even got close to PageStream 2...

Free samples? (0, Flamebait)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217009)

Like, you know, "trials".
Gee, wouldn't it be a good idea if Microsoft/other software companies offered some of these "trials" so that people would be able to try out their product before buying it.

If ONLY there were some way to try out [nzone.com] software before you bought it.. then there would be no need to pirate it, right?

Too bad software companies haven't thought of that..

Oh, wait..

They do (2, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217167)

Apparently you don't have an MSDN subscription. It always has 180 day trials of their operating systems.

this is nothing new (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217019)

The MPAA/RIAA/MPA is well aware of this effect, which is why you aren't seeing them taking EVERYTHING down. But they fear - and probably correctly - that if piracy gets TOO popular it will destroy their businesses. Therefore they've been working hard to keep things limited. Good luck to them; they're gonna need it. ;-)

Price point feedback (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217025)

One bit of feedback that MS gets is that many people find the standard sticker price far too high.

wtf? (1, Insightful)

White Shade (57215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217031)

Okay, this seems kinda bullshit to me... Why are we trying to prove that piracy, an illegal act, is somehow "good"?

Sure, there are certain issues to consider in terms of pricing and whatnot; some products cost way more than they should, or at least way more what some people can afford or are willing to pay, but there ARE always other completely legal options. If you don't want to pay for microsoft products, yell at microsoft, change your line of business, go open source, find cheaper alternatives, etc etc. Don't just sit there and pirate the software and then start spouting nonsense about how it's actually GOOD for the company because it's saving them the money for paying for free trials!

PIRACY IS ILLEGAL. Whether or not it's "helping" the company, IT'S ILLEGAL. STOP PRETENDING THAT YOU'RE DOING THEM A FAVOR.

The human power of rationalization is quite strong indeed; no one is stupid enough to think that piracy is legal, and obviously people feel bad about it, so they try and make up stories saying how they're actually helping people by doing it. Yes, there are definitely valid points that need to be examined, as I said before, but still, it's illegal, and everyone knows it, so stop trying to justify it.

Re:wtf? (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217067)

Please stop confusing legality with morality.

Re:wtf? (1, Insightful)

White Shade (57215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217103)

well, sure, morality is one of the issues involved, but that doesn't make it any less illegal, and any less shady to go copying stuff willy-nilly while trying to tell yourself that it's fine.

Re:wtf? (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217171)

Don't confuse illegal with shady either. The law can be just as shady, like prohibition, for example, or DMCA... or for that matter, copyright...shady law that steals from the public disguised as "incentive".

Re:wtf? (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217675)

The law can be just as shady, like prohibition, for example, or DMCA... or for that matter, copyright...shady law that steals from the public disguised as "incentive".

Prohibition was and the DMCA is bad, but copyright itself is not bad. The only bad thing about copyrights as it stands now is that the copyright term is way too long. By giving writers and artists a limited monopoly on what they create gives them an incentive to create. If there is no incentive, financial, to create then many things won't be created, which is a greater theft to the public. Many people won't spend years of thier life creating something if they know they won't be able to feed their family while working on it.

Falcon

Re:wtf? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217719)

If there is no incentive, financial, to create then many things won't be created, which is a greater theft to the public.

Setting aside that there are plenty of incentives unrelated to copyright, an author does no disservice to the public by failing to create and publish a given work. It's good if he does it, but it's not theft if he doesn't. You're saying something akin to that I stole $5 from you because I didn't give you $5 as a gift.

Re:wtf? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217749)

Well, first off, neither of us can prove our points without the thing being abolished outright. I will bet you a dollar that I'm right though. And secondly, I believe there are many incentives for creating things that aren't necessarily financial. Copyright has created a situation where finance trumps all those other incentives, creating a lot of junk inventions and trashy so called "art". I would hope that argument would be laid to rest by now. It just doesn't hold water. And yet it is repeated ad nauseam in some vain attempt to force us to believe it. I can safely say that I never will.

copyrights (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217857)

I would hope that argument would be laid to rest by now. It just doesn't hold water. And yet it is repeated ad nauseam in some vain attempt to force us to believe it. I can safely say that I never will.

