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Piracy / Linkage (Read 62515 times)
Rad
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Piracy / Linkage
Jun 22nd, 2008 at 11:09pm
 
I have reviewed threads recently which claim(ed) to contain links to pirated software, or some version there-of. Then these threads claimed the offending links were removed.

If there are links I need to delete, pls post them here, as I can't patrol every thread. I mean, I read a few threads, and it's not clear whether the bad links have been removed. Guides we like. Links to pirated software, we don't.

In the registration agreement, I make it clear that the only rule we have here is » no links to pirated software.

http://radified.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=register

Thanks.

Rad
22 June 2008
(I will sticky this.)
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #1 - Jun 22nd, 2008 at 11:27pm
 
In particular, I was pointed to this thread:

http://radified.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1211223513/0

Does this thread contain links to pirated software? And if so, which/where? (Pls be specific.)
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #2 - Jun 23rd, 2008 at 12:41am
 
That particular thread (and the problem link in one member's .sig) doesn't have the problem any more, that was all resolved. I had sent Pleo a PM back at the time and he just today replied to it - so I suspect we're just experiencing a little time warp Smiley.

Always good to reaffirm the policy though!
 
 
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Rad
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #3 - Jun 23rd, 2008 at 11:00am
 
Thanks Nigel. Yes, I also received a PM from Pleo.

Being a software developer, you likely have strong views on the subject, and more developed than those of the ordinary, run-of-the-mill guy-on-the-street. Do you view piracy as black/white (right/wrong)? Or do you also see gray areas?

College students, for example, are probably the biggest pirates, I'd imagine. Mainly because, they can't afford pricey software. (They can barely afford pizza.)

Is student-piracy condoned? Or somehow viewed differently from other piracy? (I admit my thoughts on the subject are not very well thought-out.)

If a student wants to learn (say, for example) how to edit images (a cool thing), most colleges teach a course on Photoshop. If he (she?) can't afford the purchase-price of ~US$300 for a student-discounted copy:

http://www.studica.com/products/product_detail.cfm?productid=53050

it's not like Adobe is going to lo$e any revenue if that person pirates. They could, one might argue, go GIMP, which more people seem to be embracing:

http://www.gimp.org/windows/

.. since open source software has become such a force.

http://www.osalt.com/

Obviously piracy is *always* wrong, but like the mother who steals a loaf of bread to feed her hungry kids, the motivation seems more understandable. No?

Which do you feel Adobe thinks is better?:

A. Student-A, who learns/uses GIMP instead of PS cuz they can't afford the latter.
B. Student-B, who learns PS on a bootleg copy he got from his roommate, with the hopes he purchases a copy in the future .. when he *can* afford a copy.

Is there an Option-C I missed? Or 'D'?

Seems to me (the admittedly unenlightened) that Student-B is better, cuz they at least have a *chance* of contributing to Adobe's coffers, while Student-A doesn't (especially as they become increasingly familiar with GIMP).
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #4 - Jun 23rd, 2008 at 6:29pm
 
Rad wrote on Jun 23rd, 2008 at 11:00am:
Do you view piracy as black/white (right/wrong)? Or do you also see gray areas?

I take a quite nuanced view of the whole picture of property rights; remember you have to view them in quite a large context. It's not just computer software but all kinds of creative works, and there are the competing interests of the creative folks, the business models of publishers, individual consumer rights, business contract law, the interests or archivists and historians, dynamics of secondary markets - all of which need considering and balancing.

There absolutely are grey, or at least off-white areas, particularly where there are business models evolving in parallel with technological change. Broadcast television versus on-demand versus hard-disk recorders and time-shifting, for example.

Unfortunately, though, the nature of things is that the legal and regulatory frameworks society has set up for business and technology to work within evolves at a very slow pace compared to the technologies and business models themselves.

Rad wrote on Jun 23rd, 2008 at 11:00am:
Or somehow viewed differently from other piracy?

Well, it certainly is different, if we compare an individual student (or, for that matter, consumers in other countries which have a different purchasing power available to them; consider anti-retroviral drug licensing in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, which of course leads to the question of why drug companies don't seek to develop treatments for third-world illnesses - that's absolutely a related situation) compared to a business committing piracy which a) can easily afford to pay, b) which pirates or counterfeits on the scale of tens of thousands of copies.

In software, almost all the enforcement activity is directed at the latter, for good reason. What gets done about the former is really mostly in the nature of doing enough to keep the honest people honest (and the nature of things is that it is necessary to do that, unfortunately - you often see, as in the thread that started this, people who really have the world-view that if you can get away with it, it must be legal despite the fact that's not the way either the law or simple common decency works anywhere in the world).

