Wednesday, July 6, 2011

state of the industry, part v: Piracy


This will be the last entry in the long ongoing series about the issues that I believe have been detrimental to the media and industry of video games at large. It’s been a rough road, full of potholes and pitfalls, at times feeling aimless and disjointed, while at the same time proving to be accurate and insightful. I hope this last one is more of the latter and less of the former.

To ensure that that happens, I’ve kindly deferred to a good man far better and more capable than I at deciphering and researching the kind of material required to make any kind of sense of this particular issue. It’s been a decidedly divisive, deeply personal, and morally-charged topic for a long time now, and has its roots far beyond the video game industry. However, its prevalence here combined with what I believe is the pervasive passion of those who enjoy video games has caused it to explode into an epic conflagration of distractive arguments, hearsay, half-truths, and rampant speculation. Of course, amidst all the madness lies some truth, and that’s exactly what we’re going to try to find in this post.

Piracy. You may have done it. You may have had friends (or have friends) who have done it. You may still do it. I’ll admit that I’ve done it. But what exactly “it” is that we are doing when we engage in piracy is constantly thrown into question by those who do it, and more or less regarded as cut-and-dry by those who don’t. So for the sake of sanity and fairness, we’re going to try to figure this whole mess out.


First things first, though. A quick recap:

So Piracy. PIRACY. The word just has some sort of effect on the room, doesn’t it? It conjures up images of both toothless vagabonds and impossibly attractive seafaring types. It kind of just grabs you by the collar and slaps you across the face with itself, leaving you a bit bewildered and largely ambivalent about the experience. Piracy. Love it or hate it, it exists, and it is doing something to us. Whether that something is actually real or simply just a nasty/awesome feeling that has no real world repercussions is often up for debate. However, the law has already had a few things to say about it, and it’s a good place to start.

What is Piracy?

Here is where I begin my deference to greater men (I told you I would! I admit my own inadequacies readily!). Of course, there are many, but there is one in particular I am drawing from: the venerable Kouroush Ghazi, owner and operator of TweakGuides.com. He wrote an exhaustive, objective article on piracy and its economical, political, philosophical effects on the game industry back in 2008 (and even updated it with fresh stats and insights in 2010) and is an extremely competent writer and researcher. His article is definitely worth a read, and my article is decidedly simpler and more straightforward (ergo less comprehensive) than his. However, for those of you lacking the time or wherewithal to dutifully peruse his volume, I hope that this can be considered as an acceptable summary.

As mentioned before, Piracy has a rather ephemeral definition in the eyes of the community; a fact that many of them seem to take advantage of. But this isn’t the case in the eyes of the law. In purely legal terms, Piracy is Copyright Infringement. Copyright, of course, is another important term, defined as exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, and distribute a given work. Some of the rights (which can also be thought of as “uses”) are excluded from this exclusivity and are covered under Fair Use laws, and do not require any sort of permission from the creator to engage in. Otherwise, any use or right to use a copyrighted work belongs solely to the creator, who can both exercise and extend these rights to others freely.

Copyright effectively creates a limited monopoly. It allows one person exclusive rights to profit, distribution, and reproduction of a particular work. However, it is not permanent. After the copyright holder (usually the creator) dies, the copyright retains an expiration date (usually about 50-100 years) during which the estate holder or the designated beneficiary of the rights may exercise it in that same way. Once the copyright expires, the work passes into Public Domain. Works under Public Domain are freely distributable, modifiable, and reproducible without any sort of permission needed. One may even profit off of works that are considered public domain.

What constitutes Copyright Infringement (and therefore piracy) can differ from country to country, but most all countries are subject to an extensive list of rights and regulations outlined by the Berne Convention (or Berne Union). It’s a self-policing kind of system, like the Geneva Convention. Copyright holders may utilize the rights of the system only if they follow the system. As an extreme example, if a pirate were to obtain a copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (while Shakespeare still held the rights) and subsequently published and performed the work as his own (for profit), which was then subsequently copied and performed by another individual (for profit) without his permission, he would be unable to prosecute that individual for earnings lost due to the fact that the work was not his to begin with. If that makes sense, good. If not, maybe it’ll make sense by the time I finish this next section.

Why Copyright at all?