Where does this argument about copyrights not holding water, come from? Do you really think so many books, magazines, and movies would be created if there was no copyright? Can you offer proof Steven King would of written books if he couldn't get a copyright? Or George Lucas still would have made "Star Wars"? A long tyme ago I used to write. I was in the process of writing a book and some articles a magazine editor was interested in printing when an accident ended it, seeing as I was in a coma I couldn't write. However I never would of tried to write anything for publication if I knew I couldn't copyright it. Why would I spend so much tyme writing something if someone else could take what I wrote and make some money off it without me seeing a dime?

I've heard or read a number of tymes copyrights don't hold water, yet not once has anyone proven it to me.

Falcon

Re:wtf? (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217185)

You're absolutely right. The best way to tell yourself that it is fine is: there's nothing they can do to stop me.

Re:wtf? (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217621)

As Bob Dylan sang: "anything is legal, as long as you don't get caught."

Re:wtf? (1)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217195)

wtf is your problem? are laws not meant to be challenged? maybe we should keep burning witches.

being law does not mean that it's moral or correct, and if you believe in something enough you should grow a backbone and defend your ethics.

Re:wtf? (3, Insightful)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217377)

ah yes... but just becuase it's illegal doesn't mean you should stop doing it, it just means you should make sure you don't get caught.

(However if it's immoral, that's a reason for you to stop doing it.)

Jack calls Kate in flash-forwards off the island! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217335)

Also, Walt helps Locke out of the pit to kill Naomi. Charlie drowns when Mikhail blows up the underwater station. Hope this helps, douchebag.

Re:wtf? (-1, Flamebait)

hRothGar (11255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217395)

I'm glad you were marked insightful for that comment. I assume that means that, although illegal, it's perfectly moral for me to come to your house and take anything I want?

Re:wtf? (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217473)

You are welcome to drop by anytime.. just bring your physical object copying device from the future with you ok? Speaking of which, can I have a copy of that?

Re:wtf? (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217405)

Please stop confusing legality with morality.

NO! Please don't stop confusing legality with morality. That's not the answer. The answer is to bring the law back in line with what the populace believes is moral. The fact that legality and morality are so far divorced today is a sign of a corrupt sick society. If the large companies played fair with pricing and proof of copyright infringement, and if the penalties for piracy weren't inflated so much (an ineffective deterent!) the argument that you should be allowed to get a copy of the fruits of someone else's labour without contributing something back would be much harder to rationalize. ...and for pity sake stop calling it piracy. I don't like rape or murder, both of which are crimes, but I don't go around calling rapists murders or vice versa!!!

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217465)

I support your idealism, but that simply wouldn't pan out in Western society at this point. Corporate interest is inextricably established in all facets of law and government. Injecting morality into law right now would only give big business more leverage over individuals/small biz/etc.

If we ever start a new country, though, that's a great sentiment!

Re:wtf? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217497)

No. That's how you end up with oppressive religious regimes.

If we're going to call for legal reform (and we should be, I agree) then let's call for a dedication to liberty. Live and let live. If you wanna do something that I consider immoral, and you're not hurting anyone, then I should have no say over what you do. Unlike the world we currently live in where the law has a say over what you do with your body, your mind and your copying devices.

Re:wtf? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217757)

The answer is to bring the law back in line with what the populace believes is moral.

What the majority believes is moral may in fact be the Tyranny of the majority [wikipedia.org] . The answer therefore is not what the majority thinks but instead is to get rid of all laws making it a crime when no on one other than the actor is harmed, for instance when Prohibition was repealed. A good step today would be to stop this fake War on Drugs and make those drugs legal aqain.

