Saturday, January 14, 2012

Software Piracy

Kon'nichiwa min'na!

What is Software Piracy?

Piracy. No, not like Jack Sparrow. Software Piracy (Hereafter referred to as SP) is the illegal copying, downloading, uploading and general sharing of various types of software without the permission of the developers, producers or artists involved. In other words, SP is downloading a mp3 song, copying a CD for a friend or buying a DVD on the corner of the street. There’s no denying that at least once in your life you have participated in an act of piracy, whether on the receiving end or not.

What motivates a person to commit SP??

What are the factors that motivate a person to copying a file, buying a pirated DVD or downloading files from the internet? There are many factors, too many to list however so I’ll be going over the top three reasons why people commit SP.

Pricing – Some people are simply not willing enough to pay, or are unable to pay, the high price that distributors and retailers are asking for the legal copies. Pirated goods are at a basic level cheaper than the regular product. For example, a CD costs R150 in store, but any person with a cell phone can easily go onto any file sharing site, and download all the songs off the CD at no charge, save for network costs.

Unavailability – The product in question might be region Specific in that it is only released to the public in a certain country and/or for a limited time. Therefore people who would like to use the desired product have to resort to piracy as online purchasing and distribution can be costly which ties in with the first factor of pricing. A product could already have been withdrawn from circulation and is no longer produced, and the only remnants of the product are pirated versions.

Usefulness – Most legitimate products come with certain restrictions, for example, DVDs which are region locked can be played only in one part of the world, whereas a downloaded .avi format film can be played anywhere in the world provided you have the appropriate media player with ease. Pirated goods, especially software downloaded from the internet can be accessed in a matter of minutes, a simple search for a product can return results in seconds.

 What are the advantages and disadvantages of SP?

There are a number of both advantages and disadvantages to the end-user. One of the major advantages as stated above is the ease in which a person can gain access to and use pirated goods. Downloading, purchasing, and file-sharing at LANs are three of the easiest ways to acquire software. Another advantage of SP is that it’s extremely cost effective. The biggest and perhaps most important disadvantage of SP is that it is ILLEGAL in all aspects. There is not one shred of legality in the pirating of software save for loopholes. Less advertised, but equally important is the fact that pirated software poses a risk to the end users PC, CD player and/or DVD player. Pirated goods may cause software crashes, corrupt files or even deletion of important system files. The consumer also has no access to online help, upgrades or consultation when they use pirated goods as the developers do not recognize the pirated software.

Bill Gates

"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

So yes, there are both advantages and disadvantages to SP, but what of the rumour’s of developers, production companies and artists losing money due to SP?

From 2007 to 2008 software piracy rose from 38% to 41% worldwide despite successes in fighting piracy in China  and Russia. It is stated that an estimated $53 billion were lost by companies around the world.

John Gantz

“Lowering software piracy by just 10 percentage points during the next four years would create nearly 500 000 new jobs and pump $140 billion into ailing economies.”
-         John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC

But here’s a thought for all of you out there, say for example a musician produces 100 000 copies of his/her CD and in turn sells all 100 000 copies, they have gained all of the money that they expected to haven’t they? So what if 250 000 illegal copies were downloaded, the artist has already sold all 100 000 expected copies. This begs the question, are companies and artists really losing revenue, or is that just something they say to boost publicity?


Recently, a fan on twitter said to Notch (Developer of Minecraft, Google it), “I really like the game but lack the money to buy it. I thought I might at least ask for a free account before piracy.” Notch’s response? “Just pirate it. If you still like it when you can afford it in the future, buy it then. Also don’t forget to feel bad. ;)”
4 million copies of Minecraft have been sold, so I’m sure he won’t mind about one pirate.

What of the repercussions?

Punishment of copyright infringement varies case-by-case across countries. Convictions may include jail time and/or severe fines for each instance of copyright infringement. In the United States, willful copyright infringement carries a maximum penalty of $150 000 per instance.


Read - Only Memory or ROM is a type of pirated software created to work in an emulator (More info into Emulators and ROMs in an upcoming blog). A ROM is a dump of a disc used on a PC, for example, a ROM of a PS2 game would be used on a PS2 emulator which would then allow you to play PS2 games on your PC. But now back to the topic, a ROM is “technically” legal in the sense that if you actually own the physical copy of the game it is perfectly fine for you to have a backed-up ROM. It’s legal, but very unethical in that people download ROMs even when they do not own the original disc.

So there you have it people, that’s my two cents on Software Piracy. I hope that everyone has learned something new and that you will try your best to buy original, it might be a bit more costly, but in the long run it will be better for your devices and your conscience.

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