Rad wrote on Jun 23rd, 2008 at 11:00am:
since open source software has become such a force.

"Become"?

Open source is nothing new in any way whatsoever at all; it's always been a big force, back to the dawn of electronic computing. Business models change and evolve and adapt, and fashions in business come and go, but there's always room for business to innovate. Sometimes that innovation is best protected by (temporary) secrecy, as with any other information a business keeps to itself if it is a source of comparative advantage, while sometimes it's best to try to co-operate and forge standards.

It's an ever-shifting balance. Always has been. Always will be. Plus ca change.
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #5 - Jun 23rd, 2008 at 10:55pm
 
Quote:
consider anti-retroviral drug licensing in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, which of course leads to the question of why drug companies don't seek to develop treatments for third-world illnesses

I am impressed with your scope of knowledge.

Thanks for the enlightened response.
 
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #6 - Jun 24th, 2008 at 3:11am
 
Apologie in advances, but I've been up a few consecutive days and perhaps this is the risk of drinking after a long time awake on an empty stomach...

I assume you're being ironic (perhaps it says more about my own opinion of myself than anything you meant to say) and that it seems like a bizarre and utterly horrible thing to compare such a trivial thing as mere software piracy to that of any other form of property right let alone that of the question of market pricing of drug formulas (and therefore funding development of things that save human lives), but the world we live in is absolutely replete, full to bursting with such ironies.

Such as, for instance, our current age's great robber baron Bill Gates being one of the people whose vast wealth (amassed from a monopoly; in other words the failure of markets, and of the proper balance of individual and corporate property rights against the interests of society as a whole) is today financing a huge amount of the research into such things as malaria which yet other forms of global market failure are not financing.

As of course, the wealth of a great robber baron and monopolist in a previous generation did the same; the Titan himself, John D. Rockefeller (a book I recommend wholeheartedly, by the way), whose vast fortune was poured into medical research and in particular, ridding America of the scourge of hookworm.

[ Something that having read Titan, always strikes me when visiting the US. One of my lifestyle choices is to live somewhat monkishly, not just in a small (60m^2) house far from any city and with a shaved head but I also live barefoot, our fair islands have no snakes or hookworm or anything really harmful to humans. One of the great public-health measures the Rockefeller foundation undertook in the US was simply that of encouraging wearing footwear amongst the southern poor, to break the life-cycle of the hookworm which was endemic to the soil. ]

Which of course, in respect of Steve Yegge's post, makes one wonder how to make much of our own lives and "cleverness". For instance, I've known I have some unspectacular but somewhat population-rare cognitive abilities since I was a young child (about 7, in fact, before my parents divorced and ended up in different countries) and that they were not earned but something I was gifted and had thus a duty to do something with.

But then, well, what is the right way to measure ourselves? What we have done on the planet? Who we are in comparison to those who are Great we have met? I chose my life today when I was 13, when I saw that Apple ][ it was so this is what I was looking for. And now I can look back and all I can see is you stupid child.

And this is all I've done with that gift... mere commerce...?

Property, theft, piracy, irony.

I mentioned recently comparing notes with a musician, who also chose his future adult life as a child, and who offered me (as a long-time fan of his music) his latest CD free, a gift. Naturally I pressed the cash I had nearby into his hand! How do those with music, instead of something as lucrative and luxurious as mathematics as a gift manage their lives and provide for their children?

...

The especially silly thing is, who owns Symantec shares? Who benefits from that heapin' helping' o' profit my work generates? "Institutions"? Who are they?

Pension funds???? Those are the shareholders, the rapacious capitalists red in tooth and claw, the bottom-seeking global financiers we're railing against, are the ones paying the cheques that keep our parents going? Well ok, not my father, who left public service when I was a youth after his second wife left him with a baby to look after, but speaking metaphorically...

Too much of that and I honestly can't remember who the bad guys are supposed to be any more, except I'm probably going to turn our to be one of them with the way the plot keeps twisting...

Why do we get these gifts, if this is all that comes from them?
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #7 - Jun 24th, 2008 at 1:36pm
 
Rad, thank you for starting a “sticky thread” on this subject to highlight the issue and the forum's policy, and to provide a common place for concerned individuals to report violations upon which you may easily act.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #8 - Jun 24th, 2008 at 7:46pm
 
Well, that was an incoherent ramble I posted. Anyway, to try and distill a point out of it, there are a couple of real thoughts in there.

Firstly, that societies have a general problem with to pay to get some important things done, and how to get the people capable of doing those things to do them. Many vital professions - like, say, teaching - are paid very, very poorly, for example. What does that mean about how societies value that work and the people who do it?