Falcon

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217463)

What a load of BS. Microsoft is a company who employs people who they pay to write software that they then sell. What is morally correct about taking their work that they have spent their time and effort putting together and not paying them in return?

Just because a bunch of people feel like dontaing their time to produce free software does not make it morally or ethically correct to steal software from those groups who choose not to follow this model.

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217091)

truly. Call it what it is. This article/story is a waste of time and is nothing but a giant fucking jackoff in the eye of coders everywhere. Piracy is nothing short of stealing. If you don't like the price tag on software either write your own version of something or use an alternative. Don't sit there and act like you're doing the world a favor by ripping someone off. Then you're just being an ass.

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217155)

Why are we trying to prove that piracy, an illegal act, is somehow "good"?

Nobody's trying to prove anything. Besides, legality and morality are two separate things. Illegal acts can frequently be good, and legal acts can frequently be bad. Why are you so upset when somebody describes some of the former?

Re:wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217271)

... ok ok, it's illegal, I get it. But who cares? I certainly don't. I probably commit dozens of illegal acts each day that could get me years of prison time if a prosecutor wanted to target me. We're all guilty of something.

Re:wtf? (1)

neverhadachoice (949216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217329)

Yeah, we get that it's illegal, but considering money i've spent on band's cds/tshirts/tickets i've bought because I downloaded an album? that's gotta number in thousands of dollars.

Similarly too, the money i've spent on games/programs i've bought because i've seen someone else using a copy they pirated? also in the thousands, hell if you include what I've bought on behalf of organisations, tens of thousands of dollars.

Personally, I buy things that warrant purchase, but I certainly don't want to buy something that I'm not sure will fill my needs.

Re:wtf? (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217363)

ILLEGAL doesn't matter. Marijuana is ILLEGAL, it doesn't make it illegitimate.

Re:wtf? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217651)

I'm afraid, by definition, it does. However, marijuana being illegal doesn't make it immoral. I believe that's the matter being addressed here. So, on that note, it is just as correct to state that copyright infringement being illegal doesn't make it immoral either. But as with weed, some will try to convince us otherwise. Needless to say, they are wrong on both counts..So why did you say it then?

Re:wtf? (4, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217383)

No.

Not sure who modded you insightful but I assume they work for a corporation. You are using the Fox News style of argument. Reduce everything to black and white / good versus bad / legal versus illegal.

Also, please stop using words like "illegal". That's also a simplification and, in many countries in the the World, wholly and utterly incorrect. You may be American (I assume you must be), but it's a big planet, your laws apply to your country alone. Please try to remember that, and remember that you are speaking to a global audience here.

The truth is that this is not a black and white subject, it is a grey one. It is not a rationalization to consider alternative economic strategies with regard to this. In fact, if software companies, the MPAA, and the RIAA, actually started doing more of that kind of thinking, then the need for piracy might be alleviated.

Keeping an open mind and exploring new directions is the only way media producers are going to win in any way that is sustainable.

My friend Ozymandias... that is not justification. That is not rationalization. That is reality.

copyrights are an illegitimate law (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217419)

When a law is unjust, people not only have a right to defy it, but a duty. Copyrights are unjust. They attack our culture, require the destruction of our privacy to be enforced, attack the free flow of information on the internet, and cause fragmentation to societies knowledge base of literature. The cost and effort to secure and enforce them is growing exponentially as society enters the information age.

The reason why anti-copyright behavior works so well in the free market is simply because copyrights are anti freedom and anti free market. http://davidlita.googlepages.com/copyrights/ [googlepages.com]

Rationalizations? WTF! How about Copyrights are not "rights", theft and stealing is not copying, copyrights are monopolies and not "protection", and intellectual property is not "property". Hell, piracy isn't even piracy.