Some of you might be thinking now (or have always thought) that Copyright seems like a sloppy, pointless business and that everything should pretty much be available to everyone all the time to use how they see fit. I personally disagree, but my reasons and words may be too harsh for your feeble ears to handle. So I quote:

“The aim is to provide intellectual property a similar type of protection as that afforded to physical property… you should be equally entitled to reap the rewards of your labors and have the same sorts of legal protections against people seeking to unfairly benefit from your work without contributing appropriately towards it…
Copyright effectively gives a limited monopoly to the creator for his or her specific works, allowing them exclusive rights for a period of time to use their creation as they see fit, whether it's to generate a profit, to ensure distribution of their work in an unaltered form, or to attach certain terms and conditions to its distribution and usage.”

Gosh, Koroush. You are so good. Like, seriously. Amazing. So copyright’s purpose is to protect the creators of non-physical content such that they can make a living off it. It sounds capitalistic and greedy and materialistic and all those other things that the hippies taught us to hate, but deep down, you know it makes sense (See? I told you I was harsh! I’m a friggin’ bigot!). People who create written works, art works, music, and even video games invest huge amounts of time, money, and effort into these endeavors, meaning those resources can’t be used for other things. And since works like art, literature, music, and yes, even video games, is considered by some to be nonessential to life and happiness, some people feel totally justified in not paying for them. But these very same people have no problem enjoying them for absolutely no cost, either. CONTRADICTION? Perhaps.

So! Piracy is the use of copyrighted material, either in the realm of reproduction, modification, or distribution, without explicit permission from the creator. This “explicit permission” part of the whole thing is where the money comes in. The creator retains the right to negotiate terms for reproduction, modification, or distribution and can exchange these rights in varying degrees (limited to unlimited) for whatever agreed-upon remuneration (or lack thereof). What does any of this have to do with video games?

Let’s break it down.

Distribution

This is the easiest part to tackle. The distribution of created works is really where the most money is made and negotiated upon.

Consider the work itself to be like golden doves. These golden doves are beautiful and glorious and you’ve spent ages getting the gold and the tools and slaving away in an ultramax security hovel whittling gold to create them. And now you want to sell them from many, many more times the amount of money it took you to acquire the gold and the time spent creating them. Unfortunately, you have no conveyance. You spent all your money on gold and gold-whittlers that you have no budget for carts. So one of your friends, a prodigious merchant (financially and physically) offers to transport your gold doves to your customers for you. That’s when you realize you have no customers. THEN you realize, you have no way of getting customers. THEN you realize that you may have just spent all your money and the last 50 years in an ultramax security hovel whittling away at gold doves and inhaling gold flakes with no guarantee of making any of that money back. You start to hyperventilate, your blood pressure spikes, your hands go cold and your body constricts as you fall into some sort of psychosomatic shock and collapse onto the prodigious belly of your merchant friend. He picks you up and tells you, “don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

He tells you he can find you buyers, he can transport the goods, and he can advertise your handiwork, and he can make sure you get paid. He can handle all the paperwork, legwork, and other financial hullabaloo that never crossed your mind since your requisite self-imposed solitary confinement. You breathe a sigh of relief as he says, “all I want is a bit of the profits.”

Yeeeeeup.

This is how distribution works. This is not publishing, though. It’s distribution. Publishing is more like your merchant friend fronting you $10 million in gold bars and expecting $50 million in the aforementioned gold dove sales after 50 years. Anyway.

The reason for this little story is to show how one common method of piracy, Torrenting (or file-sharing), is indeed piracy in legal terms. It infringes upon the creator’s right to control the distribution and/or reproduction of the work.

Theft/Reproduction

Many piracy advocates (though they wouldn’t call themselves that, clearly) claim that piracy is maligned unfairly because it is actually a “victimless crime” (everyone puts this in quotes, and I am a sheep) because it does not deprive anyone of anything. This argument is more of a reaction to the anti-piracy claim that the act of piracy is akin to stealing a physical product. The truth is that the pro-piracy position is misinterpreting the claim of the anti-piracy position.

The idea of “stealing” in the anti-piracy argument is not “theft” in common, physical terms. It’s kind of easy to see how it can’t be, since we’re talking about intellectual properties and not physical ones. Particularly when considering video games, the code of a game can be copied innumerably without any loss of the original and without depriving any of the individuals of their respective code. So, in a sense the pirates are right in saying that nobody is losing anything physically. Here’s a short clip to clarify this point:


It’s a noble effort, and I was swayed a bit when I first saw it, too, but it’s a bit misleading. I’m sure you can point out the inconsistencies of the analogy in the video so I won’t go really explain it. What I will do is talk about what actually is being stolen: money.