The question comes with software is that how should we price it, and how should the people who write it be compensated for their work so that they do it (on the basis that technological progress is a valuable thing overall).

The strange thing about the "Free Software" movement, and where it often ends up aligning with piracy, is the important distinction between the kinds of "Free". "Free Software" is not necessarily supposed to mean zero cost. In practice though, "costs nothing" is how most of the people in the world who don't write code think of it.

The people who pirate software (and I'm not talking about college students, I'm talking of the many instances I've seen dealt with of people who are using Ghost in their business without paying for it) clearly do mostly think of the software they steal as something they are somehow due as a right. They clearly have no consideration of the fact that what they are stealing is created by someone, and that those someones are human beings with jobs and lives.

What much of the so-called "Free Software" movement ends up being about in practice is a similar, rather strange belief, that software is somehow special and that the people who create it should not be able to ask for payment for it; that software is something at once so important that it's a universal human right for everyone to have all the software they want, but that software development is so unimportant that it's affront to have to pay those annoying little people who write the stuff and for them to expect to make a career out of it and have happy lives doing so.

[ That probably sounds like a caricature, but in dealing with software pirates it's astounding to see that precise mindset on display and argument made. ]

The reality is, that like all those other things we want in our societies like teachers who prepare our children's lives to be better than ours, and the artists who culturally enrich us, if you want software developers you're going to have to pay them somehow.

Ultimately, the question is, how much is this stuff - and it's not just software, because the same applies to most engineering professions and indeed to human technological progress in general, in fact - worth? Which of course for me, as someone who lives to do this, the answer to means a lot about how I feel my life is worth.

I don't need to be a multimillionaire and have a mansion and a swimming pool, I'd just like to have a stable job where I can focus on my work, and be able to feel good about doing it. Piracy and the attitudes one encounters from the people who commit piracy really do make one question this.
 
 
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Rad
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #9 - Jun 25th, 2008 at 6:08pm
 
No, I was not being ironic. I only know about anti-retroviral drugs from an online friend who lives in South Africa (Jo-burg).

How old were you when your parents divorced?
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #10 - Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:22pm
 
Nigel,


Your posts (and even your ramblings) are always well thought out.  Thanks for contributing.


I wanted to make some comments on Free Software.  As a huge fan of free software I wanted to make the point that most people in the open source community recognize the vast amount of time and skill it takes to create software.  Personally, the freedom of free software appeals to me much more than the free cost.  I'd be willing to pay several hundred dollars for the privilege of using Linux.  The freedom to use it as I choose without worrying about DRM and licenses would be worth it alone.  The fact that the open source nature allows any volunteer with coding skills to add useful features vastly improves its appeal to me. 

Most of the free software fans I work with feel the same way.  We appreciate what open source developers give us and consider the idea that all software should be given away for no cost as an immature idea from people who aren't looking ahead.  If developers can't make money at their day job by selling software, they won't continue to produce high quality software, and if society doesn't value computer science skills properly, fewer people will be interested in it as a career.  Forcing ALL software to be free, ironically, would mean that there would be no software at all for anyone to GET for free.  You have to pay for it somewhere along the line.

I don't think that software is 'special' in this regard.  I see this as a very similar issue to people who steal CableTV or download mp3's and movies without paying for them.  Optimizing society's policies surrounding intellectual property is a big problem that the thinkers and policy-makers of today need to tackle.  I've seen lots of heated debate about it here in the US.  Protecting people's intellectual investment is important in properly rewarding them for their work, but allowing fair use spurs innovation and creates useful variations.

The Free Software Movement's hostility toward many software companies (such as Microsoft) comes from the sometimes unreasonable restrictions placed on how we use programs that we have legally purchased.  If I spend my money for a game, why shouldn't I be able to play it on my laptop, desktop, and work computer (so long as I only use one at a time)?  If intellectual property really is property, what business is it of the creator where I use it or who I sell it to, as long as I don't make illegal copies or compromise the future revenue of the developer?  Why should I be able to modify the code to do something the way *I* want it do, as long as I understand it voids any warranty?  This is the way in which software seems special to me - it is sold as a transfer of property but then the consumer's rights are restricted as if the publisher still owns it.  Software companies seem to want it both ways.

The ability to use software when and where I want and modify it however I see fit allows me to be innovative in how I solve technological problems and allows everyone to work together to solve issues - facilitating the overall technological progress you describe.

Besides that, software keys, CD checks, DRM, activation, and all the other things software companies try to use to stop software pirates are clumsy and annoying.  They cause significant inconvienence for an honest user - having to register software, track keys, and find libraries to read the DRM.  Occasionally, as has been the case in several computer games recently, DRM ends up preventing legitimate users from using their legally purchased product due to incompatibilites or other errors.  Furthermore, these measures are a mere speed-bump for pirates.  They quickly crack the DRM or license keys and then distribute the cracked version - making the cracked version actually easier to use!  I've actually run cracked version of software I legally purchased for this reason!