Re:copyrights are an illegitimate law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217787)

what kind of anti-free market crack are you smoking?

please come back and provide a rational explanation as to why the protection of an individual or corporation's content should not have at least some bare minimum protection.

by the way, i can't get to the link you posted because i live in china...with it's overly repressive regime. and guess what, they love to appropriate other people's content as well...which is why this place is at a serious lack of creative power. as they know anything they do will only get copied by the next guy within days, so why even bother to disrupt the market. many of us create to make a living...so what kind of job can i have if someone feels they can do whatever they want with my content. to be practical, i'd like to have some money to enjoy the other free market pleasures of life...

Re:copyrights are an illegitimate law (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217849)

oops, try taking the trailing / off the end of the url. sorry

http://davidlita.googlepages.com/copyrights [googlepages.com]

Re:wtf? - parent not insightful (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217425)

The article isn't trying to reduce the debate to some simplistic black-and-white issue of morality. The point is to show that software piracy, which is deeply entrenched in computer users across the world and which interested parties have had little success curtailing, is not 100% detrimental to those it targets--indeed, that the benefit may be far greater than we commonly (and moralistically) think, and in some cases (small/unknown devs) may outweigh the harm.

No one is advocating that software makers just bend over and take it, but the article DOES seem to suggest that blind rage against piracy is also harmful, and that it makes more economic sense to utilize and exploit something you can't get rid of.

If they could have stopped software piracy, they would have already. It's not going to happen any time soon, not when crackers are willing to go so far as to write new drivers and dongle emulators etc. Piracy is a fact in software. Smart software makers need to realize 1) that it is not a complete loss, 2) that they can exploit this mechanism themselves, too (offer tiered versions of product, free trials, free versions for noncommercial users, etc.) and 3) what message piracy is sending to them specifically (overpriced product, buggy, niche, restrictive copy protection etc. - any of the numerous reasons software gets cracked - and yes, sometimes it is just cracked because it can be, which is also a fact of software life).

Re:wtf? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217471)

Sorry, I'm out of mod points, so I'll just have to concur with you. I'd be less irritated if people stopped to consider how self-serving their arguments are. This article is rationalizing behavior which is both illegal and immoral by hoping that somehow, somewhere, something they're taking for free is making life better for somebody.

Re:wtf? (3, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217509)

I think we're studying piracy to see if it is worth cracking down on. There are certainly costs to preventing piracy and catching pirates. How much attention do they deserve? If piracy is a wash or a net gain, we shouldn't care. If piracy is a dangerous destabilizing economic force, than we should fight it harder. That is why it is worth studying.

Just because we already have policy on something doesn't mean we shouldn't constantly re-evaluate that policy to see if it makes sense.

Re:wtf? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217565)

"Why are we trying to prove that piracy, an illegal act, is somehow "good"?"

No. It's saying that it has a silver lining.

Re:wtf? (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217607)

Okay, this seems kinda bullshit to me... Why are we trying to prove that piracy, an illegal act, is somehow "good"?...
The human power of rationalization is quite strong indeed; no one is stupid enough to think that piracy is legal, and obviously people feel bad about it, so they try and make up stories saying how they're actually helping people by doing it. Yes, there are definitely valid points that need to be examined, as I said before, but still, it's illegal, and everyone knows it, so stop trying to justify it.

In case you don't know this, the Ludwig von Mises Institute [mises.org] , where this article came from, is very much a pro business and capitalism libertarian organization and they don't generally like theft, infringment, or other crimes robbing people. There is no way in which they would justify piracy. In this particular case they are simply arguing small scale piracy may help a business that is seeing it's product(s) pirated.

Falcon

Re:wtf? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217629)

illegal != bad

So Rape is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217769)

www.pembo13.com wrote:

illegal != bad


So let's rationalize that forcible rape is illegal, but "illegal != bad".