Piraeconomics 101

I know how much you love reading my writing, but this section is covered so adeptly by Mr. Ghazi that I once again defer to him to start us off. To preface this a bit, he makes the point that the primary reason piracy is so contentious is not that rights are being infringed (despite that being the legal reason for anti-piracy measures); it’s that there’s lots of money involved and it’s possible that the money is being lost in regards to the creators and the distributors. So, to begin:

“The argument is straightforward and both intuitively and logically sound: for every pirated copy of a product, there is some potential loss of income to the producer of that product. This is not the same as saying that every pirated copy is a lost sale. What it actually means is that firstly some proportion of the people who are pirating a game would have bought it in the absence of piracy. Equally as important however is the fact that even those who would never have paid the full purchase price for one reason or another may still have paid some lower amount to purchase and play the game which they pirated. This is because by the very act of obtaining and playing a game, they've clearly demonstrated that they place some value on that game.”

Seriously, if I haven’t convinced you to go read his article by now, I’m doing it wrong (here’s the link!). Still, let’s keep going. The reason piracy is perceived as harmful is because it creates a potential for lost income. Now, this is crucial because it’s the point on which pirates and antipirates will contend. Does it actually result in lost sales? How does one count lost sales? Is a pirated copy a lost sale? Don’t some people pirate and never play, and therefore never would have bought the game in the first place? These are all speculations. While these questions have yet to be answered factually (and may never be, considering the difficulty in determining an unmeasurable variable), they can be answered statistically.

Before I get there though (and it’s magical, so please, wait for it! I promise!), it’s important to talk about the Free Rider Problem and it’s paradoxical nature in the piracy/hacking scene. This is yet another intuitive, albeit unacknowledged, issue that resides not only in the realm of video game economics but in all economic systems that have some degree of theft. The facts are that services and goods cost money to provide and those costs need to be covered.  In a perfect system, those who utilize the goods and services would cover those costs perfectly. However, no such system exists, and often, such “perfect” systems are actually not that appropriate for human systems. Mr. Ghazi uses the government as an example, and I think it’s an apt one:

“The classic example is for Government services such as roads, hospitals, welfare and defence. Every citizen can access and hence directly or indirectly benefit from these services, but if left solely up to voluntary contributions, most individuals would likely not pay much if anything for them, citing a range of excuses. Therefore the Government enforces involuntary contributions from all applicable citizens in the form of taxes. If it didn't, many of these essential services could not be adequately provided as the costs of provision would outweigh the voluntary contributions.”

In PC gaming (and other nonessential, private sector type industries), this problem can escalate rapidly due to the ease by which the products can be obtained for free and the culture that arises from it. This escalation can lead to an overall increase in price of the products, since fewer and fewer individuals are paying for them (remember, these things have a fixed cost to produce). This is called an Economy of Scale. Its effects are known and even fought against by the piracy community itself. If you’ve ever seen a readme for a pirated file, you know that the policies of many torrenting networks and hackers themselves at the very least endorse, while others require, a certain measure of contribution in order to participate. Leechers are expected to seed completed files for a certain amount of time, or face penalties, or pirates are asked politely by cracks and hack teams to “Buy this game if you like it!”.

Of course, all of this is still speculation. These are the possible outcomes of piracy and the possible effects on the market and industry do to piracy. But is it actually happening? Is it really that bad? Are we in for a shitstorm of high prices and fewer complete games? Some of you might say it’s already happened, you blind idiot. Can’t you see? The day-one DLC! The rise of casual gaming! Microtransactions! It’s happening! IT’S HAPPENING!

Well, is it?

Roll out the stats, boys

Here is where I just kind of crawl into my hidey-hole and humbly ask for Koroush’s permission to yoink all his stats and blow your mind. So keep in mind here that these statistics were NOT GATHERED BY ME. They are in no way shape or form my effort or work. All of the numbers, percentages, graphs, and forum-scouring belong to Koroush Ghazi. But I have a few of my own conclusions and thoughts that I’ll post from my hidey-hole once all the stats have flown by.

One way to measure the pervasiveness and penetration of piracy is by measuring the popularity of piracy websites (man, these guys make it too easy!). According to Koroush (hit results and rankings obtained from Alexa):

The Pirate Bay: A popular torrent search engine, is in the Top 120 Websites globally, and in countries like Sweden it's around the Top 10.

Mininova: A popular torrent search engine, is in the Top 80 Websites globally, and in countries like Pakistan, Algeria, Australia and Greece, it's around the Top 30.

