All Right, Software Piracy For the Win or Lose?
Let’s face it. Software piracy has always been around since the days that people figured out they could copy 3.5″ floppy disks. With the advent and proliferation of the availability of the Internet, some will argue that is made software piracy even worse. A lot of the viewers of this blog have experienced or know about software piracy. I myself have dabbled in parts of it too. Let’s dive a little bit into why people pirate software, when everyone knows from a moral standpoint it is just plain wrong. This is story number 4…
Searching google, I found a nice picture above that nicely summaries why people want to use pirated software. I’m not going to repeat the poll answers, but have my own spin on it. Let’s face it. Software piracy is dead simple. It exists because:
- People don’t want to spend money when they can download it for free.
- People want to try before they buy (if they buy).
- People aren’t going to buy the software in the first place anyway, so downloading it is not really a loss to the company.
Of course, you can argue the other way too as to why you should not pirate software:
- Software developer’s lives depend on the funding from their software. If people download the software for free, there goes their job.
- Piracy stifles creativity. What is the point of making something badass when someone is going to download it for free and you get no credit for it?
- Software developers create anti-DRM methods that are so painful and ludicrous that sometimes the legin users are punished when the software is buggy. The pirates can make a “cracked” version of the software that runs better and faster than the original software.
So in a nutshell that is a very short glimmer of the argument on both sides for and against software piracy. For people with no money, its great. Or you get hackers or crackers that just like to prove to the software companies that they can crack their software for the hell of it.
Whether you know it or not, a lot of the software that you see at your local software store can be downloaded online, and made to work to bypass activation whether that is a modified executable file (called a crack), or through a serial key. Some software after entering in the serial key goes online to validate against the server, and if found black listed, the software will go back to its expired more.
However, some people are smart. They turn on the firewall and block the software from going online, hence they have “full version” software for eternity. :p
In all seriousness though, we all know from a very objective point of view that software piracy is dead wrong. You aren’t going to steal the software from a retail store, but yet with the Internet, something about downloading software for free from the vicinity of your own home seems very comforting. You can’t get caught, right? Wrong.
People torrent all the time, but mark my words. Lots of people are watching the scene, like the BSA, MPAA, and RIAA. This is why some people move away from P2P like torrents or limewire, and go to other services like Newsgroups, FTP, Rapidshare, Warez forums, etc. Not only is the material sometimes richer, hopefully it is stocked away from watchful eyes. Or is there a rat in those groups watching you? Who knows.
Two years ago I think there was this company called MediaDefender? Remember them? Basically their job was to interject fake torrents into the pipestream and make it very annoying for users to download software that ended up fake or music files with scratches in them. A teenager had hacked into their server, and watched them for almost 6 months before one day he was like “Screw it”. He downloaded all their email, and uploaded it to the Internet for all to see. There was some confidential information in there, as well as salary infor and social security information!
Oh man, MediaDefender was seriously screwed. In fact, the company went down so quick that it made the Enron people jealous. As I said, the Internet is a very dangerous place. If you mess with the hackers/pirates, they can potentially mess you up.
Now the scene has a lot of talanted people, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes they can enable features that the software developer never intended or never wanted to implement. Take for example Red Alert 3. You can do co-op online, but there is no off-line coop. Well, this sucks for the people who want to do LAN games and don’t want to play online by purchasing two copies. A group of guys created their own coop fix and it works great. Once again, the scene triumps over the software publisher.
Another trend that I see is because it is so easy to download software, some people are just digital packrats and just download stuff because they can. Do they have a use for everything they download? Probably not, but they do it because they can. DVD media and external hard drives are so cheap! I know of my brother’s friend who hacked his Wii, and then using homebrew apps, can run Wii games stored off an external 1TB hard drive which is connected to the Wii. Now doesn’t that sound like an awesome way to play your games and store them? I sure do! Of course, Nintendo doesn’t want you doing that. Muahaha.
Even worse, the Apple iPod application store has cracked appliations that are available on the Internet. Why pay for that application when you can download it for free for your iPod touch or iPhone? Thank you for the art of jailbreaking. Ten years ago if I told you that in 2009 people would be modding their gadgets, you would call me ludicrious. Now today kids are modding their XBOX360, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wiis, and cellphones to install downloaded/pirated software and the process gets even easier. The PS3 is the only console right now that cannot get hacked, but that is partly due to the blu-ray as well as the architecture of the cell processor. Someday the console will get hacked, and then imagine all the people flocking to the Sony realm.
In short, software piracy is both for the win and the lose. As devious consumers, we win. For the software developers, they lose but at least for indie developers, they get their name out faster to the masses so it can’t be that bad?
As an analogy, look at the the MP3 era. You see people with iPods. If you look at the younger crowd specifically, what percentage of the music on their iPod is legal? 100% 60% How about 0%? Does that sound realistic? ;p
Software piracy is here to say, and the pirates will always try to be one step ahead of the software developers. Such is life. I’m not advocating that piracy is a glamous hobby. I just wanted to rant that its not as cut and dry as you think it is. Morality can easily take a side step when you are playing Left 4 Dead for free with a bunch of friends. At that point in time, the only thing that matters is that the zombie is not eating your brain. ;0
Am I off base, or on track? Sound off in the comments!