1) "Victims" of rape (like Lawrence Lessig [wikipedia.org] ) are not really "victims" at all. They were lucky to be seduced. The rape perpetrators were doing a favor for somebody otherwise too shy to ask for the favor. Hell, a lot of people are willing to PAY for sex, and the perpetrators did it for free.
2) The reality is that most people on this planet were not intending to be virgins for the rest of their life. Sex was going to occur for the "victims" anyways. Why wait until you are old, and shriveled, and unattractive?
3) Sex is a pleasurable experience, so the rape perpetrators were only trying to good deeds by imparting pleasurable experiences. On your birthday, would you want an unpleasurable gift or a pleasurable gift? Most people would honestly choose a pleasureable gift, so what's so bad about rape perpetrators giving out free pleasureable gifts trying to make other people happy?
4) You Americans are so arrogant in thinking that your view of "morality" is universal. In the Muslim world, there is the practice of tournantes [wikipedia.org] , which is an enforcment of Islamic traditions through gang rape.

Re:wtf? (2, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217671)

No. For christ sake get this: IT IS NOT ILLEGAL.

If you create unlicensed copies you owe the copyright holder proper compensation, but you have committed no crime. There are currently laws under way in the EU and US that will change this, but status right now is that copyright infringement is not a crime, and not illegal!

Re:wtf? (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217685)

and obviously people feel bad about it

Don't assume that because you do, we do.

Re:wtf? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217693)

PIRACY IS ILLEGAL. Whether or not it's "helping" the company, IT'S ILLEGAL. STOP PRETENDING THAT YOU'RE DOING THEM A FAVOR.

No matter how loud you shout, there is no contradiction between 1) stating that piracy is illegal (by definition) and 2) stating that piracy has and does sometimes benefit the vendor.

No one is saying that it's moral (well, TFA didn't anyway), so you're arguing with a straw man. Availability of pirated goods allows a monopoly to be built and cemented, as less scrupulous users can still use the market leader without considering price and competing products can never get their foot in the door by offering a cheaper product. There are many examples of MS ignoring widespread piracy of their products for years, but leaping into action the moment a competing legal product was seriously proposed to replace said pirated products. Government programs in India and Thailand to use Linux instead of pirated Windows resulted in massively discounted licenses being offered. MS would have preferred pirates keep supplying the low end of the market, so they don't have to deal with grey market imports of legal cheap versions in developed countries. Their cheap version however are so crippled that no one wants to use them, and are replaced in practice by -- you guessed it -- pirate versions of the "real" software.

Re:wtf? (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217789)


The human power of rationalization is quite strong indeed; no one is stupid enough to think that piracy is legal, and obviously people feel bad about it, so they try and make up stories saying how they're actually helping people by doing it. Yes, there are definitely valid points that need to be examined, as I said before, but still, it's illegal, and everyone knows it, so stop trying to justify it.


I find it harder to rationalize copyrights. Sharing information is a natural trait that enables people to pass knowledge and culture from one generation to the next so it is really quite stupid to think that laws are going to make them quit doing so. If you really want people to respect the law then you have to make the law allow for human behavior. Most people can accept some restrictions on things that come naturally to them, but the way copyright works today the restrictions are total. It would be one thing if people were not to pass knowledge and culture to others for a year or two and provide them with a list of works to which these restrictions apply, it is quite another when you tell them they have to assume that the sharing of anything is strictly prohibited for the remainder of their lives.
 

almost (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217061)

One bit of feedback that MS gets is that many people find the standard sticker price far too high.
that's part of why people light like Linux- cant get better than free. The reason piracy happens however, doesnt seem to have anything to do with a reasonable price- it has more to do with getting whatever it is easier not cheaper. if people had the money not to care about price and it was easier to do so they would do it that way.

Too rich (-1, Troll)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217063)

So Slashdot suddenly thinks the Ludwig von Mises institute is a good source of information? That's funny, because some of the staff writers used to be big on defending the company during the antitrust trials. Just sample the first few articles in search [googlesynd...search.com] .

Obviously this institutional short-term memory that seems to afflict people who dislike Microsoft decided that all those flamewars over the Mises' articles defending MSFT were no big deal after all.

As to the "are you listening" quippy... well, that article about the Indian retailers was if nothing else hilarious. How anyone clap and dance around a quote like "it's too expensive anyway, so that's why we pirate it" is just beyond me.