Isohunt: A popular torrent search engine, is in the Top 200 Websites globally.

Rapidshare: A general file-sharing service used heavily for hosting illegal material, is in the Top 12 Websites globally.

Many other less significant piracy-related websites also sit in the top few thousand sites in the world, such as Releaselog and Newzleech.

Clearly, by hosting or just linking to illegal material, a site can draw in a huge amount of traffic, to the point where it can project the site into the highly-coveted top few hundred or few thousand sites in the world. Considering there are over 180 million sites in the world today (excluding personal web spaces and the like), this is no small accomplishment. This gives us one impression of the popularity and hence scale of piracy.”

Another (slightly less precise) measure of the scale of piracy is the percentage of internet traffic dedicated to P2P activity. I say slightly less precise because it’s impossible to determine how much of this activity involves the sharing of copyright-infringing material. Still, it’s compelling to look at: according to this article (2008), P2P traffic accounts for 44% of total world internet traffic and 33% of total US internet traffic. The article also forecasted a rate of 8 petabytes (8,000 terabytes = 8,000,000 gigabytes) per month by the year 2012.

A number of countries also compile percentages of what they believe to be the rate of piracy, which Koroush has artfully created a graph out of:
 Finally, some more specific piracy numbers of particular games is useful as an extremely precise (if narrow and ungeneralizable) way of finding out just how much piracy is going on. In Koroush’s article, he visits a few well-known torrent sites and simply adds up the numbers, so, in the spirit of individualism and go-gettingness, I’m going to do the same! Also, his numbers are from games back in 2007 and that’s like, so old, man.

I hopped on to IsoHunt, a popular, Canada-based torrent search engine (they don’t host any files. They are simply a tracker and search) to do my research. Unfortunately, IsoHunt does not have a convenient “# of downloads” type ticker that older sites had, but they do have some numbers: seeds and leeches. If I use the generally conservative number of 500 leeches per seed, I think it is a fair assessment of the number of times the file has been distributed.  All data is for PC versions of the games. Apparently IsoHunt does not have too many console pirates!

First, the big games:

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty Black Ops -ENG [PC] + Classes.rar               434 seeds = 217,000
PC Call of Duty Black Ops-SKIDROW                             111 seeds = 55,500
PC Call-of-Duty- Black.Ops-.Reloaded.iso                         12 seeds   = 6,000

Total War: Shogun
PC Total War Shogun 2 READNFO-FLT                             1090 seeds = 545,000
PC Total War Shogun 2                                                         298 seeds   = 149,000

Battlfield: Bad Company 2

Battlefield.Bad.Company.2-RELOADED                             259 seeds   = 129,500
PC Battlefield Bad Company 2.rar                                        462 seeds   = 231,000
Battlefield Bad Company 2 [MULTI8][PCDVD]                  169 seeds   = 84,500
[WwW.GamesTorrents.CoM]

And now, for some indie titles (not commonly regarded as piracy material)

Terraria

PC Terraria.v1.0.cracked-THETA.rar                                  52 seeds     = 26,000
Terraria v1.0.2                                                                     62 seeds     = 31,000
PC Terraria including Update 5 RIP-Unleashed                    124 seeds   = 62,000
Terraria V1.0 [OBLiViON].rar                                            18 seeds     = 9,000
Terraria v1.0.36                                                                   39 seeds     = 19,500
PC Terraria                                                                          81 seeds     = 40,500
PC Terraria.v1.0.5.cracked-THETA.rar                               52 seeds     = 26,000
PC terraria.zip                                                                      36 seeds     = 18,000
PC Terraria                                                                          36 seeds     = 18,000
Terraria 1.0.5 - THETA.zip                                                  77 seeds     = 38,500

Jamestown

[DL] Jamestown Legend of the Lost Colony Setup.exe          68 seeds     = 34,000

Torchlight

Torchlight 1.12 + Crack                                                        16 seeds     = 8,000
Windows [PC] Torchlight - 2009                                          8 seeds       = 4,000
-[ESPACONSOLAS.com]
Torchlight v1.15                                                                    270 seeds    = 135,000
Torchlight [English][RETAIL][PCDVD]                                175 seeds    = 87,500
[WwW.GamesTorrents.CoM]
Torchlight 1.15 Incl. Crack (PC) (FULL GAME)                  445 seeds    = 222,500
Windows Torchlight v1.15 (Official Runic)                             42 seeds      = 21,000

Whew. Look at those numbers. I mean. I haven’t even done that many games. Just…look at the numbers. And this is only ONE site of the millions out there, and this one doesn’t even host files, it just searches torrents. It’s…mindblowing. There is a lot of pirating going on.