'Free Software' does not have these issues.  I understand you have to make it difficult enough to copy to keep the honest people honest, but it is out of hand.  Free software has the additional bonus of not having to deal with this headache since you can copy and distribute it as you like.
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #11 - Jun 25th, 2008 at 8:09pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:22pm:
Your posts (and even your ramblings) are always well thought out.

I agree.

MrMagoo wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:22pm:
If intellectual property really is property,

Interesting. I never heard it put that way before.

MrMagoo wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:22pm:
it is sold as a transfer of property but then the consumer's rights are restricted as if the publisher still owns it.

You seem to elaborate on this thought here.
 
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Nigel Bree
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #12 - Jun 25th, 2008 at 8:10pm
 
MrMagoo wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 7:22pm:
but allowing fair use spurs innovation and creates useful variations.

Unfortunately, that's not the way it's working.

Due to piracy and the effects of "free" software, independent developers and the innovation in software they bring has almost collapsed, indeed along with almost the entire desktop software market. What little innovation in desktop (home consumer) software is happening in the marketplace is no longer being done by ISVs. Instead, almost the only new products that actually succeed in anything but the most feeble way as products are a) targeted at corporate use (which may let a small "consumerised" version exist which could not sustain itself as a business otherwise) or b) entertainment products, or c) can be cast in a way they can be sold as services for a small but regular ongoing fee.

Eventually new business models may emerge that allows independent business to flourish again - largely tied to services, of course, or via hardware vendors. The iPhone and perhaps the services for game consoles (XBox live, Playstation network) may well evolve to become publishing platforms which are available to ISVs where they can glean at least some revenue to make genuinely good ideas work. However, that transition is not going to be easy.

You don't need to take my word for it, of course. Simply peruse the Business of Software forums of Joel on Software to see how real ISVs trying to start up are struggling, and having to direct their energies to fewer categories (the three above, basically) in order to even achieve quite modest success.

And indeed, you also should pay attention to the choices being made by students, which reflects their (admittedly imperfect) expectations of what will make a good future career.

I wouldn't recommend - and indeed, I doubt I would choose if I had to do it today - a very bright young person pick software as a career specialty now; other science and engineering disciplines are both more intellectually challenging and have far better future prospects (I'd pick a Theoretical and Applied Mechanics program now, as indeed was my first choice in my teens, or perhaps something in the materials science space) for the near term of the next 20 years.
 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #13 - Jun 26th, 2008 at 5:32pm
 
Rad wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 8:09pm:
Interesting. I never heard it put that way before.

Actually, it's something that is the subject of a lot of serious academic research and in economics and public policy. The economic benefit that arises from turning intangible goods of many kinds (or of dividing things normally treated as commons) into something fungible by way of creating defensible property rights for them is something that is being demonstrated anew constantly.

Of course, the place this gets most keen attention is in non-Western contexts, where traditional property rights attached to things such as hunting and fishing and other forms of property right did not need any kind of formal framework. In New Zealand's case, for instance, this emerged recently via what became known as the "Foreshore and Seabed" issue, where traditional Maori food-gathering practice and long-established tribal use and effective guardianship of part of the seabed was discovered to be result in a conflict between statues and the government attempted to resolve this.

Some of the most clearly researched recent study of this in which the benefits of creating property rights is established relates to managing exploitation of such things as Galapagos tourism and there are many other examples.

The most important thing about property rights is not whether the rights themselves necessarily involve dominion or control of something physical. It's really about the distribution and management of the economic benefit that arises from their exploitation.

 
 
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Re: Piracy / Linkage
Reply #14 - Jun 26th, 2008 at 5:44pm
 
Rad wrote on Jun 25th, 2008 at 8:09pm:
You seem to elaborate on this thought here.

What is being alluded to here are the questions that arise from what in the US is known as the Doctrine of First Sale and how this conflicts with the use of copyright law - the letter of which has always had trouble with software because the process of using it involves making temporary copies of it (from hard disk to memory, for instance), which is of course part of the underlying reason why explicit licenses are involved in software at all.

The problem is that makers of software have no other real way to protect themselves other than to use copyright law - no other forms of commercial protection such as trademarks, patents, or trade secret are not suitable - but the end result of this process is a conflict between the legal ideas of what constitutes a sale (under which certain "rights" exist under consumer laws written to apply to transactions of physical goods) and contract law (the license agreement is a contract).
 
 
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