Re:Too rich (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217555)

Mises is a site written by idiots, for idiots.

Slashdot is a site written by idiots, for idiots.

They're two great tastes that go together, like chocolate and peanut butter.

It's Legit (-1, Offtopic)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217073)

Piracy is seriously LEGIT [legit-site.com] .

Heave around line 3 Jim Lad! We set sail! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217085)

Pirate Economics 101:

1. Plundering
2. Wenching
3. Yarr!

Re:Heave around line 3 Jim Lad! We set sail! (1)

im_rotting (543266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217223)

Ahoy there mateys! Shiver me timbers!

Microsoft exec says piracy can be good for MS (4, Insightful)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217115)

I saw this story first on Engadget [engadget.com] :

'Does our collective ear deceive us? If pirates are to plunder, Microsoft now wants them to board the Windows ship first. The news came about at last week's Morgan Stanley Technology conference where MS business group prez Jeff Raikes stated, 'If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else. We understand that in the long run the fundamental asset is the installed base of people who are using our products.' '
So yes, Microsoft understands that there really is only one difference between FOSS-based IT vendors and Microsoft: CONTROL. You can fork FOSS, but you can't fork Microsoft products. And in the end, it is that single fact that is going to tip the economics in favor of the FOSS community. Microsoft has long given away software that is free-as-in-beer, and that did not earn them our love. We want control. Transparency. Forkability. The right to share. The right to improve. Microsoft gives us no love in these areas.

Microsoft just won't be able to compete against a developer and testing community as large as the FOSS community. We are everywhere. And I dare say we are having more fun than the Microsofties.

Pop music's quality doesn't match it's price (5, Insightful)

Jozef Nagy (1082101) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217161)

I've been a member of the Mises Institute for years. It's good to see Slashdot picking up on their articles.

The author's assertion was that the innovator produces the initial, high quality product. Then the pirates produce low quality knock-offs to fulfill a market segment the initial innovator isn't fulfilling. In the case of the record industry, I'm afraid they're well past the point of innovation and the production of high quality products (at least as far as pop music is concerned). In that case they're selling a low end version of their music, but still deluding themselves into thinking it's a quality product.

Either the quality has to go up or the price has to come down.

Bill Gates, Pusher Man (1, Informative)

NZheretic (23872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217235)

"Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software," he said. "Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."
Bill Gates, Microsoft as quoted on CNET in 1998 [linuxjournal.com]

i'm your mamma, i'm your daddy
i'm that nerd in the alley
i'm your doctor, when in need
want some word, have some IE
you know me, i'm your friend
your main boy, thick and thin
i'm your pusherman
i'm your pusherman

MS would be much smaller without pirates (1)

rgbe (310525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217239)

MS and other vendors would not have such a large market share without piracy. Piracy helps the large vendors keep their market share since anyone can install their software. Look at the copy protection systems in place for software ... they suck!!! They are not nearly as sophisticated as what the entertainment industry have developed, and it almost works.

The main reason I don't see MS developing hardware copy protection soon is because they will loose up to 70% (wild guess plucked from the eather) of their users. Mostly in 3rd world countries. Where would they go? ... *Free* software. Copy protection will reduce the market share, which is more important than the lost revenue (since the customers don't want to pay at all, they want something for free). Piracy helps the customer being locked into a certain piece of software. So it's better for MS to give away copies under-the-table (piracy) than it is for the user to go to another vendor.

Build in a copy protection into MS Windows and MS Office and the market share will reduce as the market goes to alternative software vendors (e.g. Openoffice, Staroffice, etc). This will fragment the market and make it more viable for businesses (the real source of income) to install Openoffice for their users, since their users are now using it at home. When this occurs you will see MS giving away their operating system and Office (a basic version) for free, but we are not yet at that stage.