I want to make a quick observation here since during my search for numbers, I came across a pretty strange phenomenon: console cracks and copies were few and far between. Even the bigger games had no full game copies for download or torrent. It appears that the shift to consoles in order to avoid the “rampant” piracy on the PC is indeed real and effective, at least when it comes to isohunt. It’s possible that this particular scene has migrated elsewhere and is still alive and thriving.

This leads us to a possible discussion about the quality of games being degraded due to this shift. It has been said and proven time and again that consoles are inferior to PCs in terms of processing power, multi-tasking ability, and complex programming capability. However, consoles seem to be much better at preventing these potential lost sales due to piracy. Since money is king, it’s easy to see how publishers and sadly developers alike would choose to migrate to console platforms as opposed to the PC. It’s pure math.

For a more in-depth discussion of that migration though, check out Koroush Ghazi’s two-page romp on the subject.

As for me, I’m moving into the final phase of this particular article. Thank goodness!


And now, to the present!

Having established a pretty lucid argument so far, I think it’s fair to begin to draw some real conclusions and start some serious finger-pointing. After all, it’s what we all want to do at the end of day anyway, because we know there’s something going on with this whole situation. So let’s start with the obvious ones.

  • Cost – the escalation of the Free Rider Problem via piracy in the video games industry is a direct cause for the increased cost of games at retail. Even if development costs never increased, the increasing number of individuals who obtain their games free of cost will force developers and publishers to ask those who are willing to pay to pay more, just to cover their costs.

  • DRM – the implementation and agressiveness of modern DRM schemes I believe are directly related to the rate of piracy. As was shown by those current numbers pulled from IsoHunt, there is plenty of pirating going on even today of both AAA, DRM-heavy titles as well as independent, commonly DRM-free ones. Combined with the fact that the most pirating tends to be of AAA, DRM-heavy titles leads us to conclude that these increasingly tortuous, increasingly invasive schemes are the direct result of these big companies pouring a lot of effort and resources into fighting this.

  • Consolization – Piracy occurs often not because it’s “hip” or “cool” (though it seems to have gotten that particular reputation), but because it’s easy. PC hackers are of the most talented, hard-working, and ingenious individuals in the gaming scene, and they are not few. This means native PC-developed titles are subject to near-instant cracking, hacking, modding, and general torture once the game is released. By moving development to consoles, which precludes the use of a PC, developers can delay the attacks and possibly retain more of their investment. These console-native developments are then simply ported to the PC, badly.

  • Product-to-service ratio – There has been increased speculation and implementation of gaming as a service as opposed to a product, and monetizing it as such. This is the primary motive force for ideas and products like day-one, day-zero DLC, microtransactions, and vanity items.  The Korean gaming industry already operates largely in this manner. In a short email interview I did with Jim Rossignol of RockPaperShotgun, I asked him about a particular section of the book where he covers in detail the Korean gamer mentality. His succinct, insightful response was this:

“Well it's the idea of gaming as service, versus gaming as product. Korean online gaming has always been seen as a service because it sprang up in cafes with public terminals. No one owned those, so it made little sense to think of them as a product.”

While the inception of the idea is certainly different in the west, it’s clear that the philosophy behind it is eerily similar: we don’t own our games. We are only paying for access to them and as such the developers, publishers, and distributors (the industry) is providing that access. It is a gaming service, not a product.

These are only a few of the problems that exist, but I think they’re the big, looming ones that everyone has thought about at least once. What’s the solution then? Are we doomed to just sit by and watch as our beloved hobby and platform go the way of the T-bird? That is, will we simply stand and watch as piracy increases and the industry reacts so violently that it creates a gaming environment that we no longer recognize? Will we never be able to game the same way again?

No. There are things we can do to stop this tide of extremist action and reaction. It won’t be easy, and it involves much more than one side or the other completely giving up their rights to having rights over money, products, and services.

Possible solutions

In order for any kind of resolution to occur, both sides of this battle need to make some changes. Consumers and industryfolk alike need to be willing to put in a bit more elbow grease, make a few concessions, and be the bigger person. Koroush has a pretty extensive list on his final page of the article, and I’ll reiterate a few of them here. I’ll also be including some of my own.