Yes, some geeks will always break copy protection systems. But getting those warez is a little bit more difficult, doesn't look nice and shiney like your friends freshly burned copy of Vista and the user actually feels they are breaking the law.

Go Vegan!!!

Where's the raping and pillaging? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217247)

I mean pirates do those things right? And I don't think they hand of free samples; unless those are samples of whoop-ass. Oh, we are talking about software pirates..... nevermind.

Re:Where's the raping and pillaging? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217315)

I wonder, what's the software equivalent of a privateer?

Re:Where's the raping and pillaging? (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217599)

Yarr, all your war3z are belong to us! ...except for 1/4 share which are belong to the Queen.

Distributing Linux (5, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217285)

The article also suggests that pirates creating knock-offs might just be offering companies market feedback that they ought to attend to. (Microsoft, are you listening?)
So companies who distribute Linux in violation of the terms of the GPL are offering Linux developers valuable market feedback that they ought to attend to? (Linus, are you listening?)
 

Re:Distributing Linux (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217455)

What, that the terms of the GPL are too burdensome to follow for companies looking to turn absolute maximum profit?

Boo-fucking-hoo. The GPL makes you give up some short-term assets for long-term viability (for everyone, including whatever particular company itself). If you don't want to make that decision, use somebody else's software.

Re:Distributing Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217539)

Absolutely. If someone distributes GNU/Linux in violation of the GPL, there must be some reason. You can get feedback from this reason. Maybe the GPL makes it hard to distribute a polished 3D desktop by default, maybe the GPL makes it difficult to turn a profit on GNU/Linux. Whether Microsoft agrees with the feedback the pirates are providing isn't the point, the pirates have to provide something above and beyond what Microsoft provides (free is the most likely they are providing) for people to pirate.

Re:Distributing Linux (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217687)

It worked for DirectX support in WINE.

Was a time when WINE was distributed under a BSD-like license. A few developers decided they didn't like Open Source anymore, so they split off and formed this company, Transgaming, taking the code base with them and slapped a slightly more restrictive license on it (restrictive enough that you couldn't call it Open Source anymore).

Their idea was that people pay a subscription which gives them voting rights. Whatever they voted on, the developers would work on. The big thing the users wanted was DirectX support for popular games. So that's what they worked on. Then the problem was copy protection systems.. so they started bundling some proprietary components with the software which made the copy protection work under Linux.

Meanwhile, over in the WINE camp, they decided to switch their license to GPL because the Transgaming people (and the cross-over Office people) weren't giving their changes back. In fact, the next time someone asks you why the GPL is more popular than the BSD license, tell them about WINE. Anyway, all that work that Transgaming and the others did really inspired a lot of people to join the WINE project. It provided proof that WINE could do what people had been saying for years that it could do.

As yet, WINE is still not at the 1.0 stage.. It's still not easy for users to get an obscure "vertical market" piece of software working under WINE.

I know this isn't exactly what you were thinking.. but it does show that the ability to take Open Source in directions that the original authors are reluctant or otherwise slow to go really is a great strength.

without concert piracy where would metallica be? (0, Offtopic)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217317)

lars ulrich sucks pirate wang!

Think about the environment (1)

skeldoy (831110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217347)

...The effects on the environment are positive as opposed to having to throw away a lot of paper and plastic (the manual in 4 languages, warranties in 4 languages, the box it came in, the plastic-wrap for the 4 manuals, the plastic-wrap on the CD/DVD, ...) and eventually ending up with a bunch of retrostyle coasters.

Out of the closet? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217531)

The problem with software piracy isn't that it's wrong or that it's supposed to take revenues from companies. It's that companies don't want to embarrass themselves admitting that they LIKE being pirated.

It's being two-faced. And Microsoft's been doing it for years. (How else could they get a market so big?)

mises.org (1)

Acumensch (1105427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217547)

Slashdot, are you minimalists or libertarians? I'm a frequenter at Mises.org but I find it odd that you'd cherrypick and only cite them when market economics is useful to you.

Re:mises.org (1)

Alsn (911813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217633)

"Reader Anonymous Coward the younger sends in a link ..." anonymous tip != cherrypicking.

Re:mises.org (2, Funny)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217723)

We cover the full spectrum from run-the-economy-by-vote communists to market-worshiping anarcho-capitalists. Enjoy!

Pirating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217601)

Kaspersky helped get the name out to anyone who actually cares about WORKING anti-virus software. Granted, it is still not on the shelves besides Norton but any self respecting geek should know about Kaspersky by now.

It's from a right wing nut group. (0, Flamebait)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217615)

This is one of those wierd "economics papers" from a far right "faith tank", where the solution to everything is an unregulated market. Notice that the paper is mostly vaguely relevant analogies. This is punditry, not research. It's from the Ludwig von Mises people, who are usually busy attacking the GPL as being "anti property rights".

For only $24, you can read the cited paper, "Software Piracy: Estimation of Lost Sales and the Impact on Software Diffusion" [jstor.org] , which might actually contain some useful info on the subject.

Re:It's from a right wing nut group. (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217739)

So you disagree with them - fine. They have views that most slashdotters would disagree with - fine too.

But do you have any solid arguments for why they're wrong on this particular issue? Apparently not, at least not for less than $24.

Microsoft already sells a Pirated Edition (2, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217617)

These are the "Educational Editions" of Office, XP and now Vista. You are supposed to show a valid student Id when you make the purchase, but shops are hectic, busy places and luckily most households have a couple of students lying around anyway. Conveniently some of these allow the software to be installed on multiple machines. So when Joe frowns that some Microsoft software is too expensive, he has a way around it. Microsoft get their money. Not as much as they would have liked, but they get it anyway.

Microsoft _have_ to know this goes on: If they wanted to they could make their educational program so draconian no one would use it, but households shrugging and installing Ubuntu on their machine is Microsoft's worst nightmare.

Macromedia and the 30 Day Demo (2, Interesting)

trygstad (815846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217677)

I always wondered why all of the 30-day software demos from Macromedia could be actually registered and made permanent; not only that, but they could be registered using an enterprise key which did not even phone home. AND the enterprise key could be located with a simple Google search which did not even require you to click through the results page to retrieve the key. The only conclusion I could draw (possibly wrong, I'll freely admit) was that Macromedia wanted people to do this so they could use the products at home for free, which would lead them to tell the boss at work that they had to have these tools to do their job. It just didn't make sense otherwise why they would make it so extremely easy to do this. (BTW, my copies have always been paid for...) So from my point of view, I think there may be some validity to the idea that there are software publishers that actually facilitate or encourage piracy.

easy distribution get you market shares (4, Interesting)

Atreide (16473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217697)

I remember the time of Windows 95.

When you installed that operating system
            there was no activation.

There was also no
            serial number verification
                        since you could just enter
                                    an empty number and the system would install.

That was still not corrected with Windows 98.

When it is so easy to install
            an operating system,
                        it helps to get of market shares.

What about piracy psycology though? (3, Interesting)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217803)

Thing that worries me about piracy is that people get used to it. Maybe MS can get market share through piracy. Maybe the RIAA can get viral marketing through piracy...

...but I know a guy who makes a living by creating drum and other sounds that people use to make electronic music. It's not a big operation, just him and one other guy. When you order a DVD he burns one by hand and mails it to you. Anyway, someone just uploaded ALL their products to Bittorrent, and he can see all these people posting about how cool they are and how they can't wait to download them. Needless to say he's pretty despondent.

And before people start with the 'information wants to be free' and 'find a new business model' - why should he? This is what he's good at, people want his stuff, why shouldn't they pay him for it? I mean, I have written free software... while earning a fat salary working on other stuff at a hitech corp. It's not so easy in other areas though.

</RANT>

Piracy economics? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217835)

I got your piracy economics right [nzherald.co.nz] here [guardian.co.uk] , pal!

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