Developers:
  • Have demos. Like Koroush says, the availability of a demo really mitigates the possible buyer’s remorse that one might feel from purchasing a game. Developers may feel like it’s disingenuous or perhaps uncharacteristic of their game as a whole, but the presence of a demo shows that the developer has a sense of goodwill toward the consumer. I believe it also allows the developer to show consumers the quality of their game more honestly, unlike words and feature lists do.
  • Don’t do day 1/week 1/month 1 DLC. It gives the consumer the impression that the game is incomplete, and who in their right mind would knowingly pay full price for a not-so-full game? It’s possible that by the time the game has gone gold, you may be working on DLC for the game and it will be ready by its release date, but still, it shows badly and gives the wrong impression to consumers.
  • Lower prices for digital distribution. Mr. Ghazi makes a strong argument for this by saying that the cost of distributing a game digitally is drastically less than doing so at a brick-and-mortar store. As such, the price of the game should reflect these decreased costs, giving the consumer a better sense of value and also maintaining an image of honesty on the part of the developer.

Consumers:
  • Stop pirating games. Koroush says to “reduce piracy” because he’s much more optimistic and nice than I am. I say pirating really needs to just stop. Even if its effects on the industry are correlative at worst, it’s an added stress and a fearsome spectre in the eyes of the gaming industry. Its elimination would reduce or mitigate this fear and hopefully reduce the number fear-based decisions that they make (like implementing invasive DRM, limited retail access, stunted singleplayer modes).
  • Don’t glamourize piracy. It isn’t “cool” or “hip” to steal, nor is it to pirate. Piracy isn’t about “sticking it to the man” or “getting back at the big companies for nasty DRM”. It’s about getting stuff without paying for it, and that’s stealing. Plain and simple. Whether you, your friends, coworkers, or even family pirate or have ever pirated, they stole something. It isn’t cool, and it takes away money from people who legitimately worked hard to produce something that you may or may not have enjoyed.
  • Don’t pirate for a “cause”. Like I said before, a common argument for piracy is to give big companies the middle finger, even if you never intended to play for pay for the game. But this isn’t what happens. What happens is that big companies get even more evidence for why they SHOULD implement higher costs, stronger DRM, and more restrictive gameplay. If you really want to give a company the middle finger, simply don’t have anything to do with them.
  • Support small developers. The best way to make sure that PC gaming stays the way it has been is to support the people are doing their best to do so. Indie developers normally don’t have invasive DRM or expansive multiplayer (and restrictive singleplayer) because it doesn’t make sense for them financially. Often, this financial dearth causes them to resort to more noble ways of doing things; namely, honesty. Support devs that are honest about their cost, their content, and their purposes for the games they create. If you support these individuals, you’re supporting their ideas. These ideas will gain more notice, more prominence, and most importantly, more credibility. Big developers (and future developers) will see that this kind of honesty, transparency, and trust of the consumer does indeed pay off monetarily, and will hopefully be more willing to try it.

At this point, I hope you’re almost entirely disabused of any notion that piracy has no effect on the industry at all. I hope you’re also aware now that piracy is in fact a malignant way of acquiring games, and that really no overall good is produced by it. It’s a selfish, short-sighted, destructive way of obtaining quality products that people have spent real blood, sweat, tears, and cash on. And for that, it deserves to be put down.

But, even if you don’t agree with me or you think that I’ve kind of blown this whole thing out of proportion, it’s impossible to deny the fact that piracy exists, piracy hurts, and piracy is our fault. The industry did not make pirates out of us. We’ve been pirates since the before the industry began.

To close this rather lengthy post, I leave you with the parting words of our dear, close friend Koroush Ghazi, whom we’ve come to know so well by now:

“I'm under no illusions that most people will not like this article because it doesn't support piracy, but ultimately my responsibility is to write what I believe to be true, not what I believe will be popular; more and more these days, the two are drifting apart anyway. With the Culture of Piracy so prominent now, it seems everyone is demanding freedom without understanding that freedom does not equal free; everything has a cost, and we need to recognize that if content creators provide us with entertainment, they need to be rewarded fairly for it. We need to demonstrate that we can exercise the freedoms we have responsibly if we don't want to lose them. People can conjure up all manner of excuses to justify rampant piracy all day long, however neither the data nor logic bear any of these excuses out in the end.”

P.S. if you enjoyed Koroush’s writing, drop him a line and let him know! Also, some further cool reading on the philosophy of copyright (also written by Koroush) can be found here.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it!